Event Design | Lighting Terms & Techniques for Event Planners | The Special Event Show 2020

Technology in lighting and video is ever changing, and it’s crucial for #EventProfs to stay ahead of the trends to keep their event design (and their companies) current and clients happy. Whether you’ve been planning and designing events for 2 or 20 years there is always something new to market that you can add to your toolbox. Knowing the proper terms and how to best use the latest options in video mapping and lighting techniques will set you apart from the competition.

I was very honored to present at The Special Event Show 2020 in Las Vegas.  Below is the video of my presentation with my powerpoint slides and videos.  The full transcript below as well but it’s a really long read so I suggest just watching the video 🙂   I hope you enjoy and please reach out to us if you have any questions or ideas!

Creating Immersive Environments 2:04
Digital Gobos & Projections 16:24
Event Production Rules 26:04
Clayton House Venue Tranformations 28:50
Real time Sunset Room Transformation 31:01
Fantastic Entrances! 33:16
Projection Mapping 39:06
Interactive Projections 46:55


Thank you everybody for coming out. Lighting is one of my big passions and productions, so I’m really excited to see you guys out here today. Hopefully I’ll be able to convey some really cool ideas for you. I wanted to talk about what we’re gonna go over first. I’m gonna give you a little synopsis. We’re gonna talk about some immersive environments you know creating with light and video. We’re gonna talk about digital gobos. Of course that’s probably one of the topics people want to know about. So I’m gonna hopefully explain that to you. Create some cool entrances and exits. Room transformations projection mapping and interactive elements. So we got got a lot to go through so you know let me know if you have any questions.

We’re gonna want to give a little perspective on me first. Don’t worry I’m not going to go this far back. But I just love that photo, it’s kind of funny. So I started out studying theatrical lighting design in college and then I became a DJ. I started doing club DJs and then into weddings. And once I started doing weddings I realized that there was a need in our market for creative yet affordable event production. So we started out very small. My wife and I started out in our house and just doing everything out of our house. We are still what we consider a boutique event production company. So we like to focus on the more creative fun midsize events, some larger ones as you’ll see. I’ve been to a lot of presentations through conferences and I’ve seen some amazing presentations about projection mapping and event production. And you know these guys, they projection map the these big mountains and they make the Bellagio hotel look amazing and that’s fantastic. And this is something live up to. But at the same time it’s not totally relatable to us and most of the events that we do. So I’m hoping to convey somewhat more relatable ideas to you guys so and hopefully something inspirational too.

6 Key Factors of Creating Immersive Environments

So first off we’re going to talk about creating immersive environments with light and video. This is when you have immersive environment you really are talking about full immersion. You know that’s the thing interactive and immersive are the keywords nowadays right. So when we talk about creating immersive environments there are six key factors.

  1. Number one it’s gonna be color. So that’s all of your uplighing, your color washes. That’s your base and foundation for most lighting designs that we do.
  2. Texture and patterns. Those are going to be your your gobos, your pattern washes, even video projections and logo. Logos can be still texture for an event and I’m going to show you some cool creative ways to make them look better than just a boring logo on a wall. 3
  3. We always want to highlight important elements in the room and a lot of that’s gonna be your pinspotting. This is like some more of your functional stuff. We can make the whole room nice and pretty with blue lighting but then all your centerpieces go away and all of the signage goes away. And at the bar is nobody can see what they’re looking at. So you want to make sure there’s important things to highlight. For all the wedding people out there that includes the wedding couple. For some reason a lot of venues will put them in the darkest portion of the ballroom. Which is usually right underneath an air wall track so you definitely want to have some light on them as well.
  4. Another element that we like about immersive environments is movement. You don’t want to have an event that’s totally static. Think about this room right now. This room and lighting is going to be totally static the whole time and thank God I’m this animated person up here hopefully keeping you awake. And the really pretty pictures and videos I’m sure. But you don’t want people to walk in to something that’s just gonna be stale all night long. You want to keep it changing and keep it fresh. When we talk about movement, a lot of people think about moving heads and intelligent lights and lights swinging all around the room. But you can really make it a lot more subtle and I’m going to show you some examples of that.
  5. Sound is another important element especially when you’re doing themed events. Even just cocktail music. I used to be a DJ too so I bring a lot of that with us. When I would do casino events and not even lighting production but just casino events. Whenever I would be DJing, I’d be playing all the rat-pack music and all that fun stuff but I had this whole soundtrack of casino sound effects. You know chatter on the floor of the casino, the machines being pulled and the payout. It was just a background through the entire event and it just really helped fill it in. So just think about sound for a lot of your themed events.
  6. And then of course this is the fun one – Smell. Not a lot of people think about this. We’ve done it a few times and it can really just put the icing on the cake. There’s a website called Scent Events. I don’t know if any has anybody in here has used scent events. You have? That’s awesome. Did you like it? Good! I hope so. I’ve seen them in action and they do some really cool stuff. But imagine that you have a tropical event and you want the whole place to smell like suntan lotion or cocoa butter or whatever it smells like the beach to you. Or a lot of people are bring the outside in so you can have a smell like a pine tree. You know the pine forest. That’s just kind of those little subtle accents that people might not notice but then they’re like this is really cool and they notice it subconsciously

