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The DIY Screen Masking Thread (2 Viewers)

John Dirk

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After completing my AT screen installation a while back I briefly entertained the thought of adding a masking solution of some sort for the frequent occasions I want to view widescreen [scope] content on my 16x9 screen. At that time, after some initial frustrations, I decided to abandon the idea and just live with the typical letterboxing we all know and love. As is often the case with me, however, I really just needed a break. Giving up is not in my nature.

After experimenting with several possibilities here is what I came up with. It is a simple yet functional solution for my space. The fabric is a matte felt which I purchased locally and cut to size. I installed wall hooks and grommets [purchased from Lowes] on either side. When I want to watch widescreen content the mask is installed as below and the image is adjusted to mate with the top screen border using the motorized lens shift function of my projector.

Widescreen Mask.jpg




When I am viewing 16x9 content I simply return the lens to it's normal position, remove the mask and reattach it as shown here. In addition to keeping the mask close by, this has the added benefit of completely covering the components and their accompanying LED's while still allowing easy access when needed.

Mask Behind Screen For 16_9.jpg



In either configuration the mask is used to create the illusion of a full matted wall. Total cost was under $60.00.
While I was at it I also added some black floor tiles as the former beige was just too light for the room. Total cost for the tiles was around $300.00.

When researching this project I found a good deal of helpful content here but I had to do a lot of searching for it. I therefore thought it would be a good idea to have a dedicated thread to discuss and share DIY screen masking solutions. Please keep in mind, this is not the place to discuss the merits of one screen size over another. Instead I'd like this to become a sort of one-stop-shop for screen masking assistance and theory.
 
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Josh Steinberg

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Hi John! I am sorry I missed your post in the other thread about doing something like this. Fantastic job! A wonderful example of not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. When/if I can dedicate a room to my projector I plan on doing the same thing.
 

Peter Apruzzese

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Sometimes the simplest idea is the best - congrats on an elegant solution.

Since my screen hangs from the ceiling and isn’t near side walls, I had to come up with something slightly different. My upper masking is velvet that rolls on a 10’ wooden closet pole (longest straight rod I could find). It’s held in place with a spring clamp hidden by side curtains. Bottom masking is velvet wrapped around a board and held in place with paracord and an rope adjustment clamp.
 

John Dirk

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Hi John! I am sorry I missed your post in the other thread about doing something like this. Fantastic job! A wonderful example of not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. When/if I can dedicate a room to my projector I plan on doing the same thing.
No problem, Josh. People are busy. I don't take you as an "if" kind of guy so let's go with "when." :cool:
 

John Dirk

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Sometimes the simplest idea is the best - congrats on an elegant solution.

Since my screen hangs from the ceiling and isn’t near side walls, I had to come up with something slightly different. My upper masking is velvet that rolls on a 10’ wooden closet pole (longest straight rod I could find). It’s held in place with a spring clamp hidden by side curtains. Bottom masking is velvet wrapped around a board and held in place with paracord and an rope adjustment clamp.
Thanks Peter. I really wanted a motorized solution but it would have meant lowering the image to the bottom border. This resulted in a somewhat obstructed view for my rear row, which is why I went this route instead.

It would be great to see some pictures of your solution.
 

Josh Steinberg

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No problem, Josh. People are busy. I don't take you as an "if" kind of guy so let's go with "when." :cool:

I like your optimism. I figure at least one of these things is likely to happen and I’ll leave it to you to guess which:
-I’ll win the lottery and be able to get a bigger place
-The kids will grow up, move out, and leave me with some extra space to repurpose

:D
 

Peter Apruzzese

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I tried taking some pictures, but every element is black and it’s almost impossible to see any details. The light is very dim on that end of the room, so maybe I can try with a flashlight (camera flash washes out). Since my projector doesn’t have a motorized lens, I needed something that could adjust to any size from 2.76 to full height 1.78 with the picture centered. I also have side masking for non-widescreen movies, it’s just velvet (the picture edge is wrapped around a piece of metal tile edging) hanging from curtain clips on a curtain rod mounted on the ceiling.
 
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Mark-P

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Great job, John. I have a bottom mask too, secured with velcro strips on the sides of the screen, but my usage is slightly different as I have side curtains too. My screen is actually 2:1 with the bottom mask in place to make it 2.35:1. Side curtains close to make it 2:1, 1.85:1, 1.78:1, 1.66:1, 1.37:1, 1.33:1, or 1.19:1. The only time the bottom mask moves is up for 2.55:1 or 2.76:1, or down for 70mm (2.20:1) or IMAX (the only configuration to use the complete screen height). I know some forum members are already laughing at me thinking I’m taking things way too far. :rolleyes:
 

Josh Steinberg

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Mark, that’s actually more or less what I’d like to do if I ever get the dedicated space. My plan would essentially take the entire wall and make it the largest 16x9 screen possible to fit in the space, basically something too large for the space, but then set up a bunch of masking as follows to retain proper proportions to simulate various formats:

-Use the full 16x9 size solely for IMAX and Cinerama smilebox presentations
-top and bottom masking for 2.20:1 70mm presentations
-top and bottom masking closes further to 2.40:1, use this as common height for all other 35mm formats
-left and right side masking closes in on 2.40:1 screen to create 2.00:1, 1.85:1, 1.66:1 and 1.37:1 screen sizes.

In short, make 2.40:1 the largest size for nearly everything except IMAX, Cinerama and 70mm.

2.76:1 kinda gets screwed here but I can count the number of films I have in that format on one hand so I can accept that trade off. Not perfect for 2.55:1 but that’s so close to 2.40:1 that I can live with it.
 

