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Projector location in a theater

Discussion in 'Multimedia, Projection, and Show Control' started by Sayen, Aug 19, 2008.

  1. Sayen

    Sayen Active Member

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    Hi folks!

    Our new auditorium (high school) was constructed without a projector installation or an ideal location for one. I'm curious where different theaters mount their projectors, and if anyone has any suggestions for me.

    We divide our auditorium in half with a large curtain across the midhouse regularly, so projection from the booth is not idea. It'd be a long throw anyway.

    I could see dropping a mount from the catwalks, but it would have to hang pretty low to hit the stage, would be very visible, and I have no idea how I would service it after installation.

    I have seen arrangements that hold a projector and attach it to a batten - I could use this with a rear projection screen. Anyone have experience with how much movement I can expect to see? Is it going to wobble excessively?

    I'm not wild about carts. Too visible, lots of setup, and then I need to store a cart and hope it doesn't grow legs.

    I really want an arrangement that minimizes my work load. It's bad enough striking all of my gear and refocusing lights for every meeting and assembly, but I could do without the hassle of locating and setting up a projector. Something semi-permanent would be excellent.

    Any thoughts?

    Oh, and I am not asking how to rig it. That will be done with professional gear by professionals, since this needs to be safe and outlast my time at the school.

    Thanks,
     
  2. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Do you already own the projector? If so, what kind? Where are you planning on running the video source from?

    If all you are going to use it for is movies, etc, then I would recommend using rear projection. Do you have clear access to the rear wall? Would there be enough room to mount it on a shelf there and still have clearance for your cyc? If not, I recommend scaffolding, not a cart. Flying projection in a theater is a possibility if you have the right set-up, but as you theorized, you will likely have some drift in your image and focussing your image can be a real pain in the behind. With rear screen, you want your projector to be as centered on the screen as possible (a luxury that you rarely have with front screen), which is why you will want the height offered by the scaffolding.

    If you are forced to put it FOH, the scaffolding can again offer you flexibility. Draping scaffolding is common practice and a great use for old soft goods. If the large drape that splits your auditorium has an opening in the middle, theoretically you could use that to hide your setup.

    Obviously you will need assistance with either temporary setup. Two people can accopmlish this task (I have done it quite often).
     
  3. OnWithTheShow

    OnWithTheShow Member

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    what is the distance to the rear of the house and what is there now? Is there a booth or followspot position? We had to deal with the cart in the aisle for years and since we are primarily a theatrical space a projector on the stage was out of the question. In the end we just spent the money that was needed to get a projector that could throw from the back of the house.
     
  4. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    I forgot to also show you this for FOH: Scissor Lifts by Draper

    There are other companies who do something similar, but just to give you an idea.
     
  5. Sayen

    Sayen Active Member

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    Oh, that is just awesome - I hadn't seen a product like that before.

    To answer questions:

    I don't have a projector yet. Between my funds and the PTO we'll buy a nice one, but the type and lens are dependent upon placement. Short term we have a few around the school that are 'workable.' As for use, right now it's mostly presentations and videos to meetings. As a director I'm not big on video in shows. Cost at the moment is not as big of a concern as placement - and yep, I know how pricey these get.

    Source is a problem - I'll either run a few miles of cable around the space, or experiment with wireless video systems. Yes, yes, I know, try wired if I can. ;) Probably run a computer or DVD player at midhouse position, since the curtain obstructs the use of my booth.

    I have a motorized rigging system, which is much more stable than a traditional counterweight, but still...a slight movement is going to translate to several inches on the screen. Distance to the screen from the current floor mount projector is about 15 feet, which places the rigging on my last scenery batten.
     
  6. tech2000

    tech2000 Active Member

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    In my high school we have a projector installed right in front of the booth and shoots about 70' or so. (Some projectors have an option of a long throw lens and can shoot up 150' or so) When our installed projector broke (no money to replace it yet) we thought about hanging a smaller classroom sized projector from our catwalks but haven't in hopes of finding money to replace our previous one. Depending on the angle you may be able to hang it from the catwalks. I personally do not like the idea of mounting it on a batten because if there is an air current going, it could start swaying and the picture would move around. Although if there is no other way, (and me and my supervisor thought about it) then that could be the only way.
     
