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CIH vs CIW | Zoom Lens & AR (1 Viewer)

NTLKnight

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Just when I think I finally understand about screen sizes, aspect ratios, CIH and motorized lenses...boom, I get knocked over again! Have I taken everything into consideration before buying my first projector?
  1. I have a wall that is 16.25' wide and 8' high. I want to use "as much of this wall as possible" for our screen.
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  2. Since we watch movies primarily, a 2.40:1 screen size is our first choice.
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  3. When we *do* watch 16:9 content, I don't see why we wouldn't want to have the biggest experience possible also...rather than limiting the "big experience" only to scope content.
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  4. In order to have the biggest screen experience on all ARs, wouldn't a CIW screen be the solution? (Even if that means that 16:9 content will be bigger than cinema scope?
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  5. Is the *main* reason for using CIH screens to give the "wow factor" when pushing a button and going from 16:9 to cinema scope...by having the sides open up to reveal the bigger screen?
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  6. I still don't quite understand how subtitles work with cinema scope content (where do they get projected onto?--the "black bars" area?)
  7. Are there other factors to consider in the decision between CIH or CIW screens?
  8. *IF* going with a CIW screen option, would motorized lenses not be needed? (The Sony VPL-XW5000ES doesn't have a motorized lens, when switching between 16:9 and cinema scope content, would I need to get up on a ladder to adjust the image?--or would the *width* be set the same all the time?)
  9. If the "wow factor" is one of the main considerations people make when leaning towards CIH screens (so that, like the movie theater experience...you see the screen opening up on the sides to reveal a bigger image)...could we just close our eyes for 10 seconds while the content is changed...and "trick" our minds into not remembering the size of the former AR content?
As always, thank you for your time,
Nathan
 
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NTLKnight

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I love that you're faithful to the audio! My answer will probably not satisfy...and may be less than ideal, but in the absence of an acoustic transparent screen (to get up to 1.3 gain), I will place the LCR speakers on the sides of the screen and underneath the screen. Whether floor-standing, or wall-mounted...something to this effect...

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Mark-P

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I think by CIW, you just mean plain old 16x9, in which case no lens memory needed and your setup would be just like a flat panel: one size fits all. However if you mean CIW in the true sense then even 1.66 and 1.33 would be zoomed out to the same width as 1.78 and you would have gargantuan height that would likely be taller than your wall :D
 

NTLKnight

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I think by CIW, you just mean plain old 16x9, in which case no lens memory needed and your setup would be just like a flat panel: one size fits all. However if you mean CIW in the true sense then even 1.66 and 1.33 would be zoomed out to the same width as 1.78 and you would have gargantuan height that would likely be taller than your wall :D
Thanks for your answer. I think you're right to call (my description of a CIW screen) a plain old 16x9, hah! A "flat panel"...big screen (or painted wall) that can contain any desired AR...and project the image onto that screen. Mask off the top/bottom (or sides) for a more professional look. So, in that case any non-motorized lens projector would work?
 

DaveF

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Yes, you don’t need motorized memory zoom if you’re not going to zoom the image for a fixed image size. :)

If you want you can make or buy masks to mask off the letter box black bars above and below the image when watching e.g. 2.40 material on a 1.85 screen.

But I don’t think it’s worth bothering with. A lot of effort for little benefit. A good projector with decent contrast ratio in a dark room and you don’t notice the unused screen area.

There’s also an argument that having true-black masks next to not-true black image makes the perceived contrast of the projector look even worse. I’m not sold on that perspective but some people find it true for their viewing preferences.
 

OliverK

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How much is your budget?
If lens memory will be something you projector has anyway then I suggest to use that projector on a white wall for a while to sort out your preferences regarding screen size and aspect ratio.

With how you plan your cinema I am pretty sure that 16:9 will move your center closer to the floor so that is also something to be aware of - centers below the screen usually work a lot better with some distance to the floor.

You could also go with an aspect ratio in between by the way, like for example 2.2:1. It is a "real" aspect ratio and there are movies available in it and it allows more height for 16:9, 1.85:1 and 2.00 content.
The downside is that you will have black bars for 2.4:1 content on such a screen but that will be much less of an issue than the huge bars that you have with 2.4:1 content on a 16:9 screen.

As for closing your eyes and your brain not noticing that 16:9 is taller than 2.4:1 I doubt that it is true for anybody who would go through the process of having a serious home theater projection setup.
 

Josh Steinberg

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For most people most of the time for home viewing, a standard constant width setup is the simplest and easiest way to set up a home theater.

