Outdoor digital projection in urban environments is a great method for getting your content up big before the eyes and in the minds of your fellow city inhabitants. This tutorial comes out of trial and error and it works. But please be careful. Helpful comments on safety and alternative methods are encouraged. The majority of this tutorial is aimed toward using a 2500 lumen projector (or smaller), if you have access to something more powerful you might want to skip straight to step 6.
Thanks to Zach Lieberman for among many other things penning the phrase “Projection Bombing". And huge props to Krzysztof Wodiczko for bring this technology into the streets.
To see examples of this system in use check out the following examples:
- G.R.L. Drip Sessions (4000 lumen projector)
- G.R.L. Interactive Architecture (4000 lumen projector)
- Textual Healing (2500 lumen projector)
- Graffiti Analysis (4000 lumen projector)
Step 1: PARTS LIST
Part: DC to AC Power Inverter
Size: 600W - 1200W
Average Cost: $80 - $150
Note: Power inverters come in a range of sizes. The more powerful your projector the more watts you will need from your inverter. We have had good luck with a 600 watt inverter used with a 2500 lumen projector. Any inverter larger than 1200W will need to be hardwired onto the battery (rather than clips / jumper cables). Power inverters can be purchased online or at auto parts stores such as PepBoys.
Part: Digital Projector
Note: 2000 ANSI lumens is a recommended min. value for projecting anything bright enough to be viewed outdoors in the city.
Part: VGA Cable (male to male)
Average Cost: $10
Note: Whatever car you have available should work, but vehicles with larger engines will keep the battery recharging at a faster rate and allow you to project for longer. UHAUL cargo vans work well because they are cheap if you don't drive around much (they bill by the mile), the engines are big, and they are easier to get away with parking in creative locations.
Suggested: UHAUL Cargo Van
Cost: $19.95 + $.99/mile
Note: Any laptop that you can plug into your digital projector will work.
Optional Part: 200 Watt DC to AC Power Inverter (with cigarette lighter attachment).
Note: Powering your laptop from a secondary inverter off the cigarette outlet in your car can be a good way to project for longer than your laptop battery will allow. Don't try plugging the digital projector into this smaller inverter or you will blow a fuse in your dashboard. Similarly, don't try to plug your laptop and digital projector into a single 600W inverter, overloading can damage the inverter.
Note from RESISTOR: This knowledge comes from first hand experience and involves the element fire.
Part: DC Battery (Optional)
Note: This tutorial will focus on describing a process for getting a projection system up with a limited set of common tools. More elaborate projection systems can be created using an additional car battery or a 50-100 Watt or more deep cycle marine battery. An additional battery or batteries can be chained in parallel with your car battery. You can make your set-up as elaborate as you need it to be. This tutorial will just focus on the basic equipment and process you need to project from you car battery.