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Mobile Vegan Video Projection HOWTO

Contents

    What is Mobile Vegan Video Projection?

    How effective is Mobile Vegan Video Projection?

    Where to set up Mobile Vegan Video Projection?

    What equipment do I need?

    Future directions

    Acknowledgments

What is Mobile Vegan Video Projection?

Mobile Vegan Video Projection is a portable theater for showing people the exploitation of non-human animals. It consists of a video projector, sound system and movie screen and is by far the most effective method of reaching the general public we have every seen in our activist experience. Have you seen The Witness? This is Faunavision without the van, a Faunette for the new millenium. Activists across North America, from Toronto to New York City to Oakland, have discovered the power of Mobile Vegan Video Projection.

Some features of Mobile Vegan Video Projection:

    Deeply impactful. Nothing speaks to people like video combined with audio. Viewers react on a visceral level, emotionally connecting with the issue in a way that does not happen with other forms of outreach.

    Conveys a sense of urgency. The overwhelming brutality of the acts depicted in the video helps viewers understand animal oppression as a matter of life and death and motivates them to take immediate action.

    Instant feedback. People stand there watching the video, allowing activists to observe their reactions to the movie and better understand our audience.

    Opportunity for dialog. Since everybody is standing in one place, viewers can engage in conversation with activists, allowing for a more thorough communication of the issues each cares about than can occur with some other forms of outreach.

    Low ongoing operating costs, efficient use of physical resources, especially compared with 'carpet-bombing,' numbers-based outreach approaches.

    Easier on the activist than cold-calling forms of outreach. The video, not the activist, draws people in. Viewers approach activists with their questions and concerns.

Some disadvantages of Mobile Vegan Video Projection:

    Depending on projector brightness, may be vulnerable to ambient light.

    Like tabling, it requires a moderate set up and tear down time.

    Requires a large up front investment in equipment.

If we had to choose just one form of public outreach to do, it would be Mobile Vegan Video Projection. We hope this mode of vegan education spreads to every city.

How effective is Mobile Vegan Video Projection?

We've been talking about doing this ever since we first heard Andre Inglis describe his experience doing this in Toronto. We finally put together the setup and tried it out. The results exceeded our already-high expectations! Here are some highlights from our first evening of Mobile Vegan Video Projection:

    A few minutes after we started, a couple of young men watched and they immediately recognized the connection between racism and speciesism. This happened multiple times throughout the night. One older African American man kept shouting, nearly crying, This is me! This is what they did to N''s! It was heartbreaking to witness. We have never seen any other tool be so effective at allowing people to see the connectedness of oppression.

    A vegan student from a local university brought her friends over to watch. They sat down on the sidewalk and watched the movie for about 15 minutes.

    A woman watched the video for at least 30 minutes. Towards the end, she said how the video was a very effective tool. She had seen a video at a veal protest in her teens and hasn't eaten veal since. She said she's going to have to reconsider her consumption of other animal products, including dairy and eggs.

    A woman stopped to watch the video. Her family wanted to move on; her daughter said she didn't want to watch the movie and the woman shouted, No, you watch this right now! This is important!

    And, of course, there were many, many people who watched for over 30 minutes each, each one very much affected by what they had seen, wanting to learn more, asking us questions.

Clips of people watching the video:
Mobile Vegan Video Projection Audience #1


Mobile Vegan Video Projection Audience #2

Where to set up Mobile Vegan Video Projection?

Try looking for places with heavy foot traffic. If you live in or near a tourist town, try looking around the tourist traps for places to set up. Try not to block traffic, but at the same time try to set the screen in a way that pedestrians cannot help but see the image as they walk towards and past it. Setting up on the street in front of closed storefronts is good since nobody will come out and ask you to move. We've found many (though not all) corners near traffic lights are poor choices, since the light turning green induces many viewers to leave.

If you're projecting at night, safety may be a concern, so keep that in mind when choosing a place to park and a place to set all your valuable equipment.

What equipment do I need?

Mobile Vegan Video Projection Setup
Video of our setup

There is a fantastic tutorial online on mobile projection. It�s what we used to construct our setup. Andre Inglis put together another good site describing how to build a projection theater setup.

Here are the components of our setup.

Component: Digital Projector
Specifications: 2000+ lumen, high contrast ratio
Cost: $400+, depending on brightness
Note: Two factors are important with projectors: brightness (as measured in lumens) and contrast ratio. The brighter the projector, the more ambient light you can work with and the larger the image you can project. High contrast ratios allow darks to show; particularly important with a video like You Can Help Stop This. Projector costs are going down and it's possible to purchase a 2,000 lumen projector for under $500. Projector bulbs last about 2,000-3,000 hours, after which they need to be replaced. If they're not well taken care of, they may burn out earlier. Replacement bulbs are expensive: $200+.
On a budget: This is one of the most important pieces of the setup. I wouldn't recommend skimping here, particularly on brightness. It's important the projector be able to show the movie clearly; the effectiveness of Mobile Vegan Video Projection depends upon it.
What we use: Viewsonic PJ513DB. $429 from Amazon.com

Component: Screen
Note: Weight and portability were considerations for us. We velcroed to the bottom of the screen a laminated message that reads, YOU can help stop this. Go vegan today. This helps give people the context they need so they know what to do with the information they just took in.
On a budget: craigslist is one possibility. Also, see Andre's notes about making your own screen.
What we use: $40 from a local thrift store. A real bargain!

