Low Ceiling Newbie Theater /Media Room Build,: Can It Be Done?? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 48 Old 08-04-2013, 07:13 PM - Thread Starter
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As many have said before, I have been lurking on these forums for a solid year now, reading countless threads. My wife and I recently bought our first home and now that we are married we are going to finish our basement into a dedicated theatre room or keep it open as a larger area media room. My handyman experience is less than "sub par".

I have many questions but my first and most important one is, "can it be done"???? Pictures will be attached of the current state of our basement, measurements, and potential design. We are toggling between a media center and keep it open for entertaining or having dedicated theatre with walls built between the beems and double door entry.

1. Here are the dimensions of the space for the theatre room. I would like 3 rows of seating. 1st approximately 10 to 11 feet away, 2nd row on a riser, and 3rd row is a hightop bar counter with 3 or 4 bar stools.
Lengths: 24ft 4 inch
Width: 11 ft
Height: 7ft 4inches to cross beams, 6ft 8 inches with current drop ceiling in place
The length can be extended an additional 6 ft for a total length of 30ft 4inch, however I do not want too much of a "bowling alley" view.

We are currently in Phase 1-

Phase 1- Ripping down drop ceiling in place, rip out wood paneling in basement, and perform some water test to see if basement has any water/mold issues. We do not have a sub pump or french drain, however we live in NJ in a very sandy area and our house is at top of a hill so all water runs away from the house.

In addition, set-up a "mock" theatre to see what screen size is best & if the row height/location of projector is feasible. Since I have a lower ceiling with drop ceiling that can not be risen to much higher due to pipes in place, I am leaning towards a 120inch 2:34 ratio Cinema screen since they are wider then they are higher.

Please give me advice on what you think can & can't be done.



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post #2 of 48 Old 08-04-2013, 07:30 PM - Thread Starter
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oh. And my basement has 3 windows on the one side and bilco doors on the other. I want to have a powder room by the bilco doors and am going to box off window behind theatre screen and to right of theare wall.

Here are beggining stage demo pictures and some screen shots of Phase 1.

Pic 1 is wide basement view.

Pic 2 is view of potential theatre

View looking back from theatre screen. Wall/Door can be removed to extend room additional 6ft x 6ft for bathroom. Pipes already in place.

Silver Duck tape is 120 inch 2:34 scope screen. This gives me a good 2 and half ft from the floor. 120inch 16:9 screen goes to low to the floor.

Blue tape is 100inch 16:9 which is same height of 120" scope screen

First and 2nd row seating. I piled up ceiling tiles to make riser for 2nd row seats and measures the recline in the seat for spacing. each panel is 1/2 an inch. Rose is 11 inches. Yes ceiling is low but idea is people will be sitting not standing up on riser. The most important thing was being able to see the bottom of the screen.

First from 3rd row bar stool

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post #3 of 48 Old 08-05-2013, 12:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Does anyone have any advice on the length, width, and height of room? I am definintly going with a scope screen due to having more width then height on a 7ft ceiling. Does anyone have projector mounted with 2nd row riser on low ceiling? does the idea of having projector on floor in a box of some sort fly?

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post #4 of 48 Old 08-06-2013, 06:58 PM - Thread Starter
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I appreciate all the great feedback so far

Here's an update of my layout. I am going to downsize to 115inch 2.35 scope screen to give me more room for speakers on the right and left. My issue still remains the ceiling height for riser & 3rd row.


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post #5 of 48 Old 08-07-2013, 05:09 AM
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+1 on a DIY acoustically transparent screen. This will help with improved speaker layout and maintain a larger screen.
This will also allow for the center channel to be mounted higher, so the front row of seating doesn't block the center channel.
And you can use three identical speakers and skip using a horizontal center channel.

Projector choice is important with the low ceiling. A short throw, or long throw projector, would help with head room and second row headroom issues.

As for height of the room, as much as you can keep. 5/8" drywall can skim the HVAC sheet metal so you don't need framing right under the HVAC.

You also could do a two stage riser, for the second row. The upper box is basically seat and foot rest area while the lower section provides a raised walk area.

