Posted by on May 3, 2012

Guest entry by Tom Graybill, Tri-Marq Director of Sales

Behind the screen

There is generally one truth when it comes to projector brightness: the brighter, the better. Filling your screen with a vibrant, bright picture makes it easy for your audience to see your PowerPoint, your video, your camera shot. But how powerful a projector do you really need?

Projectors are measured in lumens. There is a very detailed, scientific definition for a lumen, which I won’t go into here, but basically, a lumen is a measure of the amount of light emitted by a projector. Typically, projectors are rated in thousands of lumens. As you might expect, a 10,000 lumen projector is much brighter than a 2,000 lumen machine. Also, as you might expect, the higher rated the projector, the higher the cost to rent or buy. So it is important to select the right gear to get the image you want at the best price.

Here’s a rough and quick formula for matching the right projector for your screen:

(screen height in feet) x (screen width in feet) x 50 =
desired brightness in lumens

So for a 6’x8′ screen, you would want a projector rated at 2,400 lumens or more. This is fairly common projector brightness for breakout rooms and smaller audiences.

For a 9’x12′ screen, you would want at least a 5,000 lumen projector. (Yes, I know the math adds up to 5,400, but that’s why this is a rough and quick formula!)

And if you are going big, a 15’x20′ screen should ideally require a 15,000 lumen machine.

There are some options with larger screens, including blending projectors (two or more projectors used on a single screen), or stacking projectors (two projectors shooting in parallel to increase brightness). You can also move the projector physically closer to the reflective surface, but in practice this only boosts the brightness marginally before you start compromising on the size of your image.

Projectors on the event site

This rough rule of thumb applies to typical projection environments – ballrooms, meeting rooms, etc. If you are projecting in a particularly bright area, like a tradeshow floor, you will likely need a more powerful machine to fight the atmosphere. If you are in a very controlled, dark area, you may be able to use a less bright projector to achieve good results.

Picking the right projector can make the difference between making the grade or having your audience take a dim view of your show. Armed with this simple formula, you should now feel a bit brighter.