*PICS!* DIY projection screen

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by MichaelDDD, Oct 10, 2004.

  1. MichaelDDD

    MichaelDDD Supporting Actor

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    I've completed the screen for my FP/PJ HT. [​IMG]

    I didn't save all my receipts, but total cost (not including time, obviously) was about $120, give or take $10. A comparably-sized, commercially purchased screen can easily run $500 or more. My screen is 95% as good as theirs for 1/5th the price. [​IMG]

    I constructed what's called a "Blackout Cloth Screen" (BOC). No, not Blue Oyster Cult. [​IMG]

    BOC is used to line light-blocking drapes. There's always one bright side and it has the ideal quality of reflecting light right back out where it came from. Perfect for projecting onto! BOC can be purchased at any fabric/craft store. (Joann's/Hancock Fabric/etc)

    After figuring what size screen I needed (44" x 78" for a 16:9 screen), I purchased the materials.

    The screen is constructed from 1" x 3" pine boards purchased from Home Depot. The frame around the screen is made of the same boards and covered in black felt.

    I was going to use the construction method on this page, but a skilled woodworker buddy suggested using "lap joints." I'm lucky to have access to a woodshop w/lots of good tools, so that's what I did.


    Here's what lap joints look like

    Photo 1


    Here's how they fit together

    Photo 2

    Here's the dado cut in the middle of the horizontal spars for the brace (you have to brace the frame, else it'll bow/bend when you stretch the BOC cloth over it)

    Photo 3

    The frame is held together w/wood glue and 3/4" brad nails

    Photo 4

    Finished frame (the middle support is recessed in b/c I didn't want it touching the screen, but that didn't work out too well - the other side of the frame was used against the cloth)

    Photo 5

    Blackout cloth laid on top of a sheet so the cloth doesn't get dirty/damaged

    Photo 6

    Frame on top of BOC (I wound up flipping the frame over, i.e. the side you're looking at in this pic wound up against the BOC)

    Photo 7


    I stretched and stapled the BOC according to the instructions here and here

    Finished screen! (Your fingers will be falling off and an electric staple gun is HIGHLY recommended!)

    Photo 8


    Now it was time to make the black border. The boarder is optional, but the black frame really raises the perceived black levels on the screen. The frame is just 1" x 3"s sized to fit around the 44x78 screen and cut at 45-degree angles. Black felt (from fabric store) is cut and stapled around the pieces.

    The frame pieces are laid around the screen, fitted up, then I used flat L-brackets to bolt the frame pieces together, then I used 3-inch flat iron pieces to join the frame to the screen.

    L-bracketed frame

    Photo 9

    L-bracketed and ready to be joined to screen

    Photo 10

    Not real pretty from behind

    Photo 11


    But oh, is it worth the work!!!!

    Photo 12


    Photo 13

    (Admin note = photos turned into links due to file size.)
     
  2. MarkRoberts

    MarkRoberts Stunt Coordinator

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    Nice job!
     
  3. ScottHH

    ScottHH Stunt Coordinator

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    It looks great.
    But how does it look with your pj projecting on it?
    And how does it compare to what you were using before?
    Screen shots? My appologies to those who thing there are already too many pictures in this thread.
     
  4. Ned

    Ned Supporting Actor

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    Not to rain on the parade, but raw blackout is rather mediocre. Slap on 2-3 coats of a high quality matte white gesso and then you will have a ~1.2 gain screen that matches any similar gain screen available for sale.
     
  5. Seth_L

    Seth_L Screenwriter

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    Nice looking screen Michael.

    When I get a projector I want to try out the DIY Light Fusion screen. You put a few coats of a slightly translucent paint mix on a very thin 1/8th" plexiglass mirror.
     
  6. MichaelDDD

    MichaelDDD Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for the compliments; I worked very hard on it. A few notes.

    I'm aware that Joann's Fabric Blackout Cloth is not exactly the same material used in a Stewart Firehawk screen. [​IMG] That material alone would also have cost me about $300, so I'd say it's a fair tradeoff! [​IMG] Plus, this was the first time making a screen. I didn't know how much tension to put on the fabric while stretching it. Would it rip or tear? If the BOC tears, it's $25 mistake. If the "good stuff" tears, it's me in tears. Get it? "Tears" vs. "tears?" I crack me up. [​IMG]


    I've no intention of painting it b/c:

    1. If I mess it up, the screen's trash and it took me too long to build it...not doing it again anytime soon

    2. From what I've read, coming up with the "correct" paint color is one part science, one part wizardry and on part dumb luck...I'm not a gambling man. There are about 1,000 threads on "screen paint color" over at AVSForum.com and very few agree with each other. It's a testing process dependent on your projector/room/planetary rotation. Nope, no paint for me.

    2a. The frame is already on it, it's mounted, etc. Painting would involve taking down the screen, disassembling it, then finding somewhere in my apt or garage to paint it and let it dry for a week and hope no dirt/dust gets on it...nope, not painting it



    I haven't calibrated the PJ yet b/c my HT gear isn't hooked up yet (doing that today). But I connected the DVD player directly to the PJ to do some initial PJ setup.

    WOW. Just wow. Even uncalibrated right out of the box it's gorgeous. Contrast/Brightness need some tweaking, but that's to be expected. It looks WORLDS better than the 8-year-old Sony Trinitron it replaced (32") More on picture quality improvement in a second...but just going from a 32" diagonal 4:3 to a 87" diagonal 16:9 picture is quite the step up.

