Using a Home Projector for Rear Projection

Sometimes the old techniques can blend with modern tools to create something unique.  chronicles a music video shoot that uses a home projector to fill in a background.

Rear projection, a technique that involves projecting a background image onto a screen behind your actors, is a technique that was popular in the 40s and 50s, particularly for shooting vehicle interiors. It wasn’t perfect; the image can seem washed out compared to the foreground actors making it easy to spot the technique, and rear projection requires a fairly large studio space.

Rear projection has been mostly replaced, first by front projection, and by blue- and green-screen techniques. Even low-budget NLEs now include very good green-screen filters that produce excellent results; though it’s your technique when shooting the footage that can more greatly impact the results than the quality of the green-screen software you are using.

Rick Macomber recently invited me to a studio shoot for a music video where he would be using a projector to create the background. This wasn’t true rear projection; the projector wasn’t behind the screen, it was in front of the performers. This meant that the projector had to be high enough — and the performers far enough away from the screen — that the projected image wasn’t touching their faces. You couldn’t do this in a 20-foot space, but in this medium-sized studio — which admittedly also had the advantage of high ceilings — it was quite doable.

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