  7. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Based on this, I would recommend my second suggestion for the drop down projection. Have you already purchased a screen or have you been renting? Have you ever seen the rigid frame screen that they use over at Gammage (4:3 format)? They use it for the Warren Miller ski films. If you have the flexibility to give up a lineset for something like this to live on, you'd probably be happy (especially if it is just downstage of a full stage masking with a teaser just downstage of that (to mask the rigging). Since you are doing front projection, be aware that you will have to control light (even bounce from the stage) so a lower light angle is preferable (for you, not the speaker).

    Since you will be having it professionally installed, they should be able to run Cat-5 cable for you as well. With the use of baluns, you will be able to get better signal reliability than wireless (and considerably cheaper than fiber-optics). If you are unfamiliar with this technology, check with some of the local AV companies (LMG or AV Concepts - both rental companies - carry this type of gear). The cabling would be able to drop from the cats to your FOH position when you have the drape in and could probably go to your booth when it isn't.
     
  8. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Depending on the age of your projector and how you use it, you might want to consider repair over replacement. Check with Projector Repair; Replacement Projector Lamps and Bulbs and ask their recommendation. You might also be able to buy a refurbed projector for much less than a new one. Most often in the academic setting you don't need the latest and greatest, so buy one that is on the way out and you can probably get a great deal (and they are usually still serviceable for at least 5 years).
     
  9. BillESC

    BillESC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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  10. wadeace

    wadeace Member

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    you might want to consider to run cables from different locations in the theater to allow different presentation types. havening the projector run to the booth, then running cables that can be patched thought from the mid-house, and back stage positions.
     
  11. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Problem with this projector as a replacement is the throw distance (tech2000 is throwing 70'). Based on the specs, it has a throw range of 1.6-13.3 feet (Image Size 67" to 300", Throw Ratio 74"@3.3 feet). Anything outside that range would result in a poor focus. For a smaller space it probably wouldn't be a bad investment.
     
  12. museav

    museav CBMod CB Mods Departed Member

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    I've used just about every concept noted so far and then some all depending on the specifics of the application, I believe it is critical to know what you are trying to do before deciding how to do it. So a wild idea here, but how about defining the application as completely as possible first? How are you going to use projection? What type of sources and media will you be presenting? Would any install need to be permanent or, conversely, does it need to be portable? How large is the room and do you actually need viewing in all of it or only part of it? Do you have a full fly tower where you could fly out a truss type screen? All of these factors and others may be relevant to determining the approaches that are optimal or even practical.

    I typically avoid mounting projectors on battens. Not only are there potential issues with movement as already noted, but depending on the line set spacing there can be clearance issues. I have often used battens to hang a truss type screen and masking, sometimes with the ability to tie down the screen or batten to the floor to limit movement.
     
  13. Sayen

    Sayen Active Member

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    The use needs to be somewhat flexible. The room is frequently used for meetings, with PowerPoint and basic videos shown for training and what have you. During some music performances we've experimented with showing slides of student created art. I would like a semi-permanent installation, with the ability to move the projector only when necessary.

    The room seats 800 with the midhouse curtain open, and around 350 with it closed. I'm honestly not sure on dimensions. We have a full fly tower, and currently are projecting either on the cyc - not my first choice - or on a rear projection screen flown off a downstage pipe.

    Part of my goal is labor saving. As an example, Tuesday I was notified of a meeting that night that needed to be set up for. While I usually get more notice, this isn't uncommon. No crew, and I'm trying to teach classes while scrambling to set up a working rig.

    edit - Oh, and I'm curious what options might exist out there. For example, I've never seen a retractable scaffold like the one posted in this thread before. I figure it's worth seeing what other theaters/auditoriums do.
     
