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TOPIC: House Dimensions

House Dimensions 11 Nov 2003 08:02 #28477

I am trying to open a one or two screen arthouse in the downtown of a metro area that is screaming for one.
I'm looking at some properties and here's what I have to work with: 2 story with a mezzanine. 45ft x 100ft deep each floor. 1st floor has 14ft ceilings, upstairs only 9. I'm thinking one screen downstairs, cafe, concessions, post-show lounge upstairs. I'm not looking to maximize capacity but for a comfortable venue. Would you recommend slanting the floor or possibly a 3-tiered approach with couch or padded bench seating? Is 14ft. high enough for a screen or would it drastically compromise the experience?
Thanks for any feedback.
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Re: House Dimensions 11 Nov 2003 18:14 #28478

  • outaframe
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HELLO SKAPE, and welcome aboard... Your low ceiling question is a common one for newbies, and unfortunately the answer is always the same: it just won't work... You MUST have some room above and below the screen for masking (perhaps exits) and sight lines... Even IF you could use ALL of the 14' height for screen, it would be generally small for a 100 foot auditorium... I can't quite envision how the mezzanine fits into all this, but is there a way you could tear out the floor of the upper story and end up with a 23-24' screen wall height?... IF SO, you could shorten the auditorium to 75-80', utilize the rear 20-25' for your lounge/lobby/foyer, with the projection booth above... THIS would make the auditorium very close to the "ideal" 1:5 to 1 ratio, allow "straight line" projection throw, and permit a slanting floor which is much safer and less expensive to do than stadium seating, and easier to comply with ADA wheelchair seating... AND it would allow an awesome screen (say 38x16) which would be about ideal for the 2-4 screen heights viewing distance...

[This message has been edited by outaframe (edited November 12, 2003).]
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Re: House Dimensions 12 Nov 2003 02:36 #28479

  • Avalon
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I’m hammering out this problem too. I’m looking at a space with 13’ ceilings and I think the way I’m going to solve it is to reduce the occupancy of the rooms from 100 to 45. Then I’ll have four auditoriums instead of two. I can get away with having a 6 1/2 foot high screen six feet off the ground if I get the projector higher than 13’ – and I can. With a ramp of ADA max of 1” per foot, the incline will offer reasonable sight lines (doing tiers makes ADA compliance a problem). Also, smaller auds. puts the last row well within the 1:5 distance from the screen ratio. This will double my booth equipment costs but it reduces my occupancy change costs, which would be pure hell for rooms holding more than 49 people. So, yes, 14 ft. is high enough for a small, repeat very small auditorium. If you have a five-foot screen, you don’t wanna put your last row more than 25 feet from the screen. When it comes to seating, get the best seats you can. Lots of multis going out so used seats are plentiful – no excuse for bad seating these days so I’d give a big thumbs down to the padded bench idea.
I just visited a 100-seat auditorium that sports an 11-foot ceiling with a 6 foot high screen. Last row was back 40 feet from the screen and the incline was poured before ADA would’a told ‘em it was too steep. It worked. No, I wouldn’t wanna see the new LOTR in it but for low-tech art stuff it’s fine. Look at your demographic. It’ll tell you what you can get away with. Is it a fairly educated town hungry for art product? You could throw up a sheet with lawn chairs and do biz (until someone else figured out that there’s money in art films and built a real theatre – and exploited the market you created. Moral: Don’t do it on the cheap if you can avoid it). Is it a town already over-screened and you wanna go toe-to-toe with the local stadium seated multi? You lose, stunningly.
Oh, 9 foot ceiling? For maybe 20 people. Maybe. More like a home theatre than a cinema.
Paul Turner
Avalon Cinema
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Re: House Dimensions 12 Nov 2003 14:30 #28480

  • John Pytlak
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As a guideline, remember your screen should ideally have an aspect ratio of 2.4:1 (fill the screen with a "scope" picture). So a screen would be 5x12 feet, 10x24 feet, or like proportions.

Standard SMPTE 196M specifies the preferred viewing distance to be between 2 and 4 times the screen height. So MOST of your seats should be in that range (e.g., for a 10x24 foot screen, between 20 and 40 feet from the screen). Of course you may want to up seat count by having some "booker seats" much closer to the screen, and some people like to sit further from the screen, so seats up to about 5 screen heights are used. But much farther than 5 screen heights, you might as well be watching television.


Finally, you must consider sightlines. Stadium seating or a sloped floor allow clear view of the screen without having to put the screen so high that the audience needs to crane their necks upward. But you must avoid having any of the audience cast shadows on the image when they stand, and it's a good idea not to have the projection port so low that people would be tempted to touch the glass or make shadow puppets on the screen.

John P. Pytlak, Senior Technical Specialist
Customer Technical Services
Entertainment Imaging
Research Labs, Building 69, Room 7525A
Eastman Kodak Company
Rochester, NY 14650-1922
Telephone: +1 585-477-5325 Cell: +1 585-781-4036 Fax: +1 585-722-7243
E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Website: http://www.kodak.com/go/motion
John P. Pytlak, Senior Technical Specialist
Customer Technical Services
Entertainment Imaging
Research Labs, Building 69, Room 7525A
Eastman Kodak Company
Rochester, NY 14650-1922
Telephone: +1 585-477-5325 Fax: +1 585-722-7243
E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Website: http://www.kodak.com/go/motion
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Re: House Dimensions 13 Nov 2003 20:07 #28481

  • Avalon
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Thanks, John. Once again you provide nonjudgmental facts which add clairty to the situation. So, skapeartist. Any of this making sense to you?
Paul Turner
Avalon Cinema
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Re: House Dimensions 24 Nov 2003 20:12 #28482

Yeah, thanks for all the helpful advice Mr. Pytlak and Avalon.
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