For a quick understanding with graphics here's a link to the Tips section of the Hallowindow site (Mark Gervais). Click on the Example link and the Blog link on this page: http://www.hallowindow.com/tips
Hallowindow BTW was my first projection DVD.
Screen -- We use a solid white shower curtain (bought cheaply from Walmart) as our screen. We have used it for several halloweens already and just store it each year.
Projector -- Lumens on your projector are important especially if you don't have a super dark area to project in. The higher the better. We've been borrowing a projector from my husband's work to use but I'm sure others here can specify a good range for lumens for you to use.
-- if the projector has keystoning that's very helpful. Helps you adjust the projected shape of the area projected (sometimes with the projector angle it will be narrow at one edge and wider at the other and your projected image will be distorted this way too).
-- Distance projected and maximum image size is important for a large projection as well as resolution. Also some projectors can flip the image so if you are back projecting like you would be on a window with a screen (as opposed to sending the image to a wall/screen--Singing Pumpkins would use a front projection as would projecting spiders to your floor or walls) any images with text in them will be readable and not backwards. Some DVDs BTW will provide both front projecting and back projecting video files. How important this feature is to have on a projector really depends on your video.
If you buy a used projector (with Halogen bulb) be aware there is a life expectancy for the bulb. The bulbs are generally expensive so you don't want to pick up a used projector with a bulb near the end of its life unless you're willing to buy another bulb.
Here's a video from AtmosFEARfx that has some good tips on using projection DVDs. Might give you some ideas for the type of projections you want to do.
In that case here's AtmosFEARfx's window tips and tricks video, should give you a good understanding for what you need to know. I have a number of their videos and they are quite good with nice video projection options.
For other tips and tricks video from them look for these on YouTube
#2 - Holographic illusions *also shows doorway projections (see below)
#3 - Projecting onto Solid Surfaces
#4 - TV display
Atmosfx is awesome. If you do buy a projector that has a replaceable lamp, I would definitely recommend getting a spare bulb. No matter what the hours on the
existing bulb, you do not want to have it go out from vibration or end of life on Halloween! You can get LED Lamp type projectors that don't need a replacement.
These are typically more expensive per lumen (brightness) than the traditional lamp projectors, but will work good for a rear projection.
You will want a short throw lens and the lumens aren't that important for what you are trying to do. Atmosfx sells a starter kit that you may be interested in.
I believe we now have 5 Atmosfx DVD plus one MP4 download. As well, we have 7 downloads from Hallowindow.
Projectors include a 2200 lumen Optoma DLP projcetor and a small low lumen LED projector. We use the DLP for the front window of the house. We project onto a translucent shower curtain. Our LED projector we use inside our haunt where it is almost pitch black. As well we run a feed to 5 old tube TV's (post apocalypse theme)
Just keep in mind that when doing window projections, less is more when it comes to lumens. Having a super-bright projector is a must if projecting over distance and outside, but when projecting on a window in a small room... it makes the room awfully bright and it makes it easier to see the projector through the screen. A cheaper, lower-power, projector is the way to go here.
Buy what your budget supports. One thing I do highly recommend is a projector that does at least a resolution of 800x600 native as standard DVDs (i.e. AtmosFEARfx discs, not digital downloads.) are 720x480 resolution. I would mainly recommend staying away from cheap Chinese 320x240 projectors. You can probably find something decent, used on eBay. (Or better yet, keep an eye on Woot.com for clearance deals.)
I know people get really obsessed with Lumens, but I would echo Bruzilla and note, it's going in a “haunt” or Halloween yard display. Something typically associated with being very dark. Lumens become much more important in a high-end home theater setup, but for displaying an effect in the dark, at night, short of being directly under a street light you should be ok.
The cheapo unit I use outside is an LED projector listed at 70 Lumens and it works fine. My only complaint is the resolution is too low and the projection looks blocky and pixelated.
Good luck, you'll be amazed with some of the awesome effects out there! I highly recommend AtmosFEARfx, Spectral Illusions and HPI Digital FX!
