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Your screening equipment options

Whether you want to keep things simple or would like something more advanced, follow our screening equipment guide to find the right product types for your community cinema.

To screen a film in any space, there are four essential pieces of kit you’ll need:

  • A projector
  • A screen to project onto
  • A sound system
  • A DVD or Blu-ray player to play your film on

Richard Topping from Saville Audio Visual has shared his ideas for some of the equipment that might be suitable for you at three levels, from the basic setup for beginners to the higher-spec kit for the more advanced.

And don’t forget, lots of community cinemas have equipment to share or donate. Find out if there’s any kit available near you, or add your own to the list.

To find out the projector specifications that will optimise the image quality in your venue, try using the image calculator before deciding on a projector.

 

  • Toshiba DVD player

    For a basic set up...

    (total set up cost: approx. £1,830 - £1,980)

    Full HD projector

    For smaller venues that need a mobile, easy to use projection system, look for a projector that easily connects to your DVD player and sound system amplifier. A model with a remote control will allow you to control the projector from the back of the room.

    Cost: Approximately £1,400

    Portable projection screen

    A lightweight projection screen is a great portable option. Most screens are available in different sizes, so you can select the best match for your venue and audience size.

    Cost: Approximately £80

    Blu-ray and DVD player

    You don’t need an expensive player; just pick one with easy to use functions for both DVD and Blu-ray playback. Check yours has an HDMI port so that you can connect it to your projector with the minimum fuss.

    Cost: Approximately £50

    Amplifier and speaker system

    All you need for your sound system is an amplifier and a set of speakers. For a smaller venue, choose one of the simpler amps to use with two-way speakers, which will give good sound quality in a simple portable package.

    Cost: Approximately £300 - £450

  • Projector

    For a more advanced set up...

    (total set up cost: approx. £7,140)

    HD professional projector

    For a more professional set up, try a projector with flexible positioning options – especially handy if you use more than one venue and need a different setting for each. Also, look for a projector with a long lamp-life if you’re going to be screening regularly.

    Cost: Approximately £5,200

    Portable or fixed projection screen

    A robust screen, whether fixed or mobile, is a great option for larger venues who want a more professional look. Consider the size and the screen fabric options, so you can choose the best screen for the light level in your venue.

    Cost: Approximately £400

    Professional Blu-ray and DVD player

    A top of the range Blu-ray and DVD player will really help improve the quality of your screenings. Choose one with special features – 3D playback and remote control via a smartphone app– to ensure you have lots of flexibility with how you use your kit.

    Cost: Approximately £340

    Surround sound for 5.1 speaker system

    Consider a high spec home cinema kit – you can get incredible sound quality that will really help create a cinematic experience in your venue. Speakers that easily connect to a Blu-ray and DVD player will make it quicker to set up.

    Cost: Approximately £1,200

  • Full HD professional projector

    For the full cinematic experience...

    (total set up cost: approx. £21,240 - £21,840)

    High brightness full HD professional projector

    If you’re looking for a top of the range projector to install permanently in your venue, look for a model that provides exceptional image quality, brightness and colour. This level of projection doesn’t come cheap, but perhaps you could consider sharing the cost with another group or organisation that also uses your venue.

    Cost: Approximately £12,000

    Fixed electric projection screen

    If your cinema is based in a large venue where you can install a permanent screen, you’ll be able to benefit from stunning image quality and viewing clarity with a fixed projection screen. Most models will be available in different sizes and offer universal mounting brackets and remote control operation.

    Cost: Approximately £8,500 (for a 7-meter wide screen)

    Professional Blu-ray and DVD player

    Go for a high-spec Blu-ray and DVD player as part of a professional set up. A model with advanced features and settings such as 3D playback, built-in Wi Fi and remote control via a smartphone app will help make your screenings achieve the full cinematic impact.

    Cost: Approximately £340

    Professional surround sound speaker system

    7.2 true cinema audio will really enhance your audience’s experience. You’ll need a powerful A/V receiver and a set of five loudspeakers and two subwoofers to place around your venue. They don’t have to be huge - you can get better sound quality from smaller speakers than you might think.

    Cost: Approximately £400 - £1,000

  • Stereo jack cable

    Is there anything else I need?

    Once you’ve decided on the essential items of kit, you’re almost there. There are just a few last things to think about.

    Cables

    Check which kind of connection sockets your kit has and make sure you’ve got the right cables to connect everything up.

    Often they will come with your equipment but, if not, it’s worth spending as much as you can on cables as they will really bring out the best in your equipment. It might also be worth buying a few spares, if you can – just in case one of them stops working just before a screening!

    Here are some of the cables you may need:

    HDMI cable

    This is a high-definition cable that you’ll need to connect your Blu-ray or DVD player to your projector. All Blu-ray or DVD players made in the last few years are almost certain to have HDMI sockets (‘ports’) built into them.

    Cost: Approximately £8 - £30, depending on model and cable length.

    Phono leads (also called RCA cables)

    You'll probably need phono leads to connect your DVD or Blu-ray player to the sound system’s amplifier. These cables have a stereo connector at one end, and two male connectors at the other. They're colour coded, making it easy to connect them to correspondingly-coloured sockets.

    Cost: Approximately £2 - £10, depending on model and cable length

    3.5mm stereo jack

    Alternatively, you may need to use a stereo jack cable to connect your DVD or Blu-ray player to your amplifier. It has male 3.5mm stereo connectors on both ends.

    Cost: Approximately £2 - £10, depending on model and cable length

    Speaker connector cables

    The cables you’ll need depend on whether your amplifier has connections for XLR cables, which simply plug in, or screw-in cables, which are colour coded to match the sockets in your amp. Your amp might require both, so take a look before buying any.

    Cost: Approximately £3 - £20 for XLR cables and £2 - £10 for screw-in cables, both depending on model and cable length

    Power cables

    Don’t forget, you’ll also need a power cable to connect each piece of kit to a power source – usually a normal plug socket. Most pieces of equipment come with a power cable as standard, but it’s worth double-checking you don’t need to buy one separately. There are lots of different types, depending on the model you have.

    Speaker stands

    Unless your speakers are permanently fixed to the wall in your venue, you’ll need some reliable stands. Ones with tripod-style legs are easy to pack up afterwards.

    Cost: Approximately £70 for a pair of stands with carry case

  • Do you have any questions about equipment for your cinema? Get in touch with us and we can help.