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post #1 of 129 Old 06-01-2013, 06:25 AM - Thread Starter
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I understand why not having any external light into the room is important using a projector, but what about dark walls, is that really that important?

Let me present what I am thinking:

The eye has a good but not unlimited dynamic range, "external light" is most damaging when what is on the screen is dark, however with a dark screen, a lot less light will be reflected from the walls too? And if there is bright objects on the screen, those bright items will "Overwhelm" our vision much more than any light from the walls. Thinks like ambilight was reasonably popular, and that basically does the same as white walls, only much stronger. So is it really bad with white walls? (given that external light is controlled), what have I misunderstood?
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post #2 of 129 Old 06-01-2013, 07:08 AM
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Dark walls are important because they suck up light and increase your contrast ratio.

Even if you have light control the light from the screen will bounce off white walls or ceilings and polute your screen and contrast ratio.

Because a projector can't throw black ... You black level is determined by how much light doesn't hit your white screen. If light hits your white screen that's the darkest black you'll have. Most want maximum quality picture and contrast ... And dark walls and ceilings help absorb light rather than reflect it back into the screen.

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post #3 of 129 Old 06-01-2013, 07:27 AM - Thread Starter
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But lets say its a very dark screen, where does the external light com from? Lets say you have external light from outside, I get that that destroys black-levels, but with only walls, its different. Lets say the screen is 100 times less bright on the darkest scenes, won't also the stray lightning be 100 times less?

Lets say a given amount of light is projected on to the screen, how many percent of that will reflect to walls, and then back again to the screen?
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post #4 of 129 Old 06-01-2013, 08:07 AM
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Well white reflects a lot. That's why screens are white( or close to it)

High contrast screens are grey or silver because its darker than white and actually brings down your black levels making your black even blacker. That's the point.

If your screen wasn't reflective then you'd have a much crappier picture and couldn't see it as well. Flip side - higher gain or more reflective screens are even brighter and punchier.

Considering you can project am image onto a white wall or ceiling ... It makes sense these are very reflective surfaces.

Having light walls and ceilings in a theater limits how dark the room can get. I have a projector in a bedroom with grey walls and its pretty bright in the room when watching a movie. Projectors throw a lot of light . Good ones even more light. More light is good on a projector. You just want it absorbed after its reflected off the screen... Thus you want dark walls.

If its a dark scene your right less light hits the screen which obviously means less light is reflected. The issue is when you have scenes that have both blacks and brights in the same scene - that's where your black level and contrast ratio sucks.


Contrast ratio is that. That's what it measures. But your set up can greatly improve or reduce contrast ratio.

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post #5 of 129 Old 06-01-2013, 09:31 AM - Thread Starter
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I understand that its nicer to have the light absorbed after it's reflected off the screen, but I am trying to find out how important it really is. If a scene has both blacks and brights won't the black-level be less critical? Because the eye is pretty overwhelmed by the bright part? Our eyes have limited dynamic range too, I would guess you could handle a less dark black if there is something really bright in the scene at the same time, wouldn't even dark grey look black in that situation?

What does a white wall limit you contrast ratio too? 1:10 1:100, 1:1000 1:10000? WHat is the difference in brightness between what is projected on too the screen, and what is reflected off the screen, too the wall, and back agin too the screen?
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post #6 of 129 Old 06-01-2013, 10:42 AM
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From experience .... A white wall and ceiling room will limit blacks to dark grey.

I can't tell you the exact contrast ratio. But- I can tell you I don't like it.

If your going through the trouble of building a dedicated theater I think it's going to be a concern. Otherwise all the small stuff you do to maximize picture and sound is negated. There's simply no point in spending money on a good projector or screen.

I've seen a few theaters with pull curtains. You could pull curtain the side walls with dark curtains that absorb sound too- even automate them to pull when projector is on. Turn off projector and they pull back to corner exposing the light or white walls.

Just an idea

Would help picture and sound quality without needing to go dark fabric walls if you don't like that look.

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post #7 of 129 Old 06-01-2013, 10:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ATWindsor View Post

I understand that its nicer to have the light absorbed after it's reflected off the screen, but I am trying to find out how important it really is.

