DIY fixed screen - My quest has ended

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by Neil Joseph, Feb 7, 2003.

  1. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    I want to build my own DIY fixed front projection screen and I am looking for good suggestions. First of all, I do not want to paint onto the wall. I am looking for something with a soild blackout border and some kind of screen material over a board of somekind. I also don't want the end result to be too heavy so MDF is out of the question. What kind of material would you suggest I use to make this thing out of that is smooth or can be smoothed out, and so that I can apply the necessary paint material fo the surface? I am looking for gray/silver material to similate the Firehawk 1.35 gain screen. The size I am looking at is 49" x 87" and add a 4" border around that too.

    Thanks
     
  2. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    I just got back from Home Depot and I was looking at the following materials.... all pricing in cdn$

    - 1/8" x 48" x 96" standard hardboard - $7.34
    - 1" x 4" x 6" boards (for L & R sides) - $10.83
    - 1" x 4" x 8" boards (for top & bottom) - $7.36

    Is this a viable option? The hardboard is smooth on one side and a little course on the other. Would I use the smooth side or the course side as the screen and apply my primer & gray paint over that?
     
  3. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

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    The best source of DIY screen info is over at AVS Forum in the screens section.

    The options I've read about:
    1. Some type of board like hardboard, counter top laminate or the plastic stuff showers are lined with.
    2. Build a frame and stretch blackout or other fabric.
    3. Have an art store build a canvas for you. They build the frame and stretch some of their special fabric on it.

    All of these can be either left white or painted. Some people go gray as dark as the Kodak gray or ultra white with a pearl additive. I'm at least a year away so I've just been skimming the info.

    -Robert
     
  4. Brian Bunge

    Brian Bunge Producer

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    Neil,

    Some guys out in Austin have used some sort of white plastic that they found at Home Depot for DIY screens and it seems to work well for them. I can't remember what it's called. Hank Frankenberg should know though since I believe he's seen it in action.
     
  5. Jeff Meininger

    Jeff Meininger Second Unit

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    It's called "plas-tex", and it is made by Parkland Plastics. The DIY screen builders use white, though, and I'm not sure if painting it gray would be advisable. It might come in gray, but I've never read about that being used for a screen.
     
  6. Dustin B

    Dustin B Producer

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  7. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    I tried the link for that fixed area screen but it did not work. I am unsure if I could do it since I have a fixed width image (unless I zoom in and out constantly).
     
  8. Hank Frankenberg

    Hank Frankenberg Cinematographer

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    Neil, I replied to your e-mail. I helped both Nils and Colin here in Austin build their Plas-Tex screens. The did not paint them and both guys are very happy with the screens.
     
  9. Dustin B

    Dustin B Producer

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    Hmm, strange the link works for me.

    I'm not fully up to speed on this stuff yet. But I think doing the constant area screen requires you to use a HTPC. Then you just modify what area of the resolution grid is used to fill each aspect ratio. You'll be giving up some vertical resolution lines on the 1.85:1 movies, but I think what you gain would outway that small resolution loss (espcially since the projector should still be capable of well above DVDs actual resolution).

    I'm hopeful this will also mean that I could make it so there is only a black bar above the 2.35:1 image, making the bottom of the screen stay fixed, then I only have to do a 3 way masking system.
     
  10. Greg_R

    Greg_R Screenwriter

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    MDF is very heavy. I'd suggest thin plywood (with 2x4 backing to prevent warping). Mount the Parkland plastic onto the plywood (contact cement, etc.).
     
  11. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    Plastex isn't available in Canada (at least I've never seen it and I know someone that had to buy his in the US) My advice would be to build a wooden frame and stetch blackout cloth over it. You can paint blackout cloth with grey tinted gesso paint which will help the grey levels from an LCD PJ. There are a few other cloths being talked about at the moment but if you're going to be painting it blackout cloth is cheap and available at most fabric stores.
     
  12. Bryan Michael

    Bryan Michael Supporting Actor

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    cant you just buy the fabric the grey halk stuff and atach it to your screen.
     
  13. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    I thank you all for your responses thus far.

    I have been kicking this around for a while. How exactly do you make a frame and how do you stretch blackout cloth around all 4 sides of the frame and make it look neat?
     
  14. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    Neil go here to learn how to stretch the fabic.

    As for the frame you have several options. The easiest is to visit an artist/painting supply shop and have them build you a screen from the stretcher bars...or simply buy them from there and make it yourself. I bought mine there and glued/screwed my frame together along with several cross braces to stop it from bending in the middle and called it done. Its really pretty easy if you have two people doing it and a good stapple gun.
     
  15. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    Oh and this link was a great read on screens as well.
     
  16. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    OK, here is the latest update. I am leaning heavily towards using a very thin formica (~1mm) and 48" x 85 1/3". FYI, formica is the same kind of material used as kitchen countertop surfaces so it it durable, light and easy to paint on. I will use a combination of 50% Behr Chromium Flat paint and 50% Behr Pearlescent paint, plus Floetrol so that I can apply the formula via a paint roller with no streaks. I will make an indepenant frame painted flat black.
     
  17. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    Just curious why the Behr paint and not gesso?
     
  18. Charles J P

    Charles J P Cinematographer

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    I made my screen out of 4x8 3/8" wallboard (drywall) painted with a foam roller (to avoid fuzzies stuck to my screen) with Behr premium ultra white base with no tint added. Then framed it with 1X4s painted flat black. Woodputtied in my joints and any knotholes in the frame, etc. The only problem is, if you attach the frame to the wall board, you lessen the possible hight of the boards, which limits you to a mid 80s inch diagonal 16:9 screen. So, after I get the basement finished and move my HT down there, I may switch to a painted cloth over frame type of solution.
     
  19. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    I found the limiting factor for using 1mm formica or 1/8" hardboard was a max of 98" diagonal 16x9 because 48" seems to be the maximum height that I could find and thus 87" would be the max width to maintain the 16x9 a.r. This is actually fine for me in my case, plus I wanted a smooth durable surface that could be cleaned if needed.
     
  20. Chad Anson

    Chad Anson Second Unit

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    Instead of blackout material, some folks have had luck with Coated Celtic Cloth available from Dazian.com. I helped a friend build a frame and stretch blackout material over it and let me tell you, it's very easy. The frame is the hardest part, but nothing you can't handle.

    Chad

    ps. You can pick up Gesso at Michael's or any art store. Folks at AVSForum have been raving about it. I'm not a big fan of Behr paint in general.
     

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