How to set up your new home cinema projector
So, you’ve made the big leap up from laptop screens and TVs; you’ve bought yourself a funky new projector, and now you want to ensure that your home cinema setup is the best it can be. Well, you’ve come to the right place. Here, we’ll go over all the basics you’ll need to consider for that optimal viewing experience — though, we warn you now, you’re likely to have your friends and family eating you out of the house and home once you’ve got that killer home cinema looking and sounding perfect!

We’ve already covered everything you’ll need to consider when it comes to buying a projector screen, so refer to our blog post on What to look for when purchasing a projector screen for more information on this topic. So, we’ll assume you’ve got that sorted, and we’ll swiftly move on…

Throw distance
This is one of the most important considerations when considering the placement of your new projector. It refers to the distance between the projector’s lens and the screen itself. And while this used to be quite a pain, modern projectors are a relative doddle to set up, and they're also pretty forgiving when it comes to room size, screen size and adjusting your setup for optimal viewing.

To get your projector in just the right spot, refer to the manufacturer’s stated throw distance. If your projector has, say, a throw distance of between 1.4 and 2.8, then it needs to sit 1.4 to 2.8 times the screen width. So, if your screen is 100 inches in diameter, for example, then your projector’s lens will need to be located somewhere between 140 and 280 inches away from the screen. Simple, huh?

Placement/mounting
The vast majority of modern projectors can be placed on any flat surface, such as a shelf, cupboard or table, but there’s also the option of semi-permanently mounting the unit on the ceiling so that it’s out of the way and unlikely to be blocking anyone’s view.

There are various guides to mounting a projector on the ceiling so we won’t cover that here, but just be aware that the projector will be upside-down in this position, so you’ll need to adjust the vertical offset and lens shift. We suggest you refer to the manufacturer’s manual for understanding these settings.

Zoom/focus
Once you have your new projector in place, and you’ve made the adjustments mentioned above, it’s time to set the zoom/focus to ensure that the projected image is crisp and clear. There are two main methods: manual zoom, which is often more accurate, and motorised zoom, which has the advantage of enabling you to get up close to the projected image and see if it’s truly in focus.

Almost every modern projector will have a screen test pattern, which you can use to ensure the projected image is perfectly straight against the screen from every conceivable angle. One further trick is to bring up a menu with lots writing, because if the edges of smaller text are razor sharp, you know you’ve nailed the zoom/focus.

Final adjustments
Now adjust the room’s lighting to exactly how you'll have it when you want to watch movies — this is important! With lighting set just so, you'll need to calibrate the contrast (peak white) and the brightness (peak black). There are various test discs available or online video calibration sources to help you adjust these final settings.

Now you’re all set up; it’s time to get the popcorn in the microwave, to pour yourself a long drink and to get comfy on the sofa. The main feature is about to begin.