Very.
Quote:
If a scene has both blacks and brights won't the black-level be less critical? Because the eye is pretty overwhelmed by the bright part? Our eyes have limited dynamic range too, I would guess you could handle a less dark black if there is something really bright in the scene at the same time, wouldn't even dark grey look black in that situation?

We're not concerned as much with light reflecting off walls and hitting your eyes. It's the light reflecting off the walls, and back onto the screen, which is how it ruins the contrast ratio. Dark areas in the image, and therefore on the screen, are "absence of light" from the projector. But reflected light (or ambient light, same issue) hits any area of the screen, making dark areas grey.

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post #8 of 129 Old 06-01-2013, 11:09 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

Very.
We're not concerned as much with light reflecting off walls and hitting your eyes. It's the light reflecting off the walls, and back onto the screen, which is how it ruins the contrast ratio. Dark areas in the image, and therefore on the screen, are "absence of light" from the projector. But reflected light (or ambient light, same issue) hits any area of the screen, making dark areas grey.

What is "very"? SO much that projector contrast is unimportant? What kind of number can you expect?

My point is that if there is very bright parts of the image, or eyes will perceive for instance dark greys as black, because its next to a powerful light. But concering the reflected light, what percentage of the light going to the screen reflects to the wall and then back again to the screen? I wouldn't say ambient light an reflected light is the same issue, they have a key difference, reflected light is less and less the darker the picture is, the effect is the smallest when its most important that it is small. That is why I am trying to find out how big/small this problem is.
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post #9 of 129 Old 06-01-2013, 11:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

From experience .... A white wall and ceiling room will limit blacks to dark grey.

I can't tell you the exact contrast ratio. But- I can tell you I don't like it.

If your going through the trouble of building a dedicated theater I think it's going to be a concern. Otherwise all the small stuff you do to maximize picture and sound is negated. There's simply no point in spending money on a good projector or screen.

I've seen a few theaters with pull curtains. You could pull curtain the side walls with dark curtains that absorb sound too- even automate them to pull when projector is on. Turn off projector and they pull back to corner exposing the light or white walls.

Just an idea

Would help picture and sound quality without needing to go dark fabric walls if you don't like that look.

So a good projector with high light-output is a waste? Since there is no point in having a good projector if your wall isn't dark?

I am not looking for a solution for a problem as of know, but thank your for the suggestion. I am looking for a technical discussion about the importance of dark walls.
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post #10 of 129 Old 06-01-2013, 11:24 AM
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Homecinemaguru.com/?p=966
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post #11 of 129 Old 06-01-2013, 11:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for an interesting link Fred, according to that, a good projector (at least when it comes to contrast), seems to be pretty useless even when the room is dark?
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post #12 of 129 Old 06-01-2013, 11:36 AM - Thread Starter
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Acorrding to wikipedia the following is the case:

The retina has a static contrast ratio of around 100:1 (about 6.5 f-stops). As soon as the eye moves (saccades) it re-adjusts its exposure both chemically and geometrically by adjusting the iris which regulates the size of the pupil. Initial dark adaptation takes place in approximately four seconds of profound, uninterrupted darkness; full adaptation through adjustments in retinal chemistry (the Purkinje effect) is mostly complete in thirty minutes. Hence, a dynamic contrast ratio of about 1,000,000:1 (about 20 f-stops) is possible.[5] The process is nonlinear and multifaceted, so an interruption by light merely starts the adaptation process over again. Full adaptation is dependent on good blood flow; thus dark adaptation may be hampered by poor circulation, and vasoconstrictors like tobacco.[citation needed]

I guess the static contrast is the most relevant for a movie (and especially for a checkerboard-pattern).
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post #13 of 129 Old 06-01-2013, 11:39 AM
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I wouldn't say it's useless, but its very easy to waste. A projector with relatively poor ANSI contrast in a good room could easily be better than a projector with good ANSI contrast in a poor room.

I don't know where exactly the tipping points are in those trade offs, but I won't want to find them.
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post #14 of 129 Old 06-01-2013, 11:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Well, if even a dark room had 1:150 in contrast it seems like anything over that is a waste, and what projector has less than 1;150?
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post #15 of 129 Old 06-01-2013, 11:56 AM
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I've seen very nice rooms with higher end projectors and light walls. It is very distracting to try and watch a movie in such spaces. The reflection of the light spilling from teh walls back onto the screen is bad, AND one becomes very aware of the side walls while the movie is on. The walls disappear and no light is reflected back on them when they are a very dark color. The same is true of the ceilings.

