How I Made This: Projection Portraits

October 20, 2020

How I Made This: Projection Portraits

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Monica Singleton’s abstract portrait shots from her Re: Stock collection set a dream-like tone while being optimized for adaptable use in various video projects. We were able to join Monica on set to watch her create this sequence. She seriously did not miss a detail. 

Here’s the 1-minute rundown of the techniques she used to capture these shots.


For the wall projection shots, I really wanted to create something unique and abstract but also simple. — Monica 

Step 1: Create the images that will be projected

Monica used After Effects to design and create the custom, animated images she would project onto the models before production. She looked for inspiration on Pinterest and YouTube to develop a set of images within an overall theme of “identity.”

Step 2: Connect to an image projector 

Monica purchased a Xinda 1080p projector with 7000 lumens. The key was to find one that would be bright enough to be seen well on camera, so the high lumen count mattered. On the set, she connected the projector to her Macbook Pro with a VGA to mini display, then played each animated image in fullscreen mode on loop. 

Step 3: Place your subjects 

Monica placed each model in front of the projector to allow the images to project onto them or onto the wall next to them. She had a pretty well thought out shot list that corresponded with the images, so she knew precisely the variety of shots she needed to capture before rolling. She then gave the talent pretty simple directions like “look up on-command” or “look right and left.” She also captured a mix of wide and close up shots. 

Step 4: Add depth

Monica was able to add depth to the shots with color and fog. She used a GVM RGB video light kit with two LED panel lights that allow you to change the lights’ colors with a simple app. While those lights added the color, she also had an additional set of LEDs to light the subjects, controlled by a panel. For the fog, Monica used Atmosphere Aerosol from AbleCine. She would spray a stream of the fog before hitting record every few shots, so it visibly lingered. 

Step 5: Action!

Monica used both a tripod and handheld camera stabilizer to capture her shots. 

For Monica, the portraits were really fun to shoot and a good challenge as well. The variety of shot setups allow for a video editor to add their own tweaks. You can zoom in and out, add movement, add text. Check out the full collection of projection portraits here. 

Browse the Collection

Kaitlyn Rossi

Senior Video Producer

Kaitlyn Rossi is a seasoned video producer and a hobbyist photographer and painter. She swoons over stunning imagery and encourages everyone to tap into their inner creator.