Frame, Mount, and Light the Display

To finalize your Haunted Portrait, you'll want to place the TV inside an ornate picture frame, hang it from the wall, and adjust the lighting. Ideally, you'll also hide the wiring of the TV and Pi Zero power supplies by hanging the portrait over a wall outlet, or disguising the wires with a wall mount kit, color matched to the wall.

Framing

Here you can see one extreme -- where I removed the LCD panel and electronics from the plastic case and bezel in order to get the thinnest possible profile with a tight fit.

High voltage electricity is dangerous, be very careful around it. Don't remove the TV from the panel unless you are experienced and plan to protect guests and pets from the back of the TV by embedding it in a wall cutout.

Next, I resized and existing frame from a thrift store so that it is a nearly perfect, edge to edge fit. I did so by carefully measuring the LCD panel and then cutting the existing frame at 45 degree angels on a miter saw to size.

I then glued and fastened the corners back together, clamped them, and let it dry.

The fit was tight enough that I didn't need any fasteners to connect the frame to the LCD TV panel -- it simply stays on by friction, and the TV will bear the load when hung from the wall with it's built in VESA mounting points.

Attached the pre-existing power/input/volume button strip to the backside of the frame with double-stick foam tape.

I was also able to power the Pi Zero from the TV's built-in USB port, so one less power adapter to worry about hiding!

A less involved, but very attractive way to fit your TV to a frame is to buy a frame that is oversized and then cut (or have a framing store cut) a matte to match the TV screen dimensions. Or, how about an oval matte to further enhance the illusion?

A less involved, but very attractive way to fit your TV to a frame is to buy a frame that is oversized and then cut (or have a framing store cut) a matte to match the TV screen dimensions. Or, how about an oval matte to further enhance the illusion?

Of course, portraits come in all sizes, so there's probably an old, small monitor kicking around somewhere in the back of your tech graveyard closet -- if you've got one with an HDMI input, why not turn it into a Haunted Portrait?!

Mount the Haunted Portrait

 

Use a VESA mount to hang the portrait, it's much stronger and safer than a picture hook! Here, you can see the VESA mount in action on a wall where the portrait will cover the power outlet.

Final Touches

Here are some thing you may be able do in your TV's control menus to maximize the quality of the effect:

  • Turn off LCD backlight -- the less the image looks like it is transmissive light the better
  • Adjust brightness and contrast  until the dark and bright portions of the image look realistic for a painting
  • Turn off adaptive screen dimming
  • Turn off automatic power down or screen saver

Tuning the Image

Here are some thing you may be able do in your TV's control menus to maximize the quality of the effect:

  • Turn off LCD backlight -- the less the image looks like it is transmissive light the better
  • Adjust brightness and contrast  until the dark and bright portions of the image look realistic for a painting
  • Turn off adaptive screen dimming
  • Turn off automatic power down or screen saver

Tuning the Lighting

If you've seen digital portraits at theme parks, such as the living painting in the World of Harry Potter, there are a few things they've done that really make the effect work well. One of the most important is to control the lighting.

  • You want to try to light the frame at the same level as is apparent in your digital portrait, and use small side lights to lift the frame without washing out the display
  • At odds with this, you also want to avoid glare! Place the portrait in a place with limited viewing angles, such as the end of a short hallway
  • Another trick is to use a matte finish screen if possible, or for the hardcor,e even cover the screen in a thin level of thin, transparent gel medium or a matte film. Be careful, however: the matte effect work amazingly well when viewed straight on, but at oblique angles it can quickly reduce the amount of light visible from the screen and will go hazy gray
  • Most of all, have fun figuring out the best ways to delight and spook your guests with your Haunted Portrait!

Another great spooky frame project to check out is this one on making a reactive, face tracking CG picture frame. Just in time for Halloween!

Last updated on Sep 15, 2017 Published on Sep 15, 2017