The fundamental difference between the front and rear projection film is that front projection films are light reflectors while rear projection films are light diffusers.

I won’t lie to you:

Making the right choice regarding the projection screen is difficult. So much so that BestBuy created an extensive checklist on the same. After all, projection screens come from different materials. Also, there are projection screens that are both diffusers and reflectors.

The first step in choosing the right projection screen is understanding the differences between the front and rear projection screens, which we do in the following section.

Differences between a Front and Rear Projection Film

Space Requirements

Since front projection screens are reflectors, there is no need for space behind the screen. Consequently, you get more floor space. Even then, you need to be sure that neither people nor objects will block the projector light.

On the other hand, a rear projection film needs space behind it for the projector and other equipment. The amount of space required is directly proportional to the size of the screen.

Ambient Light in the Room

Ambient light reduces the efficiency of a front projection screen by reducing the contrast. For the best quality images, it’s crucial to darken the room to increase the contrast.

Rear projection films, however, have better contrast and color and are hardly affected by high ambient light in a room.

Brightness

When used in a darkened room, front projection screens are brighter than rear projection screens. The main factors that affect screen brightness are projector output and the screen gain.

For rear projection screens, however, light is distributed in both directions, resulting in the loss of lumens. Nonetheless, rear projection screens have a much better brightness than front projection screens in the presence of ambient light.

Viewing Angle

For front projection screens, the viewing angle is dependent on the gain. Usually, as the gain increases, the viewing angle decreases. Scientists are making improvements to increase the viewing angle.

In rear projection screens, the viewing angle depends on how reflective the material is across the viewing surface. Darker surfaces are better at diffusing light than brighter surfaces.

Contrast Levels

Ambient light contributes to contrast loss in front projection screens. However, the gain does not affect the contrast.

On the other hand, ambient light has a minuscule effect on the contrast levels in a rear projection film. Image and color quality in a rear projection screen improves in the presence of an external light source. The reason why ambient light has little effect on rear projection screens is that light passes through the material rather than being reflected.

Which is the Right Projection Screen?

Factors such as the environment, viewing angle, the available space, the projector’s power, and the use of the screen determine the choice of the screen.

Once you decide on whether a front or rear projection film is the ideal solution for you, you can start looking at the products from different companies.

Now:

It’s important to note that there are screens that can work with both front and rear projection. If your work involves special projects where you switch between front and rear projection, then this is the ideal choice.

Equally important to remember is that most modern projectors are capable of both front and rear projection. All you need to do is access the projector’s settings and make the appropriate choice based on your needs.

Here’s the deal:

You are going to need a high-quality projection screen regardless of whether you plan to use it in a cinema or a class presentation. There are thousands of products from companies around the world, which makes it difficult for choosing the ideal solution.

The following section gives pointers on how to comb through the universe of projection screens to make the right choice.

Combing Through the Projector Screen Universe

What Screen Type do You Need?

From the screen retraction to the mounting style, projector screens differ a lot.  The first thing to consider is how permanent the screen will be after installation. Knowing this will determine whether you will paint reflective paint on a permanent wall, or go for portable screens.

With regards to retraction, you can choose an automatic screen which allows you to extract and retract it at the push or a button. You can also go for a manual screen, which allows for extraction and retraction just like a window pane.

If you feel that you will install the screen permanently, then you can get an electric, ceiling mounted, manual or fixed projection screen. If you want a portable screen, you can go for a tripod, folding frame, or tabletop projection screen.

Portable projection screens are ideal for sales presentations, multi-classroom use, and trade shows.

Painting a Projection Wall

Applying projection screen paint on a wall is straightforward and effortless. You apply the projection paint like you would any other paint, and give it a day to dry. If you want to use it immediately, there is no crime in not waiting for the paint to dry.

Now:

Painting a wall is a permanent change, and the only remedy is to either remove the partition or repaint it. Painted projection walls are ideal for classrooms, game rooms, boardrooms, outdoor venues, home theaters, and auditoriums.

Projector Screen Fabric

Once you settle on the mechanism for your screen, you should now choose the right fabric for your projector screen. Different materials react differently to environments and fabrics.

And that’s just the beginning:

The effectiveness of these screens depends on the acoustic transparency, lighting, and viewing angle. It’s when you understand the goal of the fabric that you can choose the one that is ideal for your needs.

Two things matter a lot when it comes to fabric selection: the viewing angle and the gain. The relationship between the two is inverse, such that when the gain increases, the viewing angle decreases.

The Viewing Angle

The viewing angle refers to the maximum angle from the screen that allows you to see an image at a good quality. Some displays reflect light that hits them perpendicularly, thus sending very little sideways.

In this case, viewers will not get the optimal viewing experience due to image distortion. Sadly, fabrics with a high gain usually suffer from a low viewing angle.

You want to get a screen fabric with the right balance between the gain and the viewing angle. Nonetheless, there are other factors that you should look at, such as fabric color, sound transparency, and resolution.

What is the Gain?

Once you settle on the mechanism for your screen, you should now choose the right fabric for your projector screen. Different materials react differently to environments and fabrics.

And that’s just the beginning:

The effectiveness of these screens depends on the acoustic transparency, lighting, and viewing angle. It’s when you understand the goal of the fabric that you can choose the one that is ideal for your needs.

Two things matter a lot when it comes to fabric selection: the viewing angle and the gain. The relationship between the two is inverse, such that when the gain increases, the viewing angle decreases.

Gain measures how much the fabric reflects light that hits it at a perpendicular angle. If a material has a gain of 1, then that means that the screen reflects as much brightness as the incoming light. If the gain exceeds 1, then the fabric reflects more light than the light projected towards it.

Now:

Several factors affect the quality of the projected image, such as the projector’s strength and the ambient light.

Old or cheap projectors may lack the power required to generate a quality image. In this case, you will need a projection screen with a high gain to improve the reflected brightness.

Even though the gain is essential, it is not a fix-all solution. An unnecessarily-high gain can make the fabric behave like a mirror resulting in a bright screen spot, which is simply the projector lens reflection.

The Color of the Projection Surface

Color has a significant influence on the contrast of the final image. Due to their brightness, white projection screens are the standard. If you are looking darker color tones, then grey is ideal.

Some grey projection screens have a gain of approximately 1. They are ideal for creating blacker blacks and darker colors. If you are concerned about ambient light, grey screens are better than white screens because of their low reflection. Also, with grey screens, you may have to buy powerful projectors to show white colors clearly.

Acoustic Transparency

Acoustic transparency refers to a screen’s ability to allow sound through with very little interference. For rear projection screens where the projector and speakers are behind the screen, such as in cinemas, this is especially important.

The way to achieve this is by boring tiny holes across the whole projection screen. The holes should be so small that they are hardly noticeable from a distance.

High-Resolution Fabrics

Screen manufacturers have found ways to create high-resolution screens. High-resolution screens give excellent color, contrast, and show the highest quality images and videos.

Some manufacturers combine high-resolution screens with ambient screen control, thereby improving the image quality even in the presence of ambient light.

Conclusion

This article has demonstrated the factors that you need to consider when selecting a front or rear projection film. The choice will ultimately depend on your needs and the permanence or portability of the projection screen.

Ssidisplays has 15+ years of experience in manufacturing and helping clients from different industries find the right projection screens for their use. If you want to replace your projection screen or buy a new one, please get in touch, and we will be more than happy to help you out.