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post #1 of 245 Old 03-20-2003, 11:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Welcome to my second screen review. This review will include lower gain screen materials, what they do, and what they are made of. I see this as a benefit to people because screen surfaces and materials remain a mystery to most. It will include some DIY materials but must be somewhat limited as there are literally thousands of materials to bounce light off of. So, of course, they cannot all be covered here. Finally, at the end, there will be a fun little shootout between some DIY materials and the infamous Stewart Firehawk.

In the end, it is important to try to achieve the greatest benefit for the environment or viewing you want to achieve. This review will focus on about 21 materials from .95 gain to over 6 gain and will allow a peek at a few more. It will include some past reviewed materials for fun and reference, and 5 newly evaluated paintable screen emulsions. This review is for fun and therefore full of my observations and opinions. I will not use any special instruments in the review process (only my eyes), and I will try to present all information in understandable terms. My camera is also not perfect or calibrated for color accuracy; however, all pictures are untouched (unless noted) and were taken from the same setting (not auto). Therefore you can use all pictures as references against themselves. I will try to describe the ambient lighting conditions when able. Keep in mind when navigating through the information what the most important needs for your home theater are, such as: gain, viewing angle, ambient light, color accuracy, deepest blacks etc. Unfortunately, there is no one perfect screen surface so you will likely have some tradeoffs. This review will only cover the screen surface materials and not how they can be integrated into your theater. Also, I can only comment on samples that were sent to me. If a manufacturer sent the wrong stuff or mislabeled their product, they will probably will be confused with my comments.

I get paid nothing to do this. I do not endorse or work for any manufacturer or even have any ties to the AV industry except as a hobbyist. I also do not claim to know why each manufacturer does what they do except that they are in business and they likely choose products that they can sell. Finally, and most importantly, I am not a certified expert. I will attempt to pass on what I've learned through this journey and will try my best to call them as I see them.


The screens that I will try to present are

1. Dazian - Matte non-perforated White .95
2. EZtheater - Comparable to Draper Cineflex
3. Da-Lite - Da Mat 1.0
4. Behr - 50/50 Pearlescent/Silver Stag (house paint)
5. Americas Finest - Flat White (spray paint)
6. Vutec - Vu Flex Pro
7. Draper - 1300 / Vutec Brite White
8. Da-Lite - Cinema Vision 1.3
9. Da-lite - High Contrast Cinema Vision 1.1
10. Stewart - Firehawk 1.35
11. Stewart - Retro Grey ~1.5
12. Liquiscreen ~1.5
13. Draper - F1500
14. Vutec - Soundscreen 5 .85
15. Vutec - Soundscreen 10 .85
16. Vutec perforated. (black or white for leader)
17. Da-Lite - High Power
18. Da-Lite - Glass Bead
19. Stewart - Ultramatte
20. Draper - 2500
21. Vutec - Pearl Bright 3.1
22. Vutec - Matte Pearl 2.7
23. Vutec - Silver Star 6.0
24. Vutec - Grey Dove / Draper Hi Def Grey
25. Goo - Digital Grey
26. Rust-oleum - High Heat Silver (spray paint)
27. Rust-oleum - Metallic Finish Aluminum (spray paint)
28. Rust-oleum - Winter Grey Gloss
29. Vutec - Rear-Vu / Draper - Cineflex 2.5 (rear projection)

Before we go any further if you are new to understanding screens, or just need a refresher I highly recommend reading Cinema Source's Front Projection Design Guide before we get started.
http://www.diyprojectiontv.com/Screen_Guide-72.pdf

Their guide covers:

Chapter 1: Basic Screen Technology
Chapter 2: Understanding Aspect Ratios
Chapter 3: Types of Front Projection Screens
Chapter 4: Front Projection Screen Materials
Chapter 5: Multiple Aspect Ratio Screens
Chapter 6: Optimum Screen Size
Chapter 7: Front Screen Installation Methods
Chapter 8: Motorized Screen Wiring
Chapter 9: Specifying Screens
Chapter 10: Glossary of Screen Terminology

It's a great place to get started


Now, describing the screen materials!

All screen surfaces will keep their corresponding numbering system throughout the review. If you Click on the Screen Name Below you can see a sample photo of the screen material. I did my best to get a close up to show surface texture. Some of these photos had to be retouched to approximate the colors more accurately. It is incredibly difficult to match colors so do not take it as gospel. Generally, the white piece of paper (with numbers) in bottom left corner can serve as a decent reference.

1. Dazian - Matte non-perforated White .95
The Dazian product is a very white pvc/vinyl tensionable product with two different sides. The primary side is shown in the photo and has texture. This may account for their .95 gain rating. The backside is very similar to the other white vinyl PVC screens like Draper 1300/Vutec Brite White. The sheen on the surface likely brings the gain up above 1.0 but can hotspot from the sheen. Both sides have excellent viewing angles.

2. EZtheater 1.1
This product is identical to Draper Cineflex and probably other standard matte white vinyl screens in the industry. It has a slight sheen so you can get slightly higher gain than 1.0. The manufacturer says 1.1 but I think it's slightly higher. Like all matte white screens it has a great viewing angle and color accuracy. It is very durable and doesn't require tensioning like the pvc variety making it ideal for pull down screens.

3. Da-Lite - Da Mat 1.0
Hey, it doesn't get any simpler than this. This material is a standard bone white pvc/vinyl product that of course needs tensioning. Rated at 1.0 gain it would make a great standard screen for many applications. Excellent diffusion and viewing angle.

