Projecting on a Cyclorama

Written by Josh on May 01, 2015

As the audience walks in, the orchestra is seated on the stage. On a huge screen along the back wall is a beautiful, Disney-themed logo. While the logo could easily stand alone on the cyclorama (a large screen behind a stage), we used the screen and a standard classroom projector to display various images and videos on the screen during the concert.

A while ago I briefly mentioned the Disney logo a friend of mine created for the Steinbrenner Orchestra. We started and ended the concert with this on the screen, but I did not explain how we switched between images during the show. The effect added a lot and the audience seemed to like it.

The projection was not an overly complicated addition to the show, but the effect it created was well worth the effort.

Note: This article is based on the Steinbrenner High School Orchestra‚Äôs Disney-themed spring concert in May 2014. I started writing this article a whopping ten months ago, and recently using a similar technique for a similar effect was motivated to finish writing this.

What was projected?

In the first days of planning the concert, the orchestra director was assigning roles to people. I volunteered to help with lighting and projection. I was unsure what exactly she had in mind, but I figured that this was more applicable to my skill set than any of the other tasks. We had various ideas, but what eventually came to be was a combination of mostly still images and the occasional movie clip presented onto the cyclorama.

The majority of the work was simply finding the images. The images were mostly stills representative of the movie. For Frozen, we simply used a slightly modified title screen. Aladdin was a photo of the Taj Mahal. The Little Mermaid was an underwater shot with light rays visible, and The Lion King had a photo of a sunset similar to that in the original movie. We played a medley of themes from Pixar movies, during which we projected either official images from the movies (for Up, it was the house held up by balloons; the Incredibles had the iconic I logo).

In addition to the stills, a classmate edited segments from some of the movies to go along with the orchestra. We used movie clips for Toy Story, Beauty and the Beast, Colors of the Wind, and Frozen.

Managing the Projection

Eventually, all of the media went into a large PowerPoint presentation. (Including the videos, it ended up being over 200MB.) The first slide, up when people were filing into the auditorium, was our gorgeous logo for the concert. After that followed the animated version she created, presented while we played When you Wish Upon a Star. This was followed by mostly images and videos with black slides in between.

During the concert itself, the presentation was running on my laptop, which was on a cart in front of the director with the projector. I set up my laptop to share its Internet connection to a WPA2-protected Wi-Fi network. My laptop had no network connection; the important thing was that my phone eneded to be able to communicate with my computer. I used BetterTouchTool and its associated BTT Remote app to control the presentation. My phone joined the Wi-Fi network advertised by my laptop, and BTT communicated over that network. I configured it with the presentation hotkeys, and simply tapped the next button on my phone when I needed to change slides.

I had a printed outline of the presentation so I knew exactly what was coming next. I simply had my phone on the music stand and tapped the button when I needed to.

Final Thoughts

Over all, the projections turned out very well. The cyclorama diffuses anything projected on it, as it is designed to simply have fill lighting on it. The effect added a lot to the show. It was not very difficult to pull off, and the return on investment was definitely positive.

Copyright © 2014-2016 Joshua Oldenburg