The main thing to remember when looking for a projector is to use what you can. Don’t let anyone convince you that you need a giant budget or scare you away with overly technical terms. These things are often discouraging and can prevent you from doing the most important thing you can as a drama teacher or director: just GET STARTED! Explore and be creative! In our experience, your best bet is to find a projector you have access to, load up a high-res image on a laptop, and experiment in your stage space. From there, you can look into renting or buying something that’s a little brighter than your typical school or office projector—because once you have one, you can use it over and over again with each production you do. And as technology continues to improve, great projection is becoming easier and less expensive.
One projector we’ve seen in action many times and really like is the Optoma Gaming Projector. (No, we’re not a sponsor!) You can buy a new one for around $600 on Amazon. The Optoma is bright enough for smaller spaces, easy to use, HD quality and has a short-throw lens—which means you only have to place it 8 or 9ft from your screen or cyc to get a 20ft wide x 12ft tall projected image. (That’s big enough to rock most stages! The image will get larger the further away you set your projector.)
A lot of our clients have reported that they bought the Optoma, because it’s not only inexpensive, they can also use it for other things when not running a show. But we’d love to hear from you if you find another great projector! We will spread the word. We also recommend you try rear-throw projection if you can, which is a great ‘How-to’ lesson for another day. Or, if you’re curious and want to chat, just shoot us a quick email.
Happy projecting and don’t forget to check out our projection design shop!