Return on Experience

A lot of people talk about ROI and that’s a very antiquated way of thinking about things. Return on investment, what’s going to be my return on investment for this event. So we encourage people to think about return on experience or return on engagement but really it’s more experience. so everything that you do how is it gonna benefit your party? These people right here, and I’ll show you this video in a minute, but as soon as they got off that bus they’re like oh quick take my photo. So that’s engagement, that’s experience right there. So another buzzword is Instagramable moments really. Everybody is talking about how can you create something that people are going want to be photoed in front of.

Examples of Immersive Evironments

What we’re going to do now is go through a few events and will show you some before and then how we transformed the room after. Here’s a very boring room, it’s historical in downtown Phoenix. We did this event for PBS KIDS day where they wanted to make it look like it was an underwater transformation. So we have all of our uplighting around the room and we projected on to the wall with these animated underwater scapes. We have the blue the water effect lighting on the wall. Even on the brick wall it looks really good. Even though it wasn’t on a plain wall. It looked better in person, trust me. With the water effect lights, these are all the different elements. We could not use any of the room lighting so we had to turn off all their lights and bring in our color washes. Those were on the center truss there and just have blue around it. All the up lighting was was alternating between blue and green. Then of course we had this interactive projection on the floor, and I’ll talk a little bit about that too, but that was such a really cool thing. When the kids run across it, the water ripples and everything scatters away. There is also a lot of craft stations around the perimeter and we put these magnetic pin spots on them on the wall so that way the kids could see their crafts. So that’s highlighitng the important elements. This is the sound effect that we played. There was no music at this PBS kids event so all they heard, besides a thousand kids running around screaming, was the bubbles and then there’s this whale sounds. It really feels like you walked into an aquarium, honestly. And this is the middle of the desert so this was really fun. So that’s the power of sound going along with your visuals.

Question: What was the budget for these events? I told my wife people are gonna ask about budget. Most of the events that you’re gonna see on here were under ten thousand. I can’t say for everybody out there and I don’t want to limit any of your production people. But our animated gobos we charge are like $400 each and wall animations are about $500 each. It depends on the graphic design and we’ll talk about that. But the underwater one was a little more but a lot of the stuff is floating right around that. So we’re not talking like $50,000+ events. I wish I had a lot of those, which we have some but it’s like you know I just have some more fun with some of these. Yeah good question.

This is another event that we did and just this is not even ballrooms. These were 30′ by 30′ rooms. So in this one here so we have the movement with the moving heads and tons of up lights and black lights. This is just like this mystical theme. There was really nothing to to describe it. We had an animated logo on the ground as people walked in. The low-lying dry ice with ChauvetDJ Nimbus. This fog effect won’t set off alarms by the way. So please use those. We took some of their logo and then we animated it and just had it rotating. So it’s using some of the brand’s logos and imagery inside your event. We did more production in these two 30′ by 30′ rooms than we do in most ballrooms because they just wanted to go all out this for this big Hendrick’s Gin event. We had a lot of static patterns on the floor kind of like leafy patterns And the moving patterns up top. It was this is really cool space. A lot of black light, which does not show up good in video.

Here’s this another event that we transformed this room into a galaxy themed event. They had this white fringe drape hanging to divide the cocktail from the dinner and we used that fringe drape as our projection surface for the galaxies animations. And then we had just static galaxy Source4 gobos all around the room. Had about 12 of those going around the room. But the animations, when you do it this big, you want to make sure that they’re subtle enough that they don’t make anybody dizzy or motion sick. We also had some color washes you can see here on the chairs right there. You want to light the interior because the lighting in this room was horrible. It dimmed barely and then it just cut out it. As you can see that’s about as dark as it got on the other side, so we would just turn the lights off and use pin spots to light up the room. But that’s transforming a room with galaxies. And of course you can do anything with black drape but you can’t really see a lot of visuals on it so try to go with a lighter color drape if you want to project on it. The stars popped through though so that worked out well.

This is a really beautiful venue in downtown Scottsdale called The Clayton on The Park. It’s just super modern, which is awesome, and it’s a big blank white canvas for us. We did this really cool fire and ice themed event here. How many people have done a fire and ice theme right? A lot of people have done this over the years so we tried to find that little twist on it. We have the animated snowfall on the wall. A normal static gobo on the floor. Of course our blue uplighting all the way around the room. We had the red upstairs and then the fire coming out the windows. When we got there, our original plan was to project that fire on a wall in the upstairs area. But then the planner said we’re not going to use upstairs as we were loading in. So the beauty of video projection is that you can just move them downstairs, repositioned them and keystoned it and made it fit in there. So now it was just popping out the windows and it was really cool. That’s the power of video projection. Not only are you bringing this really cool animated element in to your event but you have the flexibility of moving it on a drop of a dime.

