Back in the Saddle

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wyrmwood_lives
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Back in the Saddle

Post by wyrmwood_lives »

After running largely theatre-of-the-mind games for a while, I decided to splurge on another projector. I forgot to take photos of the last session :-( but here's a few after I got the table set up.(Minion included)
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Phergus
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Re: Back in the Saddle

Post by Phergus »

That works well! Using a whiteboard as a screen?

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BearFather
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Re: Back in the Saddle

Post by BearFather »

Ohh that's a great idea, I have been debating on moving the mapping from my wall hanging tv to a tv embedded in my table. But a projector and a white board would be safer for the electronics, no chances of scratching it.

My question is how high of a quality did you go on the projector? What kind did you go with?

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Re: Back in the Saddle

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BearFather wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2019 10:32 am
I have been debating on moving the mapping from my wall hanging tv to a tv embedded in my table. But a projector and a white board would be safer for the electronics, no chances of scratching it.
I wonder if anyone has made a horizontal rear screen projection table (where a short throw projector is mounted under the table.) Large rear projection screens from old projection TVs are pretty easy to get for almost nothing, though you'd probably have to sandwich it between two panes of glass to get the necessary rigidity and screen protection.
Maptool is the Millennium Falcon of VTT's -- "She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts."

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Re: Back in the Saddle

Post by Full Bleed »

wyrmwood_lives wrote:
Wed Dec 04, 2019 10:32 pm
After running largely theatre-of-the-mind games for a while, I decided to splurge on another projector. I forgot to take photos of the last session :-( but here's a few after I got the table set up.(Minion included)
Looks fun. You should include your setup specs (projector, projection surface, accessories, etc.) Along with pros/cons and what you think might improve the experience having used it.

I think more people might think about spluging on such a setup if they had a better sense of how to do it and what the caveats were.
Maptool is the Millennium Falcon of VTT's -- "She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts."

wyrmwood_lives
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Re: Back in the Saddle

Post by wyrmwood_lives »

Phergus wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2019 7:40 am
That works well! Using a whiteboard as a screen?
Yes. A reflective surface can produce too much glare in the dark (like for watching movies) but with the ambient lighting needed at a game table, it has worked well, making the image brighter. The surface can be scratched easily though, so be careful with metal based miniatures.
BearFather wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2019 10:32 am
Ohh that's a great idea, I have been debating on moving the mapping from my wall hanging tv to a tv embedded in my table. But a projector and a white board would be safer for the electronics, no chances of scratching it.

My question is how high of a quality did you go on the projector? What kind did you go with?
Native 1920 x 1080 LED. WiMiUS P20
Full Bleed wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2019 12:35 pm
Looks fun. You should include your setup specs (projector, projection surface, accessories, etc.) Along with pros/cons and what you think might improve the experience having used it.

I think more people might think about splurging on such a setup if they had a better sense of how to do it and what the caveats were.
Sure!

Always, the limiting factor with a projector is throw distance. When you are projecting from the ceiling, you'll be lucky to get 4' of throw distance, and most projectors aren't designed to throw that short. Even if they are, it can severely limit the total projection size.

There are some new ultra short throw projectors, but that design would only work if a significant portion of the table is dedicated to the projector or you mount it underneath the table, since the projector is designed to sit on a bench next to the wall it projects on, only a few inches from the surface. If you tried to put this under the table, I assume you'd start getting second surface distortion issues, even with a clear table on top of a white screen. Nearly all projectors can project from behind a screen, but then you still need a surface for your table.

Ideally, I'd like to replicate a Megamat (almost 3' x 4'), only with a projection.

My old setup, a Viewsonic DLP 2000 lumen, 800x600, could only get about about a 29x21 image (~36" diagonal). It wasn't too bad, but I did have to drag the map around for some encounters. With that setup, I looked into first surface mirrors and even tried some mylar, so I could increase the throw distance by projecting horizontally to the first surface and reflect down to the table. However, everything I tried distorted the image too much.

I sort of reverse engineered the screen sizes and throw distances listed to determine WiMiUS P20 might work. The price, $239 was also in line with what I was willing to spend and was listed with free returns, figured I'd give it a shot.

I thought with this projector, I'd get about a 4' x 3' image, but naively I was still thinking about my old projector, which was native 4:3, and would crop the image for 16:9. Of course, with a native 16:9, 4:3 just crops the image, so with 16:9 the largest I could get the image was 42.7" x 24". After realizing this, I started looking into native 4:3 projectors, but there really aren't any consumer models, so they were way more than I was willing to spend, starting around $800.

In the meantime, I found a 42" x 24" whiteboard and decided to try that.

Well, it turns out with my 6' x 5' gaming table, (two costco tables held together with a C clamp and a long, black tablecloth), a 42" x 24" whiteboard actually fits very nicely, allowing everyone enough room for character sheets, dice and books, while still being within reach of everyone. My mistake ended up being fortuitous.

