In the good old days the screens on your television sets and computer monitors were virtually square, with a width to height ratio of 4 to 3, commonly written as 4:3. This was mainly governed by the technology in the TV set that could not reproduce images that were any more irregular. Similar technological restrictions also required the screen of your TV to be bulbous and this favoured the screens being 4:3 ratios. This ratio also closely mimics a human’s field of view so experts believed it would feel ‘natural’ to watch.

In the mid 90’s TV manufacturers developed methods of producing affordable, wider, flatter screens which enabled TV sets to morph into a wider format, more in keeping with the screen shapes that cinema-goers were used to. Sony led the pioneering technology but were quickly followed by all the mainstream television companies.

Moving into the 21st Century, 16:9 TVs accounted for the vast majority of newly released models and as we reach modern day, 4:3 TV sets are now a thing of the past, with all domestic TV manufacturers having ceased production of the old shape, favouring 16:9 or even wider formats.

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Computer monitors and laptops followed a similar route. 2008 was seen as the tipping point for the mainstream jump to widescreen formats. This step change is also shown in the software written around this time. Versions of Microsoft’s presentation package PowerPoint began introducing a widescreen slide design template to enable users to take full benefit of the extra space available on screen.

In Istead’s world of large screen projection, we made the jump to widescreen formats many years ago but with Microsoft admitting only a few weeks ago that 8% of the world’s computers still run on their 2001 XP Operating System, you can see why we still get presented with slides created in 4:3 format. Luckily our creative multimedia designers and clever technology can adapt these ‘square’ slides to widescreen, but we still think it will be many years before the 4:3 legacy finally leaves our world.

By definition, projection is the displaying of an image on a distant surface achieved via a high intensity light source. The simple word ‘distant’ in that definition had always been an issue in the AV industry. To achieve a large image viewable by a mass audience, the distance between the screen surface and the projector had to be significant.

In AV production terms this meant that the distance between the projector and the backdrop (incorporating the screen) had to be substantial. On 90% of events, we use rear projection to display images on the screen, where the projector sits out of sight behind the backdrop and the image is projected onto the back of a translucent screen and viewed by the audience from the other side. Having to allow for this ‘significant’ distance between the projector and screen sometimes created an issue, with our backdrop encroaching too far into the room and leaving space tight to fit all the audience seating in. Until recently…

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Panasonic have taken the laws of physics, had a close look at them and seemingly ignored them. They have created elements that bend light and allow it to focus in a way that would make scientists shudder.

Let us introduce to you our ‘ultra-short throw lenses’. Panasonic have created lenses for our HD projectors that with clever optical techniques reduce the distance between the projector and screen down to insignificant. All we need to allow for now is the length of the projector and the lens. Using standard lenses, to project a three metre wide image, we would have needed to erect the backdrop four metres from the wall to achieve the necessary projection distance.

Using our new ultra-short throw lenses, that distance is little more than one metre. That frees up enough extra space for another two rows of conference chairs or another row of tables at a dinner event.

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By using these Panasonic lenses on your event we can solve the common issue of the room space being a little tight. The audience will not perceive any difference, they will just be more comfortable as they will have more room to stretch their legs!

Contact us at for more information on how we can solve your conference room issues.

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