After playing around with my basement layout forever, it looks like my Theater is going to be about 11 1/2 to 12' wide. And I'm going to have two rows of seating, about 10-11' back for the main row, and 15' for the row behind.
Now I'm struggling with screen sizing issues. I'm going to be using a NEC LT-150, which apparently doesn't have an issue with screen door. I asked the friend who picked up my projector for me (and one for himself on the Dell deal) how the screen door was, and he said that he can't see pixels at all from more than about 3' back.
When at a movie theater, I always sit about 1/3 back from the screen. I'm one of those guys who likes being a little closer. I never sit in the back of the theater, and even halfway back is too far for my taste.
Now, I want to build a proscenium, and hide my speakers behind it (Paradigm Reference 80's, probably). So I need at least 1.5ft on each side for that, leaving a total of about 8.5' for possible screen space.
Now, I know the rule of thumb about sitting 1.5 screen widths back, but for me that would mean only using a 6' wide screen, which is much smaller than I wanted. I wanted at least an 84" wide screen, and preferably 92" wide. Any comments on that?
As for aspect ratio, is there anything wrong with building a screen that's halfway between 16/9 and 2.35:1? What I'm thinking is sizing the screen something like 52 X 96, so that the black bars on 2.35:1 material wouldn't be as thick, and a 16:9 image would fit in a 52X92 size, with vertical masking to blank out the sides. This seems like a reasonable compromise. Or perhaps going even more narrow, to match an 84" wide 16 X 9 screen. That would get me close to a native 2.35:1 screen when showing wide movies, while keeping the screen to a smaller size for normal watching.
I have a 9' ceiling, and I'll probably build a 10" high riser for the back seats, so sightlines and such should be okay.
Does your projector have a "zoom" lens? Or are you going to reposition/refocus the projector for different aspect ratios? Or I suppose you could drive it with a HTPC and control things that way.
IMHO screen size/ratio has a lot to do with the capabilities of your projector and personal taste.
I would strongly recommend not getting to far ahead of yourself here. Wait until you have the projector in your hands, and try some stuff out -- nothing beats first hand experience. My CRT projector sat on the coffee table and projected onto a bedsheet for over a month while I played with the various options.
Short answer: no, there is nothing wrong with what you want to do, but it might not be practical, or what you really want.
Rule of thumb is your seating distance is twice that your screen width. Of course, this is all subjective. The LT150 is an XGA DLP unit, so screendoor effect shouldn't be a real issue. Your biggest problem is going to be the light output of the LT150. It is only an 800 lumen unit. Going with a really large screen is going to push the capabilities of the light output of this unit. If you have total light control and relatively dark walls, then you could get away with a 52"x92" screen, although I would recommend something more like a 45"x80". The smaller screen is going to add more punch to the picture and help out even more with screendoor effect. Also, keep in mind that the 800 lumen rating is for the full 4:3 panel. When viewing a smaller aspect ratio, such as 16:9, you are not using the full panel and thus the full light output. Consider also using an anamorphic lens to help increase effective brightness on a wide screen.
AV Science, Inc.
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