4. Behr - 50/50 Pearlescent/Silver Stag (house paint)
Basically equivalent to all the other matte white products. I could not see the pearlescent paint adding anything to its visual performance. I would guess this is the eggshell finish. The mixture is slightly off white in the grey direction but nobody would likely be able to tell from the image. For DIYers, I recommend just going with a standard bright white paint. Flat or eggshell finish should eliminate any hot spotting from a sheen.

5. Americas Finest - Flat White (spray paint) ~1.0
I prepared this sample by spraying onto a white piece of photo paper. Very smooth surface flat/dull finish. Yielded great results and could be applied to any flat surface to make a great DIY matte white screen.

6. Vutec - Vu Flex Pro ~1.1
This material is very thick solid commercial theater material. It's vinyl and is 3 times thicker than standard home use matte white vinyl. You could make gigantic screens out of this material as it is very robust and probably way beyond home theater needs. Same visual properties as all the other matte whites.

7. Draper - 1300 / Vutec Brite White 1.3
This vinyl/pvc material needs tensioning. It is very white. With the surface sheen created from the manufacturing process it brings the gain up to 1.3. It also does not suffer from any hot spotting. Excellent viewing angle with virtually no noticeable drop-off. This material is actually light transmissive so you can see the image on the backside. This allows the material to illuminate and may help in the light diffusion process.

8. Da-Lite - Cinema Vision 1.3
The Cinema Vision product is white tensionable pvc/vinyl with an emulsion. The emulsion reduces the viewing angle but may add a feel of depth to the image. Needs tensioning.

9. Da-lite - High Contrast Cinema Vision 1.1
The High Contrast Cinema Vision is very similar to the standard Cinema Vision only slightly darker. The slightly darker emulsion reduces the viewing angle but may add depth and slightly more contrast. Pvc/vinyl that needs tensioning.

10. Stewart - Firehawk 1.35
The Stewart Firehawk is a grey pvc/vinyl material that needs tensioning. The grey material is slightly darker than the Vutec Greydove/Draper HiDef Grey and it has a reflective emulsion carefully and lightly splattered on. The grey material is designed to give you good blacks and the reflective emulsion brings the gain up to 1.35. This, of course, reduces the viewing angle.

11. Stewart - Retro Grey ~1.5
Unofficially known as the Pinkhawk. Stewart still has the experimental tag on this product and may be included in their future lineup. Screen surface is a solid vinyl with a pinkish/grey-colored retro-reflective emulsion.

12. Liquiscreen ~1.5
This product is a paintable product and can be applied to almost anything depending on your skill level. The samples that were sent to me were all applied with a standard 2'' nap roller to drywall, foam board and blackout cloth. The cloth sample yielded a slightly courser surface resulting in even better performance. The product contains two parts. A white base coat and a pearlescent top coat. Combined they offer great color accuracy, moderate gain, and a good viewing angle. A perfectly smooth surface like the foam board may result in hot spotting.

13. Draper - F1500
This material is silvery looking on a very textured surface. It does have a slight pearlescent look to it, so there may be an additional coating. The backing is standard vinyl. Unfortunately, due to the very small sample size, I will not be able to review it.

14. Vutec - Soundscreen 5 .85
This is a woven material probably used for commercial applications where the speakers must be behind the screen. It has grey and white strands for that slightly grey screen look. It would probably be great for outdoor applications too. I wouldn't recommend for home theater, as the viewing distances are probably too close to the screen itself.

15. Vutec - Soundscreen 10 .85
This is a woven material, probably used for commercial applications where the speakers must be behind the screen. It has all white strands. It would probably be great for outdoor applications also. I wouldn't recommend for home theater as the viewing distances are probably too close to the screen itself. Vutec also carries a few more soundscreen products.

16. Vutec perforated. (black or white for leader)
Curious what perforation looks like? Well here's a sample of Vutec's perforation on their leader material. The white or black side of this vinyl could be used allowing sound to pass through.

17. Da-Lite - High Power 2.8
The Da-Lite High Power has a fascinating emulsion. It's slightly off-white and kind of reminds you of some kind of glow in the dark paint. It's retro-reflective and is solidly applied to a vinyl backing. Great color reproduction, higher gain and a reasonable viewing angle for such high gain.

18. Da-Lite - Glass Bead 2.5
Construction is retro-reflective emulsion on a heavy vinyl backing. Screen surface is white/crushed glass in color and high texture. The glass emulsion likes to fall off when the screen is manipulated. Pretty poor viewing cone. Cleaning this screen would be difficult at best.

19. Stewart - Ultramatte 2.75
Construction is angular reflective emulsion on a pvc/vinyl backing. Screen surface is white/pearlescent in color and low texture. Material should be tensioned. The pearlescent emulsion is pretty good and has some unique properties. Generally a good viewing angle for 2.75 gain.

20. Draper - 2500
This product is a whitish pvc vinyl that has a pearlescent coloration that looks like it may be built into the surface of the material, more likely a coating though. This material is very similar to Vutec's Pearl Brite except the sample they sent me had more texture on the surface. This material needs tensioning. Overall good properties and viewing angle.

21. Vutec - Pearl Bright 3.1
This product is a whitish pvc vinyl that has a pearlescent coloration that looks like it may be built into the surface or material itself. Surface texture is smooth and has a slight sheen. This material needs tensioning. Overall pretty good properties and viewing angle.

