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Will My House Work?

When you’re trying to figure out whether your house will work for holiday projection mapping, your biggest considerations are house size and color, yard length, obstructions and ambient light.

House Size

One important thing to bear in mind is that the further away you move your projector from a surface, the bigger the projected image gets. 

If you have a large house, and by large I mean 40′-50’+ in width, to cover the whole thing with one projector you will need a fairly long front yard, probably at least 20′-30′ depending on the projector you use. 

The further back you go, you lose brightness. So if you have a large house you might need to be thinking about getting a brighter projector.

If you’re struggling with these factors, you could choose to focus on just part of the house. Or rather than map the whole thing with one projector, you could use two or more projectors and split the whole surface into more manageable chunks.

Consider projecting on just part of the house
Split a large house into multiple surfaces

House Color & Texture

Having a white or light gray house is the holy grail of holiday projection mapping.

Dark materials like red brick, dark siding or dark paint will need a brighter projector to show up with good colors.

If your house material is a problem for you, you can consider covering it with material or screens. 

And there’s always the drastic solution of repainting with a lighter color.

The texture of your house material also plays a part.

Smooth render will show up an image nicely without any distortion. Rough stone on the other hand will distort the image so you might choose not to put detailed video content like movie clips on those surfaces.

An example of smooth render
An example of a highly textured house

House Shape

In terms of the shape of your house, think about what might cast a shadow.

For example, if you have a one-story porch and you’re projecting from below the level of the porch roof, it will cast a shadow on the surface above. So in this instance it would be an advantage to mount your projector up high or project on a different part of the house.

A one-story porch casting a shadow when projecting from below

Windows

When it comes to windows, the light from the projector will go straight through the glass and won’t form an image unless you put something in the windows to catch the projection.

You can use shades, curtains or other coverings like fabric, frosted shower curtains, paper, cardboard or perforated vinyl.

Obstructions

Anything that is between the projector beam and the house will cast a shadow.

This can be trees, shrubs, statues and other structures or landscaping in your yard.

What are your options? You should try to choose an initial projector position that avoids as many of these obstructions as possible. 

You can design your show to avoid areas where there are shadows cast from unavoidable obstructions. 

Or, the most extreme option, is to cut down or remove the obstructions from your yard entirely.

Obstructions like trees will cast a shadow
One option is to design content around the obstruction

Ambient Light

How much ambient light do you have around your house? By this I mean how much other light is competing with your projections?

Other sources of light and light pollution around your house will make your projections look washed out, duller and appear less bright.

Ambient light pollution can come from many different sources including street lighting, yard lights, light from the sky and car headlights from people watching your show.

When dealing with street lighting, the best thing is to talk to your city or whoever manages your street lighting and hopefully negotiate something with them – they might be willing to install a shield to block any intrusive light, for example. 

Ambient light pollution can come from numerous sources like street lights, car headlights and the sky

You could also put up some sort of screen in your yard to try to exclude some of the light

Obviously turn off all your own yard lights and politely ask if your neighbors might be willing to do the same during the hours your show is taking place.

As for light from the sky, schedule your show to start after the sun has fully gone down.

This might be a deal-breaker when it comes to shows that take place when the days are long, like in summer in the northern hemisphere for 4th of July celebrations, Easter and so on. 

Ask audience members viewing the show from their car to turn off their headlights while they are parked. 

If you can’t turn off or screen unwanted sources of ambient lighting, your only other option is to outcompete them with more projector brightness.

Ask people arriving by car to turn off their headlights to reduce unwanted extra light

Location

Is your house in a good location for a projection mapping show? 

Ask yourself if it is convenient and safe for people to visit. If you live on a junction and people are slowing and parking in their cars, that might not be safe. If you live on a busy road, is it safe to encourage pedestrians to cross or be distracted by your show?

Finally, ask yourself whether your street or drive has a good flow so that people can get in and out.

Is your house location safe for people to visit on foot?
Houses located on a junction may not be ideal

Neighbors

Think about what kind of neighbors you have and how they are likely to react.

The things that are most likely to annoy neighbors are the increased noise from music or the audience and also extra foot and road traffic.

You can reduce the impact of your show on your neighbors by offering them some hours of respite. For example, don’t project every night of the week and create a break between shows so a crowd doesn’t build up.

Also keep sound to a reasonable level.

Plan your show so that audience members on foot aren’t encouraged to wander on to your neighbors’ land or trample their planting and audience members in cars don’t block your neighbors’ drive-ways.

TIP

Use the shortcut Command + F1 twice and it will extend your display.

Plugging a USB into a media player

Kit List

See a list of suggested house projection mapping kit including projector, media player, computer, audio, cables, window covering & enclosure materials.

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An example of a highly textured house

Will My House Work?

Is your house suitable for holiday mapping? Learn about some of the biggest considerations like house size, yard length and ambient light.

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