Here is another fire and ice themed event. That is one projector doing all of that fire right there. Then we had two projectors on the snow just because of the angle that we were doing. But you know these snow projections are huge for us. By the way I talk to a lot of people around the country. We live in the desert so snowfall on a wall is awesome. I know people in snowy environments probably don’t want to see that as much but yeah but it’s really cool for us. it’s very novel and really popular. but you know these are just projectors with no computers attached. It has a media player attached to it with a looping video file. So we have different types of content or video files that are optimized for projection. A lot of times people think fire should be coming from the floor but if you do that then it projects on all the people. So we project it from the ceiling so it doesn’t your protect on everybody. Then we have some normal static elements in there.

Redefining the space with light

So going back to this venue real quick. This is how it looks again empty and then this is showing you the power of lighting. So on the left we had this really fun colorful Moroccan themed event and on the right was this elegant romantic wedding. Same venue, just different lighting scheme and that’s the power of lighitng. This is how you can redefine the space with lighting. We do a lot of events in the same venues and we have to be creative. Unless somebody just wants what you did that before. This pattern on the right, a lot of people ask us about it. That is just a cloudy texture. It doesn’t look like an actual pattern. I just wanted to give you guys a little insight into what we use for that. It’s this glass effect gobo that goes in the leko light to give it this cloudy texture. You throw a color over it and it looks like cloud. You can even put some movement if you had a rotator. There’s some neat things you can do with that. But this is kind of a nice abstract texture effect and it’s becoming really popular with us. A lot of people don’t want to see that really hard lined filigree pattern anymore so just that kind of abstract texture is really cool. That’s a little before and after of a wedding ceremony that we did.

So you saw a lot of really fancy lighting and I guess you could say a lot of movement and video projection. I just wanted to show you an airplane hangar that we did where it’s just up lighting and pin spotting that really helped a lot. We changed the uplighting from blue to purple every 30 minutes to kind of give the room a little change. We really can’t use the overhead lighting in this space because it’s just horrible, it’s hanger lighting. So the blue uplighitng will give you functional light with 50 or 60 uplights in there. But then everybody looks like a smurf so we have to break that up and do something different. So we just put up all of these magnetic pin spots that are from Fuel Lighting. If you go check them out, there on the Expo floor. We could just stick them anywhere really since their magnetic to create a pool of light. As you see here we weren’t even pinspotting anything specific. We were just throwing a pool of white light out into the middle of the sea of blue. It really helped your eyes not be overwhelmed by all of this color. As you can see on the left here, we were highlighting the signage and and we did have some on the catering stations as well. Of course some were on the floral centerpieces too. So even with just uplighting and pinspotting you can really transform a space. So to recap a little bit on this section.

The tools we use for event design with lighting

Here are some of the tools that we used This is the foundation for almost all of our lighting. Really we can walk into any space and do a thousand different events with just those tools. uplighting, the lekos, video projection. And I do put Epson in there because hopefully somebody from Epson will find me and sign me one day because I tout them all the time. They are amazing at what you can do with their projectors. Magnetic, battery, LED pinspots and wash lights nowadays, Fuel Lighting and ChauvetDJ as well. They’re out there on the expo floor. You should go check out their Freedom series, their little Freedom H1′s… those things are amazing. We just bring them to any event and I’ll find a use for them. Just stick them up anywher. The air walls by the way are magnetic. The walls themselves, so you can stick lights all over them and just have lights shining down. That’s kind of fun.

Digital Gobos & Projection Effects

Let’s talk a little bit about a digital gobo. Everybody wants to know what a digital gobo is. Does anybody in here use digital gobos at all? I like that, everybody on the perimeter does. That’s kind of cool. Is everybody familiar with what a gobo is? It’s that metal disc or glass that goes in the light that projects an image, you know a cookie cutter for light. We call them digital gobos even tho there’s no physical portion to this. It’s just a term that everybody knows, what a gobo is. So we just say call them digital. We use a video projector and a JPEG to create your image. So there’s your traditional metal gobo. They’re ugly and the only thing we use them for now are our patterns. Nowadays you don’t want to use them for logos and you’ll see why. This is just some of the complexity that you can get with the digital gobo with a video projection. This is just a white pattern right here. You used to have to get glass gobos for these which would be like three or four hundred dollars just for a glass gobo or for full color. With the keystoning, which I’ll show you in a second, we can almost project from any angle. I can project from here onto that wall in that corner and make it look perfect it won’t be stretched at all. That’s the power of projectors. Of course you can do a lot of different color gobos. The complexity of the animations and I’ll show you some animations soon. Down here in the bottom left we put a hashtag in for the big NACE event that we did a couple years ago in Phoenix.