22. Vutec - Matte Pearl 2.7
This product is a whitish vinyl with a pearlescent coating. There is surface texture from the vinyl backing. I was not able to review this product due to the small sample size. It would probably provide an excellent alternative to their tensioned Pearl Bright.

23. Vutec - Silver Star 6.0
This material is some kind of silvery angular reflective paper laminated onto solid thick foam board. Screen surface is silver in color and somewhat smooth. Very bright, could work for HT. Super vibrant colors and over the top whites. The Silver Star somehow has better viewing cones than the other high-powers. I'd estimate this screen is more like ~4 gain. Also, I cannot determine if it suffers from hot spotting with my small sample.

24. Vutec - Grey Dove / Draper Hi Def Grey .95
This vinyl/pvc material needs tensioning. It is light grey. With the surface sheen created from the manufacturing process it still only registers .95 gain. Excellent viewing angle with virtually no noticeable drop-off. This material can give you good blacks.

25. Goo - Digital Grey
This paint on product came to me applied to a piece of flexible white vinyl. The surface texture would lead me to believe it was applied with a roller and the color of this emulsion has a slight purple tint to it compared to the other greys I've looked at. Excellent viewing angle and blacks. I'd guess probably ~.9 gain.

26. Rust-oleum - High Heat Silver (spray paint)
Yes, here's your DIY Firehawk. If painted on with care and evenness, a flat surface can be transformed into a surface that can be comparable to the Firehawk. Although different properties, it produces somewhat similar results. This sample is sprayed onto a piece of photo paper. Decent colors, whites, blacks, and viewing cone. I'd estimate this screen is around 2 gain. Also, I cannot determine if it suffers from hot spotting with my small sample. A more textured backing material will reduce gain and possibly any hot spotting.

27. Rust-oleum - Metallic Finish Aluminum (spray paint)
Okay kids here's your DIY silver star. If painted on with care and evenness, a flat surface can be transformed into a surface that can be comparable to the Silver Star. This sample is sprayed onto a piece of photo paper. Very bright, could work for HT. Excellent colors and over the top whites. Decent viewing cone. I'd estimate this screen as having more gain than Silver Star. Also, I cannot determine if it suffers from hot spotting with my small sample. A more textured backing material will reduce gain and possibly any hot spotting. For more info refer to The Shootout.

28. Rust-oleum - Winter Grey Gloss
This DIY paint came directly off my shelves in my garage. It can only be described as junk. Don't waste your time with it. The colors and whites suck. The gain is about .7 and the glossy surface finish results in hotspots beyond belief.

29. Vutec - Rear-Vu / Draper - Cineflex 2.5 (rear projection)
Finally, I offer you this sample of Rear-Vu / Cineflex. They look identical to me. This is a Rear Projection screen material made from pvc/vinyl that looks like velum. It requires tensioning. The picture is a sample placed over print in a magazine so you can see its trasmissiveness. I have not been able to see this product in action, as I only have a small sample.



Types of Screens There are basically three types of flat screens.

Tensioned, Non-Tensioned and Solid fixed screens.
Tensioning refers to how flexible the material is. A tensioned screen material needs to be tensioned to remove the wrinkles. Non-tensioned material is usually more robust and will hold it own shape more easily.

Generally if you're getting a manufactured screen, pull down models will usually be made with non-tensionable vinyls. If it's an electric screen and doesn't require a human pulling it down and up, down and up, tensionable material can be used without damage. Non-tensioned screen material is generally totally opaque. Some tensionable material does transmit light through it so it may require rear lighting treatment or surrounding blackout cloth. For fixed screens (non movable), tensioned material provides an easy way to eliminate wrinkles, and of course, a solid fixed screen has no wrinkles at all.



Properties of reflection. There are generally two types.

Retro-reflective This is like a stop sign and other traffic related reflecting devices. The light is reflected back toward the source.

Angular reflective This is like a billiard table. The light is reflected along the trajectory of the reflection much like the billiard ball.

Both retro-reflective and angular reflective try to diffuse the light as best they can to reduce hot spotting. A third property which is exhibited in standard white vinyl/pvc tensionable screen material is illumination. This happens when light is able to penetrate the surface of the material and possibly enhance the diffusion process. Although the screen I'm talking about is still angular in nature, it diffuses the light so well that it may allow no clear direction or change in gain to be noticeable from any angle. More later

What's Gain? Gain is the amount of light that is reflected back from the screen surface. A standard of 1 gain is measured with a photometer as light is reflected off a piece of magnesium carbonate (chalk). As the gain goes up, more light is reflected. As you reflect light you are not creating light, just reflecting it. So, as the gain goes up all you are really doing is reflecting more of the light directionally back toward the viewer. Since you cannot cheat the physics, the more light you send back toward the viewer the less gets reflected off to the side, thus a smaller viewing cone.


On To the Viewing Cones!

My Home Theater for testing
The projector being used in the test is a JVC G1000 (D-ila), producing approximately 600 true lumens right now. It is "ceiling mounted" and aligned with the top of the screen. Projector is 26' from screen. Screen is 10' wide 16:9 aspect ratio.

Background screen is the Stewart Firehawk 1.35 gain. Below are most of the samples I'll be testing. This picture is just a white screen projected at all the products in high ambient light conditions. For further reference of the level of ambient lighting I'll be testing under please look at the High Light Florescent Lighting pictures in my High Gain/Exotic Screen Review http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...hreadid=228371




The viewing cone section will be split into two pieces. Mostly because it's pointless to compare some of the higher gain screens to the matte white screens, and also there's only so much ANSI checkerboard that shows both black and white.
I have chosen to only use very high ambient lighting to demonstrate these products. What does the high ambient light do? It allows these products to really show their light sensitivity on axis and off. This is just one way to get an idea of what the products do and their subtleties.