It was a bit of a challenge figuring out how and where to mount it. I ended up re-arranging my office several times. My "office" is an unfinished room in the basement, so perfect for mounting the projector without too much fuss, with the caveat there are pipes everywhere! I'm projecting at a bit more of an angle than I would prefer, as that makes it so you cannot evenly adjust the focus, but it was a good compromise for centering the table in the room and not moving any pipes.

The mount I purchased is also less flexible than my previous one (which would swivel 360 degrees in all directions), so definitely look for a full swivel mount (360 degrees horizontally and vertically) if you're investigating this, especially if you want to setup a dual use movie projector.

Incidentally, I dropped my old projector screen while moving stuff around, so haven't used it much for movies yet. My kids want to do the backyard movie thing in the summer, and I have a nice PA sound system, so will eventually get an outdoor mountable screen.

I use the setup for face to face games, and my players are using dice and miniatures, so other than vision and initiative, I really don't use much of the other token features of MapTool. I am currently tracking HP with the tool. Even just this is a boon as tracking which enemy maps to which miniature gets hard to manage, especially for encounters with lots of enemies. Using tokens for the enemies, it's a breeze. (Obviously) I also use the vision and lighting and vision blocking layer tools - really the magic of MapTool!

I create my maps in GIMP or Krita, and use a 1920x1080 canvas, with 45 pixels per inch, targeting actual size of 1" on the projector. This makes for very small maps that look great on the whiteboard. I also find the tool is much more forgiving if you create the maps actual size and leave the player view (my player client) at 100% and never move it. You don't have to line anything up. It just works. I use the Control E feature in the server (GM view) to bring the players over and I don't have to change anything except vision. While I have player tokens for all the players for initiative, I only move one around and use Control I to expose the current view. I was initially using the auto expose on move, but that's a bit awkward and hazardous if you move an enemy with vision as it will expose their view. At any rate, the Control I is more controlled and precise.

I've run two sessions like this so far and it's been a blast. I'll make sure to get some in situ photos next time :-)

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Re: Back in the Saddle

Post by BearFather »

Thanks for the details I will look into this. Currently we play around out frontroom table, and use 65 inch tv for the map. I was looking at getting a 27 inch monitor to drop into my table(It has a granite insert). But was looking at touch screen options, which after awhile of thinking kinda went away from this thought.

I like the idea of hybrid of miniatures and maptool tokens, why I was looking at moving maptools to a horizontal position. Thanks for this input puts more ideas into my head to see what I can do to make my games more enjoyable.

wyrmwood_lives
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Re: Back in the Saddle

Post by wyrmwood_lives »

I should add, this setup is most definitely a compromise. Inserting a TV into a custom table would be the ideal setup. You'd need a thin sheet of lexan or other clear material to protect the screen. That would distort the view some, but the image would overall be better than a projected image. Also, the degree to which depending on the projector, the TV is also going to perform better under brighter ambient light. I just found it hard to justify the expenditure for a dedicated TV, and I do not have the mad carpentry skills required to do it right. If I had a large stash of RPG money, that's definitely the way I'd go. There are also outfits who build custom tables, so could go that route and get it done professionally.

This is kind of what I was thinking, only with it built into the table.

1080p 50" TVs can be found for $200, so if you have excellent carpentry skills or don't mind splurging on the table, that would be my preferred route.

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Re: Back in the Saddle

Post by BearFather »

I do got the skills, I actually built my table 15 years ago. The monitors I was looking to fit in the hole was around $200, and would be able to remove it after games. But do know a tv behind glass can create weird artifacts at different angles, so why I liked the projector idea. I was thinking with a decent projector I could get decent detail, prob not as good as a tv, and not have to worry about double images at weird angles.

I could yolo it and run the monitor with no protection glass, but I fear within a few game sessions it be scratched especially if I went with a touch screen.

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Re: Back in the Saddle

Post by wyrmwood_lives »

BearFather wrote:
Sat Dec 07, 2019 11:33 am
I do got the skills, I actually built my table 15 years ago. The monitors I was looking to fit in the hole was around $200, and would be able to remove it after games. But do know a tv behind glass can create weird artifacts at different angles, so why I liked the projector idea. I was thinking with a decent projector I could get decent detail, prob not as good as a tv, and not have to worry about double images at weird angles.

I could yolo it and run the monitor with no protection glass, but I fear within a few game sessions it be scratched especially if I went with a touch screen.
Nice. Yeah, I've never seen a TV setup in person, but I imagine the protective glass could present some of the same issues a second surface introduces with projectors. The pro of the projector is that it is tucked away above the table, so other than having running cables along the ceiling, and the mounting hardware, it's fairly out of sight. Also, when players move tokens, it obviously blocks the screen a little.

Even at $200, I would still want the protective surface. I wonder if some sort of thin screen protector might work. Certainly an added cost and aren't necessarily designed for what we're thinking.

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Re: Back in the Saddle

Post by BearFather »

Screen protector is an awesome idea, never thought of that. That much better then a piece of glass. I got some thinking to do before next summer. Was planning doing this in the summer time next year.

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