One could debate this forever, but all one has to do is visit their local higher end multiplex and you will see that the walls are a dark color, the screen is surrounded by light absorbing masking. In most places, the ceilings are a dark color as well.

Some folks have a really hard time accepting the fact that the color (and dare I say sheen) of the walls and ceilings matter greatly to the movie experience. Take a look at most of the top theaters on this board. You will find that most (not all, but the vast majority) have fabric walls in a very dark color as well as a dark ceiling. Are there exceptions...absolutely. But the majority of this forum is inhabited by purists. 'just sayin.

Good luck, and do post what you ultimately decide to do with the room.

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post #16 of 129 Old 06-01-2013, 12:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ATWindsor View Post

Well, if even a dark room had 1:150 in contrast it seems like anything over that is a waste, and what projector has less than 1;150?
I can't walk you through the math, because I don't know it, but it is not as simple as you're suggesting.
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post #17 of 129 Old 06-01-2013, 12:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zombie10k View Post

I've had 10 different projectors in my HT this year ranging from the worst contrast to the best (JVC). Having a black pit makes a noticeable difference in overall perceived contrast on any of these models.

After this photo was taken, it's now pitch black and all you see is the screen. Not only is the contrast exceptional, but the movie becomes very engaging when all you see is the projected image and nothing else.

I am sure it is very engaging to have a pitch black room, but for me personally, it probably won't be an option, because the room will not be dedicated to Home Theater only (and I can accept some things that distracts me, if I where to never see anything else than the screen, I couldn't even visit a movie theater smile.gif) So I am trying to find about how big the problem really is. According to an earlier link one can expect the contrast rate to be halved (halved from a already pretty low number). Does that mean the having a setup with a projector is a waste in all but the best rooms? Its better to go for a smaller TV?
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post #18 of 129 Old 06-01-2013, 01:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ATWindsor View Post

What is "very"? SO much that projector contrast is unimportant? What kind of number can you expect?

Well, I'd say that if you're paying big bucks for a projector, which usually indicates a very high contrast ratio, you want to preserve that ratio as much as possible. But no matter the specs of the projector - light reflected on the screen is going to impact its performance.
Quote:
My point is that if there is very bright parts of the image, or eyes will perceive for instance dark greys as black, because its next to a powerful light.

To some degree, yes, but this is all about minimizing stray light, from sources other than the original projected image, from reaching the screen and therefore our eyes.
Quote:
But concering the reflected light, what percentage of the light going to the screen reflects to the wall and then back again to the screen?

13.65%.

biggrin.gif

You won't get a number, because there are too many variables. But if you read any thread here, you'll see the same basic advice. Darker walls are better, non-reflective surfaces around the screen (stuff closer to the front of the room is more important), light-absorbing frame around the screen itself to provide a higher (perceived, in some sense) contrast.

What you will not find is anyone that painted their room, or treated the area near the screen, to be less reflective saying "gosh, that turned out awful and I'm going back to white walls".
Quote:
I wouldn't say ambient light an reflected light is the same issue, they have a key difference, reflected light is less and less the darker the picture is, the effect is the smallest when its most important that it is small. That is why I am trying to find out how big/small this problem is.

That wasn't the point. Any light hitting the screen other than the projected image is detrimental to the image quality. A candle as "ambient" light and the same amount of reflected light would do the same thing - which is why I made the comparison. Obviously an open window with sunlight streaming in is going to be a bigger light source. It was a point about the results, not the magnitude of the problem.

As to how big a problem it is - again, read any thread here where folks have painted / treated to reduce reflections, and you'll see no regrets.

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post #19 of 129 Old 06-01-2013, 01:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

Well, I'd say that if you're paying big bucks for a projector, which usually indicates a very high contrast ratio, you want to preserve that ratio as much as possible. But no matter the specs of the projector - light reflected on the screen is going to impact its performance.
To some degree, yes, but this is all about minimizing stray light, from sources other than the original projected image, from reaching the screen and therefore our eyes.
13.65%.

biggrin.gif

You won't get a number, because there are too many variables. But if you read any thread here, you'll see the same basic advice. Darker walls are better, non-reflective surfaces around the screen (stuff closer to the front of the room is more important), light-absorbing frame around the screen itself to provide a higher (perceived, in some sense) contrast.

