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Topic: Upgrading our charity film festival setup
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Joined: Mar 1, 2022
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I help run a small charity film festival in BC, Canada. We show short films that encompass mountain culture here in BC and around the world. Our current setup is an InFocus 5504 with an ultra long throw lens to a 12' wide 4:3 screen, though we project in 1080p so don't use the full height. During the films we have basically zero light in the hall, but between films we like to show sponsor messages and timetables with the house lights up. Additionally we also sometimes have presentations with a speaker alongside the screen and some lights on. Our audience size is ~300 people, and we're finding the screen size a little limiting right now.

I'm looking at maybe going to a 16' wide 16:9 grey screen and a brighter projector, possibly a used Christie DHD951-Q. I'm thinking the grey would help with the high ambient light situations, but would I be sacrificing image quality during the short films?

The throw calculator seems to think that the brightness is slightly higher than our current setup (39 ftL for the IN5504 @ 12' vs 47 ftL for the Christie @ 16'), is there anything else I should consider there?

We also have the option for rear projection, there's about 15' of space behind the screen, would that be a better option?

Thanks in advance!
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Joined: Mar 28, 2005
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Rear projection takes away from image quality slightly. But, it doesn't impact image brightness really. You get some transmission loss as it passes through the material, but if you are able to isolate the rear projection area in 100% darkness from the area in front of the screen with ambient light, then you will maintain much higher contrast on the viewing side of the image which could be of great benefit.

If it is open behind the screen and ambient light gets in, then don't bother with rear projection would be my recommendation.

Likewise, grey screens don't do much to increase contrast, but they do a fair bit to lower overall brightness. It creates a better black floor, but you lose the white highlights a bit. I would not go this route. Instead, I would shoot for a projector capable of delivering more light output.

I have a problem with any place using a single chip DLP projector when they are presenting to such a large group of people. I would stick with 3-chip technologies. 3-DLP is what theaters use, 3-LCD is great for those more on a budget. LCoS is also great, but rarely as bright or within budget.

I would definitely put Epson on the list of potential products.

Consider a model like this:
https://www.audiogeneral.com/store/products/view/0600-6093-U

A factory refurbished model with a 3-year warranty and a laser light source and interchangeable lenses. You will be able to cut light output to your screen for watching films, while boosting light output WAY up to what you need for when the lights are on.

The 3-chip design will eliminate RBE issues and potential headaches for viewers and the laser light source will maintain brightness over time. Plus, Epson has a great service department just in case there ever is a time when it needs to go out for repair.

If this is 'above budget', then what are you doing?
Seriously, if this is for a film festival, then the device that plays the films back is by far the most important thing you can have here. Get a decent screen to last 10 or more years, and get a projector designed to light it up properly. It will make the crowd happier with their experience.
AV Integrated - Theater, whole house audio, and technology consultation during the build and installation process in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.
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Thanks for the reply!

We can block off most light behind the screen, it's a stage with curtains in line with the screen. Next time I'm in there I'll see how much light leakage there is.

That Epson looks great, but a little pricey for us - as I say we're small, and balance our income between improvements like this and giving to local charities. I'll talk to the board and see what we can afford, maybe we can hold off another year for upgrades.

But in general you'd advise 3-DLP ideally, higher brightness for the high ambient light and dim it for the films?

Thanks again for the advice!
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3-DLP is WELL outside of your budget. That's what commercial cinemas use.

I would use a 3-chip technology, and while 3-DLP is nice, it isn't affordable. 3-LCD, from Epson, NEC, Panasonic, Sony, and others is affordable and is very typical for many installations.

Also, be aware that boutique brands, like Barco or Christie, have some very nice projectors, but you often pay a fair bit more for the same quality that others produce for less money. You will pay a lot more for the repairs that go with some of those models.

I do recommend not only 3-chip technology, but the use of a laser light engine will reduce the total cost of ownership. Potentially significantly if you replace lamps regularly.

Otherwise, yes, a model you can dim and raise the light source for can help with different ambient lighting situations.
AV Integrated - Theater, whole house audio, and technology consultation during the build and installation process in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.