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Over-Projection: a fun Drama and Video Teaching Technique

"Over projection" is the fancy name for doing what kids have always liked to do -- stand in front of the projector. It involves watching a clip, discussing it and assigning roles, then replaying the clip with the "live" actors stepping into the projected light and acting it out (with or without speaking). It's a fun way to learn that feels like play. Be sure to capture this fun way to learn with your cellphone camera!

A  "manual" in progress
by Neil MacQueen

"Over Projection" is what we call the technique where you project video, music videos, or images onto a wall and have your students step into the projected light to act, pose, mouth the words, sing-a-long, hold signs, etc., --while you capture it all on your video camera for fun playback.  You can also project the content behind the students on the wall.

As a drama technique, it's a quick way to create "scenery" (by projecting it), and often can be done without a script --because the video or an off-screen narrator provides the "script" via words or song lyrics. It's a fun way for kids to interact with ready-made Bible videos and music videos. I particularly love the technique because it's a great way to incorporate Christian music videos into my lessons.


We've used this technique a couple of times in Writing Team lesson plans (several linked below). This topic is meant to collect those thoughts, share them with all members, and provide us a place to add to them. We here at have pioneered this technique and welcome your suggestions and expansions.  See also "Taking the Trauma Out of Drama" article.

"Over Projection" Video-Drama Technique in a Nutshell:

Projecting Bible videos, music videos, images, transparencies on the wall, and in front of which our students act, move, hold signs in keeping with what's being projected. The presentation is videotaped and playback is a hoot!

Why use it?

Its basic premise is that kids love to stand in front of a screen and act in the semi-dark projection light. Kids have always liked to get into the light, so this takes advantage of that.

Preparation is easy and the activity has a wide age range. LCD projectors and videotaping with cellphones is standard tech these days.projector

Over projection is a quick "scriptless" form of drama.  No kids standing and reading scripts. Instead, they watch the scene, discuss and think about how to interact with it, then play the scene again with them IN IT.

Over projection reduces the need for "scenery" in dramas, because you can project scenes from a Bible DVD, images you've found online, or a YouTube video.

It's a great way to incorporate good Christian music videos which speak to your lesson. Instead of just listening and reflecting to music, the kids adapt or mimic the video and create new content in front of it -in the projected light --which you then videotape and watch together. They love that.

You project video or images/scenes onto your kids using an LCD projector hooked up to a laptop computer or DVD player.

You can also project images using an overhead projector...


How To

Typically in "Over Projection" lessons, the kids study a story and the video material about it, then decide where and how they're going to act when they step into the projected light.  Kids can MIMIC the characters seen in the video, act out the action being described or sung about, or hold a sign that echoes what's being said or sung in the video.

The Writing Team lessons usually have some sort of outline of the song/video with lyrics and suggested "things to do." After a dry-run, the kids do it again, this time being videotaped by the teacher. It is a great idea to have a Director ushering kids on and off "screen."  The screen is where the images are being projected. Mark the floor with light color masking tape so they can see where they are "on" or "off camera."

One of the easiest ways to act out in the light is to hold signs that might be echoing or answering what the lyrics are saying.  In fact, this technique of "responding with signs" to music is often seen in music videos. Here's a great example from Matthew West's "Do Something" music video on YouTube...

Posterboard or flip charts are prepared by the class and/or teacher can call out what to do at key scenes and lyrics. These are positioned next to the video camera and facing the actors who are in standing in the projected light.

Yes, this type of dramatizing does requires some tech equipment, but I'm not going to apologize for it being 2018. You do need an LCD projector hooked up to a computer or DVD player. And you do need a cellphone and YouTube/video sources. All this stuff is (or should be) readily available and understandable to today's generation of teachers. If not, get help. There are plenty of techies in the congregation, including your youth group.

See the "what you need" notes below.

We have a number of Writing Team Lessons that use this technique, and not all in the same way.

Here are a few:  (Because these are Writing Team lessons, the links can only be opened by Supporting Members.)

We used Zach William's phenomenal "Chainbreaker" music and lyrics video in the Ten Lepers Drama Workshop.


The Writing Team's Emmaus Story Drama-Music lesson used the song "I Can Only Imagine"


The Writing Team's Esther~Purim Art and Song Workshop uses a super-cool music video Raise Your Mask song parody that was shot by students in Israel. Though that lesson doesn't have time to "over project," I always thought the lesson could end with the song playing in the background wall for a minute or so while the teacher videotaped the kids showing their masks.


What you need:

  1. uh-oh.cue.cardProjecting equipment, such as, an LCD projector connected to a video source (computer or DVD player)
  2. A music or video source, such as, as DVD, our a YouTube video.
  3. A teacher with a cellphone/videocamera to capture the  kids' production. Tripod recommended as well. The camera microphone picks the kids, what's projected and the audio from the projected source.
  4. A way to view the teacher's video of the kids production. (Cable to connect the cellphone or video camera to the projector/computer or TV.

Option: The Over Projection technique can be done in front of a large screen tv, though the kids will not be projected upon, and that's not quite as fun.

An Excerpt from our "Taking the Trauma Out of Drama" Article where we first discussed the technique and called it "Over Projection."

Below are two girls acting out lyrics from a Mercy Me music video, "I Can Only Imagine."


The first time I ever did this it was like an epiphany...

I had a cheesy 10 minute David and Goliath video (which I didn't like very much, but it's what we had back in the pre-internet days). We watched it first, discussed it, then assigned roles. I projected the video from my DVD player through my LCD projector onto the wall, and told my actors to "jump in and act out the parts" --trying to stay in sync with what was happening on the wall behind them.  Their attempts at lip-syncing, and inevitably realizing they were out of sync and needed to move/match/catchup to the screen actors was not only hilarious, they asked to do it again (repetition!).  And what were they focused on lip-syncing? The video's script.

Evolving the idea to include music videos...

A few years later I saw a YouTube music video that featured people holding poster-board signs DURING the song. The signs reflected on what the singer was singing about. That gave me the idea to project another Christian music video onto the wall (which didn't have kids with posters in it) and have my kids MAKE the posters and step into the video on cue with the lyrics.  Essentially, we made the song our script, and the song's graphic our stage.  We rehearsed then videotaped their performance over-projection performance. The poster prep was teaching gold. The song stuck in our brains. And they were transfixed watching themselves on video.  It was also a great way to introduce and discuss some of the terrific Christian songs being written today.

Rocky Horror Picture Show --style Interaction

Over-projection is very similar to another "interactive video and drama" technique that has its roots in the "Rocky Horror Picture Show" movie phenomenon that swept the US in the late 70's and early 80's (and still reappears now and then). Kids and young adults poured into theaters dressed as characters in the movie and IMITATED what the characters in the movie were saying and doing on the screen. For example, during the movie's wedding scene, movie-goers threw rice. When it was raining, they squirted water. And of course, when the cast danced on the screen, everybody in the theater got up and danced too. It was a lot of fun and aided in the memorization of movie lines and songs.

Imagine showing video clips of the Ten Commandments, discussing it, and then replaying it as YOUR MOSES' got up and crawled along the wall of Mt Sinai while God with a very deep voice blasted the stone into the tablets. Imagine a contest between students of "who can look the most amazed," and "who can do their best impression of carring the tablets down the mountain and explain what they are to the people."

Imagine kids throwing "frogs" and "flies" and providing the sound effects during a replay of the Plagues clip from Prince of Egypt.

Imagine kids complaining in the wilderness, as the scene is played behind them with the sound turned off.

Playful? Yes.
Memorable? For sure.
Makes them want to comeback for more? Definitely!


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Last edited by Wormy the Helpful Worm
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