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Home I Confused about Projector Screens

Projection Screens
There are two main types available, permanent and retractable. More dedicated cinema rooms tend to have a permanent fixed frame screen. This is often in the form of an aluminium frame with the material stretched behind it. A good ffixed frame screen will have a black velvet finish on the frame to absorb any light from an overlapping picture. The main benefits of a fixed frame screen is that it gives you the flattest possible projection surface with the material being pulled equally from all sides. A good quality screen like this will start from around £499

Fixed Frame Projector Screeen
Electric Projector Screens

Electric Projector Screens and Pull Down Projector Screens
Other types of screens are retractable. Either manual pull down screens or electric versions.

The most popular being the electric drop down screen. This one made by Grandview is part of their Cyber series and has a built in Infra-red remote and if the screen is hidden behind a pelmet which blocks the IR window you can use the included plug in external IR eye. The screen also has 12volt projector trigger, this means that when the projector is turned on the screen automatically comes down. You will need a projector with a 12volt trigger output and a thin 2 core cable running from the projector to the screen.

The most important aspect of any screen design is the material. With a retractable screen, if the material is to thin and stretchy the weighted bar can bend slightly causing diagonal creases. It can also develop ripples particularly towards the edges. Grandview Cyber screens use 3 layers of material bonded together, this results in a very rigid flat projection surface. The rear layer of material is a black vinyl which allows the screen to be placed in front of a window without any light effecting the image. A good quality screen like this one would start from around £599.

Projector Screen Material
Tab Tensioned Projector Screens

Tab Tensioned Projector Screens
A more expensive option is the Tab-tensioned screen.

The material is much softer and pliable than the normal electric screen. This is so it can be stretched out flat, not only by the weighted bar but also pulled at the sides by the tensioning string. The flexible nature of the material means it alters size slightly depending on temperature, so the tension of the string can be adjusted. With just a slight amount of tension the material will sit lovely and flat.

Screen gain
Another specification you will often hear about is the gain. This is how much light from the projector is bounced off the screen back to the audience. A big conference room that often has lots of ambient light will use a high gain screen of say 1.8. This means more light will bounce off the screen and give a bright easy to see picture to a big audience. However to get this bright picture you sacrifice contrast and video images become dull and pasty. The viewing angle often becomes very narrow and the colour depth is lost. A good home cinema screen will have a low gain of around 1.1 this will help to achieve good black levels, shadow detailing and colour reproduction.

Screen Gain, and what it is

Screen size
The most common question when come to screens is “what size should I get?”

This is governed by how far back the audience is sitting, if there are multiple rows of seating the centre row is normally used to establish screen size.

It is often suggested that the screen should be half the size of the sitting distance. So if the audience is 14ft away a 7ft wide screen would be ideal. However with the event of Full High Definition, all that extra clarity and detail means that there is no reason you shouldn’t go for a larger screen. 3D has also created a need for larger screens in relation to the sitting distance in order to greater fill the peripheral vision.

Screen Size Guide
These are the most common screen sizes used and recommended sitting distances

Total screen material width
Diagonal picture size
Sitting distance
6ft 77" (67" x 38" Viewing Area) 10ft - 12ft 3.0m - 3.6m
7ft 92" (80" x 45" Viewing Area) 12ft - 14ft 3.6m – 4.3m
8ft 106" (92" x 52" Viewing Area) 14ft - 16ft 4.3m – 4.9m
9ft 120" (104" x 58" Viewing Area) 16ft - 18ft 4.9m – 5.5m
10ft 138" (120" x 67" Viewing Area) 18ft - 20ft 5.5m – 6.1m
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