Throughout December, Projection Hero was on display in the bar at the Watershed Media Centre, Bristol, screening Electric December, an online advent calendar of short films by young people from across Europe. Jo Reid from Calivum made a short promo so you can see it in action:
Jo Reid demonstrating Projection Hero from within the Curzon Memories App
Many thanks to Hannah and Ollie at the Watershed for enabling us to exhibit. It was really great to be able to test the installation on a live audience and has forced me and Tarim to address issues of PAT testing and health and safety and trouble shoot some of the code, etc. which we wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise. We got some useful comments in the little comments book which I’ll try and upload shortly.
The main things that arose from observing it in use were issues to do with 1) QR scan-ability (if that’s a word) – problems with reflections on the protective glass we put on to stop people spilling their drinks getting in the way of scanning the code, plus issues with the curtains tassels hanging too low and the angle of the viewing hole. You can scan through the projection booth windows, but it’s tricky. Tarim shortened the curtains and made the QR larger and adjusted the contrast to make it easier to scan. 2) Audio – the need for headphones – or not – as in a crowded bar you need to have the option of headphones so people can actually hear, but then it’s quite an isolated experience and bystanders can’t hear and therefore don’t get sucked in to want to try to manipulate the cinema. Tarim is working on the ability to switch between the two without dismantling the whole box. 3) Interface – it wasn’t clear that there were more films to see as the button just said ‘Start Projector’ Tarim has amended to ‘Next Reel’ to imply that there are more films to cue up. Since then we’ve added tab and auditorium lights and hope to test it for a few more weeks in the Watershed throughout January, prior to installing it at the Curzon.
The installation works on any smart phone with with a QR code scanner, but is ultimately designed to be operated with the Curzon Memories App as one of a series of QR codes to discover as you explore the cinema. The joy of it working independently of the App is that it can be used in different contexts (like Electric December), using the internet and web interface. Tarim is also experimenting with other control mechanisms and ultimately it would be good to make it more into a game where you get points for how well you present the film, if you dim the lights and open the curtains in the right order, etc. But that’s for future iterations.
In the meantime, I’m looking forward to having the actual films about projection screening in the cinema, as being a ‘Projection Hero’ makes more sense in the context of Maurice Thornton talking about training to be a projectionist and Pete Stamp talking about the digital projector making his job obsolete. “That’s the difference between, showing a film and pressing a button” as Maurice puts it…