So, you've decided you want a projector screen, and you already know the projector you plan to use. There are a million different aspects to consider when selecting the right projector screen- type of projector, type of lighting in the room, size of the room, viewing angle, type of screen, etc.
One of the biggest challenges is trying to figure out the proper screen size to give your viewing audience the best possible picture. Think about it- no one wants to be in the first row of a movie theater because they are too close to the screen. Within the first hour of the movie, you'll have a neck cramp from being positioned so awkwardly and constantly looking up, and you end up missing details on the screen. You also don't want to be in the very back row because you feel so far away from the screen. The middle seats always fill up first.
It's actually a lot more simple than you'd think to figure out the best screen size and requires just some basic multiplying and dividing.
The basic rule of thumb when it comes to selecting projector screens is that the viewing audience should be seated between 2-8 times times the screen height. This provides for the most comfortable view for your audience. This means that ideally, your first row of seating will be located as far away as 2x the screen height. Your last row of seating should be as far away as 8x the screen height.
Size of the room:
To start, determine the measurement of your room from front to back. If you plan on using the whole room, take into account that you will need a few feet of space between the front wall and the projector screen, and you will need enough space in the back of the room to allow people to walk. If your room is 110 feet long, assume you will need about 4 feet from the wall to the projector screen and 10 feet in the back of the room. This gives you 96 feet of space to work with.
110 feet – 10 feet – 4 feet = 96 feet
**Of course, this is assuming that your ceiling is tall enough to accommodate this size screen. That also discussed below.**
This means that your last seating row will be 96 feet from the screen. According to the rule of thumb, that number should be 8x the size of the screen height. You just need to divide the distance by 8 to figure out the ideal screen size. In this case, the number is 12 feet.
96 / 8 = 12
This also means that your first row of seating should be placed 2x the size of the screen height. Since we are assuming a 12 foot screen, the first row would be placed 24 feet away from the screen.
12 * 2 = 24
Screen Height from the Floor:
The bottom of the screen should be at least 5 feet from the floor to allow the entire audience to view the the entire picture. The top of the screen also shouldn't be touching the ceiling (you should leave about 1 foot of space). To figure out the maximum screen height your room can accommodate, just measure your room from the floor to the ceiling. Lets assume the distance from your floor to your ceiling is 18 feet. This means that your screen can only be a maximum of 12 feet.
18 feet – 5 feet – 1 foot = 12 feet
Once you determine the maximum screen height, you can figure out the best screen width for your room. You will first need to determine which aspect ratio you plan on using for your screen (Click here to determine which aspect ratio you want or need). We will use aspect ratios of 4:3 and 16:9, two of the most common ratios, for these examples.
The ideal width for a 4:3 aspect ratio screen is 1.33x the screen height. Assuming a screen height of 12 feet, the maximum screen width would be 16 feet.
12 feet * 1.33 = 15.96 feet
The ideal width for a 16:9 aspect ratio screen is 1.78x the screen height. Assuming a screen height of 12 feet, the maximum screen width would be 21 feet.
12 feet * 1.78 = 21.36 feet
The Distance from the Projector to the Screen:
The best location for a projector from the projector screen is 1.5x the width of the projector screen, without going into crazy-specific calculations involving the throw ratio. So, if your projection screen width is 16 feet, the projector should be 24 feet from the screen.
16 feet * 1.5 = 24 feet