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Distance from seating to screen


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33 replies to this topic

#1 of 34 OFFLINE   Maurice Shapiro

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Posted July 23 2005 - 04:39 AM

Is there a formula that one can use to establish the optimum viewing distance from seating to the screen?

#2 of 34 OFFLINE   Bob McElfresh

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Posted July 23 2005 - 08:08 AM

Yes, this Viewing Distance Calculator can be used.

I prefer the THX technique of trying to get a 23 degree view of the screen.

#3 of 34 OFFLINE   Maurice Shapiro

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Posted July 23 2005 - 08:27 AM

Thank you. This is just the information I wanted. I appreciate your quick response. Regards, Maurice

#4 of 34 OFFLINE   ChrisWiggles

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Posted July 24 2005 - 04:33 AM

Keep in mind that different display technologies and resolutions will support different satisfactory viewing angles. For instance, a high-end CRT projection system you could sit very close to, while a low-end low-resolution LCD would have horrible screen door, and you would want to sit much further away for a pleasing image.

#5 of 34 OFFLINE   GeorgeAB

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Posted August 07 2005 - 10:12 AM

The THX minimum viewing angle is recommended for the most distant back row in a commercial movie theater. Their maximum viewing angle for film is 45 degrees. Be careful of using recommendations for film exhibition. Film resolution is much finer than the best HDTV in the home. The ATSC worked from a 30 degree viewing angle in designing the HDTV system for a typical maximum of 1920 x 1080 resolution. Their consensus was that most viewers would not be able to see pixels at that resolution and the gains in using wider images were not substantial for acheiving a sense of immersion in the action. Most HDTV front projection rigs in homes are using 1280 x 720 chips. I have found in my experience that a 30 degree viewing angle still reveals 720p pixel structure from many LCD projectors. The brightest portions of a projected image will reveal pixel definition first. My eyesight tends to be a little better than many of my acquaintences. I don't recommend any greater than a 30 degree viewing angle for 720p. That works out to a formula of screen width x 1.87, or seating distance divided by 1.87. Best regards and beautiful pictures, G. Alan Brown, President CinemaQuest, Inc. "Advancing the art and science of electronic imaging"

#6 of 34 OFFLINE   John S

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Posted August 08 2005 - 03:23 AM

I sort of go with Bob's idea.... I try to set people up, so they get a similar equivelent field of view as from the back of a pay movie theater. I even have some rectangles of different sized cardboard to illustrate it to them in their proposed setting.

#7 of 34 OFFLINE   GeorgeAB

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Posted August 09 2005 - 03:17 PM

I "sort of go with" the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the Advanced Television System Committee (ATSC), and similar motion picture standards and practices governing organizations. These people are the experts in the field of human factors and optimum viewing conditions for motion imaging. Motion picture production, post production, duplication and exhibition all follow industry standards proven effective over decades of research, theory and practice. All this work was not undertaken to vaunt some misguided opinion of what will work for one or a few individuals. The purpose of instituting and maintaining standards is purely to preserve the integrity of the original art and maximise enjoyment for the intended viewer. Without standards there can be no reliable repeatability of the intent of the program producer. Motion picture industry standards and practices are the foundation of every successful system installation. Any deviation in system design should only be for very specific reasons and an understanding of the potential consequences carefully weighed and justified. Otherwise the full enjoyment of the art will be diminished unnecessarily. Best regards and beautiful pictures, G. Alan Brown, President CinemaQuest, Inc. "Advancing the art and science of electronic imaging"

#8 of 34 OFFLINE   John S

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Posted August 10 2005 - 01:55 AM

I have to admit, it is rare I get to work on dedicated theaters. Most of what I do is help people do the best they can in their living room and family room environments. I can only imagine some of the installs your company has done GeorgeAB.....

#9 of 34 OFFLINE   GeorgeAB

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Posted August 10 2005 - 03:51 AM