Mark-P

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Mark, that’s actually more or less what I’d like to do if I ever get the dedicated space. My plan would essentially take the entire wall and make it the largest 16x9 screen possible to fit in the space, basically something too large for the space, but then set up a bunch of masking as follows to retain proper proportions to simulate various formats:

-Use the full 16x9 size solely for IMAX and Cinerama smilebox presentations
-top and bottom masking for 2.20:1 70mm presentations
-top and bottom masking closes further to 2.40:1, use this as common height for all other 35mm formats
-left and right side masking closes in on 2.40:1 screen to create 2.00:1, 1.85:1, 1.66:1 and 1.37:1 screen sizes.

In short, make 2.40:1 the largest size for nearly everything except IMAX, Cinerama and 70mm.

2.76:1 kinda gets screwed here but I can count the number of films I have in that format on one hand so I can accept that trade off. Not perfect for 2.55:1 but that’s so close to 2.40:1 that I can live with it.
Josh, I suppose if you really wanted to, you could make 2.76:1 the common height and have all other ARs (except the three you mention) be side-masked, but I think that may be beyond the limits of the projector's lens shifting capabilities. 16X9 to 2.35:1 is within reach but 16X9 to 2.76 is probably outside the limit. And I'm not sure if an anamorphic lens attachment (I don't have one) widens the throw or not.
 

Josh Steinberg

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I thought about that but there are so few films I watch that are 2.76 that I feel it’s not worth sacrificing size on the majority of less wide films that I more routinely watch. Too much effort for too little gain for my selection of films.

A huge percentage of my yearly rewatches are IMAX titles so being able to make my screen bigger for that is what’s going to yield me the most visceral, immersive experience I think. Honestly at this point, it’s probably twenty years off so who knows what the state of aspect ratios and home viewing will be then.

(In the TMI category, I’m sort of in this unanticipated situation where my family landed in a location where I have to make a choice between more space for this hobby, or less space but better neighborhood and overall situation for everyone. It’s been wonderful watching my little guys thrive in the current space and it’s an easy choice for me to put off having a dedicated theater room in order to have everything else in my life working better.

Turns out, a pull down 120” screen on a dark night isn’t so bad at the end of a long day of parenting :)
 

DFurr

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The majority of what we screen and stream is 2:35 but I have side moveable masking that can be set for anything between 2:35 and 1:85. I'm very lucky that with my throw at 20 feet my Epson 5010 will zoom to any AR and fit my screen perfectly. At 2:35 the zoom is all the way out for the largest picture. It fits my screen with a inch of overthrow onto the masking.....just right. Good news is that my masking motors are connected to my automation so I program for scope, it turns the lens on the 35mm projector and opens the masking to 2:35. Flat (1:85) automatically swings the flat lens into position and closes the masking to 1:85. For 2:20 I can stop the masking at the proper spot to handle that format. I only have to adjust the zoom lens on the Epson to fit the screen. Not perfect but pretty easy to handle. My next digital projector will have lens memory.
 

Josh Steinberg

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There’s a certain charm to doing all of that setup stuff ahead of time manually, or maybe I’m just nuts. I remember my first projector and screen from back in like 2006, and the 16x9 screen would auto lock at different spots so that I could only open it to 2.40 etc if I wanted and then just adjust the lens on the PJ. It reminds me of working at a very not state of the art movie theater when I was 14. I feel a certain satisfaction setting up the stuff by hand and it gets me in the mood for watching a film.
 

John Dirk

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The majority of what we screen and stream is 2:35 but I have side moveable masking that can be set for anything between 2:35 and 1:85. I'm very lucky that with my throw at 20 feet my Epson 5010 will zoom to any AR and fit my screen perfectly. At 2:35 the zoom is all the way out for the largest picture. It fits my screen with a inch of overthrow onto the masking.....just right. Good news is that my masking motors are connected to my automation so I program for scope, it turns the lens on the 35mm projector and opens the masking to 2:35. Flat (1:85) automatically swings the flat lens into position and closes the masking to 1:85. For 2:20 I can stop the masking at the proper spot to handle that format. I only have to adjust the zoom lens on the Epson to fit the screen. Not perfect but pretty easy to handle. My next digital projector will have lens memory.
Lens memory is a very nice feature but be warned, it is not completely accurate. I have the basic features of my projector programmed into my tablet-based remote but find myself routinely grabbing my Epson physical remote to make micro adjustments after having used memorized lens positions. It's not a big deal but just something you should be aware of going in.
 

Mark-P

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It fits my screen with a inch of overthrow onto the masking.....just right.
I’m sorry, but why is that desirable? I understand for film projection it’s the job of the projector plate and masking to crop the image properly, but with digital images the image is already pre-cropped to the exact picture information you are supposed to see, and overshooting your masking is over-cropping the image, much like overscan.
 

DFurr

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I’m sorry, but why is that desirable? I understand for film projection it’s the job of the projector plate and masking to crop the image properly, but with digital images the image is already pre-cropped to the exact picture information you are supposed to see, and overshooting your masking is over-cropping the image, much like overscan.
 

DFurr

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Mark my main concern is my 35mm presentation. The plates are cut based on a test loop (RP-40) and the masking is adjusted according to those specs. It's almost impossible to match perfectly a digital home projector to the exact size of a 35mm presentation. There are a lot of commercial theatres operating today that show "white" screen above and/or below the picture even though they are through with 35mm projection. IMO an overshoot of one or two inches on the masking does not distract or cause the viewer to miss anything that would make difference. The main concern is to have four clean lines around the entire picture and although digital presents a perfectly "clean" picture it's almost impossible to match a proper 35mm picture that would overlay the digital picture. I try to have the best of both worlds with the main interest in a perfect 35mm presentation.
 

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