What you will not find is anyone that painted their room, or treated the area near the screen, to be less reflective saying "gosh, that turned out awful and I'm going back to white walls".
That wasn't the point. Any light hitting the screen other than the projected image is detrimental to the image quality. A candle as "ambient" light and the same amount of reflected light would do the same thing - which is why I made the comparison. Obviously an open window with sunlight streaming in is going to be a bigger light source. It was a point about the results, not the magnitude of the problem.

As to how big a problem it is - again, read any thread here where folks have painted / treated to reduce reflections, and you'll see no regrets.

Jeff

I'm sure there is an impact, just as there is an impact if the people watching the movie doesn't have black clothing, but most would say that enforcing the latter would be overkill, The size of the impact and the cost of fixing it matters (be that money, convenience, or space)

I know several people who have painted their walls lighter again, even pretty dedicated people. A totally black room is not very useful for anything else than watching that screen. I personally live a place where the price for a square foot of apartment is around 700 dollars. I do not have the luxury of a room that can only be used for watching movies/series. THerefor i need to comprimse, and to comprimse you need to know the cost of your choices.
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post #20 of 129 Old 06-01-2013, 02:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ATWindsor View Post

I am sure it is very engaging to have a pitch black room, but for me personally, it probably won't be an option, because the room will not be dedicated to Home Theater only (and I can accept some things that distracts me, if I where to never see anything else than the screen, I couldn't even visit a movie theater smile.gif) So I am trying to find about how big the problem really is. According to an earlier link one can expect the contrast rate to be halved (halved from a already pretty low number). Does that mean the having a setup with a projector is a waste in all but the best rooms? Its better to go for a smaller TV?
]

Not it is not a waste, some people don't really mind not have supper deep blacks, the BIG picture is all they care about. If you find you do not like the outcome, you do not have to paint the room black to make major improvements, just a darker color withing 5' of the screen ceiling and side walls.
Also a retroreflective screen can help if you position the projector behind your viewing are and just above your heads when seated (shelf mount)
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post #21 of 129 Old 06-01-2013, 03:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ATWindsor View Post

I'm sure there is an impact, just as there is an impact if the people watching the movie doesn't have black clothing, but most would say that enforcing the latter would be overkill, The size of the impact and the cost of fixing it matters (be that money, convenience, or space)

Hmmm... Perhaps providing a burka for guests like restaurants provide suit jackets would be a possibility... biggrin.gif
Quote:
I know several people who have painted their walls lighter again, even pretty dedicated people. A totally black room is not very useful for anything else than watching that screen. I personally live a place where the price for a square foot of apartment is around 700 dollars. I do not have the luxury of a room that can only be used for watching movies/series. THerefor i need to comprimse, and to comprimse you need to know the cost of your choices.

Almost everything in HT is a compromise, very few folks have the budget to do otherwise. You were asking about whether it makes a difference or not - but you didn't describe your situation, so if you'd like to transition to a discussion about your setup instead of a theoretical one, good.

Non-dedicated spaces are more tricky for projection because of light control. And yes, very few folks would get away with black walls and ceiling in a mixed-use room. Whether the room would be better served with a very large flat panel or a projector setup, in my opinion, will depend on the amount of light control possible, and the screen size. You can use a silver screen designed to reject ambient/reflected light and get very good results with a projector. But if the room is for more general entertaining / TV watching, a large flat panel might be a better choice.

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post #22 of 129 Old 06-02-2013, 01:24 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by airscapes View Post

]

Not it is not a waste, some people don't really mind not have supper deep blacks, the BIG picture is all they care about. If you find you do not like the outcome, you do not have to paint the room black to make major improvements, just a darker color withing 5' of the screen ceiling and side walls.
Also a retroreflective screen can help if you position the projector behind your viewing are and just above your heads when seated (shelf mount)

Ok, let me ask another question, is anything other than a cheap projector a waste?
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post #23 of 129 Old 06-02-2013, 01:29 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jautor View Post

Hmmm... Perhaps providing a burka for guests like restaurants provide suit jackets would be a possibility... biggrin.gif
Almost everything in HT is a compromise, very few folks have the budget to do otherwise. You were asking about whether it makes a difference or not - but you didn't describe your situation, so if you'd like to transition to a discussion about your setup instead of a theoretical one, good.

