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Old April 16th, 2008, 09:12 PM   #1
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Live performance projection

Hello neighbors.

I am a solo performing artist and digital filmmaker wannabe. My upcoming performance has numerous short videos that will be projected on a scrim. There will be various segments of movement and storytelling between the videos. I will be running the projections through my MacBook Pro from the stage. (I'm looking for an intimate, informal feel to the show.) I am editing on Final Cut Express. I'd love some input to help make this a fluid experience. Some of my questions.

1. Am I a fool to attempt this?

If we can get around that question, then...

2. Should I make one big quicktime movie and pause between video segments, or make a dozen short movies? Or should I use a different format altogether?

3. Any suggestions on how to work the transitions? I don't want my desktop to be projected between videos.

4. Any ideas on what else I might need to think about to make this happen?

As I write this I wonder if it would make more sense to make a dvd and use a dvd player hooked up to the projector. What do you think?

Your insights will be much appreciated.


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Old April 16th, 2008, 10:11 PM   #2
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1. Probably, but do it anyway.
2. I would put all the videos into one sequence (or even QT movie.)
3. Put 3 seconds of black (or thereabouts) in between, and just pause the video.
4. Make sure you can pause the video before the next segment starts. Keep your laptop close by.
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Old April 17th, 2008, 05:22 AM   #3
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Do what he said. I have seen presentations that go to the desktop between segments and it seems unwieldy or even unprofessional.
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Old April 17th, 2008, 06:22 AM   #4
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some laptop PC (don't know with the mac) can use the external video output as 2nd screen (not a clone of the internal screen). So you can have a black desktop with no icons, while lauching (and previewing) from the internal screen.
you can easily use a bluetooth device (nokia phone ?) as remote mouse to control the computer.
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Old April 17th, 2008, 07:55 AM   #5
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You are no fool . . . lots of people do this. I know a composer who uses a lot of video in his performance work ( He uses a computer-based controller that is programable and that he can cue with MIDI.


Last edited by Peter Wiley; April 17th, 2008 at 07:56 AM. Reason: edit URL
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Old April 17th, 2008, 08:50 AM   #6
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Another Option

If you are looking to do this professionally take a look at this program

ProVideo Player

It is very expensive, but a great program ($499)
Or this program will do probably exactly what you need (Videos, playlists, etc.)
and you have the option of adding text over video if you need that at any can even live feed a camera through it via firewire
It was designed for churches, but it is used in many arenas.
This program is $399
You can download a full version and try it (it just puts a watermark on the video output)
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Old April 17th, 2008, 12:15 PM   #7
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I have worked as video designer on three amateur stage shows requiring extensive projected sequences as an integral part of the show.

For two of the shows I used a DVD player to driver the projector. The DVD player is more reliable, won't crash/blue-screen or show you a desktop which is very unprofessional and distracting for the audience.

The downside with DVD players is that they will display 'play', 'pause' and 'stop' symbols on the screen as you operate the player (I've yet to find a player that lets you switch this feature off), so you have the hassle of masking off the projector or screen to hide the symbols.

However you can use this masked off area to display the chapter buttons placed on a black menu background and assign each sequence to a chapter button. Using a monitor attached to the DVD player, the operator can select sequences at will, skip to the next sequence or abort a sequence back to the black menu without the audience seeing anything untoward.

The other disadvantage is that you can't fade out a scene on cue - you can only end your sequence with a fade and hope it syncs with the stage performance (unless you can get a video mixer).

A more controllable and flexible solution is to use a laptop or desktop PC/Mac running an NLE to drive the projector. I used this method on a recent production of Terry Johnson's 'Hitchcock Blonde' which requires the cast to interact with projected images.

For this production I used a desktop PC running Adobe Premiere Pro CS3. I set the projector up as a second monitor and extended the Windows desktop to the projector. With all of the prepared video clips set out on the Premiere Pro timeline I moved the monitor window to the extended desktop area so that it appeared as the projected image. This had the advantage that I could resize and position the projected image very precisely, which was crucial because one of the projected sequences was of a girl taking a shower and the image had to be aligned with a real shower head and tray onstage.

All the operator had to do was hit the left arrow key to skip to the next sequence and press the space bar to start it. This turned out to be very reliable and ran without a hitch for the three performance nights.

For the next show I'm looking at programs like ProVideoPlayer, but I'm not sure if they allow you to resize and reposition images to suit the projection environment.
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Old April 17th, 2008, 07:01 PM   #8
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Thank you so much for all your replies. Very Helpful.

If I'm going to perform this show on a regular basis then it looks like I should check out programs like ProVideoPlayer. For this run I think I'll go the route Edward suggests and Marcus affirms--set the videos up in one sequence in Final Cut with a few seconds of black between segments and hit the spacebar to pause. That seems to be the easiest way for now. I'll be running it from a Lacie external hard drive via FW800 into my MacBook Pro.

Anyone see any problems doing it this way?

Thanks for your help guys. This forum is an amazing resource.
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Old April 19th, 2008, 09:27 PM   #9
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Hey, I think this is gonna work out great. We'll see soon enough.

If any of you live up in Vancouver I'd gladly give a few comp tickets out.

The performance runs this Thursday - Saturday at the Vancouver East Cultural Center.

Thanks again.

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