I have to wonder if a semi constant area AT screen, with four manual masking panels, with a projector with motorized zoom and memory, wouldn't be the ultimate projection system,
in a narrow-ish room.

I think this is a very workable space.

Are those the seats you will be using?
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post #6 of 48 Old 08-07-2013, 10:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by DavidK442 View Post

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I appreciate all the great feedback so far]

Is that a hint of sarcasm there? I will throw in my two cents, though I doubt it will count as great feedback.
With the limited ceiling height and room width the aesthetics of the space will be a challenge, but I think technically you can make it work.
I personally would go with an acoustically transparent screen (Seymour Center Stage XD or a DIY spandex setup) so that you could place speakers in behind and maximize the screen width. A 10 foot wide scope screen viewed from 10 feet away in your first row would be a seriously immersive experience.
I believe that 6 feet is minimum distance between reclining rows (looks like you have 5 feet in the drawing). This and the AT screen will push the rear row back 2 to 3 feet.
A ceiling mounted projector would need to go right on the back wall due to limited head room. I have seen theaters where the projector is integrated in the middle of the back bar and shoots just over the back seats. Worth a look.
I prefer an enclosed theater but given the width constraints leaving it open on the one side might be the better choice. I think everyone has a long list of "next time I will's" with their first theater. I suggest setting up something temporary, use it for a few months then firm up the details for a permanent build.

Which ever way you go with the room, the first time you pop in a movie you will be amazed.

I agree that a AT screen. That will be the case. How much room is needed for AT screen behind the screen for normal speaker system??

Also, you mentioned the projector should most likely be on the back wall, due to the limited height. That would result in the projector being roughly 24ft away from the screen..... I don't know too much about projectors at this point but from the little I know it seems like most need to be in the 14 to 18 ft range for optimal viewing experience.....

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post #7 of 48 Old 08-07-2013, 10:42 PM - Thread Starter
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+1 on a DIY acoustically transparent screen. This will help with improved speaker layout and maintain a larger screen.
This will also allow for the center channel to be mounted higher, so the front row of seating doesn't block the center channel.
And you can use three identical speakers and skip using a horizontal center channel.

Projector choice is important with the low ceiling. A short throw, or long throw projector, would help with head room and second row headroom issues.

As for height of the room, as much as you can keep. 5/8" drywall can skim the HVAC sheet metal so you don't need framing right under the HVAC.

You also could do a two stage riser, for the second row. The upper box is basically seat and foot rest area while the lower section provides a raised walk area.

I have to wonder if a semi constant area AT screen, with four manual masking panels, with a projector with motorized zoom and memory, wouldn't be the ultimate projection system,
in a narrow-ish room.

I think this is a very workable space.

Are those the seats you will be using?

Definitly AT screen. How much room would you leave between wall & screen for speakers?

Great idea about the two stage riser. Every idea i cam e up with and designed was about the step and larger riser, rather then lower area providing walk area.

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post #8 of 48 Old 08-08-2013, 04:31 PM
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24 to 30" of depth for the AT space. You want the speakers 6" off the backside of the AT screen, or else they will timbre shift.
That effect is done with, at 6".
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post #9 of 48 Old 08-08-2013, 04:38 PM
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OMG almost EXACTLY the same layout and size as mine! Even the placement of the poles, beam and windows! LOL I was able to fit 2 rows a bar and even a consession stand and popcorn machine in back! in the back!



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post #10 of 48 Old 08-08-2013, 05:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheTotalPackage View Post

I appreciate all the great feedback so far

Here's an update of my layout. I am going to downsize to 115inch 2.35 scope screen to give me more room for speakers on the right and left. My issue still remains the ceiling height for riser & 3rd row.

So you have a similar layout to mine, I ended up putting a curtain wall above the bar so that I could mount the PJ at 15' from the screen as I couldn't come up with an alternative that gave me a workable throw range (there's a great online too at projector people . com (I think) that enables you to try out different PJs/Screens/Throw ranges to see what will work).
Good luck!
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post #11 of 48 Old 08-09-2013, 09:29 AM
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I'll have a 7'4" finished ceiling height myself and my room is 21' long. I'm going with a panasonic ar100 projector myself that will be mounted at the back wall. By the time I measured up the height of the mount and projector and mocked it up 15' back for greater projector selection options, it became obvious to me it wasn't going to happen. It was way too low for me and I won't even have a riser or second row seating.