I will present strips with 5 pictures from 0 to 40 degrees off axis. Keep in mind, as we go off axis the products that are on the right side of each shot are the ones center-aligned with the projected image. In the Low Gain pictures it will be the Matte Whites. For the Higher Gain pictures it will be the higher gain screens. These will be the products that are exactly center aligned and the most accurate representation of the degrees off axis. Now, I have also included the other samples approximately 2 feet off to the left. As we move off axis to the left with the pictures, the retro-reflective products should suffer and the angular reflective samples should benefit.

I apologize if some of the samples look wrinkly. I have done my best to tension the materials that need tensioning but duct tape will only hold so long. Finally, since this is just an examination of these products light efficiency I will leave coloration comments and my impressions to later.


Lower Gain ANSI and Colors






Higher Gain ANSI and Colors





I'm not going to say much about these luminance sensitivity pictures. They should speak for themselves. If you want to compare light sensitivity levels beyond what you see with your own eyes, I recommend copying these pictures into Photoshop or some other software that has the ability to evaluate different intensity levels with more accuracy.

I have added the color pictures only as a supplement. I realize it does not address all three primaries or the millions of combinations.


My Observations over the week of testing

It is very difficult to basically impossible to fully evaluate what the resulting picture is going to look like from just a sample. Some samples that look sketchy likely will take on a whole new dimension in a full screen. The Stewart Firehawk is a perfect example of this. A sample of this just cannot totally tell you what the end result on a full screen will yield. Also, over time you start to observe new things as you throw more and more tests at each material. To that end I will try to give you my observations of each material for reference only.


Lower Gain Products (Whites and Greys)

1. Dazian - Matte non-perforated White .95
Comparable to the best white screens from 1.0 to 1.3 gain. This tensionable pvc/vinyl material allows you to choose the lower gain textured side or the higher gain sheen side. The sheen side can hotspot unless treated. This can be compared to the Draper 1300, Vutec Bright white etc. Excellent value for the DIYer!

5. Americas Finest - Flat White (spray paint)
Even better value if you have a fixed surface to spray it on. Of course it yields the same results as any other flat white etc. House paint may be easier to apply or work with but will require closer attention to surface finish.

2. EZtheater - Comparable to Draper Cineflex
This product is an excellent matte white performer. Cheap and easy. You could replace your pull down screen material with this if it has flaws. I would probably use a tensionable screen material for fixed installations. However, this stuff was good.

3. Da-Lite - Da Mat 1.0
Can you say standard white tensionable pvc/vinyl material? If that's what you're looking for you will not go wrong with this stuff. It doesn't get any more standard or unity gain. Light penetrates this product for the illumination effect like all the white uncoated pvc materials.

7d. Draper - 1300
I love this stuff! Extra white pvc/vinyl tensionable material with no surface texture. Basically the same stuff that's been in my own HT for years. The light penetrates this material allowing the illumination effect I talked about earlier. This diffuses and blends the light wonderfully hiding many source material artifacts and provides spot on linear color accuracy and whites. Plus it gives you 1.3 gain with basically an unlimited viewing cone.

7v. Vutec Brite White
See above. Same stuff as the Draper 1300

6. Vutec - Vu Flex Pro
Great stuff. However, way to robust for home theater use. This is generally for commercial screens. Might be good stuff if you have wild pets or crazy children. The stuff looks indestructible.

28. Rust-oleum - Winter Grey Gloss
DIYers, don't waste you time with this stuff. I found a can of this in my garage and it has no redeeming qualities for screens. Bad whites, color, and severe hot spotting.

26. Rust-oleum - High Heat Silver (spray paint)
Fun stuff. Firehawk killer? Well not quite, but does offer some of the same properties. Not quite as much punch as the Firehawk but still good. I think a DIYer could find a combination that really pleases them. The untrained eye will probably not see a difference and for under $4 a can, it's good stuff. I recommend applying to a smooth surface.

24. Vutec - Grey Dove / Draper Hi Def Grey
This stuff is probably best if you have a projector with good horsepower. It does deepen the blacks and gives an excellent viewing cone. To the discriminating eye, you may feel you are getting dull whites and colors.

25. Goo - Digital Grey
You can paint this stuff on, but again it is probably best if you have a projector with good horsepower. It does deepen the blacks and gives an excellent viewing cone. To the discriminating eye, you may feel you are getting dull whites and colors.

4. Behr - 50/50 Pearlescent/Silver Stag (house paint)
I'd say don't waste your time mixing these two colors. Just go with white.


Some Higher Gain and Highbrid Products

12. Liquiscreen ~1.5
Incredible product. Superb color and white reproduction, moderate gain and wide viewing cone. Dollar for Dollar (excluding your labor etc) it's a superb value.

8. Da-Lite - Cinema Vision 1.3
Good product. Is the emulsion necessary? Only if it enhances depth of image. I really couldn't evaluate this with the small sample. Since it's Imaging Science Foundation Certified, I'd say it's probably a winner. It does seem slightly brighter than the matte whites.

9. Da-lite - High Contrast Cinema Vision 1.1
Yes, this is like a slightly darker Cinema Vision, thus slightly darker blacks. Better viewing cone than the Firehawk but not quite as much punch.

