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The DIY Princess Leia-Style Vapor Screen ‘Hologram’ Projection System by Chris Weisbart

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My pal Chris Weisbart is a huge inspiration. Creatively minded, handy in any workshop, great cook, loves surfing at 6:00am, and always able to get a room full of people laughing anywhere he goes. The best type of guy to hang with.

Chris recently posted a few of his art projects online. Some of these are pieces that he’s put together in his day job as an event tech at a local museum in Los Angeles. Others are personal endeavors done for art shows or just for fun. All of them have Chris’ signature aura of “cool.”

One of my favorite of his projects is the vapor screen display. Remember that scene in the first Star Wars when R2D2 projects the video of Leia pleading, “Help me Obi-Wan, you’re my only hope?”  This’s like that. It’s based on the same concept used by commercial units, but built instead with everyday items (drinking straws, scrap PVC pipe, a kid’s humidifier from the thrift store, some scrap computer fans). The device creates a thin sheet of vapor mist that catches projected light from a forward-facing projector, which generates an eerie, floating hologram effect that almost looks 3-D.

The brief how-to from his video:

diy vapor display made from a humidifier, 10 computer fans and a couple hundred drinking straws. Humidifier output is routed out a central channel of straws. the computer fans are placed under two banks of straws on either side to create a buffering stream of air around the water vapor stream. projector is 4000 lumen, and the display is visible in a sunlit room. Cost is inexpensive, except for the projector, and most parts can be salvaged

The best part: Chris found that actual Star Wars footage and sent it through this device, popping it off the flat screen and right into your face. (The footage is from Rob Meyer, who, btw, built is own Aliens-style “Loader.”)  All he needs now is an R2-D2 casing for the projector and fanatics will be pooping Star Wars action figures.

(I still need to get him to upload the video of him playing Burger Time on this thing.)

Chris has a few other cool projects in his portfolio — I like the full-motion video domed hologram display (looks cool on video, looks GREAT in person) and his hovercraft hologram laser robots (there’s a theme starting here…). Check out all his uploads here.

And set some time aside to watch all four parts of his short film, Muetes Ul Gallaxiante!

a movie i shot waaay back in 2002 with a bunch of friends, a crappy digital 8 camera and about 800 bucks of taqueria money. It’s long, silent and in another language, so prepare yourself. I wrote the script (based on a children’s book i read), shot/edited it, and drew/animated all the backgrounds.

There’s also a great piece about Chris from earlier this Fall in the LA Weekly, discussing projects he was demonstrating at the “Melrose Trading Post.” More info on the fun stuff he does there.

Good work, Chris!