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Best design for ultraportable concert projection screen?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Hey everyone! I've been reading up for ages now on the best way to build projector screens, and I've learned a lot but am still in the dark how to best tackle my unique screen needs. Can anyone out there help me wrap my head around what I should be doing?

I've been creating a lot of video content to accompany my band's songs on stage. I picked up a ViewSonic PJD5123 and need a screen to sit at the back of the stage. Ideally, I should be able to adjust the frame height and angle of the screen to accommodate a wide variety of stage and venue sizes*. At max height, I'd like to have a good 8' clearance underneath. I'm shooting for roughly 83"x 110" dimensions, as I never plan to have a throw distance of more than 20 feet. I'm not sure what the minimum throw distance would ever be - some stages can be quite cramped.

My design priorities are, in order of importance:
-Fast, easy set up/take down
-Compact storage - must fit easily in the back of an SUV
-Cheap, cheap, CHEAP
-Good performance in ambient lighting

Actual image quality isn't a high priority given the supportive nature of the video content, but I did decide it would be worth it to invest a tad more than old sheets from the thrift store, ha. Still, materials should be either really indestructible or cheaply replaced should something happen on the road.

I really the idea of using either silver molescreen matte spandex or blackout cloth attaching to a frame with velcro. That seems like a quick and easy way to tension up a screen over and over again. Right now, I'm leaning more towards the spandex due to weight/acoustic transparency, but I'll let the crowd weigh in.

My biggest concern by far is the frame. It needs to be light, easy to work with and store, and above all STABLE. I don't want some drunken fool rushing up on stage and bumping it over. I've seen lots of wood, steel pipes, square aluminum tubing, even some PVC. I'm unsure about using wood, but I'm open to suggestions here. Beyond materials, what kind of design would be best? A frame that folds, a frame that comes apart? Or perhaps a more unusual design? I'm really open to whatever ideas you have!

Thanks ahead of time for your time and ideas. I've really come to respect this forum and its members through my time reading here. A lot of sharp minds here!

Much obliged,

*The projector will be front and center on the stage. A separate design project will be an encasement which affords my projector some protection from the audience, while allowing me to adjust the angle of the projector to match the angle of the screen. Phew!
post #2 of 7
Let's start out by giving you a warm welcome to AVS's DIY Screen Forum!

Let's continue by putting you on the "Hot Seat". eek.giftongue.gifbiggrin.gif

While we all can appreciate that you spent time reading..(many do not even do that...). apparently and obviously you spent no time "asking" before you made the first important decision.

Too bad you cannot consider Rear Projection using the Milliskin. Doing so would eliminate the need for any backing, and drastically reduce the effects of ambient light, as well as light from Stage-related illumination.

The PJ of choice should have been the Viewsonic PDJ6683ws ....a short throw, 3000 lumen PJ with tremendous Contrast. ($750.00)

With that puppy, you could have effected a 110" x 83" rear projected image from just 5' 6" away and achieved more lumens...lumens that would not compete with other lighting.

With the 5123, you have a low throw limit of 18' 1" with 18' 11" as being optimal for the size screen mentioned above. But more importantly, the PJ platform will have to be several feet high. The 5123 has a 12" Image Offset, and while it does posses a Keystone feature, such was never intended to work with a 45 degree tilt, which will be darn close to what you would need if the PJ is set at any height under 4'. That means the PJ being placed at center will block the Audience's view.

With a Rear PJ set up, suspending the PJ behind the screen just 1' above the top of the screen would be ideal. Using the Silver Moleskin, you'd have the best possible performance as well as protection for the PJ. A very Professional route to take.

Yes...logistically, set up at each location might be a challenge, but if an inverted application is impossible, then consider that having the PJ "On Stage" just 5' 6" away from the Screen, which of course would be in the back of the performers in any case....would still be so very much better than it being 18'+ out fron at 4' off the floor.

If you have not used the 5123 yet, I strongly suggest you return it for the upgrade. The Screen's cost is really minimal, but it might as well be fee...or non-existent altogether if you cannot effectively manage the application you desire....repeatedly, and in varying venues. The same applies for the PJ. A PJ that cost $2-300 less is essentially worthless if it cannot effectively fill your needs.

Sorry to be such a Sunday Morning Buzz Kill, but long before I was involved with Home A/V I built Stages, PA's, and Large Venue Audio Systems. Nothing is worse than having your expectations (...and real needs...) come up short in front of a Crowd...and at the budgets many people must work under, it's even worse to get mediocre or bad results once the coin is out of the Bank.

Oh yeah....you asked about a Frame.