11. Stewart - Retro Grey ~1.5
I love this stuff. I prefer it over the Firehawk for on-axis viewing. Accurate colors and whites. Unfortunately, as you move off-axis things start to turn a little rosy (reddish).

27. Rust-oleum - Metallic Finish Aluminum (spray paint) 7+
Hey this stuff is cool. I experimented on three surfaces. Foam board offered super high gain and decent viewing cone. But, likely would hotspot on a full screen. The trick may be to find the right paper, board, or fabric to apply it to with a nice even coat. I highly recommend DIYers experiment with this one! I'll be experimenting with this one myself.

19. Stewart - Ultramatte 2.75
Excellent gain from this pearlescent surface with a great viewing cone. I'd bet those looking for a higher gain angular reflective surface would be happy with this screen

20. Draper - 2500
I've heard countless reports of how happy customers are with this product. Pearlescent surface produces a slightly softer gain and image than the Ultramatte.

21. Vutec - Pearl Bright 3.1
So similar to the Draper 2500 it's scary. Great image, high gain, tensionable. I'd like to give a full screen of this stuff a try. I'd say it's closer to 2.5 gain.

17. Da-Lite - High Power 2.8
I love this stuff. Super bright, colorful and a superb retro-reflective emulsion.

23. Vutec - Silver Star 6.0
Wow, my curiosity is killing me with this product. Super high gain yet excellent viewing cone and diffusion. This laminated paper on foam board must come out of the photo industry or something for reflecting light in studios/sets. I'm dying to see a full screen!


10. Stewart Firehawk
Hey what can I say, it's a great product. I've had the privilege to examine a full screen and really this is the only way you can fully evaluate the total package. This product deepens the blacks and boosts the whites. I have fallen in love with the linearity and color accuracy of my white pvc/vinyl screen so it has taken me some time to get used to the differences with the grey colored Firehawk. Viewing on the Firehawk is a little like having an equalizer on your stereo and pushing up the bass and the treble a bit. If you're a purist this may bother you. The reflective splatter can boost coloration flaws and source material artifacts like compression. However, if you're not totally anal you're probably going to love it. Non-video freaks will undoubtedly love this screen!

The Firehawk screen sheds ambient light better than any product under 2.0 gain that I've seen, but best results are definitely obtained by watching on-axis. Yes, you have a fair amount of leeway from side to side without noticing the drop-off and viewing cone. This should be fine for most home theater environments. I actually think this product performs its best with a little ambient light. In total darkness, black tends to lose shadow detail and whites tend to look crushed to me. If you like a little to a lot of ambient light in your viewing environment, the Stewart Firehawk is an incredible performer and a solid product.




And now Operation DIY

This is a fun way to learn about the properties that make up a good screen and in turn experiment with cheap alternatives to what the big boys have to offer. What you say? They don't want people making their own screens Not! They know the bargain enthusiasts of today will be their customers tomorrow. With that said, I offer you three tips in the DIY Screen department.

1. Want simple? Choose white.
To keep it simple, stick with standard white. A flat surface and a flat white paint can yield a picture equal to the finest matte white screens in the industry. Smoother surfaces will yield the highest gain (~1) and more textured surfaces will reduce this. I highly recommend masking the non-screen portion with anything black. Paint, Cloth, etc.

2. Going Grey.
If you are confident that the deepest blacks are your primary objective you should try grey. Color matching may not be that important, as I've seen a spectrum of greys from the manufacturers with little or no visual difference. Get a sample if necessary. Again, flat/eggshell, and possibly satin may be all the surface finish you'll want. Any sheen like a gloss will definitely hotspot.

3. Thinking Silver?
Very interesting stuff. The movie industry started out with silver for a reason low light projectors. Very similar to what many HTs experience. You can boost the gain through silver (as high as ~10 gain!). Unlike greys, colors and whites are vibrant and almost leap off the screen. However, silver obviously has the highest probability for hot spotting. The flatter the surface the higher the gain and more potential to hotspot. By experimenting with silver brightness, and with surface texture, you can come up with some amazing results. You can bet some manufacturers will be headed this way in the coming years.



Finally, The SHOWDOWN

Yes, it's the Davids vs. Goliath. The Stewart Firehawk has become the sweetheart of the home theater industry practically over night. It's no surprise the Stewart Filmscreen team came up with this great screen combination that essentially kills three birds with one stone. The backing is a grey screen offering the deepest of blacks. The reflective coating offers the punch of 1.35 gain. And lastly it offers the excellent rejection of ambient light. But! all of this has to come at a price. The price the dreaded viewing cone.

Now lets meet the competition. We have two DIY spray products and Digital Grey Goo out of Canada ready to take on the awesome Stewart Firehawk.

On your left is the infamous #27 Rust-oleum - Metallic Finish Aluminum (spray paint). This paint has been described as the $3.79 Silver Star in a can. It was sprayed onto 3 different surfaces in haste with only one coat. Far left, we have the Metallic Finish Aluminum applied to standard construction paper so you may notice a significant weakness in gain due to the surface texture and abnormalities. Then in lane two, we have the panel split into two sections. On the bottom we have the MFA applied to standard white foam board. On the top, MFA nicely coats a piece of white 6 oz Dacron fabric.

Third from the left, please give it up for #26 Rust-oleum - High Heat Silver otherwise know as the Firehawk Killer or HHS. This fast drying and easy to apply paint was sprayed onto standard white foam board and comes in at only $3.59 a can.

