How to Project a Moving Image on a Mannequin Head

Written by megan shoop
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How to Project a Moving Image on a Mannequin Head
Use a mannequin head as a projection screen. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Whether you're an art major, a film major or simply want to create an original screen surface, you can't go wrong with projecting film onto unusual objects. Pictures projected onto objects, like mannequin heads, get stretched and distorted. They also receive some real dimension from the mannequin head viewing screen.

Of course, treat any surface properly before showing movies on it. Also, choose your videos with care. Something with lots of faces, like family videos, works well. You may also want to play with both colour and black-and-white film.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Mannequin head
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Fine-grade sandpaper
  • White enamel paint
  • Soft nylon brush
  • 3-foot-tall pedestal
  • Projector stand
  • LCD video projector

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  1. 1

    Clean your mannequin head with alcohol wipes to remove dirt and oils that may prevent your paint from sticking. Look for such heads at department stores or online. Store chains often sell off their old stock for just a few dollars per piece.

  2. 2

    Sand the entire head lightly with fine-grade sandpaper. This "roughs up" the surface, making it easier for the paint to grip the smooth plastic. Wipe the head with an alcohol wipe again to remove plastic dust.

  3. 3

    Apply a thin layer of white enamel paint to the head with a nylon brush. Allow the paint to dry for 24 hours (oil paint dries slowly) and apply another layer. Continue adding layers until the paint is smooth and free of visible brush marks.

  4. 4

    Set the head on a 3-foot-tall pedestal. You can buy gardening pedestals made of plastic, wood, cement or stone at most gardening stores. Choose the style that you like best.

  5. 5

    Roll a projector stand to about 5 feet away from the head and pedestal, and gently turn the knobs on the sides of the stand until it stands about 3 feet high. Set your LCD projector on top of it.

  6. 6

    Turn on the projector light and centre it on the mannequin head's face. The top surface of most projector stands tilt back and forth so you can get the angle you need.

  7. 7

    Play the video. Center the image on the mannequin's face. Turn the focusing knobs until the picture on the face is perfectly clear.

Tips and warnings

  • If you want an even more engaging display, place the head on an old turntable on top of the pedestal. Turn the table on a slow speed so it rotates as the videos project onto the head.

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