Cheap screens...NO WAY!

Discussion in 'Displays' started by frankinG, Jun 22, 2005.

  1. frankinG

    frankinG Stunt Coordinator

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    I have noticed that the forums are over run with talk about budget front projection screens and other make shift budget solutions. So much talk is wasted about projector performance when a projector and screen is a marriage that should not be compromised. This thread is more or less directed at all the newbies in the front projector hobby. A screen is an investment that lasts a life time and even a cheaper projector should be mated with a high quality screen. A high quality screen will bring out the best possible performance from all projectors, even budget models which need all the help they can get. In my previous experience with CHEAP screen solutions, brightness is only one of the drawbacks. Contrast performance-hotspotting-color bias- resolution, and quality are all substandard with low cost alternatives. How many threads have you read comparing projector models and with no mention about the screen they were showing them on?

    Understand that a front projection system is a reflective technology. Can you see the light path from the projector to the screen? No you cannot. In a properly set up system, only the screen will be illuminated which throws light back into the room. This is the information your eyes register.

    Picture information does not go directly from the display device to your eyes as a direct view television does. There is a so called 'middle man' that re-transmits the information from the projector back to your viewing spot. Why would you want to compromise this very important step by cheaping out on your screen? I know that budget restrictions can dictate the final outcome of everyone's theater but this step should not be overly compromised.

    I read about these 20-100$ do it yourself solutions and can't help but laugh about what I am reading.

    With a proper screen, you are trying to reflect back to your viewing position the EXACT information that left your projector in the first place. Does anyone not understand this?

    Tell 10 individuals the same story and you will get 10 different replies back. The same applies with screen technologies where you will get 10 different picture responses with the same signal applied of course with identical room lighting conditions.

    Maybe I am one of the lucky ones who can afford any screen I choose but even if you can't, take your screen choice more seriously and do not put all your attention on the projector alone. You will be glad you did.
     
  2. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    I'm 100% happy with a Da-Lite Model B Video Spectra screen. It was fairly inexpensive.
     
  3. Mitch Stevens

    Mitch Stevens Supporting Actor

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    frankinG,

    What kind of screen, make/model is recommended for the best picture quality?
     
  4. mark alan

    mark alan Supporting Actor

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    I am extremely glad that I made my $80 screen. I compared it to a friends purchased screen, and I was even happier.

    I disagree completely with your statements. Unless you are looking for a high power screen with good off-angle light rejection, a homemade screen is 90-100+% as good as a manufactured screen.
     
  5. Michael TLV

    Michael TLV THX Video Instructor/Calibrator

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    Greetings

    There are usually three different screen solutions and many over look one of these approaches.

    1. Buy a Professional Screen.
    2. Complete DIY ... picking out the paint mix ... surface type, etc.

    The typically overlooked one.

    3. Hybrid of 1 & 2. Buy the actual screen material and simply build your own frame. The material for even a 106" diagonal 16:9 screen can be had for under $400. Then add $60 in lumber and metal brackets and screws. You get the end performance of a professional screen for marginally more than a complete DIY project.

    BTW, depending on the projector and screen combination, a complete DIY can be very effective and very comparable to a professional screen. If your screen choice were to match a gray screen such as a grayhawk, then the right mix of paint can be had for under $30 a gallon. Put this up on a flat surface and it can be indistinguishable from the real material.

    In my own journey up the FPTV ladder, I started out with the gray paint which was color matched to the grayhawk. Upon painting the wall gray, I then placed large 3'x 3' samples of the real grayhawk material on the same wall and saw the samples literally disappear into the gray painted wall with only bits of masking tape revealing where the real screen material was.

    There was no decernible difference between the $30 paint job and the actual screen material. Certainly nothing that would justify spending $1800 or more for the real screen and frame.

    It would not be wise to generalize that the DIY solution is without merit. In the right applications, it makes perfect sense both visually and in the pocket book.

    Regards
     
  6. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    I am perfectly happy with my 3 yards of blackout cloth pined to the wall.

    OK, I will be perfeclty happy when I get around to building a frame for it. Right now my living room looks kinda gettho with this arrangement... but picture quality is top notch.

    I am also looking forward to the perceived enhanced contrast that a black frame should bring.

    Plain white blackout cloth, using the smooth side. Would paint make a dramatic difference? it's hard to picture really, I am happy with what I got!

    --
    H
     
  7. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Producer

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    While the parent makes some good points (The screen is important), discounting DIY screens is doing it a disservice.