Finally from the North Woods (who said the Canadians aren't willing to rumble), on the right side of the screen I bring you Digital Grey GOO.

The contest between these contestants today will feature the harshest of conditions. Conditions that standard white screens make look like child's play Flesh Tones and Whites. Finally we will separate the men from the boys in this silver and grey world with the dreaded viewing cone and the examination of the ever popular blacks.

Now, Let's get ready to rumble.




What did I see?

1. The Aluminum paint has way better coloration and whites than the grey screens. Applied consistently to the right surface it will kill all the other products in the shootout.

2. The Silver paint doesn't have quite the contrast of the Firehawk but pretty close. Better viewing angle and coloration. Should be applied to a smooth surface for comparable performance.

3. Firehawk just had more punch and brightness than the Digital Grey Goo.

Did any of these products take down the Firehawk? I'm going to Home Depot to get more of this Aluminum spray paint tomorrow. Have fun.


Conclusions

Looking at products from different manufacturers can at times be a little crazy. Most business models are set up to display their goods through representatives. Even though some representative are good at telling you all the facts, there are certainly some reps that can't possibly make a perfect connection between best product for your set up and your circumstances. It is up to you to understand what a product does and it's limitations.

I hope this review has shed some light on some products that are available to you in your quest for video perfection and a top notch Home Theater.




Many Thanks to All that made this review possible!

Don Stewart of Stewart Filmscreen for the Firehawk background screen
pajohn for the Dazian samples
prof55 for the Liquiscreen samples
KBK for the Goo sample
odskaggs2 for the Eztheater samples
DarkSmileyX for the Behr pearlescent/silver stag sample

For further information on these products you can contact:

Da-Lite Screen Company (IN): www.da-lite.com (574) 267-8101
Draper, Inc. (IN): www.draperinc.com (800) 580-1560
Stewart Filmscreen Corp. (CA): www.stewartfilm.com (310) 784-5300
Vutec Corp (FL): www.vutec.com (954) 545-9000
GOO www.goosystems.com
Liquiscreen www.liquiscreen.com
EZtheater www.eztheater.com
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post #2 of 245 Old 03-20-2003, 11:14 PM
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Tryg:

I have a couple of questions:

1. In one of our last discussions about screens, you suggested that even the Fedex man had a strong preference for white screens. Did you get the Fedex mans opinion this time and what was his favorite screen?

2. I've heard that you're an ass man and I'm concerned that the female model to the far left may have unconsciously influenced your selections. Can you tell us what you did during the review process to make sure ass didn't unduly affect your screen ratings?
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post #3 of 245 Old 03-20-2003, 11:36 PM
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Great stuff Tryg.... I can't wait to see what happens when you get a full screen based on the spray paint.

The Silverstar seems to still be some kind of miracle.

There is no difference in HDMI cables. If you can see the picture without visible dropouts or sparklies, the cable is working at 100%. No other cable will display a better version of that picture. You're simply wrong if you think there is a better digital cable than one that is already working.
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post #4 of 245 Old 03-21-2003, 12:18 AM
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"What we have here, class, are some fertile examples of the post-pubescent female anatomy."

The Mothership is now boarding.
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post #5 of 245 Old 03-21-2003, 02:07 AM
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good work, good girls
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post #6 of 245 Old 03-21-2003, 02:09 AM
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what surfaces would you recommend trying the mettalic paint on?
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post #7 of 245 Old 03-21-2003, 05:00 AM
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Goddamn it, I've done a search and I can't find "Rust-oleum - Metallic Finish Aluminum in Australia. Bugger Bugger Bugger. I wonder if any aluminium spray paint will do. It's cheap enough though, so who cares.

Just finished making and painting a light grey screen last weekend. I'll make another one with aluminium spray paint as soon as I can. Won't be for a few weeks though.

It might be good for whites and fleshtones, but I wonder how good it will be with blacks and shadow detail. Will those dark black space scenes look grey?????
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post #8 of 245 Old 03-21-2003, 05:12 AM
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Hehehe. The Goo ain't cured yet. (about two weeks old) It is close, though. Add the fact that application and surface texture are in the hands of the end user... and therefore gain and viewing cone are in the hands of the end user. Results will vary! It was never meant to compete with the Firehawk. It stands on it's own.

Thanks for the fun review! The CRT sample is still coming your way for a follow up, and.. maybe a sprayed sample of each. Only problem being...Results will vary!

PS: When all things are a matter of perception..then the screen in the background becomes the predominating factor. If it was another screen there..then the observations of the colorshifting of one vs another would be different. For instance, one of the predominant screens...has a noticeable shift of it's own.

"A sample of this just cannot totally tell you what the end result on a full screen will yield. Also, over time you start to observe new things as you throw more and more tests at each material. To that end I will try to give you my observations of each material for reference only. "

True enough Tryg. This is why I tried to make sure the sample I sent you was big enough to get a 'feel' for the product. It was 20"x52", if I recall correctly.

Once again, thanks for the fun.


FYI: Evan Powell of ProjectorCentral has requested a few containers of Goo, and will be having some fun.........

Ken Hotte

"Never forget that only dead fish swim with the stream." -- Malcolm Muggeridge.
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post #9 of 245 Old 03-21-2003, 07:49 AM
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Tryg, EXCELLENT review........ Congrats!

I'm interested to know which has the better/deeper blacks of the two spray paints.....aluminum or silver?

