As inspired by mememamo‘s Visual Space Music, I bought some Ikea Saxan curtains last year for DIY rear-projection experiments.

Initially these were used for a series of pixel-cloud shaped screens at the Game On opening night.

Pixelcloud projection on the upper story

The Saxan curtains (US$4) were great for this kind of shaped, temporary screen. The white PEVA material is bright and contrasty when rear projected through glass, and we used a black PVC “Joining and Sealing Tape” to create our screen shape, projecting the cloud on the curtain and then applying the tape directly to make the outline.

Pixelcloud - diy rear projection screen

We’d initially planned to use gaffer tape, but quickly changed out minds as the first test piece stuck unevenly, and tore the curtain when we tried to move it. The PVC tape we found felt like thin, wide insulation tape, and was somewhat repositionable, while still sticking firmly and providing some structure to the thin curtain. After our shape was outlined, it was a quick and simple process to cut out the desired shape with craft knives.

The resulting screen was still thin and light, so it stuck quite well to glass with static electricity, and window attachment was achieved with some thin outlines of PVC tape. The curtain material is probably too thin and light to use outside, but for interior, temporary projection it was absolutely perfect, and less than 1% the price of “professional” rear projection films.

More recently, this same material was used in the construction of a prop for a performance last week in my new project: Cowper. We decided on a “cardboard cutout” theme for the stage, and made fasciae for bedside table, laptop and guitar.

The finishing touch, a cardboard TV, was fabricated by my bandmate (and Herovision chief Solderer) Rowley.

Cowper Rehearsal Stream:

A wooden frame with detachable legs was spray painted black. The curtain was stapled to the front of the frame like an artist’s canvas, and the cardboard parts clipped on with wire.

Because of the small target area, even my aging 1500 lumen projector was able to hold its own against quite bright stage lighting. Projection is notoriously difficult to photograph, and neither photos nor video of the gig do this setup justice.

For the setting, a full size screen would have been overbearing, not to mention difficult to set and integrate on this cramped stage. Confining the visuals to a small part of the stage created a very intimate show. The audience ended up quite close to us, feeling like a group of friends watching a movie together, rather than a crowd gathered to be performed at.