TapSize matters

When planning a video projector system for a church, or anywhere else for that matter, you need to do things in the right order. The first thing to decide is what sort of material you are going to project: is it cinema type video, detailed business type presentations or are words of hymns the main objective. These determine the shape and most importantly the size of screen that you require. This must come before choosing your projector. Most online advice guides ignore the first criteria—type of presentation.

For the cinema type of experience you will probably want a 16:9 format screen and most of the advice online will be able to assist you to decide the size. The consensus seems to be a screen height 1/6th the distance to the back row of seats. You may also want at least a partial blackout.

For a business presentation you would probably want a 4:3 format and, unless you wanted very fine detail, you could probably go to a screen height 1/8th the distance to the back row.

For a system primarily for the words of hymns and scripture then it is a different prospect altogether. Doing the calculations for our church, which is 24m from front to back (we don’t have a chancel/choir area), we get a screen 7m x 4m for cinema and 4m x 3m for business. Without exaggerating — this is HUGE. Even the smaller would completely dominate the front of the worship area and the larger would block out all view of the East window and generally annoy everyone including the diocesan architects.

Fortunately we consulted a good professional contractor who knows churches and he put us right (in fact we consulted two and got similar answers). The difference is that you are rarely showing more than a dozen lines of text on the screen at once. Any more than that and the reader will lose their place. Hence you can use very large text sizes which reduces the necessary size of the screen. You can still do video clips and pictures for illustration but you are not aiming at that all enveloping cinema experience. Many years experience also tells me that only about half the members turn up to church business meetings so pack them into the front when you want to display the detailed financials.

So, taking the advice, we determined that we only needed an 8′ wide screen (that is about 2.4m) and I have been holding off posting this item until I had seen it in action: he was right! The benefits were great. It was much cheaper (both screen and projector), it is not overly obtrusive, and it folds away neatly when not in use. I can just about read it from the middle without my glasses and I my sight is pretty poor. It is perfect from right at the back with them on.

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