What Size Screen?

Increasing numbers of churches are including projection systems in their worship spaces.  

Years ago a church had to be either huge or rich to have images projected on the large screen, images intended for use in today’s service only.   We showed Christian films and watched slides from guest speakers or missionaries, but PowerPoint-like stuff?  For just this service? That’s for big churches.

Well no more.  The decreasing cost of this technology is putting it within reach of most congregations, especially if church volunteers research and learn the skills to install the system themselves.

So what size screen do we need?  The 1964 tripod screen we have in the coat-room isn’t going to cut it if we do this every week.

Two easy steps to your answer: 

  • Measure the distance from the proposed screen location to the last row. 
  • The width of your new screen should be approximately 1/8 of the measurement you just took.

Is it 48 feet from the last row to where you think the screen will be?  A screen 6-feet across should serve you well.

72 feet from screen to furthest viewer?   Think 9-foot screen for starters.

The next step will be to determine how far from the screen your projector needs to be (usually a projector spec), and determine if that will work in your worship space.  Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s a head-scratcher.  Don’t lose hope, it’s important to remember a couple things:

  • When “retrofitting”,  bringing something new into something existing, we don’t always get to play with perfect numbers.  
  • When adding a screen and projector to a sanctuary, other considerations begin to affect the options available too.
    • Can the projector be mounted at the proper distance from the screen?
    • Is the “right size” screen going to appear too-small in the room?  Too large?
    • Can we get the cabling from the control booth to the projector location without it being too obvious?

So be willing to find the happy medium.  Larger or slightly smaller than ideal are fine, especially if the congregation knows the rationale behind the decision.  If you have three to five people who can work well together on projects of this sort, task them with finding three possibilities: Good, Better, and Heaven.   With those in hand your church leadership will be able to reach an informed and excellent decision, one that doesn’t have to be re-visited after the holes have been drilled and the system’s been installed.

—PLR—


2 Replies to “What Size Screen?”

  1. Oscar

    Tell me about it! Come Sunday morning and there I am setting up the Projector and Laptop for the Worship. In the beginning it was fun. But now its kinda boring cuz from the laptop I don’t get to see the bass being played in worship. I like to see the bass being played while I worship him. I dunno I just like to do so.

    Cant wait to learn it and play for HIM.

    Thanks for the comment on my blog. Hey where you from?

  2. Phil

    Thanks for stopping by, Oscar – I’m in SE Wisconsin.

    Have you thought of playing that laptop/notebook like an instrument for Him?
    You already know how to “play”, what if you were the silent member of the band, always on cue so first-words of the next frame are easily sung?
    Can you imagine being as absorbed in bringing God glory with playing your instrument as this week’s bassist? Would be GooD ( ! ) Wouldn’t it?! I love when a video tech “plays” the computer that way !!

    Phil —

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