Tips for Virtual Santa

Discussion in 'Incorporating video or projection in your display' started by BundyRoy, Dec 22, 2015.

  1. BundyRoy

    BundyRoy Senior Elf

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    Was thinking I would do a virtual santa next year. Then I just thought, I have a projector already, why not have a crack this year. So I need some tips. I gather it is just a matter of projecting the footage onto a white screen inside/against the window.

    My trouble is I only have two windows that face the front yard. Both are large which is fine. One is the kitchen window which I'm assuming would be unpractical to use as I assume you need to have the room with the projection kept dark.

    Where do people get their virtual santa videos from. How do you control it. Do you just let it play on repeat the whole time. I gather projecting to view in reverse is just a setting on the projector. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. fasteddy

    fasteddy I have C.L.A.P Global Moderator Generous Elf

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    place the projector on the ground so the light goes up to the window, this avoids having an intense light shining through from the projector itself

    Place the sheet slightly back from the window as this will help give a look of depth

    Use a DVD player on repeat to play the virtual Santa video which you can buy online from various locations

    Set the projector to flip the image so it plays from behind instead from the front

    It works best with a dark room, but can also work with a lit room but wont get as good as an effect depending on the amount of light in the room
     
  3. MarcD

    MarcD Full Time Elf

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    What FastEddy said. You can buy the video here. It's US$24.95 and worth every cent.

    Just burn it to a DVD and specify to play it on loop. It's just a setting in the DVD software. We have ours set up on a small bedside table with a cheap DVD player. It sits at the end of our bed. Each night, we put the table in position, plug it in and at 7pm we fire up the projector and insert the DVD which plays automatically and keeps going in a loop until we shut it down around 10pm. Once the projector has finished cooling down, we unplug it and drag the whole lot into the study until the next night.

    We have double roller blinds on our bedroom window. We raise the blockout one and just project onto the light filtering blind. It's not perfect, but it doesn't need to be. It's pretty obvious that it's Santa inside the house and it doesn't need to be hi def or anything. It's probably better if it isn't.

    Most projectors will have four viewing option. Normal, Rear, Upside down and upside down rear.

    We have security screens on one side of the window, so we turn the projector so the candle is just inside the left edge of the window. You lose a little bit of the image, but at least Santa isn't buried behind the security screen for most of the video.

    I hope you get it working. It's certainly a big hit with visitors.

    EDIT: Here is a link to a video of Virtual Santa posted to our Facebook page by one of our visitors. She was from Canberra and wanted to show the family. It shows how we have the video positioned in the window.

    https://www.facebook.com/100004614467684/videos/566843016812842/
     
  4. OP
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    BundyRoy

    BundyRoy Senior Elf

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    Thanks Eddy and Marc. I was just about to ask if anyone knew of a place I could download it as that is my only chance of getting anything happening this year. So thanks again. I'll download it now and let you know how I go.

    Merry Christmas.
     
  5. Fing

    Fing Full Time Elf Generous Elf

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    Virtual Santas are great, they should be the starting point of every display... :)


    Some Ideas:
    I bought a second hand Hitachi short throw projector from eBay - $160, these are the ones that mount above whiteboards etc they allow the projector to be close to the window, mine is about 1m away and 400mm below the window. I didn't flip the image as there is no reason to, as the VS has no writing or such ( and I forgot lol)


    As the project has an HDMI input, I use a Raspberry Pi running FPP to Schedule and play the mpeg which I bought and downloaded from the net, just google virtual santa, although the prices vary...


    The projector I bought also has network control capabilities which the PI can control to automatically start/stop the projector. I "almost" had it working, but luckily the project has built in control options that allow me to program the projector directly to auto start/stop or log in to it via a web interface, this blows people away when I reach for the iPhone to control things lol ( all for $160 :D )

    When the Pi was killed by lightning, I swapped to an old laptop as the media player.for a screen I use some old school tracing/drafting paper, which is like greaseproof paper only thicker and bigger. This is attached to a wooden frame that fits inside the window frame. Before I "found" the paper i was using a $2 white plastic table cloth from the reject shop. Shower curtains also work. I arranged it so the join aligned with the window structure and can't be seen.