I use 5 projectors at my house for different types of effects so here are some examples of the equipment I use and how:
I have a Theater Bonus room that uses a 2000 Lumens bulb that I turn towards my double window. I cover the window with a white bedspread and play the AtmosFear DVD that uses Silhouettes. The sheet makes it look perfectly like a closed blind which is what your shooting for.
I have purchased projectors from auctions to use everywhere else, they are of various quality and age but all work. Most areas of the country have auction companies that sell off restaurants and night clubs and these all have great equipment for haunts. I have paid on average $75 for a projector and sometimes even get extra bulbs that can cost a couple hundred a piece on their own. I have also purchased outdoor speakers. audio receivers, speaker wire/cables and old school tv's this way as well.
I built a frame to the inside of the door dimensions and purchased a cheap shower liner from family dollar. I stapled the curtain to the frame and place it in the door at night. My front door has a glass storm door so I leave that in front of the frame. I place the projector on the floor and project through the liner. I use a ipad tablet for this process with a software App. called DynaMapper. This is a super simple product that allows you to map the dimensions of your screen so that the projection is perfectly fit in the box on your door. You load a video file onto the tablet (I use dropbox) and load it into the software and it will loop forever.
Front Garage Windows:
I use 2 old school 27" CRT televisions that connect to a rca cable splitter to a dvd player. This dvd plays a monster eye video in two separate windows in the garage so that they are synchronized. TV's purchased at garage sales for like $10 each.
I have a static cemetery and at the back of it I have a translucent screen that planes the skeleton DVD from AtmosFear. The Screen was built using translucent material from Walmart used for weddings. I had to stitch two pieces together to make a big enough screen (Aprox. 20' x 8'). The screen is strung across the yard and tied to a tree on one side and the side of the house on the other and pulled tight. I took a plastic yard rock used to hide things in your yard and cut the front off one side and bolted it down to a piece of plywood. In the hollow of the stone I place a receiver, projector, dvd player and aim this at the screen facing away from the cemetery/street towards the back yard so that no one sees the light from the projector. The speakers are run to the cemetery to provide the sounds of the dvd.
Side of House:
I point a projector at a large open space above my garage (Phatoms AtmosFX). The setup I use is a table with a Projector, receiver, DVD and connects to speakers. I hide the table behind some bushes so it is not something that can be seen by the road.
I must respectfully disagree with those advocating a lower power (lumens) projector. Firstly, higher lumens allow for greater versatility. You can use the silhouette-style projections just fine. They also work well for fully lighted scenes like some of the Zombie Invasion scenes, Night Stalkers, etc. When using dark background scenes like those in Ghostly Apparitions, Phantasms or Bone Chillers, the way to conquer excessive background glow is to put a layer of sheer black scrim between the projection surface and the glass of the window. I use cheap black chiffon. It makes a HUGE difference, cuts glare and significantly deepens black levels. The only remaining obstacle is your budget. You can find 2000+ lumens projectors pretty cheap on eBay with a little effort and patience, but the final decision on affordability is up to you.
This is a side-by-side comparison I did of various projections with and without the scrim I mentioned under different ambient light conditions (dusk, full dark, etc.) I was using a 2800 lumens projector. Skip my long-winded intro and jump to the 5:30 mark.
"I have a static cemetery and at the back of it I have a translucent screen that planes the skeleton DVD from AtmosFear. The Screen was built using translucent material from Walmart used for weddings. I had to stitch two pieces together to make a big enough screen (Aprox. 20' x 8'). The screen is strung across the yard and tied to a tree on one side and the side of the house on the other and pulled tight. I took a plastic yard rock used to hide things in your yard and cut the front off one side and bolted it down to a piece of plywood. In the hollow of the stone I place a receiver, projector, dvd player and aim this at the screen facing away from the cemetery/street towards the back yard so that no one sees the light from the projector. The speakers are run to the cemetery to provide the sounds of the dvd."
Do you have any Video of this in action? I project on the front of my house but didn't get the time to get the cemetery projections worked out..Would love to do it next year!
I agree with JCO. He has some great window ghost videos available to view. Enough to make people stop their car in the street and wonder what the heck they just saw!
I went easier .. had a 3000 lumen rear projecting the Atmos FX DVD onto a solid white shower curtain... It looked like a ghost in a black room..couldn't see the room in the background, but it worked well for me.