Cinema Design Technical Choices


Screens types & aspect ratio


Is the biggest screen always best? One would think that the larger the screen automatically the better the viewing pleasure and while this does make obvious sense, it is not wholly true.   A larger screen would mean the front row seats would have to be positioned further away which means space becomes the main deciding factor. Viewing angles must always be an important consideration, especially if the venue is to show mainly blockbusters which tend to bring in a full house.


A cinema screen might look like a relatively simple thing but it turns out that quite a lot of technology and design goes into its creation. Cinema screens are designed with a fantastic picture in mind but they are also the key to supporting a great sound system. Generally today’s cinemas would look to have capability for showing both Cinemascope (1:2.35) and Widescreen (1:1:85) ratios. Screen material varies from matt white, silver (best for 3D) and high reflection, choice of material usually dependent on the type of films a venue will predominantly show.  The popular pearlescent screen gives fifteen percent reflectivity, a bright image and good overall contrast, compared with matt white, silver and the much lesser used glass bead.  To make this widely-used pearlescent (or silver) screen, a reflective coating is put onto a matte white vinyl.


In addition to thinking about screen quality and reflectivity, a cinema owner has to decide which type of screen curve will best suit the venue. Usually the choice is made from the the following three options: flat screen, horizontal curve screen or Torex screen (a Torex screen is a screen that also curves top and bottom creating a concave surface).

What about aspect ratio (relationship of image width to height)? This has changed various times over the history of cinema, notably in response to the growing popularity of television in the 1950s. Aspect ratio is not something that is always noticeable to the audience. The important of it comes to the fore however when a film is set in space or needs to depict a particular time in history. Generally speaking, the standard ratios for modern films are 1.85:1 and 2.39:1 with some European countries preferring 1.66:1 as the wide-screen standard.