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post #12 of 48 Old 08-09-2013, 11:49 AM - Thread Starter
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OMG almost EXACTLY the same layout and size as mine! Even the placement of the poles, beam and windows! LOL I was able to fit 2 rows a bar and even a consession stand and popcorn machine in back! in the back!




I will have to pick your brain on a lot of questions. How is your projector height in it's location. Does 3rd row bar get partially blocked? Do you hit head on ceiling while on riser? Can you take a picture of you standing on your riser? How tall riser did you build for your screen?

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post #13 of 48 Old 08-09-2013, 12:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Still in Phase 1 of theatre build which is "DEMO MODE"

My bride of less than 2 months is very into the project and loves to play the music, dance, and demolish!!!

Here are a few pictures.

Drop ceiling and all rails removed

The Wife taking down the wall




Wife Demoing with my Louisville Slugger



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post #14 of 48 Old 08-09-2013, 01:46 PM
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Still in Phase 1 of theatre build which is "DEMO MODE"



oh damn. You better never forget valentine day
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post #15 of 48 Old 08-10-2013, 01:04 PM - Thread Starter
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LinkSEO- What did you do for your speaker set up? Did you do a false wall infront of false wall behind screen?

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post #16 of 48 Old 08-10-2013, 04:43 PM
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LinkSEO- What did you do for your speaker set up? Did you do a false wall infront of false wall behind screen?
currently the center, left and right are on top of a console i have under the screen. the surround are hanging on the back columns.
currenly the screen is against the wall but i do plan on making a simple false wall and hide the speakers behind very soon.
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post #17 of 48 Old 08-10-2013, 05:21 PM
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everyone has a clear shot of the screen no blocking at all. if im not mistaken, the height is 7' 4" from floor to ceiling. my screen is approx 4 inches from the ceiling. here are a couple of pics of me standing. thats me in the back with my arms up. im 5' 9.
i dont have a riser. my back row seats are Realto riserless seats which are 8 inches taller than the from row.[IMG]
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post #18 of 48 Old 08-13-2013, 12:40 PM - Thread Starter
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I am still going to go with a riser, but most of the riser will be the small step up and the larger part will just host the seat itself.

Let me ask you this, what do you "not" like about your theatre... what would you change after the fact if you could?

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post #19 of 48 Old 08-13-2013, 12:49 PM
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I am still going to go with a riser, but most of the riser will be the small step up and the larger part will just host the seat itself.

Let me ask you this, what do you "not" like about your theatre... what would you change after the fact if you could?

My theater was built on a budget of 6-7 thousand. that includes the seats and my equipment.

If i had the money i'd do tons differently like the false wall, Get better speakers, Fabric frames around the walls, better ceilings etc. I'd even try and figure out how to remove those damn poles.

With that said, I'm very happy with what i got for the budget i had to work with.
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post #20 of 48 Old 08-13-2013, 03:43 PM - Thread Starter
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My theater was built on a budget of 6-7 thousand. that includes the seats and my equipment.

If i had the money i'd do tons differently like the false wall, Get better speakers, Fabric frames around the walls, better ceilings etc. I'd even try and figure out how to remove those damn poles.

With that said, I'm very happy with what i got for the budget i had to work with.

That's not too far off from where I am at. I want to be around $15k "all-in" but this also includes having a bathroom put in, and have to have all wall's drywalled and floors carpeted.

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post #21 of 48 Old 08-14-2013, 09:21 AM
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Also, you mentioned the projector should most likely be on the back wall, due to the limited height. That would result in the projector being roughly 24ft away from the screen..... I don't know too much about projectors at this point but from the little I know it seems like most need to be in the 14 to 18 ft range for optimal viewing experience.....

