There is a direct relationship between your projector screen size and the optimum sitting distance. The angle of view from your sitting position is also important. This angle, formed by the sides of the projector screen should be a minimum of 30 degrees according to the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE).
This generally means that your sitting distance should be between 1.2 to 1.6 times the diagonal lengths of your projector screen.
However, the sitting distance varies between individuals. Some people prefer sitting as far back as possible from their projector screens. Others prefer sitting in the middle, whereas others like the front row. In the end the sitting distance is all down to one’s personal preferences.
Determining your Viewing Distance: How Far to Sit from a Projector Screen?
There is no optimum sitting distance for everyone. It depends on the person’s personal preferences. If you are finding it difficult to get the perfect sitting distance from your projector screen, consider visiting a commercial theater. Before the movie starts, determine by pacing the width of the theater projector screen. Once you have the width, count the paces from the screen to the row you wish to sit in.
For instance, the theater screen is 20 paces, and the distance from the screen to your preferred sitting position is 30 paces. Your viewing distance will be 1.5 times the width of the projector screen. That is 20 x 1.5 = 30.
As you sit back and enjoy your movie, take note of the aspect ratio of the image on the projector screen. The aspect ratio may likely be close to 16:9. With this aspect ratio, ask yourself whether you prefer sitting closer or further away. Consider how your eyes felt at the end of the film, did you strain too much, or are your eyes tired?
You can choose to calibrate your sitting distance by visiting the theater more often and experimenting on different viewing distances. This will help you determine the optimum sitting distance versus the aspect ratio and image size.
If you find that sitting 30 steps from a 20 step wide screen is comfortable for you, the optimum sitting distance for you is 1.5 times the width of the projector screen. You can easily work on this number compared to the width and depth of your viewing room. For example, if the depth and size of your room allow you to place a projector screen that is 12′ feet wide, then the optimum sitting distance for you will be (12′ x 1.5 = 18 feet).
Even though most people may prefer a comfortable sitting distance of 1.5 times the projector screen size, others may want to sit closer, for instance, 1.2 or 1.3 times the screen width. Others may want to sit further back and have a smaller viewing angle with a sitting distance of 1.75 times the screen width.
It is important to note that, the further away from the screen you sit, the less strain your eyes get. Determining an optimum viewing distance is an ideal solution to get the best out of the viewing quality of the projector screen with little strain on the eyes.
Factors to Consider when Determining the Sitting Distance
Consider the following factors when determining the optimum sitting distance from your projector screen:
- Viewing angle based on your setup.
- The maximum viewing distance recommended, usually 3 to 6 times the projector screen width.
- The maximum viewing distance recommended by SMPTE, usually 30 degrees viewing angle that provides less strain on the eyes and provides a more captivating experience.
- The maximum viewing distance recommended by THX (Tomlinson Holman Crossover) is usually 36 degrees viewing angle for the furthest seats in the house.
- The minimum screen widths required to meet the recommendations by THX and SMPTE.
Provided you know the width of your screen, the aspect ratio, and your viewing distance, online calculators will help you determine the best sitting distance from your projector screen.
How far you sit from your projector screen will not only ensure you get less eyestrain but will also help you get the best from your viewing experience. It is quite easy to determine your viewing distance. You can use viewing distance calculators available online or decide to do it yourself. The only things you need to know are the width of the screen and the aspect ratio. An optimal viewing distance is 1.5 times the width of your projector screen.