Component: Speaker
Cost: $75
Note: Good sound is very important for making a big impact with Mobile Vegan Video Projection.
On a budget: Try looking on craigslist for used practice amps. 15 W is probably sufficient. 30 W is definitely enough.
What we use: Roland Cube CM-30 amplifier. $175 from Amazon.com

Component: Deep Cycle Battery
Specifications: 86+ Ah (Group 27 or larger) is ideal.
Cost: $200-$300
Note: A standard car battery is not suitable for sustained power. You need a deep cycle battery. Here is an excellent primer on batteries. Take good care of your battery and it will last you a long time.
On a budget: It's probably wise not to skimp here, but this is also one of the most expensive pieces of the setup. If you can find a used one that has been well-maintained, you can save a lot of money. You could also buy a standard wet battery. It requires more maintenance than a Gel or AGM battery, but is significantly less expensive, at least initially (Gel/AGM batteries last longer, but cost more).
What we use: WestMarine SeaGel, 86 Ah, Group 27 size. $90 from craigslist.org. Fully charged, it powers our setup for nearly 2.5 hours.

Component: Power Inverter
Specifications: 800+ Watt continuous modified sine wave
Cost: $75
Note: Get a good inverter! The rest of the expensive electronics rely on it. We recommend purchasing an inverter with alligator clamps at the end so it's easy to connect to and disconnect from the battery.
On a budget: I would avoid purchasing a used inverter. If it is faulty, it may fry your other equipment.
What we use: AIM Compact 1000 Power Inverter. $74 from theinverterstore.com. The model we use doesn't come with alligator clamps, so you may want to check out the 800 Watt model, which does.

Component: Battery charger
Specifications: Deep cycle/Gel/AGM charger
Cost: $100
Note: Buy a good charger that specifically can handle deep cycle batteries (and Gel/AGM if you have that type of battery). A regular car battery charger isn't enough.
What we use: BatteryMINDer 12 Volt 2-4-8 Amp Charger/Maintainer/Conditioner. Highly recommended! It is the only charger on the market that can revive batteries which have suffered a lot of abuse, e.g. from deep-cycling. It works! Using another charger, our battery life had dwindled to 30 minutes. After using this charger, that same battery now lasts nearly 2.5 hours.

Component: DVD player
Cost: $15
Note: Look for the ability to show subtitles and loop selected chapters (A-B).
On a budget: You can find a cheap, $15 DVD player on craigslist that will do the job just fine.
What we use: A $15 craigslist special.

Component: You Can Help Stop This
Cost: Free!
Note: Short video introducing the vegan ideal of non-expoitation.

Component: Portable table
Note: A card table or other folding table will do. Look for something sturdy enough to support the projector.
On a budget: Used is significantly less expensive. Check the usual locations: craigslist, thrift stores, yard sales.
What we use: A store display unit repurposed as a table. Free from a local store after we begged for it.

Component: Convertible hand truck
Cost: $70
Note: For transporting all your gear!
What we use: CHT800P. $70 at Home Depot.

We purchased some of our components used. Even so, the total cost was about $1,020. Purchased new, the complete setup would probably run $1,250 to $1,500.

It should also be possible to power the setup with a portable generator. This might save some money, since a small generator will cost less than a new battery and charger. Depending on the quality of the AC output, you may still want to invest in an inverter or line conditioner. Be aware that a generator will add audible noise to the setup that does not exist when powered by battery. This might not matter in an urban environment. If you choose to use a generator, please let us know how it works for you.

Future Directions

It would be helpful to have a literature stand so people can take information for themselves without being approached by an activist.

We'd like for the activists to be easily identifiable so people know who they can speak with about what they are watching. Perhaps there can be another sign on the screen that invites people to speak with the activists.

With a bright enough projector, it would be possible to project videos onto the wall of a building, allowing the image to be 30 feet, 50 feet or even higher. We have found a candidate spot in San Francisco that we look forward to trying out.

With a bright enough projector (and perhaps a high gain screen), it may be possible to show videos during daylight hours. If this works, we would like to show videos in high traffic areas at colleges during school hours. An alternative would be to set up inside a tent.

Acknowledgments

We are not the first to build such a setup. Among others, Andre Inglis, the NYC AR meetup and the folks at the Graffiti Research Lab helped pioneer the use of mobile video projection. We are indebted to all these people, as well as the many people who engaged in Mobile Vegan Video TV, the predecessor to Mobile Vegan Video Projection. Thank you for sharing your technological expertise; may mobile vegan projection spread to every town!


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