    There are a couple of different styles of Santa, one of the others might suit your windows better.

    If your window is too large you could always curtain it off, or even build some kind of external frame decorated up up as a surround you don't want Santa too big or the Kids will ask questions...lol

    With the Pi running the show you also have the ability to play other videos and sync them with you main show ( this requires some thought)

    All in all Santas are great, you won't be sorry

    Cheers
    Fing
     
  6. OP
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    BundyRoy

    BundyRoy Senior Elf

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    Thanks Fing. I hadn't thought about the size of santa. I guess he needs to be realistic size to be believable. Good point.
     
  7. OP
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    BundyRoy

    BundyRoy Senior Elf

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    As a shortcut this year I was thinking of just pinning the shower curtain to the back of the window frame. This 100-150mm back from the window glass. Will this work or does it need to be closer to the window pane to be visible.
     
  8. fasteddy

    fasteddy I have C.L.A.P Global Moderator Generous Elf

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    Having it slightly back helps give that illusion because it adds a bit of depth and allows the window frame to be seen to help give a more realistic look to it

    Just put it up and have a play if you have the bits, you wont regret it
     
  9. OP
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    BundyRoy

    BundyRoy Senior Elf

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    Thanks Eddy. I'm downloading the file now. The hardest part now is going to be setting up with people there looking at my lights. Oh well the first few people might get a wonky santa for a while.
     
  10. scamper

    scamper Senior Elf

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    I have a cheap lcd projector I bought off ebay, it has a usb and memory card input, so I just copied the image to a usb and set it on repeat, so no need for dvd player.
    I didn't even think about flipping the image as there is no writing or anything that looks wrong.
    Also I just stuck a plastic table cloth over the window and that works fine.
    With setup, if you have a blind or something, you can shut that while you get it setup roughly and then once going you could open the blind and do the final adjustments.

    Its only the kids that believe it and most of the time the adults are so intrigued by it they don't even realise they are ruining the kids beliefs by asking how do you do it or is that a tv in there.
    Spoil sports!
     
  11. MarcD

    MarcD Full Time Elf

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    Hang something dark (eg sheet of black plastic) behind your screen while you set it up and get the alignment right. If it looks good from the inside, it will look good from the outside as well. Once you're ready, you can drop the black sheet and go outside to see how it looks.

    Rest assured, people simply won't care if it's not perfect. Unlike those who have a habit of pointing out faulty lights, they'll be so engrossed in virtual Santa, they won't give a damn.
     
  12. OP
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    BundyRoy

    BundyRoy Senior Elf

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    It's funny how people point out faulty lights, especially when they don't have any lights at all themselves. It's sure made me less critical of things others do. My wifes the opposite. I had half an arch go constant green the other day (break in a solder on the strip) and I told my wife I was taking that arch out for the night. She said leave it in no-one will even notice. I took it out, there is no way you couldn't notice. The other thing I've learnt is it's very hard to know what people will like and that your favourite parts are not necessarily everyones favourite bits.

    Thanks for the tips on the dark sheet. Will do. Will look at the usb option too. Thanks for the tip.
     
  13. the grinch

    the grinch I guess I could use a little social interaction

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    Yes our setup for virtual santa got a plastic table cloth made simple wooden frame to size of window staple gun table cloth too it sit in window blocked rest of window with coro as we have a bay window . We purchased a lg mini beam led projector last year to watch movies coolest little thing not cheap has usb slot so santa plus a powerpoint presentation reversed about our display is on a usb stick . Works great
     
  14. OP
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    BundyRoy

    BundyRoy Senior Elf

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    Well santa's a hit.

    My front yard is echoing to hi santa, bye santa. Thanks for the tips. Can't believe I didn't think of the projector at work sooner.
     
  15. OP
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    BundyRoy

    BundyRoy Senior Elf

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    Do people keep their santa going after Christmas eve. Somehow it doesn't feel right to play santa after Christmas as he should of already been.
     

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