Your basement looks a lot like mine did when I started. If anything, you have a couple extra inches of height over me. You can see some pictures of my build in this chain of blog posts.

http://www.highdefdigest.com/blog/tag/cinema-zyberdiso/

I still need to take pictures of the finished product, but you can see the screen wall here:

http://www.highdefdigest.com/blog/constant-image-height-refresher-2013/

24' is much too far a throw distance. You'll have a very dim picture at that distance. In fact, depending on the projector, you may not even be able to reduce the image size enough at minimum zoom to fit on your screen wall.

I ceiling mounted my projector 12' from the screen. This puts it squarely in the middle of the room. Since you're dealing with a low ceiling like me, the projector will likely be below your head level. I strongly recommend placing something like a shelf or large table below the projector that will prevent you from walking into it and bumping your head on the projector (and thus knocking the projector out of alignment). Even if you think you'll be careful, you (or someone else) will bump into the projector if it doesn't clear your head. I speak from experience here.

What I did is put a freestanding shelf behind my seats, underneath the projector. I then wound up buying a second projector (a DLP model dedicated for 3D) and put it on the shelf. So now I have two projectors, one ceiling mounted above one shelf mounted. I suppose you could just do the shelf mount and skip the ceiling mount, which would solve that bumping-into-things problem. But make it a tall shelf or you'll project onto the back of your head.

By far the biggest problem I had with my low ceiling was soundproofing. Standard methods of sound isolation require dropping the height a couple inches below the joists.

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post #22 of 48 Old 08-14-2013, 10:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Your basement looks a lot like mine did when I started. If anything, you have a couple extra inches of height over me. You can see some pictures of my build in this chain of blog posts.

http://www.highdefdigest.com/blog/tag/cinema-zyberdiso/

I still need to take pictures of the finished product, but you can see the screen wall here:

http://www.highdefdigest.com/blog/constant-image-height-refresher-2013/

24' is much too far a throw distance. You'll have a very dim picture at that distance. In fact, depending on the projector, you may not even be able to reduce the image size enough at minimum zoom to fit on your screen wall.

I ceiling mounted my projector 12' from the screen. This puts it squarely in the middle of the room. Since you're dealing with a low ceiling like me, the projector will likely be below your head level. I strongly recommend placing something like a shelf or large table below the projector that will prevent you from walking into it and bumping your head on the projector (and thus knocking the projector out of alignment). Even if you think you'll be careful, you (or someone else) will bump into the projector if it doesn't clear your head. I speak from experience here.

What I did is put a freestanding shelf behind my seats, underneath the projector. I then wound up buying a second projector (a DLP model dedicated for 3D) and put it on the shelf. So now I have two projectors, one ceiling mounted above one shelf mounted. I suppose you could just do the shelf mount and skip the ceiling mount, which would solve that bumping-into-things problem. But make it a tall shelf or you'll project onto the back of your head.

By far the biggest problem I had with my low ceiling was soundproofing. Standard methods of sound isolation require dropping the height a couple inches below the joists.

Josh are you planning on having multiple rows of seating or just 1 row? Also, I read threw your link and your build. Did you use any type of barrier between your carpet and the tile? We have a very thin vinyl tile that was glued to the floor and we are going right above it.

I am projecting my projector to be in roughly the 14 to 16' range for best performance. Why did not decide to go with a false wall with speakers behind it?

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post #23 of 48 Old 08-14-2013, 11:36 AM
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Josh are you planning on having multiple rows of seating or just 1 row? Also, I read threw your link and your build. Did you use any type of barrier between your carpet and the tile? We have a very thin vinyl tile that was glued to the floor and we are going right above it.

I only have one row of seating, and I put the carpet (and carpet pad) down directly on top of the old tile.
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Why did not decide to go with a false wall with speakers behind it?

Personal preference. I'm not a fan of AT screens, and I don't mind having the speakers be visible. Also, I already had the speakers, so that was one less thing to upgrade.

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post #24 of 48 Old 08-14-2013, 11:50 AM
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My theater is 7'6" and 6'6" at the two rows. Of the top 10 things I wish my theater had, more ceiling height doesn't even make the cut smile.gif. Sure, more would be better, but it doesn't impact my viewing experience in any substantial way.