Any type of system for exhibition of movies will offer its best performance when designed with an understanding of the system rules as the foundation. This applies to any type of room or equipment. There will always be compromises that need to be made in multi-purpose rooms. With an understanding of the system rules, it's much easier to minimize the consequences to system performance. I can't overemphasize the importance of one element of the system that few really understand well enough. That element is the viewer. Human visual system characteristics are typically the least understood performance factor in entertainment system design today. Screen size and location, seating distance, display type, lighting, room decor, all have an impact upon the viewer's perception of the image. One of my most common challenges is working with clients who want a screen that's too large for the primary seating location. Most consumers work from a basis of what they experience in commercial theaters or see in magazines. They really have no concept that there are scientific reasons for both film and video system design. Their pre-conceived notions of what they want have no basis in science. Usually, all they know is what they've experienced. What they think they "like" has no real connection to image fidelity. Even other industry professionals they have spoken to have very little understanding of imaging science, display standards and human factors. Far too many home theater sales people are eager to sell a larger, more expensive screen, when a customer asks for it. When it's fundamentally wrong for the planned seating distance, the customer should be educated as to why, and what the specific consequences will be if such a decision is made. The customer is not always right! Every customer has a right to be ignorantly or wilfully wrong, but it's the professional's job to let their client know what's at stake when deviating from the system rules. Home theater design professionals who have little formal understanding of imaging science are pretty much "flying blind" when attempting to help a customer make a design or buying decision. The Imaging Science Foundation, among others, has been teaching these principles for about a decade now. Many people in the home entertainment industry think the ISF classes are just for people who want to become display calibrators and never get the training. The majority of the information in the training deals with the fundamentals of how our video system works, the various display devices available today, what types of displays are best for various uses, human perceptual characteristics, and what constitutes an accurate picture. Then there are others in the classes so focused on just wanting to make a living calibrating TVs that they fail to adequately absorb much of the other information. Just knowing a lot about equipment is not enough. Successful home theater design is a synergy of many disciplines. Every discipline has fundamental principles that must be mastered as a foundation before growth and expertise are achieved. Anyone who attempts to design custom home theaters without a formal understanding of the pertinant SMPTE standards and practices is just guessing. These fundamental principles are applicable to every electronic display installation, not just dedicated theaters. Best regards and beautiful pictures, G. Alan Brown, President CinemaQuest, Inc. "Advancing the art and science of electronic imaging"

#10 of 34 OFFLINE   John S

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Posted August 10 2005 - 04:58 AM

Interesting philosphy on it. I don't fully subscribe to it though. Customer preferences still have to come first. Your basic numbers you posted seem pretty much in line with the so called guesses most of us use and have come up with as well as the industry guidlines in general. Your spiel is impressive though for sure. I'd still love to see some of your companies work sometime.

#11 of 34 OFFLINE   ChrisWiggles

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Posted August 10 2005 - 05:09 AM

What he's saying is what I said briefly up above. There is such a thing as sitting too close to the screen, especially with many of todays fixed pixel displays. The proper viewing angle, or SW ratio away will vary depending on the display type and resolution. As I mentioned above, the displays supporting the closest viewing are high-end CRT projection, and 1080p LCOS displays, which can comfortably support 1x screen width viewing with proper sources. At these distances, the source material can be a problem, I would only suggest sitting this close with very clean HD sources. DVD is too noisy this close, and not enough detail. But the capabilities of the display chain itself support this close. With 720DLP, I would recommend nearly twice as far away, close to 2x screen widths for elimination of screen door and the best 3-dimensionality, and perhaps a little further still for LCD. Now, keep in mind that these recommendations are from a more video purist perspective, so the average user may not be so spoiled by high end displays that screen door is normal and not objectionable to them. This is why I believe in helping a user understand the high-end purist perspective, let them see it, and then decide whether they prefer that kind of imaging quality, or are willing to remain with their previous expectations. After all, it is a system designed for someone else's preferences, not our own. As a CRTer myself, I know full well that while I value the incredible imaging of such a device, it is a very rare person for whom a CRT FP is at all appropriate.

#12 of 34 OFFLINE   GeorgeAB

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Posted August 10 2005 - 07:34 AM

Chris has an excellent grasp of many complex issues. I will just add that I don't consider working from the basis of display standards and image fidelity as "video purism". I think that kind of perspective is at the root of so many problems in our industry today. Accuracy is not elitism in my book. Working within a system's foundational design rules should be expected and predominant. Our attitude should be one of confident familiarity with the fundamentals and a desire to help the ignorant understand what it takes to achieve the desired results intended by a video program's producer. When precision and clarity are diminished or abandoned, confusion and devaluation are inevitable. When a customer's "preferences" reveal a reliance upon uninformed anecdotal exposure to years of poor imaging and conditioning to wrong practice, it's the professional's duty to his client to educate and demonstrate what faithful image reproduction can look like and why. It would be negligent to sell a system to the ignorant which will not deliver the full beauty the equipment is capable of, without educating them in what is achievable with the money they are spending. What people want or "prefer" can change, especially when they learn more. Of course, there will be some consumers who just don't care about image fidelity. Those kinds of people usually don't call me or they typically think that my fees are too high when they do. I usually suggest they go to one of the local electronics retailers for their needs and wants. Those folks will cater fully to their "preferences", offer solutions based upon what they have in inventory, and make system design suggestions based upon their anecdotal exposure, somebody else's system, and/or guesswork. I'm not dogmatic with clients, just committed to offering them the best sound and images for their money, tailored to their individual circumstances. It's their house and their money. I'm not the one that will be using the system day in and day out. However, they come to me for my expertise and guidance. The motion imaging industry is founded upon professional discipline, rules, standards and proven scientific principles. If my advise is based upon individual opinion and guesswork, I do my client a disservice and don't deserve to be called a professional or be paid professional level fees. Video system design advice should be based upon imaging science, display standards, and human perceptual factors, not primarily to appeal to the whim or impulse of the uninformed. Best regards and beautiful pictures, G. Alan Brown, President CinemaQuest, Inc. "Advancing the art and science of electronic imaging"

#13 of 34 OFFLINE   John S

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Posted August 10 2005 - 07:45 AM

More often then not, the wife seems to get the last say in living room and family room environments and does not want to be educated on the matter. This is my most common experience. If I can make the wife happy, and achieve any improvement for the husband / family I usually have to call that good. I have been successful going both up and down in screen size using blank cardboard cut outs to illustrate field of view though and placement, ect..ect... Most people seem to like 2x the diagonal size on seating distance which seems to fit in ok with standard guidlines, some a little closer, some a little further away, but always right around that mark it seems.