So you can have custom imagery in there, custom messaging and branding. You can change it from the beginning to the end of the event. I’ve walked into an event and they’re like oh let’s project it here and then five minutes before doors,now let’s try it over here. So we just turn, it resize it, now I’ll just bring it back over here, turn it resize it. You can’t do that with traditional Source4s. Here is what a digital gobo is from EPS (a vector file) to the event. Here is the logo on the left that they gave us. We optimized it so any kind of darker colors we might turn white. If it’s a bright colorful logo then we might just project the whole color logo like you saw on some of the other ones. But the gray color, let’s just make it white because it’ll pop more. Then you can see it here on the floor now. When you’re doing digital gobos, all that black is transparent so you’re not going to see it. All you’re gonna really see is your image on a black field so it projects like a gobo. The other beauty with the digital gobos is that you can do multiple logos in one projector as long as it’s in the same geographical area on the wall. I think we have 11 on the left one. The right one has three. Again that would have been like $1,200 in glass gobos alone not including the labor and the the equipment.-Also that one in the bottom right there, the Founders Cup logo. The CEO walked in said that’s the wrong logo 30 minutes before doors opened. I said give me the right one. I put it in my computer, redid it, put it up and it was fixed. I’ve done so many events with traditional lekos, that the client would walk in and go “oh it’s a little stretched, cut it” and so it’s gone. You just lost that whole effect. Of course Gatsby is going to be huge this year. So

Animated Projections

This is a really cool Gatsby themed monogram design that we did. But the complexity is really cool. You can also project on to mountains if you have a bright enough projector. You can project it anywhere really. All of the projections we’ve used so far are $1,500 projectors. They’re 5,000 lumens That projector that was like 300 feet away. And then there’s another example that you can do a mountain. So there’s really a lot of power in these projectors nowadays if you get the right ones. Showing some of the animations that we’ve done over the years. Like I said, just bringing subtle animation to a logo or to the theme for Batman over there. Video projection is only limited by your creativity and you know there’s so many cool things you can do.

Using video projection for corporate and fundraising event sponsors

When we talk about corporate event lighting and for charities and fundraisers. Sponsors are a huge part of those events and they need to get representation. You can put up there, a thank you to our sponsors as an animated logo. it had little hearts floating back behind it. It was for a Valentine’s Day event. I think we had probably about seven or eight logos in there but there’s a couple events we do 50 logos that just pop up on the wall throughout the entire night. And you would never have been able to get that kind of representation through traditionally gobos. This was their event logo but we actually animated it. This is for an ovarian cancer fundraiser that we did so this is what everybody saw when they walked up to the bar. But then it changed and became educational and informational. This is the kind of stuff that will get people’s attention. They’re gonna stop and look at this and go “oh I’m gonna watch this”. If this kind of information was just on a little cardboard sign by the bar, nobody’s gonna read it. I’m sorry, but you animate it, you make it lively and fun and pretty. The key to when you do stuff like this is don’t have that white box of your video projector around it. Then they’re gonna go “yeah it’s a video projector”. You look at this, you’re like “it looks like it’s floating out there”. So it’s decorative but yet engaging.

Digital Scenery

We’ve talked about lot of fun stuff, now we’re talking about digital scenery. This is a big empty ballroom and they wanted to bring the outside in. So we projected three houses. We had three projectors on the ground there. It was just a static house but we had some twinkling stars and shooting stars above it. But that’s all it was. The projector is sitting about ten feet in front of that wall. It’s a 30 foot wide by 20 foot tall projection. This event, by the way, was a lot more expensive because these are really expensive projectors. But they’re still Epsons so these things are still only like this big and you can have some major power behind them. You don’t have to have scaffolding and giant Barco projectors in the corner. So I just wanted to show you that. Now when we talk about digital gobos ….

Question: How much are the projectors? Well the projectors themselves are like twenty thousand apiece but to rent them is cheaper. I think that event was about fifteen thousand total for us. So it’s not expensive for what you’re getting but you know compared to the fifteen hundred dollar projector that we use for a lot of stuff. I thought it was another question over here?

Question: Do you use custom or stock animations? Yeah a little bit of both. So as far as custom versus stock, I’m going to talk on that a little bit later. We we try to create as much in-house as we can but we utilize a combination of stock and custom.

Projector Placement

So I think every planner asks when we say we’re going to use a video projector for your gobo they’re like “okay does that means there’s gonna be a projector on the floor right in front of the wall?’ No. We’re gonna put it on like a pipe and base stand and it’s gonna be off to the side. With the keystoning powers that you have in these projectors, is that you can control each corner of that projection and you can morph it and fit it. So I can cut the corner there going 45 degrees and make that Dhara and Hiraj look perfect. So that’s the beauty of video projectors. And again I go back to good ones. You know not all of them are created equal.