The “issue” with a constant height setup is that consumer home video specs aren’t formatted for it, which means that you’ll be making adjustments every time you watch something in a different aspect ratio, whether that’s with using the remote control on a motorized zoom, or using your hands to adjust the zoom on a manual lens. There’s no “set it and forget it”. The projector itself doesn’t recognize that the image is of a different shape since all HD and 4K content is encoded within a 16x9 frame so that is going to all be on you to adjust each and every time you put something on that’s in a different ratio from the last thing you watched. It’s adding a lot of work for yourself that may or may not be worth it to you in practice.

It’s generally not something I’d recommend to a first time projector owner.

The other thing is, you asked what gets you the biggest screen in your space, and by your wall dimensions, using the maximum screen width possible, a 16x9 screen will be taller than a CinemaScope screen. So yes, in that setup, CinemaScope films will appear smaller than 16x9 films, just as they do on a flat panel. But that’s basically just how home video is designed to be.

There’s really nothing wrong with either approach but going with a 16x9 screen gets you the most screen real estate possible on the wall you have and provides for the easiest possible usage. You can always examine making homemade masking to hide the letterbox bars on CinemaScope content later on if you find them distracting in actual use.

All of this might make it seem like I’m against CinemaScope screens and I’m actually not - but I tend to find that the websites/people that evangelize for them undersell how much effort it requires from the user to operate.
 

NTLKnight

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These are such great answers, thank you all so much!
  1. I have the opportunity right now to buy a used Sony VPL-XW5000ES (with 30 hours on it and a warranty that has not been registered yet...if that means anything) for $3,450.
  2. I also have a decent deal on an Epson LS12000 (new...for $4,150) which is the projector I've been meaning to buy for the last 5 months.
  3. I'm thinking of buying both of them...should I?
  4. The chance to buy both of these units and do a side-by-side comparison (in my space...whether properly calibrated, or not) and to be able to see with my own eyes whether or not the Sony *actually does* have a sharper image...and if the Epson *really is* that much brighter...and projects onto a large screen better...or if the motorized lens issue is a make-or-break, if HDMI 2.1, 4K 120, fan noise, throw distance, etc, etc. are all breaking points or not, is very tempting!
  5. At $3,450 for the Sony I'm not sure it would be wise to pass up on this chance...even if it means that after testing both units for a short time, reselling or sending one back.
  6. The screen calculators (Audio Advice/ProjectorScreen) give varying results as to how big of a screen I can use with these 2 projectors in our space. I'm still confused as to how big I can go with these 2 projectors...and that makes me want to physically test them in the room to see what can be done...and play with the AR and screen size. As many of you suggested, staying fluid with the AR might be a better strategy.
Nathan
 

Josh Steinberg

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These are such great answers, thank you all so much!

I’ll try to offer opinions on the new questions you’ve posed to the best of my knowledge. I know with typing sometimes the intended tone gets lost in translation but please understand my intent is to be helpful and pose questions or thoughts you might not have considered, and that I am not belittling your questions or meaning to be condescending in any way.

I have the opportunity right now to buy a used Sony VPL-XW5000ES (with 30 hours on it and a warranty that has not been registered yet...if that means anything) for $3,450.

I would not do this. Mostly because…

I also have a decent deal on an Epson LS12000 (new...for $4,150) which is the projector I've been meaning to buy for the last 5 months.

You’ve had multiple threads where you’ve come to the conclusion that this is what you want. There are infinite choices and options for home theater and it seems like you’re stuck in “decision paralysis” even though it seems like you’ve already made this decision. It seems like you’re second-guessing yourself for reasons that seem unclear. Every home theater setup is a compromise of some sort. Every professional theater setup is too. I think you might be letting your concern that you might not be making the “best” decision hold you back from making any decision, and the truth is, there’s no objective one-size-fits-all “best”, just what works for you given your preferences and budgetary requirements.

I'm thinking of buying both of them...should I?

Absolutely not. Do not do this. From the offer you got on the Sony, you’re seeing how a projector that was basically turned on a dozen times or less lost $1500 in value. Don’t buy two projectors when you need one. You will lose money you didn’t need to lose, and probably wind up trapped in a further decision paralysis cycle as you try to way it some minor variation from one unit to another makes one a better option than the other.

At $3,450 for the Sony I'm not sure it would be wise to pass up on this chance

You have wanted the Epson for a long time. Why does getting the Sony at a discount, a.k.a. the thing that’s not the thing you want, seem like an attractive deal for you? If you’ve got a good answer for that that I’m missing, then maybe there’s a different consideration to be made. But from where I’m sitting just as the friendly observer reading your posts, I don’t see how an item you don’t want being discounted should have any impact of you buying the thing you do want.