    Certianly, Blackout cloth and Parkand Plastics aren't the greatest solutions in the world, they aren't the worst solutions in the world either. FP is still somewhat pricy, and there are ways we always look for places to cut down on prices. Not all of us have a grand to spend on Stewart screens.

    At the same time, the DIY crowd is full of hobbyists, those who wish to experiment and create screens of their own, to see if they can measure up to the professionals, or in some ways, exceed them. This has led to stuff that became actual product (Ken Hotte's ScreenGoo), to stuff that can be created from your local hardware store. (Mississippi Mud, for example) There is a lot of potential for innovation there, for a fraction of the cost, for people willing to do the work.

    Jason
     
  8. Leo Kerr

    Leo Kerr Screenwriter

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    there are other considerations, too.

    I wanted an acoustically transparent screen that I could make go away when not in use.

    Ye gods! Do you see how much those screens cost! And they're all electronic drive. Courtesy of a large plumbing drain pipe, I can't afford even a 3" box to hold a screen roller, drive, and 'trim box.'

    So I've got a nice gray cotten fabric stretched over a metal frame. Granted, it's about a .6 gain screen - I had to drape another piece of matte black behind it to keep the light that went through the screen from being a problem - but it's a nice screen for my needs.

    Plus, it probably helps reduce the SDE...

    Leo
     
  9. frankinG

    frankinG Stunt Coordinator

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    Yes mark, you did make a valiant point as to what mostly anyone wants, and that is good off angle viewing and good brightness. This is why you want a high quality screen in the first place. I highly doubt that a 80 $ piece of material will perform as well as the name brand screens. You could not even buy the material alone from the popular screen manufacturers for that price. I am not picking at any one here but your statment contradicts the point I am trying to get across. I priced out 3 different screen materials from companies I have done business with in the past and could not find anything about 100" diagonal for less than 500-600$.

    Frames is where the major cost is in the screen market and my theater deserves something that looks good and will last a lifetime.

    I have a theater with 2 rows of 4 seats wide. I want all my guests to have the same enjoyment as the person in the sweet spot. Off axis wiewing is critical for the majority of enthusiasts and only top brand screens will provide this.

    Read the results of the (projector central) screen shoot out and everyone will see that all screens are NOT created equal.

    There is a HUGE difference even between the top manufacturers as to reflectivity and off axis viewing performance.

    I also started out long ago in this hobby with basic material screens. I am not putting any one down who cannot afford a premium screen. I was there also years ago. But as budgets increase and the old adage of upgradeability hits us eventualy, we all will want to have the best at a reasonable price.

    Our hometheater club holds currently upwards of 250 members and we have all seen premium screen performance compared to some compromised solutions. the winner in most of our opinions was the premium screens or home made screens with name brand material.

    The only thing I can say is that if your screenmaterial is at least from some of the popular manufacturers then there might be some merit as to what you are saying.

    Why would anyone make a screen where the brightness and off axis viewing is compromised or substandard? Go figure.[​IMG]
     
  10. frankinG

    frankinG Stunt Coordinator

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    mitch; Stewart and draper are in my opinion a tad over priced compared to some other makes. If you build a screen and in your opinion the picture quality impresses you and you are satisfied then this is fine. I only go by professional reviews by credible sources when it comes to screen performance. I have also gone through the trial and error method of screen choices long ago. It is always a treat to have high quality products that perform well. I know that not everyone has unlimited budgets, including myself. Projector central has an excellent review of screen performance and you will be quite surprised at the amount of differences they found between competing models. I personaly like draper screens for the high performance they offer at cheaper pricing than stewart. Read the review on there web site. You will be quite surprised at what you will see.
     
  11. Evan M.

    Evan M. Supporting Actor

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    If Projector Central is where you go for your "professional reviews" then you may want to do a bit more research. Hop on over to AVS and post your "interesting" thread and see if your opinion will hold.

    It is nice that you hint at how "well of"f you are and can afford anything you want....but to come on here and laugh at people who are happy with their DIY screens and have compared them to professional screens and have been very happy with them....is wrong and very pompous of you. I know you are new around here but that is no excuse. By reading your posts around here it shows your lack of REAL knowledge in this field......maybe you and your "250 member HT club" can find the time to get out of your basements and do some HANDS ON research in the field of HT before you post more arogant remarks... until then...... welcome to my ignore list.......
     
  12. Howard Clarke

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    Evan,

    Very well put...........
     
  13. Nils Luehrmann

    Nils Luehrmann Producer

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    Perhaps before you go throwing stones, next time you might want to do a little more research outside of sites like ProjectorCentral that are financially supported by both the manufacturers and retailers of the products they review.

