Projector throw distance calculator from Projector Central

Visualists have a wide range of skills to cover. After you’re done figuring out how to create and edit content and turn it into a performance / live installation / whatever, then you have to deal with the technicalities of projectors?

Basic calculations for throw distances are pretty straightforward: a 3:1 throw ratio, for instance, means you need 3′ from the projection surface to get a 1′ image. But that’s before you throw in all the variables: what are the specs of the projector you’re using, what’s the lens, what’s the setting of the lens, what size image and throw will provide an image that’s bright enough for the job, etc. So, while there are various calculators online, by far, my favorite is this fantastic interactive calculator at Projector Central:

Projection Calculator Pro [Projector Central]

Video artist Maya Ciarrocchi turned me on to the site (thanks, Maya)! It’s useful for two reasons, even if you’re decent at arithmetic. First, it’s got an extensive database of obscure projectors attached to it, so you’ll prepared for whatever you run into. Second, it has adjustable sliders so you can try what-if scenarios.

Won’t be long before I put all of this to use. Wednesday, I leave for Pittsburgh and the Hazlett Theater, where I’ll be in residence for a week and a half installing a custom show for choreographer Grisha Coleman, written in Processing and Java. I expect this will be a trial-by-fire for me as far as projector setup and installation, with one computer display and five projectors, all in unusual locations. I’ll be sure to report back on what I learn, including what I learn the hard way.

How about you: got a preferred method for researching projectors and projector setup? Got some killer spreadsheet for your throw distances? Let us know in comments.

  • zelig

    I usually use this magic formula ( depending on the lens..but still kinda accurate )
    distance of the projector from the surface onto which it projects is roughly the diagonal size of the screen.
    and the rest is Pythagorean math.

  • http://www.vuzak.no pekka stokke

    Very, very useful site. I´m there about 5 times a day :-)
    Infocus also has a projection calculator (downloadable) on their site, as does Epson.

    An alternative is, of course, to call a friend with math skills and have them calculate everything while you´re hanging by one arm in a ladder in a club in Milan.