Specifying Home Cinema Screens
Ensuring you have the right size Projection Screen
Choosing the right size home cinema screens is crucial to designing a successful cinema space – but it is a tricky thing to get right! Before working out sizes there are a couple of decision points – is this a dedicated cinema or a room which needs to function as a living room by day and a cinema by night? Dedicated rooms should always have a fixed cinema screen (as you can build speakers in to a void behind an acoustically transparent screen) whereas a living room could have a TV based cinema or a drop down projector screen. In some cases (where budget is not an issue) you can have both – a TV for day to day viewing with a screen which drops down for special occasions – film watching and big sporting events.
Once the above is decided then it is on to deciding the screen size. When most people refer to the “cinema experience” they mean a screen size of at least 100″ wide (which is actually a screen with a viewable size of 254cm wide and 143cm high). To determine what will fit and work in the room firstly measure the space – most of the time we fit cinema screens to the largest wall (unless the room is wider than 4m and then it doesn’t matter!) and then arrange seating to suit. We have another blog post on home cinema seating distances – take a look at that and then come back to this article. Roughly speaking all seating should be a distance of between 1.5x to 2x screen widths away. Most rooms in the UK (unless basements) have a head height of about 2.3m which means a maximum screen size of about 150″ (a screen with a view-able image of 381cm wide x 214cm high) if this fits on the width of the wall and your seating can be around 5.5m away then you have a solution! If the room width or depth means a smaller screen then keep reducing down until the above formula works.
Just to Clarify – when we talk about a projector screen size we mean width e.g.:
Diagonal size of a home cinema projector screen = 150″ (381cm)
Projector Screen Height HD = 214cm
Projector Screen Height WS = 161cm
Projector Screen Diagonal = 437cm
So as you can see a 381cm wide screen has a diagonal size of 437cm! That is huge. If you dont know the difference between HD (high definition) and WS (wide screen) then check out this post on Movie Aspect ratios.
If this is your home and you cant visualise how this big screen might look then simply get masking tape and mark it out – when stood in your usual seating position you should have a viewing angle of around 30 degrees – in practice this means you should be able to watch the entire screen without needing to turn your head from side to side as this becomes tiring. You can break this rule slightly but the room will take some getting used to and become tiring after extended viewing sessions.
Once the screen size is determined then take your wall height and subtract the screen height. Divide the resulting amount by three – in order to look balanced and work with seating we recommend a third of the space above the screen and two thirds below.