How to Project under a Soffit

I went through *many* iterations of design on my dedicated home theater room. It was laborsome because basically every inch of this room was accounted for, and there really wasn’t any wiggle room.

One of my design obstacles was the annoying I-Beam that is encased in the soffit at the top of this photograph (you might have to squint to see it, but it’s there, ugly as ever):

home theater soffit and screen

This thing posed many challenges. I had to be able to project under it, for starters. But I also had to be able to get my screen high enough to allow for visibility in the last row. This design drawing, which is good enough for government work (although the riser dimensions and seating distances have changed ALOT since I made this drawing), illustrates the problem quite nicely. The only thing missing is a line to indicate line-of-sight for the guys in the back row, but I think you can see clearly enough from this drawing that we’re cutting it close:

I ran the numbers over and over again, using the riser height calculator as a guide. I’m glad I spent the time running the calculations, because I am just barely able to make this work.

I had the builders frame the soffit as tightly as humanly possible — it drops down less than a half inch from the steel of the I-beam. Then, I slid my screen up as high as I could get it, and dropped my projector from the ceiling on this pole so I could project under the soffit without using keystone correction.

Yay! It worked. People in the back row can see over the heads of people in the front row (in most cases, anyway — keep in mind, I’ve got a really big melon). And the vertical viewing angle is comfortable for people in the front row too.

My projector mount is the Chief RPA-U, which is their universal mount and should work with whatever projector I buy in the future. It can be used with or without the extension pipe. It’s a good mount unless you absolutely must get your projector as close to the ceiling as possible — in which case you may have better options.