Video in displays

As Christmas and Halloween displays evolve, using video as part of the display is becoming more common. It may be playback via screens & projectors, or the use of processed video in LED matrices.

Video Content

Here are some web sites that have video content (download or DVD):


  • Virtualdub Video capture/processing utility for Windows. (Open Source)
  • Lightworks Video editor for Windows. (Open Source)
  • OpenShot Video Editor Video editor for Windows, Mac and Linux. (Open Source)
  • Sony Vegas Video editor for Windows. (Commercial)
  • Affinity Designer vector graphic design software for Windows (Commercial) was Serif MoviePlus which has been discontinued
  • iMovie Video editor for Mac. (Commercial)
  • Pinnacle Studio Video editor for Windows. (Commercial)
  • Adobe Premiere Elements Video editor for Windows. (Commercial)
  • AVS Video Editor Video editor for Windows. (Commercial)
  • Corel VideoStudio Video editor for Windows. (Commercial) ( 30 day free trial)
    Check Special Offers page as they often have specials eg $79 for Pro version, $103 for Ultimate (Sep 2017)
  • Shotcut Video editor for Windows / Mac / Linux (Open Source)
  • Natron Cross-platform open-source compositing software for Windows / Mac / Linux (Open Source)
  • VSDC Video editor for Windows (Freeware)
  • AviDemux Video editor for Windows / Mac / Linux (Open Source)
  • VideoPad Video editor for Windows /Mac (Commercial, Free version available)
  • Windows Movie Maker Video editor for Windows 7. NOTE: No longer supported by Microsoft.
    There are alternate downloads available, such as Windows Movie which are purported to also work on Windows 10 (NOTE: neither I, nor ACL can guarantee validity of any of these alternate non-Microsoft versions) (Freeware)
  • FFmpeg Video and audio editing for Windows / Mac / Linux (Open Source)
    More of a command line driven program, often used within other freeware editors.

Playback Sources

Some sequencing software supports the playback of video via a second monitor output. For stand-alone applications (like the Virtual Santa), a DVD player may be the easiest source to use. A dedicated (hardware based) media player is also an option, but may not support the looping function your require.

Display Devices

For a larger image sizes, a projector is the way to go. Keep in mind however that not all projectors are rated for more than a few hours operation each day. They can also have fragile lamps and may not like working at temperature extremes.

Window applications (such as the Virtual Santa) work well with either a CRT or flat panel (LCD / plasma) display. If using a CRT display, lower the brightness level until the areas of the screen that should be black, really are black. Don't forget that the room with the window display will need to be dark, or masking applied around the monitor to achieve realistic results.

Finally, ensure adequate ventilation for your display device. Most require either passive or fan forced air flow during normal operation.


Try to use the highest quality connection method from your video source to the screen (or projector). Connections in order of decreasing picture quality:
  • HDMI or DVI
  • VGA (RGB on HD15)
  • Component (Red, Green& Blue RCA)
  • S-Video (Mini-DIN)
  • Composite (Yellow RCA)

Some connection types can be used over greater distances than others. In general, having the video source nearer the screen will give better results. No matter what connection type you use, you will obtain better (or more reliable) results when using decent cables. VGA cables for example should be the thicker type with the filter cores (lump near each plug).


Sometimes you may need to transmit your video wirelessly to overcome video signal distances or other barriers, such as playback device placement versus the output display itself. A few options exist for wireless video transmission.
  • Wireless VGA (such as the IOMega Wireless USB to VGA kit). This is a decent solution to get your video transmitted through walls, and when coupled with USB extension repeaters, can often extend your reach fairly far.
  • Wireless TV transmitter (sources vary). Distance and quality vary, but some can extend a composite signal up to 50 meters or more.
Categories: Projection

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