Tips and advice
Are you looking forward to taking part in West End Lights but don’t know where to start?
If so, don’t worry! You don’t need to be a movie director or a sound and light artist to create your own creative illumination. If you’re short of ideas or have no clue how to go about creating your own display, we’ve put together some advice and tips which should help.
Remember, there are no rules! You can do whatever you like so long as it brightens up a winter’s evening. Most people illuminate their front window but you could light up something else entirely – your front yard, your wall, whatever you fancy! Also, remember that West End Lights is a celebration to light up the dark evening. It’s not intended to be a Christmas display, even though it takes place at the same time as the Lincoln Christmas Market. So don’t feel you have to have Santas and reindeer in your window. Below some tips particularly for projections (which many people use), but we have seen anything from candles, illuminated dance performances, or artful fairy lights. The only limit is your imagination! And you can also always check our gallery.
If you need a translucent screen (e.g. to project onto), you can use baking paper stuck on to the window frame or hang easy-to-make blinds from baking paper cut to size and attached to wooden dowelling at the top and bottom.Some people have used shower curtains or sheets. Check how thick they are before the actual night in case you lose image definition.
Windows with multiple glass panes
Some houses in the West End have one big window which is perfect for showing a projected image. Others have windows made up of several panes of glass. For an image this might not be a problem but again check before the night. The eye has a way of seeing the individual parts as a whole image.If what you’re projecting includes words then it may be difficult to read them on a window with several panes of glass. For that reason you might avoid words where possible. You don’t have to use the whole window, of course; you could project on to a single pane of glass. One illuminator in the past has used a picture frame against the window and projected into that.
In many cases you will be back projecting – you will project the image on to one side of the screen and the viewer will see it from the other side. This means that unless you change the settings then the image will appear back to front to the viewer. For pictures this might not be a problem, but if you’re using words then it will be. You can always flip the image so that it will look the right way round to the viewer. You can do this by using the settings on the device (computer or tablet) that you’ve connected to the projector, or some projectors have an easy way of flipping images too.
You might not have been expecting this one but from experience we know that sometimes what looks like a crisp image at the start of the evening begins to blur as condensation builds up on the window. The solution is easy – in fact, it’s soapy! It works on exactly the same principle as stopping your bathroom mirror steaming up. Wash the inside of the window with soapy water. This will last for a few days and stop condensation forming, and it will make sure your beautiful display doesn’t disappear behind a veil of mist.
Looping films and avoiding blackouts
If you’re connecting a computer or tablet to a projector and showing a film, put it on a loop in the settings to avoid having to restart it every time it reaches the end. Another thing to remember is that most computers and tablets will have an energy saving arrangement, so after a period of time it will enter sleep mode and the screen will shut down. Check before the night and if necessary change the settings.
If you plan to include sound then one way to do it without opening the window, turning the volume up full blast and disturbing your neighbours is to use Bluetooth speaker. Place a fully charged speaker device on a windowsill in a plastic bag in case it rains.
Connecting projectors to computers
This depends on what type of projector you are using. Our advice is, try it out beforehand. If you’re borrowing a projector from work or from someone you know then ask them how you connect it up. Failing that you can always Google it.
Have fun illuminating!