The projector is mounted above the first row of seats so it isn't a headroom issue. The other choice would be way at the back of the room. I wouldn't want to mount it above the 6'6" headroom area.

24' is a bit short for 3 rows of seating IMO. Give yourself 3-4' behind the screen, then your first row is at 16', your 2nd row is at 22', and your third row is at 26-28'.
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post #25 of 48 Old 08-14-2013, 11:58 AM
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Quote:
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24' is much too far a throw distance. You'll have a very dim picture at that distance. In fact, depending on the projector, you may not even be able to reduce the image size enough at minimum zoom to fit on your screen wall.

Assuming your projector can handle that throw distance, brightness is not really a function of throw distance, but only of screen size. I say "not really" because it's true that typically the far end of the zoom incurs a moderate 20-25% penalty relative to the near end of the zoom, because of the stopped down aperture.

By the way its reasonably straightforward to flush mount a projector with the ceiling (rather than have it on a stalk). Most modern projectors have sufficient lens offset control that you can move the image down low enough to hit the top of your screen without keystoning.
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By far the biggest problem I had with my low ceiling was soundproofing. Standard methods of sound isolation require dropping the height a couple inches below the joists.

If you are really tight you can build stringers between the joists and hang the clips off of them, resulting in as little as 1/2" drop, as long as the plane of your ceiling joist faces is relatively true. That's what I did.
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post #26 of 48 Old 08-14-2013, 02:15 PM
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Assuming your projector can handle that throw distance, brightness is not really a function of throw distance, but only of screen size. I say "not really" because it's true that typically the far end of the zoom incurs a moderate 20-25% penalty relative to the near end of the zoom, because of the stopped down aperture.

Losing a quarter of your brightness is a bit more than "moderate," IMO. Your mileage may vary.
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By the way its reasonably straightforward to flush mount a projector with the ceiling (rather than have it on a stalk).

In my experience, nothing is straightforward when soundproofing is involved. smile.gif

Possible, yes. But also more difficult.
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If you are really tight you can build stringers between the joists and hang the clips off of them, resulting in as little as 1/2" drop, as long as the plane of your ceiling joist faces is relatively true.

That's exactly what I did, actually.

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post #27 of 48 Old 08-14-2013, 03:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by kromkamp View Post

My theater is 7'6" and 6'6" at the two rows. Of the top 10 things I wish my theater had, more ceiling height doesn't even make the cut smile.gif. Sure, more would be better, but it doesn't impact my viewing experience in any substantial way.

The projector is mounted above the first row of seats so it isn't a headroom issue. The other choice would be way at the back of the room. I wouldn't want to mount it above the 6'6" headroom area.

24' is a bit short for 3 rows of seating IMO. Give yourself 3-4' behind the screen, then your first row is at 16', your 2nd row is at 22', and your third row is at 26-28'.

I can lengthen the room an extra 6' if need be.

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post #28 of 48 Old 08-14-2013, 03:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by kromkamp View Post

Assuming your projector can handle that throw distance, brightness is not really a function of throw distance, but only of screen size. I say "not really" because it's true that typically the far end of the zoom incurs a moderate 20-25% penalty relative to the near end of the zoom, because of the stopped down aperture.

By the way its reasonably straightforward to flush mount a projector with the ceiling (rather than have it on a stalk). Most modern projectors have sufficient lens offset control that you can move the image down low enough to hit the top of your screen without keystoning.
If you are really tight you can build stringers between the joists and hang the clips off of them, resulting in as little as 1/2" drop, as long as the plane of your ceiling joist faces is relatively true. That's what I did.

What do you mean by building stringers b/w joists and hang clips? I'm a newbie when it comes to this stuff.

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post #29 of 48 Old 08-14-2013, 07:23 PM
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post #30 of 48 Old 08-14-2013, 08:35 PM - Thread Starter
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What type of progress have you made since 2012 post? Did you ever look into have your support beams moved? This is a issue for me also. Like you said in other post, if i'm going to do it, i want to do it right.

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