  14. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    You could always mount it in the FOH booth and force the issue that if they want projection, they don't get the mid-house drape. It would be the cheapest and easiest for your installation (and easiest for the person running the projections). Also, if you need to move it for other projects, it should be more accessible. If you use the FOH mount by Draper that I suggested earlier, I would recommend a second projector (or a rental) if you need one in a different location. It sounds like you have a smaller theater that could easily accomodate the projector being positioned in the booth though and that would probably be your best bet.

    Do you have to set up the screen each time or is it permanently hung and flown in?
     
  15. Sayen

    Sayen Active Member

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    I leave the screen hung, unless I need the batten.

    I'm getting good at labor saving tricks. I have the pipe marked with paint for exactly where the screen goes, and dark black squares on an already black stage to mark ideal projector positions. I started realizing how much time I waste setting up for non-theatrical events last year, and I'm trying to redirect energy.

    I'm usually the one who wants the curtain closed. Our auditorium is a monument to inefficiency and poor upper management. The acoustics are so bad through the house that you can't understand a speaker with a mic. The curtain helps with some of that, and I can drape old curtains on the sides of the walls in the lower half of the theater. The room is worse than some gyms I've been in. And if you want some real fun, after I pointed out that the room was too live after construction, and needed sound dampening, the powers that be added reflective panels, actually making the room worse. Your tax dollars at work!

    This is the tip of the nightmare that has become my space, and why I keep looking for ideal workarounds.
     
  16. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    After working in many ballrooms, I understand your challenges. Obviously we need to address your sound issues as well. Maybe we can take that over to the sound forum to discuss what you have and how to make it better with the limitations you face.

    Do you have a budget for your projection install yet? If possible, I recommend that you keep the projector separate from the installation on the budget.
     
  17. Sayen

    Sayen Active Member

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    The building was technically finished a year ago. I think we have a good handle on most of the problems, now it's just down to us teachers to solve the problems and keep the Powers That Be out of my space. Another audio fun would hanging a center cluster of speakers in such a way as to prevent the use of any microphone near the stage apron.

    You should hear the doozy they did to my lighting too. About 50% of the FOH throw is obstructed by bad architecture. Not to mention my previous lament that they wired ethernet ports for lighting everywhere except the electrics.

    On topic - I'm good at the money game, and I've priced a few projectors, depending on location. I have a great local dealer who has been offering consulting for me. When it comes time to purchase I have explored several options to ensure that we do this right. Everyone at the school level is awesome and willing to work with me, it's just the construction management that has become a joke. I probably just need to suck it up and establish a cart system/back wall combination. But like any good theater tech, I keep thinking there has to be a better way.
     
  18. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Do you have the space to mount it on the back wall without obstruction (cyc)? Although not as good for show operations, rear projection is preferable for light competition.
     
  19. museav

    museav CBMod CB Mods Departed Member

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    A lift can be a good option and there are other lift manufacturers such Display Devices and SVS. Lifts are not cheap but then neither are many long throw lenses. Lifts are also not usually a good candidate for DIY installations.

    In looking at projection systems I usually start with ascertaining some functional issues such as whether everything is, and will be, 4:3 video or if widescreen 16:9 or 16:10 formats are desired? Might the screen be used for lectures or other more standard presentations? Would you ever use a projected image as an effect or part of a set? How large a screen do you need to support the desired media, format and viewing area? Is there room to have a presenter to the side of teh screen or does the screen need to be above or behind presenters or actors? These types of questions usually start to define a desired screen size and whether front or rear projection would be the best solution. Then with that identified I start looking at where the projector needs to be, which then gets into what practical physical locations are possible and how you can get power and cabling to those locations. Limitations here may send you back to reassessing some of the desired functionality and thoruhg the process again until I find the best balance of desired functionality that can be physically implemented.

    There are sometimes other considerations. For example, I had one theatre that wanted to be able to easily use the screen and projector in another space as well.
     

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