Choosing The Right Equipment For A Private Film Screening


You’ve been tasked with planning a film screening, and now you have find the prefect projector and screen. With so many options available, how do you choose? This article covers the basics for finding the ideal equipment for a variety of scenarios.

Standard Definition vs. High Definition Projectors

These days, most films are shot in 4k, and output in 1080p otherwise known as HD or high definition. Not all projectors are able to perfectly reproduce an HD signal. If you’re showing a high definition film, and you’re using a standard definition projector, the projector will scale down the HD image; which leads to the video looking blurry. Here’s a great article which gives an in depth look at the differences between standard definition and high definition projectors. Once you’ve chosen a projector that matches the quality of video content you’re looking to show, it’s time to choose the brightness.

Projector Brightness

All projectors measure brightness using the term, lumens. The higher the lumens, the brighter the projector will be. There are 2 factors to consider when choosing how bright your projector needs to be: ambient light, and screen size. The worst place to project a video, would be a large screen outdoors during the day. Event the most expensive projectors will struggle to create a bright image in these conditions. Low or no ambient light is crucial for film screenings. If you’ll be showing the film outdoors, make sure to start after the sun has gone down.

The larger the screen, the brighter your projector will need to be. Here’s a couple examples of how bright a projector needs to be for different screen sizes in a low light environment:

  • 6′ tripod screen: 2000 – 3000 lumen projector
  • 9′ x 16′ screen: 5000 – 8000 lumen projector
  • Movie theatre screen: 15000 – 20000 lumen projector

Using a projector with a high number of lumens will help give your film a full and clear presence. Choosing a projector that isn’t bright enough often leads to viewers being frustrated as they try and make out what’s happening on screen.

Screen Types and Sizes

Fastfold Screen Rental VancouverIf you’ve chosen to use an HD projector, using a 16:9 screen is ideal. If a 4:3 screen is used, you’ll notice black bars on the top and bottom of the screen. For indoor events there any many types of screens available including: tripod, post & cradle, fastfold, and truss frame screens. For outdoor film screenings, inflatable screens are the perfect solution as they can withstand high winds and light rain.

The final consideration when choosing a screen is the size of your room. Some screen types come with drape kits which increase the width and height of the screen. If your space has a regular 9′ ceiling, an 8′ tripod screen, or 10′ post & cradle will be the largest screen that can fit into the space. If chairs will be using most of the floor space in the room, it’s possible to ceiling or truss mount a long throw projector to shoot overtop of the audience. If you have an abundance of empty space, some screens allow for rear projection. This will allow you to fill up more seating closer to the screen, creating an immersive environment. Films are made to immerse you in their story, why not have a viewing environment be immersive too?

Creating an Experience

Pipe & DrapeTo take your film screening to the next level, consider adding a drape wall beside the screen. This will draw attention to the screen, allowing viewers to be fully immersed.

Uplighting the drape wall and room features will make viewers fell like they are in a theatre, and choosing colours to match your film’s theme can create a unique experience.

For sound, depending on the size of your venue, a small stereo sound system of two 12” DXR speakers and a small mixer is suitable for an audience of 25-75. An audience of over 100 would be ideal to have a subwoofer included, and for over 200 viewers four speakers would be ideal. If the film was recorded with 5.1 surround sound or higher, consider placing speakers around the room and using a receiver that can support 5.1.