How to Choose A Screen For Event Spaces
Resolution, screen size, and brightness are important factors event planners expect to consider when they choose projection. We want to see crisp 1920×1080 video from the back of the room, and we want it to be bright and, most importantly, we want it to be affordable!
As you peruse the internet looking for video options for your event, you may get stumped on what size screen is needed for the venue you’re booking. What do you really need? Most people want a BIG screen. Bigger is better, right?
As it goes with most technology, the answer isn’t always simple. All of the content on screen needs to be seen by everyone in the room. If the screen is too large, it means someone is viewing only part of the content. Appropriate screen size depends on three factors:
- Room dimensions
- The contents of the video (movies, technical documents, etc.)
- The distance between the screen and the furthest viewer
Once you know all of that, you can plug that information into a formula that helps determine what size screen should be used.
Screen Height (SH) = Distance to Furthest Viewer (D) / Content (SL)
SH = D / SL
But how do you apply a number to content and how does it determine the screen size? Consider that most viewing situations only vary to a small extent.
For instance, people only need to see general information while watching a movie. They don’t need to see every pixel of information because things are moving quite fast and they can obtain all of the information they need simply by watching. One might think a person could sit pretty far away from the screen without asking for a refund on his ticket.
Alternatively, a business meeting with lots of detailed information needs to be pondered, small font texts scrutinized, and very defined pictures must be viewed as accurately as possible. High definition video is needed and projection must be perfectly placed without any alteration to the picture. You could easily determine that people should sit a bit closer to pay attention and those farther away will miss out on the finer details.
These situations each imply a number that is related to the average viewer. For movies and general viewing, that number is 8. For detailed viewing the number is 4. The more detail that is needed, the smaller that number should be because it is proportionate to the screen size. Any other content to be viewed is somewhere between those two numbers relative to font size, pixel depth, etc.
To reiterate our formula: SH = D / SL.
Say a ballroom is 60 feet deep by 100 feet wide and we’re viewing some slides with pretty large font. We’ll split the difference and call our content variable 6 for intermediate viewing and powerpoint presentations with larger fonts. So the screen height will be 60 divided by 6 which equals 10. Disregarding any height restrictions in our ballroom, a 10′ high screen will help your furthest viewer see a powerpoint slide with sizeable text!
But what if there is a height restriction to the screen? Meeting rooms are many different sizes and some have chandeliers which can’t just be swung out of the way! As a consequence, professional av companies have to be prepared to rent monitors, screens, and projectors that accommodate many different situations. In a height-burdened, super long room the screen will have to be shorter too. But it may not be large enough for the furthest viewer to see.
My suggestion is to get as much height out of the screen as possible with the bottom placed no lower than four feet high. For the image to reach the furthest viewer, secondary screens (called delay monitors) should be placed towards the back of the room somewhere between a quarter to half the room depth. Happy viewers!
Wider rooms can also pose a restriction. In a room that is 100′ wide, it would be outrageous for everyone to see a single 10×16 screen. Remember, once you get past 60 feet it becomes difficult to see the content, and things start to look skewed when the viewing angle is over 60 degrees. So as rooms get wider, the possibility of needing a second, or even a third, main screen could give attendees a much better view from the side.
We should also take into account which video option is needed in the first place. If there is video needed in a small board room, it might take up too much space on the table to use a projector, so a large monitor may be the better option. Projection in any room will need an area to project from. Depending on the size of the screen, there can be limitations.
For example, rear screen projection usually isn’t a viable solution in small rooms. Screens need at least 12 feet of space behind them for rear projection. (With exceptions depending entirely on which short throw lenses are available.) With screens that far out from the back wall, it could impede on the space used by attendees, and could be a hindrance to the folks sitting closer to the screen. With that in mind, as a pro rule, a viewer shouldn’t be located any closer than the distance equal to the width of the screen.
It’s difficult to fill a large screen like a 16′ x 9′ with a long throw lens if the size of the room is too small. On the other hand, the image may be too large for a small screen if the projector lens throw is too short. Projector placement is important if the look of the room is something an event planner is concerned with.
Screen size is important when deciding which video solution best suits your event. Room dimensions, video content, and the furthest viewer are factors to remember which will help optimize your attendees’ experience. While there are issues and exceptions that require thinking differently, the screen-size formula helps to solve them in a rational way.