Projector setups, hardware and Projectorgram

This is an example of some of our setups You see they kind of blend in. These are small projectors so they’re really not that big. These are just 5,000 lumen projectors that they call 5k projectors. So they’re just on top of pipe and base. We cover with with white fabric. The one on the right I actually scooted it out so you could see it in the photo because otherwise you wouldn’t see it in the black drape. It just kind of blends in. These projectors are very minimal. Our favorite game when people walk into an event is “where is that coming from?” I’ve had people stand on stage, there’s projection behind them and they’re like where is it? I’m like, it’s over there because it’s coming at of angle. But they don’t know that so that’s always fun. Especially when it’s an event professional. There is a company that I do animations for called Projectorgram. This is a great resource for you guys. I talked them into giving you a discount code. If you know Photoshop and you know how to create digital gobos, go for it. If you don’t then Projectorgram will do it for you. There’s a lot of animated stuff that you’ll see today is on the site that you can go and buy. Like the fire, shooting stars and the snowfall. There is a whole bunch of that stuff on there. So just use that code and also too they have this whole guide about what mounts to buy, what projectors are good, and the different tools if you want to do all this yourself. If you don’t have a production company in town but they’re really fantastic.

Rules for Lighting for Event Design

So let’s talk about some of the rules of our event production. We always want to talk about lighting to create focal points and define the space. I always like to say when you’re designing lighting for a room, think about where all the activity is gonna happen. So for weddings, it’s going to be grand entrance, first dance, sweetheart table and cake cutting. Always think about where the camera is gonna go. On a grand entrance doors we’re going to use at least two uplights flanking that door because I know the cameras gonna go there. I want to make sure those photos and videos look great forever. So that’s why we design with the camera in mind. You know with the photographer’s eye I guess you would say. Also too if you only have one wall to do, like behind the head table, make it good. Make it a nice pretty backdrop. For corporate events, you’re gonna have your stage that’s usually gonna be your main focal point. But there’s other areas so work with your production company. I would work with you as a planner and I want to know where all the important things are happening. So many times we’ve started planning and we do a site visit and they’re like oh yeah and I think the CEO is gonna talk over here on the right and then we’re gonna go back over here. And I’m like, wait, let’s go back over to here because you need to see this person and you need to hear them. So think about all the focal points. We always want it to be seamless and purposeful. For us it has to blend in and look natural and that includes our equipment as well. It really irks me when I see obnoxious and obvious equipment in an event. You want to see the effect of the light, you don’t want to see the light or the fixture. We actually have little facades that go in front of our uplight.

We always want to enhance the moment and try not to distract. It’s kind of like an ego check for us. I used to say – “It’s not the DJ Jeremy show” it’s all about the wedding. and I’ve always taken that with us. That we’re there not to take away from the moment. A lot of times people will say “okay well the bride and groom are coming in from this door but while they do that let’s have this really cool thing playing on this wall”. I’m like no you can’t do that because everybody is gonna be looking over here and we want them to look over there. We don’t want them to get distracted. “oh somebody just came in?” You have to think about things like that. It’s always about creating moments. You know, that’s our big goal. Not distracting but creating those moments. You know you could do a lot with lighting.

Transforming the same venue with event lighting

I thought I’d walk you through a venue that we do a lot of events at. This is called The Clayton House in downtown Scottsdale. It’s very industrial chic, modern, whatever you want to call it, but very clean. This is a beautiful space and I’m just gonna run through a couple of events and show you how we’ve transformed it. So of course just uplighting and a gobo. You know uplighting of course right there is gonna change any event. Which is really cool. But then you change the style and color of the uplight and you get a nice blush tone, add the tropical palm fronds and it becomes more of a tropical event. Then we did an event where it looks more industrial, kind of outside in. This is kind of an interesting one. We brought the Bistro lighting in. We do a lot of Bistro lighting on the inside here and bringing some of the truss inside. And then their gobo on the wall. Then we did this really cool Bat Mitzvah where we projection mapped the whole wall and had visuals playing on it. It was just kind of really fun and crazy. Here you can see their photo montage. I always love doing this. By the way a quick tangent. You know people say “we want to bring in a screen to project the video onto” I’m like, okay but you’ve got this big wall here so let’s use the wall. This way you don’t have to see this ugly screen. We do a lot of AV at this venue and they want to bring in these big screens with the black dress kit. I’m like. we got this wall so just use that because it looks way better and it’s more seamless in your event. But some people still want it so I’ll make them happy. But try to utilize your architecture that you have there. Especially if it’s this big white walls. And actually air walls are really great for projection as well. So we do a lot of a starry sky and it doesn’t always have to be on the ceiling. It could just be on the side wall. That’s kind of fun. But then we did it on the ceiling there and that was really cool. That was eight Source4’s just pointed up the ceiling with the the gobo. Then up lighting and a Gatsby theme gobo. But yeah it’s like starry sky is really fun. And again that’s that venue right there so it’s really cool the power of lighting. Let’s talk about some room transformation throughout the night.

