Originally Posted by Nuieve
True but only to some degree. Proportionally (relative screen height to distance ratio), larger screen will always look better. You can't fool your brain, it knows if the screen if small or big. No matter how close you sit to a small (under 150) screen, it will never feel truly immersive. Decent and better than TV, but it will never give you the same sensation a larger screen can give (150+).
You're talking about scale, which is a different issue.
Immersion is derived from seating distance and viewing angles, and the likes of Dolby, SMPTE, THX CEDIA etc will tell you that. There are no references to screen sizes in those documents, only seating distances and viewing angles. White papers from people like Dolby will tell you it's the image size on the retina that is important. Way back in the 50s Fox determined that 3x screen height was the optimal seating distance with film (image quality vs immersion). As film quality improved that has changed (THX recommend 2.4xSH as their optimal for example, and I think that was from back in the 80s). Digital has improved that due to removing most of the quality issues that film presented.
Scale is usually only relevant when you have points of reference in the field of view that will allow your brain to determine the physical size of the screen, and unless you have a black velvet room that is pretty much always going to be the case, and physical screen size may then be important to you.
In a black velvet room with the lights on, you have points of reference to the screen size, such as the floor and distance to the screen from the seats and the room dimensions (and visiblity of your own limbs) etc which all help your brain determine distance and sizes etc, so you may feel you are close to the screen when in the front row. When the lights are off and all the references disappear, the element of size can be lost and the screen size becomes difficult to determine. Pixel size on the retina remians constant with seating distance ratios regardless of screen size.
I find that if I sit in the second row of my theatre (approx 2.8 to 2.9 x SH), it feels like I am a long way away from a much larger screen for example, just like in acommercial theatre, but the feeling of immersion is still there because I still have a decent viewing angle. My front row is 2xSH for scope and flat (CIH), and 1.5xSH for IMAX presentations.
Another example is when watching 3D in a commercial theatre - depending wher you sit and the presence of other people, when the glasses are on and the room is further dimmed from view, the screen size can sometimes feel smaller than it is. I've noticed that a few times when viewing in an almost empty theatre from around 2.4xSH. In those instances in some respects it doesn't look a lot different to my viewing experience at home, and yet the screen is maybe 40 feet wide or more.