LCD Projector for School Auditorium
March 4, 2013 12:22 PM   Subscribe

Please suggest to me a specific projector and help me plan this out in general.

I'm trying to get a projector installed in our school auditorium, so I don't have to set one on the front row seats and set it up every time I need one. School facilities are installing a new PA system soon, but I don't know what it will look/work like, so I don't have good answers about the main console part of the finished product.

This is a small auditorium (approx. 500 seats).
The PA console/inputs/outputs will be in a unit off stage left. That is where I imagine plugging a DVD player and laptop into the sound system, so that is where I imagine my video signal will be coming from.
I guess I originally imagined a unit hanging from the ceiling about 30' from the stage. The other option, AFAICT, would be a unit mounted to the wall in the back (approx. 100'). That would require a much more powerful unit, no? What about signal loss running those cables that far?
The ambient light is manageable. I've been using a Dell 2400MP on the front row seats and it's been fine.
My facilities folks are asking me (like I know anything): What kinds of input feed do I want? I use Macs, so I would say DVI, but I want to be forward thinking here. My inclination would be to say "HDMI, VGA and DVI." Would that cover me for most uses: Mac, PC, DVD? Is that even a sensible answer.
They are also asking if I want a motorized screen. We have a screen, but it's old. Main thing is: With a new projector, should I consider a new screen for the sake of aspect ratio?

I have lots of questions. But I'm not even sure I'm asking the right ones. Help?
posted by etc. to Technology (3 answers total)
Location: Hanging from the ceiling is probably best as you want the least possibility of something or someone passing through the beam. It doesn't actually matter what the distance is as the brightness is entirely based on lumens per screen area. You just need a longer lens to project from further away. Projectors that work at 30' are generally more available and cheaper than those that have interchangeable lenses for longer throws. You want one that has the lens mounted at an angle, so that minimal keystone correction is required.

Get 1080p resolution and get the most brightness you can afford for an auditorium (which is probably not very dark), but don't neglect contrast ratio for films.

You don't really need to run a separate cable for HDMI and DVI. A DVI to HDMI adapter costs very little. Even VGA is on the way out, but there are still older laptops without HDMI or DVI. Technology will change, and you'll need to run new cables, but right now you just need HDMI and possibly VGA for older laptops.

A new screen can be nice. If your current screen is not wide enough to show films as you'd like, then absolutely do get a new screen. You can also gain a lot of light by using a screen with a higher gain (essentially, a more reflective screen). Big screens are expensive though. If screen width and brightness are acceptable now, you don't need a new screen just for the sake of not having extra screen above and below wide screen output (people just don't notice, in my experience).

Also consider cabling to let presenters connect their laptop from a lectern and a location for laptop connections that allows use of a remote (pointing a remote into the wings can be awkward). You'll want sound connections in those locations too, as presenters may have video.
posted by ssg at 1:11 PM on March 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

You might want to contact an audio video company. A true auditorium projector is expensive. we just got ours done and the 720p projector that hangs from the ceiling was about 3k to 4k all by itself.

There are professional switches that have all the inputs you need. HDMI , component, and vga. They ran cables from the switch to the columns where the inputs will be .

A regular business projector wont work because they are not bright and are not meant to run for long. the big auditorium projectors can throw much farther and are brighter at a distance. The problem is depending on budget you might be stuck at 720p.

Our video setup cost us $10k. It included a wireless remote and brand new widescreen motorized screen.

The remote allows us to turn on the projector (which brings down the screen automatically) and switch inputs.
posted by majortom1981 at 4:43 AM on March 5, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for the input, folks. Er, no pun intended.

It looks like this project might actually happen!
posted by etc. at 2:29 PM on March 5, 2013

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