I had some "Super Flux" RGB LEDs (also known as Piranha LEDs) readily available, so I set up a test with the ESP32 driving these. They are unbelievably bright, even driven at a very low current. The Gif below is highly compressed, but gives some idea just how bright the LEDs are, even through a 1/4" HDPE panel. They are uncomfortable to the eyes when not defused. The fade shown is linear, but the eyes do not have a linear response. I plan to test an intensity mapping approach soon.
Next, I plan to test out the wireless connectivity and sensing, and try to determine rough power consumption needs and battery life.