Open Air Tutorials: What is a Lumen?

The Luminous Intensity of Whale Blubber, or What are Lumens?

What is a lumen?If you have ever shopped around for a digital projector, you have most likely come across the term 'lumen' more than once. In short, a lumen is a measurement of the intensity of light radiation projected by a light source. Back in the old days they called it 'candlepower' and measurements were taken in what were once called 'candelas'. One candela was the intensity of light radiating from a from single candle made out of precisely 0.167 troy pounds of whale blubber of a consistency thick enough to burn at a specific rate for exactly eight hours. Easy enough, so long as you can manage to find whale blubber candles. But fortunately for all of us, it is no longer necessary to know the luminous intensity of whale blubber to pull off a successful outdoor movie event. In these days of precise scientific calibrations one candela is now defined as the luminous intensity of monochromatic radiation emitted by a predefined source at a frequency of 540THz with a radiant intensity of 0.001464128 W/sr. Whatever that means! But hey, we don't need to bog ourselves down in the details of how to precisely measure the luminance of a projected image. We will leave that to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the folks responsible for measuring these sort of things. For our purposes, a lumen is the measurement of the intensity of light emitted from a projector. Although it is not exactly correct to equate lumens with 'brightness' we can generally say that an image projected through a projector with a high lumen count will be brighter than a projector with fewer lumens. The ideal is a projector bright enough to throw visuals that are sharp and easy to see in normal ambient lighting conditions - in other words, your audience can see your visuals without having to have the lights turned down to improve brightness and contrast. In order to make our outdoor cinema event deliver as much punch as possible, we will need to determine exactly what type of projector will be needed for our venue. The ideal projector is capable of projecting images that are easy to see in normal lighting conditions. We have found a few good resources to get you started on finding the right projector. If you have any questions regarding the projector that will best suit your needs, please contact our support team. We will be happy to assist you!

Join our mailing list

Get the latest outdoor cinema updates and benefits straight to your inbox

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

Join our community of 4,000+ Open Air Cinema enthusiasts and professionals. Get exclusive tutorials, guidance and discounts in our weekly email newsletter.

Subscribe now 👇