Non-dedicated spaces are more tricky for projection because of light control. And yes, very few folks would get away with black walls and ceiling in a mixed-use room. Whether the room would be better served with a very large flat panel or a projector setup, in my opinion, will depend on the amount of light control possible, and the screen size. You can use a silver screen designed to reject ambient/reflected light and get very good results with a projector. But if the room is for more general entertaining / TV watching, a large flat panel might be a better choice.

Jeff

Well, the room will probably have very good control of external light, but light walls. I want a screen of about 95-100 inches, but it has to be acoustically transparent, because i have in-wall speakers. Buit I am considering the projector first, I was mainly considering the EPSON 6020, because it is placement flexible, and the room is pretty short (the screen will be on the widest wall), so the distance from the projector to screen will maybe be only 3 meters.
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post #24 of 129 Old 06-02-2013, 06:59 AM
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Good control of external lighting is a good start, but are you taking into consideration, light coming off the screen lighting up the ceiling, walls, and possibly even the carpet?
And if any of that light reflects back onto the screen, there goes your contrast.

A punched AT screen has control on how light is reflected back. A woven AT screen has no defined directionality of how the light comes off the screen.

I've seen a very simple but very impressive demo of dark grey walls and ceiling, with a lighter carpet, then given a black area rug placed in front of the screen.
Simple demonstration, but it left a very lasting impression of how one can easily compromise a performance. Sometimes knowledge is more important then a
large budget.
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post #25 of 129 Old 06-02-2013, 07:15 AM
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Good post ^

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post #26 of 129 Old 06-02-2013, 07:16 AM
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@OP,

Have you tried a projector in a good dark room versus a poor light room. ?

I have. There's a big difference.

That's really the most important thing to most people around here- getting the most you can in picture and sound quality.

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post #27 of 129 Old 06-02-2013, 07:18 AM
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Originally Posted by ATWindsor View Post

Well, the room will probably have very good control of external light, but light walls. I want a screen of about 95-100 inches, but it has to be acoustically transparent, because i have in-wall speakers. Buit I am considering the projector first, I was mainly considering the EPSON 6020, because it is placement flexible, and the room is pretty short (the screen will be on the widest wall), so the distance from the projector to screen will maybe be only 3 meters.

Most all AT screen fabrics are designed for a seating distance of at least 12-13ft or you will see the weave.. something to consider.
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post #28 of 129 Old 06-02-2013, 07:23 AM
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Ok, let me ask another question, is anything other than a cheap projector a waste?

Is any TV other than a Cheap one a waste?
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post #29 of 129 Old 06-02-2013, 07:40 AM - Thread Starter
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Is any TV other than a Cheap one a waste?

No, but i don't see the connection? The answer could be yes on the TV given the right external circumstances. When i ask if a projector is a waste in a light painted room, and you then say it doesn't need to be, becuase a big picture can be important, I feel my follow-up-question is pretty rational. You get a big picture with a cheap projector also, do you fell that anything but a cheap one is a waste if the walls are not dark?
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post #30 of 129 Old 06-02-2013, 07:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Tedd View Post

Good control of external lighting is a good start, but are you taking into consideration, light coming off the screen lighting up the ceiling, walls, and possibly even the carpet?
And if any of that light reflects back onto the screen, there goes your contrast.

A punched AT screen has control on how light is reflected back. A woven AT screen has no defined directionality of how the light comes off the screen.

I've seen a very simple but very impressive demo of dark grey walls and ceiling, with a lighter carpet, then given a black area rug placed in front of the screen.
Simple demonstration, but it left a very lasting impression of how one can easily compromise a performance. Sometimes knowledge is more important then a
large budget.

The whole point of the thread is finding out hoe big or small reflected light from the room is. So yes, I have taken this into consideration smile.gif

Hmm, does that mean all woven screens has diffuse scattering of light? I thought most gain 1.3-1,4 screens where at least somewhat directional?
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