    I watched about 30 minutes of Bulletproof Monk and 30 minutes of finding Nemo. It sucked without sound! In the fast action of BPM, I saw no RBE (rainbow effect) at all. A great sign. Image quality was very good. I noticed that the black level needed tweaking, but I'll take care of that when I calibrate.

    Finding Nemo really opened my eyes. I noticed details that I never saw before, and I've seen this movie about 5x already. The textures on the fish's skin, little tiny "spots" floating around in the ocean...twinkly little lights and such. Didn't see those on the Sony CRT...maybe they were there, but it was so small I couldn't see them!!!

    Here's a pic of it mounted on the wall. The sneaker is on the shelf just for size reference. That's a size 11.5, BTW. Oh, the center channel will go on that shelf, in case you were wondering. [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    FYI, most of the construction photos are now linkified due to large file size of the photos. Let's be more tolerant towards one another, especially those on slow connections.
     
  8. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    Folks, please move on to something more contructive.
     
  9. Vince Bray

    Vince Bray Stunt Coordinator

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    A few observations..

    1. Nice screen, room looks like it's shaping up nicely too.
    2. I like posts with the pics right in them also, it shows you care how your post is seen and took the trouble to host the pics somewhere instead of just sticking in a bunch of links.
    3. Front projection rules.
    4. It's center speaker, not sneaker. I would have thought you'd get stuck when trying to wire it, no?
    5. I might gesso my screen. That sounds like the extra little pop I'm looking for. What's a good brand?
     
  10. MichaelDDD

    MichaelDDD Supporting Actor

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    Thank you, Vince Bray. [​IMG]

    Yesterday, I got it all wired up, recalibrated the sound and watched my first movie. It looked and sounded awesome! Haven't calibrated the PJ yet, as I'm waiting on a 50-foot set of component cables; they should be here this week. Right now I'm using an S-video cable strung over the couch, table and the equipment rack. [​IMG]

    Oh, BTW:


    LMAO! [​IMG] Yeah, I just couldn't fit the banana plugs into the eyelets on my center channel sneaker. [​IMG]
     
  11. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    Obviously "move on" isn't getting through to some of the folks posting in this thread. Let's make it clear, anymore moaning and groaning for either side of the bandwidth debate is going to result in a time-out. I've cleaned up the thread as much as I could to retain the original subject of discussion. Let's keep this thread about Michael's DIY projection screen.
     
  12. Ned

    Ned Supporting Actor

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    And that's why you use matte white. I started on raw blackout fabric. It certainly reflects light but it's mediocre at best. When you feel like improving the image you can do it [​IMG] If you could see with/without you would do it immediately. C'est la vie.
     
  13. Vince Bray

    Vince Bray Stunt Coordinator

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    Ned, can you recommend a brand of gesso? My BOC is put up with the vinyl side out, I would think it would be the other side I'd want to paint, the fabric side. Have people painted the vinyl side?
     
  14. Ned

    Ned Supporting Actor

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    I used the vinyl side, it holds gesso fine. I used Liquitex matte white gesso and it was pretty good quality, certainly much better than any housepaint. Ken of the Screen Goo company said that Tri-Art is one of the best gessos you can get and very similar (perhaps the same stuff [​IMG] ) as what they use in their Screen Goo basecoat. Up here in Canada, Curries Art supply has the Tri-Art gesso. Not sure about the USA.

    Due to the matte nature of matte white gesso, the finish doesn't even have to be particularly smooth. Because their is so little gain (about 1.2), rollermarks and such do not show. Just try your best to even it out and get full application to the surface. I once experimented with using a higher gain topcoat over the gesso, and that's when all the little mistakes really bite you in the ass [​IMG]
     
  15. Mattak

    Mattak Stunt Coordinator

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    Michael,

    Saw your post on anandtech and was like, "wtf, I've seen this stuff before." [​IMG]
     
  16. MichaelDDD

    MichaelDDD Supporting Actor

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    Ned: Thanks for the advice on the Gesso. It will take some investigating on my part to see if this is something I want to do...some "before and after gesso" pics would help.

    Mattak: [​IMG] I was wondering where you'd gone. [​IMG]
     
  17. David_P

    David_P Stunt Coordinator

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    a suggestion...

    if BOC is really a "$25 dollar mistake" if you muck it up, buy another piece, buy the paint, paint the new piece, and get a couple of buddies to hold it up in front of your existing screens. Even without proper tensioning, you should be able to see if the colour/gain is better than the existing screen

    up, down, up, down, better? worse?

    If it's better, rip it apart and start over.

    Either way, report back [​IMG]

    David
     
  18. Jason_RoyH

    Jason_RoyH Auditioning

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    For anyone else wanting to make a DIY screen like this or if the orig poster decides to gesso it...

    I HIGHLY recommend black velvet over the felt. Yea it costs a little more but I tried both and the velvet is the way to go. It normally has a better more pleasing texture and stuff like cat hair wipes right off it without leaving a hint of "fuzz" like the felt. But the most important part is the velvet is it's like a black hole to light. It absorbs so much more light then the felt does. You can focus the projector with the picture slightly on the velvet to cover the whole screen and it looks super!

    I had some left over black velvet and I was getting really bad reflection off my white ceiling above the screen. I just threw up the left over velvet on the ceiling and wow what a differance. If I had enough money I'd drape the entire room in black velvet to kill all other light except from the screen itself. How pimp would that be? [​IMG]
     

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