    I have nothing against Evan as I believe his site is a very useful tool, and he does occasionally offer some excellent advice, but just as I wouldn't buy a car based on a review in Road & Track, nor would I purchase a product based on a review on ProjectorCentral.

    I will try to end this response on a friendly note by saying that for the cost, you have a nice system. The Onyx M1300 is an excellent choice for use with an AE700 considering the size of screen you selected.
     
  14. JohnnyG

    JohnnyG Screenwriter

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    And what exactly do you think the name brand screen is made of?!

    No offense, but when it comes to no/low gain screens, name-brand screens are pretty much in the same category as high-end cables. It's the "let's make 'em think we have something special" thing.

    I say go ahead and spend the money for the PACKAGING (a nice screen is a nice screen, afterall), but for the most part, low gain screens are just regular vinyl!

    Now with that said, I should note that high-gain screens are entirely different. There is indeed science that goes into that.
     
  15. frankinG

    frankinG Stunt Coordinator

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    man o man do I love lively debate. I will admit that even the rough responses never fell into the totally disrespectful category. This is why I came on board with this forum. I actually HAVE spent 3 years on the AVS forum so my experiences with that crowd is nothing new to me. There are more arguments and bashing there than all the other forums put together.

    Yes I am new to this forum but far from being a newbie to the hobby. This is always the first response from outraged people when they do not agree with what some one is saying. I have learned this from my years in business and it does not bother me the least. I always encourage lively debate and solid opinions from others when they do not agree with something. This is what makes the forum so interesting to me. Solid opinions without the bashing.

    Nil; you do have some valiant points as to what I read. I have attended 3 SEEMA shows in the last 6 years and my findings were that over 80 percent of all front projection companies displaying there products were using white screens with gains of 1.3 to 1.6 ratings. They also were recomending these choices for almost all of there projectors. This is not my words but what I heard over and over again from the company representatives. There were other screen alternatives as well.

    My opinion of DIY screens actually came from Phillip Sinse who is actually a design tech from draper inc. I met him at a trade show I attended last year in new york city. The best way to describe our conversation about ready made screens vs. home made units is that over 95% of the general public wants something ready made and proven to perform acceptably. Yes there is a small, (and I mean very small) percentage of hometheater enthusiasts who do make there own screens but this is such a small fraction of the market. How many people do you know that make things compared to actually going out and buying it.

    Phillip stated that most people who always compare the performance of there home made products to the main manufacturers who have endless hours of research and development, is that theirs looks as good in there opinion as the manufactured screen. Maybe so in a few isolated cases but most people want to be enjoying their theaters instead of trying to figure out how it works.

    Screens are like a piece of fine furniture in a home. Designs cost money and wood makes a lousy frame for a screen because they tend to warp from humidity and are heavy. Aluminum is very desirable but expensive.



    I am very glad that do it yourself projector kits have not come out yet. Just kidding of course to get everyone to lighten up a little bit. But on to the next paragraph.


    I appreciate the acceptance of my system in your eyes. I have owned 3 projectors in the last 2 years.

    I currently own the panasonic 700. I have also had a sharp 12000 and a benq 8700. My sensitivity to dlp forced me to move to lcd units so that is why I have one now. I will seriously be looking at a 3 chip dlp projector by next year. My business takes priority on my spending and I have more important things to spend money on at this time.

    evan; My theater is a 22'x14' dedicated room on the main floor of my home and not in the basement. Just to let you know, some of our members have been involved in the forum for a long time and are quite popular and respected. One of them actually owns a commercial cinema screen tech and installation company which has done work for dozens of cineplex odeon theaters.

    Digital projection is the future of commercial cinema and this relates directly to the home market.

    I have numerous sources for information but for most people getting into the hobby, the popular sites like projector central is a great starting point. No it is not the only resource for everyone but it is a valid choice with the SIMPLICITY for starters. The veterans in this hobby will always think they know more than anyone else.

    An ignore list is always a sign of denial to the realities of life. It is always easy to hide from the facts than it is to rage forward and debate the differences we all face everyday among ourselves.

    Even if no one replied to my posts (I actually do get a ton of PM,s with a lot of questions), it is just human nature to read something different and interesting, even if they do not agree with it.

    Personally I do not post too much because I spend more time enjoying my theater with friends and family then talking about it. Maybe this will rub off on others as well, hopefully
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  16. Evan M.

    Evan M. Supporting Actor

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    VERY well said Nils....... You have a lot more patience than me [​IMG]. I am still trying to figure out what the OP's intention was. Certainly it wasn't to educate. Probably just another name dropper...or a troll......
     

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