Audio Visual Design Guidelines

Screens & Sightlines

524 views August 31, 2018 October 17, 2019 aetm 0

Design Goals 

Screen based presentation and interactivity are a crucial part of modern teaching and learning practice. The content displayed can vary between courses but commonly includes:

  • PowerPoint and similar presentations
  • Video content from DVD/Bluray, media players or online repositories (including cinema quality)
  • Websites
  • Word processing documents, spreadsheets and other text-based applications
  • Detailed graphs, charts, engineering drawings
  • Fine arts materials – paintings, illustrations and other imagery
  • Data visualisation and scientific modelling
  • Medical imagery
  • Virtual reality and visual representations of augmented reality


Specifying Presentation Screens and Ceiling Heights

To enable what’s displayed on screen to be successfully viewed by the entire audience, the content must be of an appropriate size to both the nearest and furthest audience member.  

Consequently the determination of the screen size must not be an arbitrary decision based on the physical dimensions of the space, but rather a result of careful consideration of viewing requirements based on current industry standards.  

Purpose designed spaces in the modern era should be designed with appropropriate ceiling heights to allow sufficiently sized screens. Where the ceiling heights of legacy spaces cannot be modified and are insufficient to allow appropriately sized screens, alternative options must be considered to achieve viewing standards (and often this can incur higher costs). 


Audience Area and Angles of View

The acceptable area for audience placement in front of a screen is determined by:

  • the horizontal and vertical angle of view
  • the distance to the display for the closest and furthest viewers
  • the nature of the content being displayed

These factors must also be determined in conjunction with the following information and not be defined in an ad-hoc manner.


Presenting Multiple Simultaneous Content

In many educational organisations the presentation of two independent images is now a standard requirement for medium to large presentation spaces.  Independent dual displays allow educators to present complementary information, for example a PowerPoint presentation on one screen and a webpage on the other.   

It is possible to achieve this using a single large ultra-high resolution (4K or above) however this is often cost prohibitive.


Screen Aspect Ratio

AETM recommends projection in either the 16:9 or 16:10 ratio as this better matches modern film and television programming and compliments the output of wide screen laptops and material such as spreadsheets.


Partial Conformity

The AETM recognises that site conditions, heritage considerations, and other factors sometimes cause difficulty with full compliance to all of the rules for screens listed below, especially during refurbishment projects.

Compliance is often most difficult for those audience members seated closest to the screens.  Teaching spaces typically fill from the back, with front rows more likely to be empty. Consequently if compromise regarding a rule is unavoidable, then it is preferable that the rules compromised relate to viewing angles (which will primarily affect the closest viewers) rather than the maximum viewing distance versus display size rule (below).   Agreement in writing for any compromise must be obtained from the AV designer and the AV staff representative of the organisation.

To remain in compliance with the AETM Design Guidelines, no more than 10% of the seats in any teaching space can fall outside any rule.

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