#14 of 34 OFFLINE   ChrisWiggles

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Posted August 10 2005 - 07:48 AM

I definitely agree with George, and hope my previous statements didn't seem to come off too differently. Where there are subjective preferences involved, as I believe there are in high end video where there is no such thing as a perfect display, my own preferences (for CRT for instance) might not be right for someone else. However, I would not support mis-designing a system, or choosing a clearly poor component or non-standard one based on someone's lack of knowledge. I think when I said "video purist" I meant that for the most idealized viewing of a 720 DLP or LCD you'd want to be near 2x screen widths. I would find 1.5-1.7 acceptable, the lower end of that range less-so. 1 screen width would be a poorly designed system, and I would criticise a sytem designed like that. My numbers are from a the "most demanding" point of view, and *slightly* closer, I think, even within what you stated, would be OK, but not as ideal as they could be. Too close, of course, would be totally undesireable, but we are entering into that fuzzy realm of what is quality imaging and what isn't. For me, lack of screen door is very important, but I do think that my own demands on this are perhaps more extreme than what we might deem "quality" imaging. I think some SDE visibility is acceptable for quality imaging, but I would prefer to be slightly more demanding than that and have no SDE visibility at all, which requires nearly 2x SW. I hope that clarifies my perspectives, and helps direct others towards a good system design. If anything, I do agree with George that too many people, especially with FP displays sit too close for the resolution and pixel density that the display supports. I don't think there is such a thing as too far away.

#15 of 34 OFFLINE   John S

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Posted August 10 2005 - 08:02 AM

The original poster got some good info in the thread, that is for sure, thanks mostly to GeorgeAB and others..... Posted Image

#16 of 34 OFFLINE   GeorgeAB

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Posted August 10 2005 - 08:45 AM

Here's one for the wives, "How close do you want someone to sit to your face?" We all have complexion imperfections. would you want someone to sit for hours so close to your face that they would get distracted by the pores on your nose or any blemishes? There's a comfortable distance that allows people to focus on our overall face easily, rather than all the minute details of how our face is constructed. Here's another one for room color and lighting choices. Most women are familiar with how many different kinds of skin tones there are. One system for quantifying different categories of skin/hair combinations divides types into seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. How much interest is there in selecting the right hair color, makeup foundation, wardrobe items, etc., to complement a given skin tone or eye color? Every program producer strives to achieve a certain color mood for various scenes in a movie or TV show. That mood can be spoiled by selecting unflattering wall colors or ambient lighting in the viewing environment. There are video industry standards and recommendations for these room elements, just as there are for fashion decisions. All these issues are determined from studies of human visual perception, how the brain interprets what our eyes see. Best regards and beautiful pictures, G. Alan Brown, President CinemaQuest, Inc. "Advancing the art and science of electronic imaging"

#17 of 34 OFFLINE   rob-h

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Posted August 11 2005 - 01:20 AM

I dont know, in my case I have 2 rows. One at 15' and another at 20'. 100 inches is too small at 20'. 133" looks fine at 15'. So guess which one I have?

#18 of 34 OFFLINE   GeorgeAB

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Posted August 11 2005 - 02:34 AM

Unless you always sit in both rows at the same time, size the screen for the primary seating. For most people, it's the front row. Low-grade material, such as standard NTSC 1.33:1 TV programs, will look better from a greater distance on a 1.78:1 screen. HDTV and anamorphic DVD will be appropriate for closer seating. Best regards and beautiful pictures, G. Alan Brown, President CinemaQuest, Inc. "Advancing the art and science of electronic imaging"

#19 of 34 OFFLINE   rob-h

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Posted August 11 2005 - 02:51 AM

Its a dedicated theater and only DVD's are viewed. The picture quality is fine from this distance with this material. My original concern was that the entire picture would not be within the field of vision and you would have to move your head/eyes to keep up with the action. Turns out it's not an issue at all.

#20 of 34 OFFLINE   GeorgeAB

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Posted August 11 2005 - 03:05 AM

If you like it that close, be happy. I still see plenty of people sitting in the front row of commercial cinemas, long before the theater fills up. In a correctly designed commercial theater, the industry's standard recommendation for ideal seating location is about two thirds of the way back from the screen. In America, when you buy the ticket, you can sit anywhere you want. Best regards and beautiful pictures, G. Alan Brown, President CinemaQuest, Inc. "Advancing the art and science of electronic imaging"