In terms of projection, one of the most significant challenges is ambient light.  It will impact the resulting contrast and how images appear.  Here are some guidelines to consider:

Choose the Right Screen

White screens offer optimal light diffusion properties, spreading the light uniformly across the entire surface, and in a controlled setting, this provides a vivid, clear image. However, when ambient light is present, it too, will reflect off the screen and wash out the picture.

Darker coatings, like grey or even black, work well for these environments because they provide a more intense contrast level by creating deeper levels of black, which makes the image stand out despite intrusive light.

ALR (ambient light rejecting) surfaces are designed to redirect off-axis light (light other than that emitting from the projector) away from the viewer’s field of vision.

Gain screens, surfaces on which optical coating is applied to increase reflectiveness, can also improve on-axis brightness and redirect a certain amount of off-axis light away from the viewer.

Don’t Overlook the Projector

The loss of brightness resulting from a darker low gain surface is compensated by a higher lumen projector.

While the right projection surface choice is the main factor in controlling the effects of ambient light, higher lumen output projectors are great for brightly lit spaces because the projected light is bright enough to overcome other light sources and compensate for reduced reflectivity from the viewing surface.  However, if the projector is too strong, it will negatively affect contrast and cause an uncomfortable glare for the eyes.

Create the Optimal Viewing Environment

One of the easiest changes to make is painting the room to a darker color to reduce its reflecting capabilities.  Also, consider installing light-blocking window shades.

While it may not be possible to blackout the entire space, it is important to diffuse or eliminate any light that’s coming from behind the projector, especially if an ALR surface has been selected.

Ambient brightness throughout the room can be controlled using directional overhead spotlights. This keeps light away from the projection screen.  Another idea is to incorporate individualized lighting, rather than relying on lighting fixtures that apply broad coverage throughout a room.