Real-time sunset projection and event lighting

Okay, so a lot of the stuff that you’ve seen so far, it’s that look all night long with some minor changes. This one was an amazing change where we did a real-time sunset throughout the entire night that went through video and lighting. This is the empty ballroom and then we projected on to their padded wall. No screen, no paper, no drape, no nothing. Our projector is about a hundred feet away and it’s the same projectors again by the way. It was about a two hour animation that was on the wall. The Sun was setting so during the daytime the the uplighting was lighter blues and then sunset we did red and Amber’s for the uplighting. Then at nighttime, blues and purples for the uplighting. Then the twinkling stars there for the animation. Here is the animation sped up really really fast. It was like 50,000 percent. This one we did create of course using stock imagery for the New Delhi skyline then everything else we just animated ourselves. That was about over two hours. Then later on in the night we actually used that same projection for their monogram and for club visuals. You know it’s a big dance party. That is the beauty of lighting. Most events, especially social events and weddings,, at the beginning of the night it’s elegant and its romantic. You know it’s just beautiful. And then everybody always wants that party afterwards. So the whole room can with at the push of the button change. All the uplights are changing color to the beat of music and the visuals are on the wall. It’s something that they’re not expecting. That’s that set up for that projector. It’s about twelve feet up and again it’s just a 5,000 lumen projector. This is one of these little happy accidents. They wanted us uplight those screens but then it also created this really cool texture on the wall so that’s kind of neat. So kind of keep an eye out for things like that as well.

Creative Entrances and Exits for Event Design

Let’s talk about some entrances and exits. These are some neat ones. This one they wanted to create a really cool entrance and we didn’t have any walls to project onto. This is going into a bar or into a nightclub for a corporate event we did in downtown Phoenix. So we created this runway of lights and everybody loves this. A really fun one. That’s about twenty lights there. Really it’s the same uplights that go on the wall, we just put them on the ground and pointed them in a chevron pattern. Now it’s pointing people into the event. When we talk about interactive elements in your party, this isn’t changing as they walk through it but they are walking through it so I still consider that interactive and immersive. And the cool thing about this is that we’re using all of their brand colors. So as you can see here this is the parent company for these three brands. So we had the blue, orange and the red and you can see they’re represented. They’re the only colors that we used in that animation so that was another thing that they just really loved. and then inside the space we had their logos projected on the ground with a construction themed element and that’s a stock visual from stock sites that you can get and just put a logo over it. That’s how we blend custom with a stock. So that’s a floor gobo. Floor gobo and animated elements on the ground is really a big thing for us and I’ll talk about that soon.

This is a really cool one that we did for Hello Arizona. We had to create a Coachella themed event visual effect. They just wanted something cool. Something really cool to walk through. This is where they get off the bus and they’re just like “wow cool let me just take these photos” This is just some abstract textured visuals, kind of just wild and crazy. On the ground there is a sidewalk going between the projections. We stopped the projection right there and we keystoned it and just kind of let it spread out naturally to creat a path through the lighting. These were just two short throw projectors on tripods shooting down. Just getting it up high enough. The cool thing about this too, is that it’s video projection right? So you could have logos, custom messages, video from the the days like a same-day video edit playing on that. Or you could just have it be really cool fun visuals. So there’s just a flexibility in the power of video.

Floor Gobos

So we talked a little bit about these floor gobos. We do these a lot for inside or outside the event. Before when they walk in a lot of times is daylight so we’ll just have this as a surprise outside later. The cool thing about these is that you are using video projectors. You could not do this type of keystoning or make it look this good with traditional gobos. I always love this because when you’re inside the event you have all the lighting, you have the gobos and people expect to see all of that type of content on the inside. I think they almost become numb to it sometimes. When you’re inside how many people notice the gobo on the wall? But when they’re going outside, they’ve left the event. They are not expecting anything else. They’re now going out to the bus or to the valet and they see this on the floor outside. They’re like “Holy cow!” It says thank you for coming or if you want to catch them before they walk in, it says welcome. And then halfway through the night you turn it around and you change the image it says thank you. But I guarantee you that this logo representation or wedding monogram is going to get a thousand times more impressions or engagement outside the event because they are not expecting it out there at all. So it’s really cool. You can kind of see up there there’s the projector right there. It’s just on a tripod shooting down. You don’t have to get it straight overhead. Here are some of the animation examples. We do a lot of outdoor events. Phoenix is a big outdoor event area so we have to try to find different places to utilize projection surfaces and the ground is going to be your best place. I will say though this is all on cement pretty much. You can’t do it on this busy carpet like this here. It will look horrible. You could put some white carpet down there to make a surface but if you try it on a hotel carpet it’s not going to work that well. That was a nice one that we did. We just animated their logo. It was at a airplane hangar. and then the next one is cool for a wedding. Sorry for the really bad camera work. When they went out to their valet. Here’s a little fireworks that says thank you for coming. And to be honest we just used the internal speaker on the projector for the fireworks sound so you just hear this little pop and crackle. It’s loud enough to get the point across so you don’t need a fancy sound system out there. So ya it’s kind of neat.

