Choosing the Right Projector for Your Environment
Choosing the right projector for your environment is more than simply finding the brightest projector you can afford. You need to take measurements, evaluate your needs, and narrow down your specifics in order to make the decision. Luckily, we’ve done some of the leg work to get you going in the right direction. First, start with the basics. Then, fine tune your needs to make the best decision for your particular environment.
It may sound fundamental, but so many people ask us about what projector to purchase and they’ve never thought about how big of any image they’ll need to project. It’s important to remember that the larger your image, the brighter your projector will need to be.
Distance to Screens
Projectors lose brightness over distance as well. So if you have a projector that is 10 feet from your screen with one lens and the same projector 50 feet from your screen with a long-throw lens, the closer projector will appear bright. Essentially the closer your projector the less ambient light can affect the brightness of the projector.
Do you need 4:3, 16:9, 16:10, a double wide edge blend, ep, triplewide, etc.? Knowing what you’ll be projecting will go a long way in making the right decision. The big thing to remember is that you can always project a 4:3 image from a 16:9 projector.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to price and we understand that. If you have a budget, stick to that budget. If your budget doesn’t allow you to purchase the projector you need, then it might be in your best interest to wait until you can save the additional funds you need to get the right projector for your environment.
A couple of other basics to consider are audience size and the field of view of the room. This will help you figure out the size screen you need and the quantity. Will your screen/screens be on an angle? Will the screen be visible from every seat in the room? Do you need to consider more screens or moving the location?
Believe it or not, you probably don’t need a 20k projector for what you’re trying to accomplish. However, they definitely have their place. As you try and fire out what brightness you are aiming for in a projector, consider the following.
What control over ambient lighting do you have? Are you able to block out windows, focus your stage lighting, or turn down the house lighting? These are three keys to figuring out what lumens you’ll need. Typically, you’ll be in a 5k-12k range for many small to mid-sized venues.
Do you need UHD 4K? HD? SD? This is going to be another place to spend way more than you have to trying to get what you think you need. Be sure you know your screen aspect ratio so you can match your projector. From there, take a look at the output of your computer or multiscreen processor to be sure the projector can handle that resolution.
Front or Rear Projection
Front projection screens and rear projection screens both reflect light. However, there are some important considerations to make. The choice of front or rear may be quickly defined by your particular room setup, but even then you’ll need to know a few differences between front and rear projection.
First involves sight lines and physical space. Rear projection will take away back stage areas and could significantly limit the actual stage space you have. If your room allows for the choice between front or rear projection, then carefully consider your other production needs.
Second, ambient light and brightness. Generally speaking, rear screens reduce the brightness of the image due to the dispersion of light on both sides of the screen. This can be overcome with a brighter projector. However, in situations where ambient light on the viewing side of the screen is brighter or not as easily controllable, rear projection can pop more.
Third, viewing angle needs to be considered. Rear screens that are darker in nature can disperse the light and image more evenly helping to alleviate issues with viewing angles. However, with rear screens you can see a noticeable hot spot at certain angles which can harm the experience. Front projection screens will be dependent on the gain or reflective quality of the screen surface.
Motions, stills, imag, EP, etc. There are a multitude of options to consider as far as content goes. If your budget keeps you in a lower lumens situation, you can use higher contrast content to help make the projection pop. The more contrast, the easier it will be to see. Additionally, you can boost the gamma on your projection to help give your projector a bit more horsepower. Be careful with this as you can quickly mess up your colors and negatively affect image quality.
If content is going to be what drives story, then be sure you can properly showcase that content. Take time to consider all your needs before diving into a major capital investment. If needed, rent before you buy to get an idea of what works in your space.