Considering the amount of pull strength Spandex would NOT require, using a frame build of lightweight aluminum that can be joined in sections, and having the Screen stretched into place using what is called "Screen Clamps"...a kind of "Alligator Clamp -Bungee Cord" system would be best is constant assembly /diss-assembly / storage is required. Purchasing such does mean more cash outlay, but with a little ingenuity, you can make such an attachment method yourself.You would have to reinforce the edges by folding them inward and sewing them (Hemming).

There are not a lot of options to consider in this sort of application. Most important by my reasoning is that the application work well, and stand the abuse repeated installation and removal fom a variety of locations would entail.

You have the fun part...deciding what to do, how to do it...or if you should run screaming the other direction at this point. redface.gif
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
Wow MississippiMan, thanks so much for your fast and insightful reply! Especially glad to hear from someone with lots of audio experience. smile.gif Here's my reply and I would love further thoughts and feedback:

My philosophy and budget is such that if I can't make it work with a $300 projector, it isn't worth pursuing at this point. And maybe that'll turn out to be the case, who knows! But I did read up on projectors a lot, and more than one DJ reportedly liked working with the PJD5123 (I often take cues from what DJs like for my work). Having tested it in my own bedroom with no screen at all, I have to say I really like what I can do with the thing. Maybe I'm only impressed because it's the only projector I've ever used. :P For larger gigs, I'd be able to justify renting a nicer projector on-site. That approach makes a lot more sense to me than assuming the liability of toting a really nice projector everywhere. I can also probably tweak my video content to be quite high contrast; for the type of content I create, this should be totally acceptable. Would that help overcome the contrast limitations of my projector?

I consider my stated image dimensions a maximum - if I needed to temporarily go with a shorter throw distance and wind up with a smaller image, so be it. I figure a venue that cramped isn't likely to need as big of a image anyways, hehe. I fully intend to have the projector on the floor of the stage, and use either mirrors or physically tilt the projector up to achieve roughly a 45 degree angle. My vision for the frame is something that clears over the "drummer" position and leans forward at an angle. First time in my life I've used geometry for something besides getting a grade. biggrin.gif

I *really* like the clip/cord idea, so what, just buy something like this, put some holes through the plastic covering, and run some elastic through? I'm ok with investing more money in the actual frame due to it being resilient and an unlikely target for theft. The hemming will be a pain, but I'll get it done haha.

How lightweight could I go with the aluminum, do you think? Would 0.5" diameter pipe be strong enough?

I hear you about running away screaming, hahaha. But at the same time, isn't the challenge of it all part of why we work the way we do? Nothing's quite as satisfying as what you've built with your own two hands. I'm just eternally grateful I found this community. With your one single post, you've already saved me loads of time, money, and frustration. A big, big thank you!!
post #4 of 7
There is a BIG difference between 1" and .5" Aluminum Tubing...strength wise. I'd go for the 1", because it also willaccept interfacing with the needed Hardware a more easier proposition.

.......and of course, your Welcome. Be sure to keep us up to date on your projects, and if at all possible, post up some Shots of the Build process as well as the final result...including some actual Screen images.

Check out these Clips. 20 for $39.95


I cannot suggest the Material they offer (crappy stuff actually...) but the Clip Hardware is the Bomb.

Then there is this excellent tutorial:
post #5 of 7
I am currently building a very similar setup. I've done a ton of reading and want to thank Mississippi Man for his ever valuable input. I opted to get the pjd6683ws because of this thread and a few others I've seen. My questioning lies in the screen building aspect. I face the same challenges as the OP, but I'd like to build a couple of dual purpose (rear/front) screens at different dimensions to accommodate different venue sizes (84"/100"/ (120"?) 16:9). I have the same needs of setup/breakdown and compact storage. I've ordered white milliskin and silver moleskin. I'm assuming the silver moleskin will be the screen to use. How would you propose attaching the moleskin to the aluminum tubing or a different method without bungees crossing the back of the screen in the case that rear projection is achievable? Also, do you think setting up a lighting truss for the projector is a viable solution? Also, there is the issue of elevating the screen above the drummer's head so that the audience can see it clearly. Do you have any ideas about a support frame that allows adjustable height?

post #6 of 7
I'm exploring a couple ideas that may or may not work. I'm hoping to know more confidently later this week or next week, once I have time to work on it again. I'll come back and add more detail at that point.
post #7 of 7



I'd like to do something similar to the OP's project: set up a screen for projections behind a band. I gather that your recommendation is to go for rear projection with the Viewsonic PDJ6683ws onto Milliskin. Do you know of any options for rear projection with ultra short throw? The venues for this set-up would typically be fairly small (50 to 200 people in the audience) and low-budget.


Thanks for any advice and ideas you can send along!

Christian Crowley

Washington, DC

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