Question: Do any companies not like people walking across their logo? You know that’s that’s a good point because I have not run into a corporate client that is opposed to that. I’ve always been more concerned about that than they have been. I think the only time I told a corporate client no, is when they wanted to project the American flag on the ground during the election time. They wanted to have the flag on the ground. And I’m like no you don’t want that to happen because you know somebody will walk across it and that’ll hit the social media. As far as logos go, I’ve never had anybody say no to that.

Affordable Projection Mapping for Event Design

Alright let’s talk a little bit about projection mapping. Are you guys familiar with projection mapping? it’s really just projecting onto an irregular surface. You can do all of these surfaces here. A non flat surface. I’ve seen a lot of great videos where it talks about J Lo’s dress being projection mapped and all of the buildings crumbling. There’s some really cool things out there but I just wanted to show you how we’ve used projection mapping at our events. Of course cakes are really big. Disney really got it started a couple years ago. We’ve actually done it for corporate events. I think we’ve done for more corporate event cakes. This one right here you can see was for a venue. They had an anniversary party for the venue and we just put all of the videos from all their news and different events on there. So they were on each different tier. And then of course themed events like the Wizard of OZ. So here are some other events that we’ve done projection mapping for. This was three video projectors across a 60-foot wide surface on the foam letters. Then the cake mapping. I actually put a little webcam on top of the cake and was filming me. So fun little things. You can do free-floating smaller surfaces on the balloons. There’s bigger events too. I mean really there’s just some unique ways you want to do this. You just want to think about why am I doing this? Is it gonna work for me? Of course everybody wants to map the dress. When you do that the person has to stand really really still.

Here’s a really cool event that we did. This is one of the larger ones that we’ve projection mapped. As you can see here this is a historic building called the Jokake Inn at the Phoenician Resort. I’ve been wanting to do this for years so thank you Hello Arizona! We had three projectors on this building. We had one on the the first two floors and then one on the top two floors. Then we had one on this this wall right there. That was a short throw projector that was kind of off to the side because we had trees and landscaping getting in the way. So we we couldn’t just go head-on with it so we had to get a little creative with it. This is how it looked when we were mapping it and setting it up. I’ll show you in a second a video of that. But these are all of our surfaces that we create inside our software to kind of give us all the different elements to project onto. This is our setup. It’s the same setup just front and back photo. I really I just want to show you this to show you how minimal these setups can be. You don’t have to have a scaffolding of ginormous projectors to do things. We try to keep things minimal because we’re in the event. Like I said we’re not trying to put the focus on us. You want to put the focus on the effect.

This is a little bit of a behind the scenes video for an event while projection mapped. All those little surfaces you saw on the building, this is kind of us doing it live. These just a little white cardboard pieces, I think poster board that they hung on this black drape. And then we just projection mapped each little white surface. Then just throw our visuals inside of it. It was really kind of cool to just to put these white textures on this black drape. You can see here it’s gonna zoom in on to the software so you can see how it translates what you’re looking at up there. This is our software so we can grab each of those surfaces and move them around. This is a program called Arkaos GrandVJ XT. It’s really powerful and really fun software.

So when you think about projection mapping, a couple of things you gotta think about is the cost factors. Of course how big do you want it to be. That’s gonna tell us how how bright of a projector we need. Do we need a short throw or a long throw. How many projectors? The content again is when we’re talking about custom versus stock elements. That’s where most of your money is going to be inside a lot of projection mapping or custom animations. You know, if you want to look like the whole building is crumbling or there’s a giant arm that comes out or this little guy’s climbing up the whole building… That’s all Disney and Pixar level animation stuff. That’s gonna cost you so hopefully you can find a happy medium there. Prop construction. If you wanted to have something really kind of complex to map. You have the equipment and the projector and the rigging. And then time… you’re gonna pay a lot more for time because it does take more time to do all this stuff. It’s a lot of calibration on these things so be prepared for that.

The limitations of projection mapping. is a big thing too. We get a lot of people that say, hey we want a projection map this thing. I’m like what time’s your event? It’s from to 12:00 to 3:00 in the afternoon. I can’t do anything if it’s all daylight. So just note that any daylight or even ambient light, if the rooms gonna be this bright, I’ve got to bring in a really bright projector to counter effect that. A lot of times you know for that building one, we actually set up the night before and then that way we were ready to go. Otherwise you’re gonna have to do some sort of focusing after sunset so be prepared for that. Or plan for it. If you can’t set up the night before hopefully there’s different ways around that. The projector placement. Most of time when you’re projection mapping a 3d surface, the projector is gonna have to be pretty much directly head-on. Because you’re gonna have the best effect. If you’re coming from the side like on that building. We had a little bit side effect because we’re coming from an angle. If we’re hitting a 3d surface you’re gonna get a lot of shadowing. Ideally if we could have put it in front but that’s where the event was so we we compromised and found a happy medium. That’s why we added that third projector. Bu just know that if you want to do something like this, you gotta have to think about where the equipment is gonna go. So a lot of times when we do cakes it’s gonna be kind of hanging above the cake. You can hide projectors in the scenery. They did that out on the expo floor I think. They hid it in front of this little box. It’s really cool. Then time… we need lots of it. Trust me we need lots of it.