I am also very leery of making purchase decisions based on limited time factors. The “I can get this deal but only if I buy it right now” thing is a red flag to me - not necessarily a red flag on the item itself but on the notion that you’re rushing yourself into a commitment that it sounds like you’re almost but not entirely ready to make this second. Measure twice, cut once, as the saying goes.

The screen calculators (Audio Advice/ProjectorScreen) give varying results as to how big of a screen I can use with these 2 projectors in our space. I'm still confused as to how big I can go with these 2 projectors...

Ok, you have a 16’ wide wall that’s about 8’ high. You’ve said that you’re not doing an acoustically transparent screen, which is totally absolutely fine, but that means that you need to leave room to the left and right of the screen for those speakers, plus room either above or underneath for a center speaker.

Just to get you a starting point, a 165” diagonal screen is going to be about 12 feet wide and 7 feet tall, which is going to give you a gigantic image and leave space for the side speakers. It might be tight on the center speaker but you should be able to make it. (Keep in mind many fixed frame screens include a border around the frame which will add two or three inches on each side of the screen, increasing the footprint of the screen in terms of wall mounting.)

For a screen of that size using the Epson LS12000 projector, the projector must be mounted no closer than 16 feet and 2 inches from the screen, and no further than 33 feet and 3 inches away from it. So that does give you a lot of wiggle room in terms of where it can go. I cannot recall your room dimensions and whether or not you have the depth in your room to achieve that.

Honestly, given your uncertainty about screen size, I almost want to suggest that you buy the projector first, set it up to throw an image on the wall, and keep adjusting the zoom until you you get an image size that is comfortable to view at whatever seating position you’ve picked, and then simply measure how large that image is and buy the screen that best fits that size. There is such a thing as “too big” in the sense that the image is just too large to be comfortably viewed from your seat (most people don’t want to be in the very front row of an IMAX theater, for example). You don’t necessarily want the absolute largest image you can get - you want the one that you can view comfortably from where you’re seated.
 

NTLKnight

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...I know with typing sometimes the intended tone gets lost in translation but please understand my intent is to be helpful and pose questions or thoughts you might not have considered...
I appreciate your preface and gentle tone. The last thing I want to do is turn people off with too many questions that may seem like I'm not "getting it"!

...you’ve come to the conclusion that this is what you want (the Epson LS12000). There are infinite choices and options for home theater and it seems like you’re stuck in “decision paralysis” even though it seems like you’ve already made this decision. It seems like you’re second-guessing yourself for reasons that seem unclear.
Completely fair point...and I thank you for pointing this out. I told my wife today that the Gemini in me is coming out full-force with the idea of buying *both* the Sony and Epson to do an A/B comparison before deciding! Same reason I'd never get a tattoo...I wouldn't know what to get!

In fairness, about 4 months ago I *had* decided on the Epson LS12000 and when I was contacted (by someone on the forum) with an offer to buy one...I was ready to purchase it that same day. They ended up selling it to someone else before me. I was told they'd have a new one a week later. But it never did come in. Fast forward 4 months (to a week ago)...and I thought I'd check in with the community to see if anything had changed or if there was new information to consider. The first response I received was that bumps in the road (my 4 month delay) can be a good thing...and that now the (better) Sony 5000ES was on sale and I could get it for the same price as the Epson. This is what got me second-guessing the choice to go with the Epson.

Absolutely not. Do not do this. From the offer you got on the Sony, you’re seeing how a projector that was basically turned on a dozen times or less lost $1500 in value. Don’t buy two projectors when you need one. You will lose money you didn’t need to lose...
OK, thank you for being so clear about that, it helps!

You have wanted the Epson for a long time. Why does getting the Sony at a discount, a.k.a. the thing that’s not the thing you want, seem like an attractive deal for you?
Because the first response I received to my inquiry for updated information was that the Sony was a better projector than the Epson. I thought that if I decided not to keep the Sony, it would be relatively easy to resell for at least the price I'd buy it for.

Honestly, given your uncertainty about screen size, I almost want to suggest that you buy the projector first, set it up to throw an image on the wall, and keep adjusting the zoom until you you get an image size that is comfortable to view at whatever seating position you’ve picked, and then simply measure how large that image is and buy the screen that best fits that size.
Yes, this has always been what I was planning on doing, whether settling on the Epson LS12000, or even trying out the Sony. Once I see how big said projector allows me to go on our wall (and taking seating and everything else into consideration)...I was planning on buying the 1.3 gain screen material and making the screen myself.

Josh, thank you so much for taking your time to give me all those suggestions and counsel, I really appreciate it!

Nathan
 

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