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The Complete Guide to Successful Scenic Projections for Theatre Productions

Updated: Jun 2


When it comes to enhancing the visual aspects of theatre productions, scenic projections are becoming increasingly popular. However, selecting the right equipment and understanding how to integrate it with existing stage setups can be daunting at first. This guide aims to simplify that process, covering everything from choosing the appropriate projector to stage lighting considerations.

Table of Contents

  1. Understanding the Need for Projections

  2. Choosing the Right Projector

  3. Types of Projectors

  4. Important Specifications

  5. Budget Considerations

  6. Rear vs. Front Projection Screens

  7. DIY Projection Screens

  8. Positioning Your Projector

  9. Stage Lighting Considerations

  10. Conclusion

Understanding the Need for Projections

Before diving into the technicalities, it’s essential to understand how projections can benefit your production. Scenic projections offer limitless creative possibilities for theatrical productions, providing an infinite canvas for your storytelling. They not only unlock endless visual potential, but also yield significant cost and time savings by reducing the need for traditional set construction.

Choosing the Right Projector

Types of Projectors

  1. Standard Projectors: Ideal for most applications but require a longer distance between the screen and the projector.

  2. Short-Throw Projectors: Perfect for smaller venues where space is limited.

  3. Ultra-Short-Throw Projectors: Best for very tight spaces, these can be placed just a few feet from the screen.

Important Specifications

  1. Resolution: Aim for at least Full HD (1920x1080) for clear images.

  2. Lumens: The higher the lumens, the brighter the projection. A minimum of 4000 lumens is recommended for most theatre applications.

Budget Considerations

While it might be tempting to go for the cheapest option, remember that a projector is an investment. Look for models that balance cost with brightness and reliability.

Rear vs. Front Projection Screens

  • Rear Projection: Projectors are placed behind the screen. Ideal for venues where front-of-house space is limited. This method also completely eliminates actor shadows.

  • Front Projection: Projectors are in front of the screen, usually at the back of the audience or hanging from the ceiling. Short throw projectors are typically used with front projection to avoid actor shadows.

DIY Projection Screens

For those interested in creating their own projection screens, options like silk, high-thread-count bedsheet fabric, or muslin are excellent choices. Our co-founder has even prepared a video guide on how to make your own cyc. For more details and a step-by-step walkthrough, don't miss our blog post, "How to Make Your Own Cyc."

Positioning Your Projector

Correct placement is crucial for maximizing the quality of your projections. Ensure that the projector lens is centered with the middle of the screen, both horizontally and vertically. Use the projector's keystone correction feature to adjust the image if needed.

Stage Lighting Considerations

  1. Focus Away from the Screen: Keep stage lights off the projection screen to prevent washing out the image.

  2. Use Side Lights: Utilize sidelights to illuminate actors without affecting the projection.

  3. Adjust Downstage Lights: If you use front lights, focus them as downstage as possible to avoid hitting the screen.


Adding scenic projections to your theatre production can greatly enhance the audience's experience. However, it’s crucial to understand the technical aspects to make the most of this powerful tool. We hope this guide has made that task a bit easier for you.

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