We’ve all driven past those houses in our neighborhoods—the ones that decorate for every holiday, with lights strung everywhere and large animatronics on their roofs and in their yards. Ever since reading about Forrest J. Ackerman’s fantastic annual Halloween decorating in the pages of Famous Monsters of Filmland, I’ve dreamt of one day building my own haunted house for people to enjoy. Unfortunately, money and storage space has always been an issue in realizing this dream.
However, with AtmosFX and their new M1+ Holiday Bundle, I may have found a way to decorate for the holidays that won’t break the bank or require me to rent a warehouse just to store everything.
Enter digital decorations.
What Is Digital Decorating?
With digital decorating, you download themed short films, which can then be viewed in a number of different ways, depending on how you want to decorate. They can be viewed on a television or computer screen, or projected onto different surfaces for varying effects. Here’s a short video from AtmosFX, which shows you the different ways you can use digital decorations:
The M1+ Holiday Bundle
The M1+ Holiday Bundle combines a projector, a sampling of digital decorations, and a gift card to give you a package to get started with digital decorating. It costs $359 and is currently available from the AtmosFX website.
Here’s what comes with the bundle:
- ViewSonic® M1+ Short-Throw Projector w/3-yr warranty
- 20 Year-Round AtmosFX Decorations (4 pre-installed on the M1+)
- $20 Digital Decorations Gift Card (Sent via e-mail)
- 4 Gigabyte USB Drive Stored in a Sleek Velvet Pouch
For this review, AtmosFX sent me the holiday bundle, along with a couple of extras, like a plushie of Gourdy, the AtmosFX mascot.
The ViewSonic® M1+ Short-Throw Projector
The included projector in the holiday bundle is small, lightweight, and can operate for up to 6 hours off of a rechargeable battery. Here are the specifications:
- Dynamic Contrast Ratio: 120,000:1
- Lamp Life: 30000 Hours
- Native Resolution: 854 x 480
- Brightness: 300 LED Lumens
- Display Size Range: 2 feet wide minimum, 8.3 feet wide maximum (0.6 to 2.54 meters)
- Digital Keystone: Vertical +/- 40°, Automatic or Manual
- Throw Distance: 40 inches (1 meter)
- Throw Ratio: 1.2:1
- USB Type A
- USB Type C
- MicroSD Card Reader
- HDMI 1.4
- Bluetooth Wireless Output
- Dual Harmon Kardon 3W Speakers
- 3.5MM Audio Out
- Voltage: 100-240 VAC
- Power Consumption: 55W
- Stand-By Consumption: 0.5W
- Operating Temperature: 32-104º F (0 – 40º C)
The projector comes with a remote control, as well as a soft case with velcro closure:
The M1+ has smart Wi-Fi connectivity, so can stream decorations directly from a phone or tablet, or off of the included USB drive. It is also a “short throw” projector, meaning that it can be placed relatively close to the surface that you’re projecting onto.
Using the M1+ Holiday Bundle for Digital Decorating
I charged up the M1+ projector and was ready to start my digital decorating. But the question was, where would I place my decorations?
AtmosFX had also sent me some of their window projection material, so I naturally decided to put the material up over one of my windows.
This soft, semi-translucent material costs $29 and is available here. It comes in a 4′ x 6′ size, with grommets and peel-and-stick hooks for easy mounting. There is also a 5.5′ x 9′ extra-large size offered for $39. Unfortunately, both sizes of the window projection material are sold out for the year as of this writing, but I’m sure AtmosFX will be looking to restock as soon as possible. Also, as mentioned earlier, there are several other ways to project digital decorations besides through your window.
I mounted the projector on a tripod, and turning on the projector, found the optimum distance for placement. Inserting the USB drive, it was then a simple matter to navigate to the digital decorations using the included remote control.
If you don’t have a tripod, it’s easy enough to use M1+ on the floor or a tabletop with the help of the built-in stand:
AtmosFX provides a variety of digital decorations for different holidays and occasions on the included USB drive. While the majority of these are geared towards Halloween and Christmas (arguably the holidays people decorate for the most), there are ones for other occasions such as Easter, birthdays, and even Thanksgiving:
The above is a still image, but it should be noted that all of these digital decorations are fully animated, with sound. The M1+ has a built-in speaker, and you can also connect a Bluetooth speaker to the projector. Here’s a little bit of T-Rex Close Encounter, where we find that the T-Rex animation and sound were realistic enough to give my dog a fit:
So that’s what the projections look like inside the house. But how do they look through my window? I shot a few short clips of some of the digital decorations outside of the house.
I only shot a short amount of each of these digital decorations. They each go on much longer than seen in the video. One of the longest, Special Delivery, has a 2-minute length. I, unfortunately, didn’t have an external speaker to connect to the projector so that I could pipe the sound outside the house, but you can still see how things looked behind the window:
All of the digital decorations come with both horizontal and vertical orientation files, to accommodate different window sizes, or to allow you to project in a door frame using the AtmosFX Hollusion projection material. For this particular window, I used the horizontal decorations, losing some of the animation to either side of the window.
M1+ Holiday Bundle From AtmosFX – Final Thoughts
I’ve been interested in exploring digital decorations for a while, and the M1+ Holiday Bundle really allowed me to get a great overview of what could be accomplished with them. The M1+ projector itself was easy to set up and worked great. I found that the images were very bright and looked fantastic both inside the house and viewed through the window. It’s not in HD, but the 854 x 480 resolution still works great for projecting decorations.
AtmosFX provides a nice variety of different digital decorations to hit the ground running. With the Halloween decorations, The Waltzing Dead puts you immediately in mind of Disney’s Haunted Mansion. But on the other hand, decorations like Gathering Horde are sure to be too scary for the young ones. And the gift card that comes with the bundle will allow you to start picking up any of the many other decorations on the AtmosFX site.
I’m excited to also explore some of the other ways to use digital decorations. The previously mentioned Hollusion projection material is supposed to virtually disappear in the dark, allowing you to project hologram-like images. AtmosFX also makes a 3DFX Form that lets you make three-dimensional-appearing figures. You can even make singing and talking animated jack-o-lanterns projecting the Jack-O’-Lantern Jamboree onto actual pumpkins.
Getting to try out digital decorating firsthand has definitely made me a fan of AtmosFX. If you want to get started yourself, head over to the AtmosFX website and pick up the M1+ Holiday Bundle. You can have unlimited animated decorations that can all be stored in a drawer instead of taking over your attic or storage unit.
Note: AtmosFX sent over the M1+ Holiday Bundle for evaluation, but had no input into this review.