A projection screen is an installation consisting of a surface and a support structure used for displaying a projected image for the view of an audience. Projection screens may be permanently installed, as in a movie theater; painted on the wall; or portable with a tripod or floor-rising models as in a conference room or other non-permanent applications1. The brightness of the image reflected back off of the screen’s surface is measured in units of “gain”, gauging the reflectivity of that surface. The type of screen material used determines the Screen Gain, ambient light rejection (ALR), and viewing angle characteristics of the screen.
When choosing a projection screen, you should consider the following factors:
- Screen size
- Aspect ratio
- Screen gain
- Ambient light rejection (ALR)
- Viewing angle
- Installation type
The screen size should be determined by the number of people you expect and your venue's ceiling height. The aspect ratio should be chosen based on the type of video content you watch the most and the formats supported by your projector. The screen gain should be chosen based on how bright your projector needs to be. The ambient light rejection (ALR) should be chosen based on the amount of ambient light in your room. The viewing angle should be chosen based on where your audience will be sitting. The material should be chosen based on your budget and needs³. Lastly, the installation type should be chosen based on whether you want a permanent installation or a portable one.
To choose the right screen size for your projector, you need to consider the aspect ratio of your projector itself. If you know where you’ll be putting your projector, measure the distance between the lens and the wall, then multiply this by the throw ratio. This will tell you the width of the projected image. Use the aspect ratio to get the height, then use the Pythagorean Theorem to find the screen size.
Here's a general guide to help you select an appropriate projection screen size:
Viewing Distance: Determine the distance between the screen and the farthest viewer. The screen size should be large enough to ensure comfortable and immersive viewing for everyone. A general guideline is to aim for a minimum of 1.5 to 2 times the screen width as the distance from the screen for optimal viewing.
Audience Size: Consider the number of people watching the screen. Larger audiences may require a bigger screen to ensure everyone can see the content clearly. You can estimate the required screen size by considering the number of rows of seating and the average number of people per row.
Aspect Ratio: Determine the aspect ratio you'll be using, such as 16:9 (widescreen) or 4:3 (standard). The aspect ratio should match your content and projector specifications. Once you've decided on the aspect ratio, you can calculate the screen dimensions accordingly.
Projector Throw Distance and Lens Ratio: Consider the throw distance of your projector, which is the distance from the projector to the screen. The projector's lens ratio, expressed as a range (e.g., 1.5:1 to 2.0:1), indicates the image size produced relative to the throw distance. Consult your projector's specifications or user manual to determine the recommended throw distance range for the desired screen size.
Available Space: Take into account the physical space available for installing the screen. Measure the wall or mounting area to ensure the screen dimensions fit properly. Consider any obstructions, such as windows, doors, or ceiling height, which may impact the screen size or placement.
Budget and Preference: Consider your budget and personal preferences for the immersive experience you want to create. A larger screen can provide a more cinematic and immersive feel, but it may also come with a higher cost. Balance your desired screen size with your available budget.
Ultimately, the ideal projection screen size will depend on your specific requirements, available space, and the viewing experience you want to achieve. It can be helpful to consult with a professional AV installer or refer to screen size calculators provided by manufacturers to ensure the best fit for your setup.