Some of your cost saving tips. Shutterstock, Video Blocks. You know all these places are stock image sites you can go to. A lot of times you can go to this place called Pond5. They had the same images you can find on shutterstock for about 25 percent cheaper so that’s nice. If you do a lot of the work for us and I don’t mean it like that. But if you say, hey I want to do space themed event and then I’m like okay I can go a lot of different directions with that. But if you go on shutterstock and say okay here’s the types of videos I’m talking about. That’s gonna save your production company a lot of time because then the can look at this and go… oh that’s what you’re looking. Just like a Pinterest board. Then they can say I already have something like that or I can find it cheaper elsewhere.

These are just wall animations that we’ve done where there’s no computers and no projection mapping. So you can get this projection mapped effect but without the actual cost of projection mapping. Just wanted to show you some of the creative uses of those wall animations. The fire is huge, it’s cool. Champagne bubbles or it can be an underwater theme.

Event Design with Interactive Video Projection

So let’s go and talk about interactive video projection for a quick minute. This is LUMOplay. We use them a lot. There’s a lot of options out there for interactive video but these people are really great. It’s very affordable. It’s pretty easy to create some of your own custom elements. They have a lot of stock stuff. You think it’s for kids but trust me adults like to do this too. They’ve created some really cool complex stuff. Down there it says LUMO play.com It’s just a lot fun and I’ll show you what we’ve done with them. These are the types of events or how we’ve used their software. For more corporate events and not just games. This was their logo. At first it wasn’t there until people walked across it and then it just kind of appeared like in a dream. For a Bat Mitzvah that we did. The client was just walking through and as you can see all the little triangles kind of kick away. This little kid, he just gets so excited. LUMO play is really cool.

This is a different software but this is cool. This is a software where we actually brought the kids logo in. His face was falling down and little footballs and sneakers. All the stuff he liked. Here’s a few more examples of how we’ve mocked up some lumo play that we haven’t used yet. I just think these are cool options for weddings. You can have them walk across and hearts appear. This requires a camera kind of like a Microsoft Xbox Sensor. The Microsoft Xbox sensor triggers it. This one’s fun. Let’s say Samantha really likes her dog. So as they walk across it, little paw prints appear. So it’s just limited by your creativity honestly.

I know I kind of rushed through a lot of this so I’m sorry if I went a little long. I just like to end with one take away that you should get from this. When you walk into a space and you’re looking at something. Just think, wouldn’t it be cool if we did this. Don’t think about the limitations or the cost or what it’s going to take to do it. Just say… wouldn’t be cool if we could have paw prints come across their kids logo. If you thought like that then trust me there is an affordable creative way to make things happen. I think all of us are really creative in this room. That’s why we’re in this business. It’s just knowing what your resources are out there. But that’s just my thing. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could do this.

Thank you very much! Are there any more questions. Yes.

Question:What graphic elements do you need from planners to create custom animations? So typically when we’re creating custom graphics or designs any time, if you can get us the logo in a vector format or high res JPEG. Anything from your Facebook page is not gonna work. So vector format,EPS,PDF, AI file. When we created that one for the the Colleen’s dream, which is the one she’s asking about. Where all the the ovarian cancer facts popped up. Those we actually extracted a lot of that from PDF files. Ideally in a perfect world, if we can really connect with your graphic designers then that would be the best. To get all the elements but some of them we’re able to just create on our own. any other questions

Question:Who makes the magnetic lights you talked about? Yeah the magnetic lights. There’s two vendors out on the expo floor today One is called Fuel Lighting. Like gas…fuel. I think they’re right in the middle between Catersource and TSE. They’re amazing and his name’s Paul over there. That’s been a game changer for us. Because now we can walk in and just put these lights anywhere on the ceiling that is magnetic. And it’s just really cool. So fuel lighting is the first one and then ChauvetDJ Freedom H1 is the other. They have a small booth a little more towards the right on the TSE side when you walk in. They have these series called the freedom series… Freedom H1. It’s a little magnetic light that is battery, magnetic and LED. That has just been huge for our lighting. They can also do colors and washes.

Thank you again everybody for coming out and I hope you enjoyed it. If you have any other questions please email me or if there’s any other questions, just come on up and talk to me. So thank you very much for coming