Do both of these paints provide better blacks than the 'white' screens, or are the blacker blacks the domain of the Firehawk, and HCCV?

Would you say either of the spray paints are comparable or even better than the HCCV?

Once again, many thanks! You've outdone yourself. I can see this as the start of another very long thread!

Cheers,
Simon

Simon
An aussie/us/ and brit citizen now living back in Oz - lived in MI for 6 years.
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post #10 of 245 Old 03-21-2003, 08:45 AM
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NewsFlash: Home Depot reports sudden unexplainable world shortage of spray paint!
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post #11 of 245 Old 03-21-2003, 09:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:


Originally posted by ChaCha
NewsFlash: Home Depot reports sudden unexplainable world shortage of spray paint!

That's why I choose Rust-oleum which can probably be found in every hardware store in America. I'm sure other Metallish Finish "Aluminums" will yield similar results. It is actually much harder to apply than the High Heat Silver because of the crappy rattle can and the long drying time etc.

For the professional painter I would recommend going to an auto paint supplier with a sample and try to match. Using a real spray gun should yield superior results.

Which is darker?
Look at the "0 angle" panels. Now, compare #1's blacks to the background screen, then #27's blacks to the background screen. You'll notice, you actually acheive higher contrast on axis with the #27, because as you move off axis you are just reflecting more ambient light and less projected light.

For best results, maybe use of a primer so that the Aluminum doesn't just soak into the surface(but then again this may be good)
A light texture to the surface might help deliver a more even and consistent picture. You will lose gain but you have plenty to spare.

You guys should be telling me what's best. Try MDF or laminant or something.

I hope some more manufacturers will start trying to develop similar products. Silver can yield awesome results. The vast majority of people still just want to buy a pre made screen, so if they can deliver, then they score.
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post #12 of 245 Old 03-21-2003, 09:12 AM
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Hey Tryg, is QQQ your twin? Your pictures look awfully similar. Or is he your body double, (like Sadam Hussein has)?
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post #13 of 245 Old 03-21-2003, 09:17 AM
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Well it looks like I'll be painting over my Pearlescence\\Silver Stag screen in the very near future, Thanks Tryg!
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post #14 of 245 Old 03-21-2003, 11:03 AM
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How do you think Liquiscreen compares to the spray cans? For $80 it seems like a good choice unless I'm seeing something (or not seeing it correctly).

I'm still waiting for my Liquiscreen sample to arrive.

Thanks for the great review and effort you put into this.

Rob
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post #15 of 245 Old 03-21-2003, 11:26 AM
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my question is far simpler... WHAT WAS THE SOURCE FOR THE LAST PICTURE? I want to see it without all the AVScience labels in place. Preferably the whole video

Proud Daddy to Anastasia and Christopher.
Born October 26 2005.

Ob was the delivery doc.

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post #16 of 245 Old 03-21-2003, 11:43 AM
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Quote:


Originally posted by Tryg
1. The Aluminum paint has way better coloration and whites than the grey screens. Applied consistently to the right surface it will kill all the other products in the shootout.

2. The Silver paint doesn't have quite the contrast of the Firehawk but pretty close. Better viewing angle and coloration. Should be applied to a smooth surface for comparable performance.

3. Firehawk just had more punch and brightness than the Digital Grey Goo.

Did any of these products take down the Firehawk? I'm going to Home Depot to get more of this Aluminum spray paint tomorrow. Have fun.

I want to make sure I'm not misinterpreting you. Are you are saying that a can of aluminum Rust-oleum paint (when applied consistently) kills the Firehawk?
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post #17 of 245 Old 03-21-2003, 11:52 AM
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Thanks for the review Tryg.

I'm also in the "ceiling mounted Dila" camp and would be interested in seeing comparison pics of the Digital Grey and the Firehawk without the silver paints muddying the water. I have a digital grey Goo screen and have been quite happy, except for some imperfections in my paint application. But, I have always been curious about what a Firehawk would do for me vs. the Goo.

I did notice from your pics that the firehawk brightness drops considerably faster then the Goo when moving off axis.

Am also interested in a comparison between the Liquiscreen and the higher gain Goo when it arrives.


Again, thanks for your time and effort.

-jp
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post #18 of 245 Old 03-21-2003, 12:08 PM
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1. The Aluminum paint has way better coloration and whites than the grey screens. Applied consistently to the right surface it will kill all the other products in the shootout.


Applied consistently is the gotcha. When I experimented with silver paint, any non-uniformity became painfully obvious. The screen has also got to be flat,flat,flat and of course, it hotspots easily.

Still it works pretty darned good in high ambient. I had a DIY aluminum-paint based screen for about 1 year a few years back. I tried to paint it, Rustoleum would have worked better.

Ken Elliott
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post #19 of 245 Old 03-21-2003, 01:01 PM
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Tryg,
How can these findings be re-interpreted for us CRT owners?
Would the same best of breed prevail with the difference in equipment?

Big screen = 10 feet, anything less is just tv!
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post #20 of 245 Old 03-21-2003, 01:04 PM
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Look like Goo is, unfortunately, just that.
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post #21 of 245 Old 03-21-2003, 02:05 PM
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It seems to me like the Rustoleum #27 Aluminum is going to have hotspotting trouble. Looking at the sample you sprayed on foam board, it seems to already be showing signs of hotspotting. also is it just me or does the #27 look a little "uneven"... especially on the dracon cloth... or is it because the cloth itself has ripples in it? still, i think it's totally worth a closer look with larger samples of the #27 aluminum and the #26 high heat silver... in fact i think #26 has a good run at being the champ due to the high viewing angle and from the looks of it it's doing better than the firehawk in the background! i anxiously await your further diy experiments!
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post #22 of 245 Old 03-21-2003, 02:37 PM - Thread Starter
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QQQ,

Killed Firehawk? It depends on your defininition of killed and what you personally value more.

