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Projection Alternatives for Churches

This article sponsored by All Pro Sound—check them out for projector options.

In this article, Glendale Matias talks about projection alternatives—from building your own projection screen to using non-traditional projection surfaces.

A simple definition of screen projection consists of throwing an image a distance to be reflected/absorbed off an opposing surface. There are a lot of ways to project an image—using opaque or transparency projectors, film and reel projectors, map projection and modern digital projectors (LED, DLP).

Projecting an image also needs an opposing surface to work. One standard method is to use a large semi-reflective screen. This type of screen is most commonly used in movie theaters. The surface is painted in a white or silver finish, which reflects color well and displays high contrast in moderate lighting. The screen accepts lights and darks well with a good amount of contrast for complicated shapes like text and graphic shapes. Churches, conferences and movie theaters use this method for a clear unobstructed delivery of their content (in terms of color, light, and contrast). A great example of this can be found here (DIY Projection Screens).

But projection doesn’t always necessarily need a traditional ‘screen’ to be able to display content. As tools become more varied and technology more available, designers are becoming more creative in delivering content with projection. Using non-traditional screens can add depth and textural interest to the projected image—things like wood, brick, and surfaces that absorb and fragment the light. Here is an example of a wood projection screen.

A very minimalistic approach to screen projection is to not even use a screen at all! Use your surroundings—the building itself as a surface to deliver content. Using the stucco or uneven side of an exterior/interior surfaces can also be used to your advantage. Here is a sample of a setup using the building as your projection surface.

The three examples above are great executions of traditional/untraditional ways to project an image onto a substrate or screen. Don’t limit your idea! Layer multiple methods of projection into your design or idea by using more than one method. Image mapping or map projection uses multiple concepts of screen projection. Essentially, you are mapping (think cartography) a three-dimensional surface with a two dimensional projection. A static example of this mapping a two-dimensional drawing into a three-dimensional space can be found here (anamorphic projection).

More advanced projection using traditional screens, interactive objects, geometry, and screen mapping seem complicated, but with technology and ingenuity you can create almost impossible looking environments. This last example is a culmination of everything above. No post editing was done. Everything was recorded real-time (after a lot of rehearsing and programming, of course).

Typically, for anything requiring visual communication that needs to be presented or displayed, projection can be used. Projection can be used to create believable environments suitable for any stage or presentation affect. Projection can be an art form. It’s somewhat limitless how creative you can be with simply projecting on a screen.


Glendale is a graphic designer at Disney and does stage and scenic design for his church in Los Angeles, Oasis Church.


Christmas with Barn Wood Floating Frames

3 responses to “Projection Alternatives for Churches”

  1. Mark Manley says:

    Thanks for the great article. We designed our new facility so that the entire front wall (center and two wings) are completely white, free of seams, and free of obstacles, and so we do a 5-wide projection (triple-wide on the center and single on each of the wings). We are not presently using any “Screen Goo” type of paint, but rather a matte, off-white paint. It’s working well, but I’d love to compare this paint with a proper projection paint. Thanks again!

  2. Dan Johnson says:

    We use photo backdrop paper for just about everything. It makes a great front or rear projection screen. It comes in several sizes but we use the 9’x36′ roll. It’s a very heavy paper which is great.

    • Michael Hare says:

      Dan – What do you mount the photo paper on? Do you have some images of the execution of this? Moving into a new facility soon and working on Screen solutions right now…

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