Silver emulsion delivers more vibrant accurate colors and whites than grey screens, but they also tend to be higher gain. Properly applied, I think many would find a silver emulsion very satisfying and preferable to the Firehawk. Properly applied is the trick! I suspect some who experiment first, then pays close attention to application will find a stunning combination. As for the Firehawk, The fact that we are even comparing everything to the Firehawk is a testament to the fact that it is a very solid product that captures the interests of what more and more people are trying to achieve in thier home. The consistent fit, finish and delivery of all Stewart products is also a testiment to the fact that they are professionals. The Firehawk is just one product that they can consistanly duplicate and deliver to satisfied customers. DIY results with Aluminum paint will obviously vary greatly.

jpschmoe and rlloyd,
Hey, Liquiscreen is a fabulous product. If you don't want to do any experimenting and want a solid performing screen in the 1.5 gain neighborhood this may be a product for you! I didn't get a chance to apply it but the results from the samples I tested were extremely satisfying. Vibrant, accurate, and a good viewing cone.

Ken,
Yes, the Aluminum spray paint is very hard to apply from a spray can. Patience and thin coats may be the key to consistentency. Also you need to build a drip catcher on the can or cuff the tip with a rag. It likes to drip! Experiment First! before you try at a final product!
This stuff takes 4-5 times longer to dry as standard spray paint.

Dizzman,
I have to know your email to give out the XXX original.

Doktor_Ssyko,
I wish I could talk intelligently about CRT, but I dont, and have never had one. I know some people achieve superb results with Vutec's 13.2 gain curved silver based screens.
I would imagine any surface sheen would result in color shift with any of these products.


What's the perfect screen? Matte White!

All other screens are gimmicks so to speak. It's really up to you to decide if the results achieved by anything other than matte white is satisfactory and worth the drawbacks that may come with it. With a little experimentation it's easy to decide what is important to you and what is not.
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post #23 of 245 Old 03-21-2003, 02:49 PM
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I dumped my aluminum paint screen for a fabric screen that I subsequently dumped for a Firehawk.

If you really like silver screens, try the Stewart Silver 3D .

It has nice texture, but you have to mount it flat. Stewart developed it for 3D viewing. It maintains some polarization for use with 3D glasses

Ken Elliott
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post #24 of 245 Old 03-21-2003, 03:01 PM
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Have you completed your Rust-oleum screen and will you be posting pictures?
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post #25 of 245 Old 03-21-2003, 03:19 PM
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What I've noted in all the screen sample shootouts is that no one re-calibrates the projector for the individual screen types. I realize that it would cause a significant increase in time to perform the shootout, but a screen with different white/black/color/tint calibration parameters will simply not look good, projected onto with a projector calibrated for another screen type.

When all samples are viewed simultaneously, people will perceive the sample that "stands out" as the best-of-the-best, simply because it's noticeable different. When calibrated/optimized for each unique sample -- then we're comparing apples-to-apples (hey, I'm a Mac person )

Tryg:

Not to burst your bubble, you put a lot of hard work into shootouts I & II, and your findings are greatly appreciated. Keep up the good work!

I talked to KBK about the 50% Digital Grey and he said it'd be available for sale next week.


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post #26 of 245 Old 03-21-2003, 03:50 PM
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Let's hear it for matte white screens.
Available at an Eztheater.com near you.
I'm not only the president of eztheater but also a client.Oh wait that's for my hair never mind. Tryg great job!!!
Keep up the good work.
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post #27 of 245 Old 03-21-2003, 04:01 PM
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mister tryg over the years i have use a vutec curved screen 13.5 gain 10 feet diagonal,that screen has allowed me to lower crt voltages to produce an incredible focus. the projector is a panasonic pt2010,all glass lens 700 lumens,electromagnetic focus and digital point convergence;over the years i made somes scratch so i am thinking to paint it over with either flat white
to remove hot spot on the left or that metallic aluminium finish.what kind of gain would i get from the white.the screen make corner focus unbelieavable

denis veilleux
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post #28 of 245 Old 03-21-2003, 04:36 PM
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Quote:


Originally posted by TRYG
Did any of these products take down the Firehawk? I'm going to Home Depot to get more of this Aluminum spray paint tomorrow.

I am sure Don Stewart is quivering in his boots.

This part of the testing I have to see.

There are more than a handful of [op amps] that sound so good that most designers want to be using them as opposed to discreet transistors. Dave Reich, Theta 2009
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post #29 of 245 Old 03-21-2003, 08:01 PM
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Tryg,

Great review where do you find time to do this? What about Studiotek130 by Stewart, I did not see it in your review? I thought this material was the most natural with colors and ISF certified

Ross
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post #30 of 245 Old 03-21-2003, 08:08 PM
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I'll throw in a 1) thanks!!! and 2) more questions for the hopper

1) which produced the best (darkest) blacks, NO qualifications (price, etc...)

2) care to give a 1-10 on the firehawk and the high power and liquiscreen? Price no object...(I will factor THAT in! )
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