Alan (and GWCR),
In a nutshell the thought process went like this:
When I first started I was going for a regular 16:9 screen. But I have always masked my images, even on my plasma, so I knew I wanted masking for 2:35:1 movies. Thus I was set on buying Carada's Masquerade system (top/bottom masking version).
But then I got the desire to do CIH so I investigated side masking systems. Ultimately I preferred an automated system if possible. So I found the Goelst curtain/panel track system (see details in the link I'll provide). The Goelst was one of the few systems that offered programmable pre-set stopping points - up to 5 not including the "open" position - which could be used for different AR widths.
So then it looked like I'd be buying a 2:35:1 screen and use the Goelst side panel track system (employing hanging black velvet panels in a come-along configuration, so they stack neatly behind a single panel when open, but pull each other along the screen when doing masking duties).
Then in experimenting with zooming image sizes I realised I wanted the flexibility of changing image size, width, height.
Then it hit me: Well, I was going to buy a screen and the Goelst for side masking...but why don't I buy the Carada masquerade frame for the screen and then I'll also have top bottom masking available as well. Combined with the Goelst side masking I'll have 4 way masking.
So then I changed my screen shape to basically the widest, tallest that could fit on my wall (a custom ordered Masquerade screen frame size from Carada, roughly 2.0 AR).
The cost of combining those two systems for masking was just under $5,000.
That's actually one the expensive side for those systems because:1.
I ordered a HUGE Carada Masquerade: outer dimensions are 142" wide by 79 1/2" tall.
So a bit pricier.2.
I wanted the side masking to have the option of entirely hiding that huge screen. One of the reasons for this is that I love listening to music in both surround and in 2 channel stereo. My speakers do incredible soundstaging/imaging and I didn't want to be staring at a giant field of white between the speakers. So I ordered the largest Goelst panel system, 5 panels per side, in order to close off the screen. This works great because with the screen closed and the lights down it's just a huge field of black which really allows my brain to imagine the performers in front of me.
(I also sometimes have the screen open, but I have a system of LED colored lights pointed on the screen, and they can do various shifting, blending color patterns, so that's fun when listening to music as well).
Anyway, the point is that if someone were ONLY interested in the side masking aspect you could likely get away with a single, or perhaps double panel system, which would be cheaper.
Still, even at $5,000 my system is vastly cheaper than similarly flexible 4-way systems from the commercial screen companies. As you know Stewart systems range well above $20,000. And what I like about this approach is that I'm combining two, established, reliable professionally designed systems, which can be put together and instantly "work" vs the time and "crap shoot" factor of trying a full DIY solution. (Having followed how strenuous those efforts are in the DIY forum that wasn't for me).
Finally...it was all something of a fingers crossed situation as well in some regards. I didn't know how well the two systems would work together. I imagined a fair amount of fidgety adjusting each time I wanted to change ARs or image sizes...you know...open both masks, zoom out, re-size masks etc. I held some hope a good universal remote would help out but I wasn't counting on it. I wanted the flexibility and was prepared to suffer a bit for it.
But happily it turns out the system worked beyond my wildest dreams. Both the Carada and the Goelst proved to be extremely programmable and reliable in terms of macro commands. With my RTI remote my installer and I found we could program as many image size or AR changes as we wanted into single button presses. Here's a shot of one page (of two pages) on my remote, offering different image size selections:
So it's painless and fun to switch image sizes, and looks cool as hell to see the whole screen wall changing it's shape with a button press!
More details about the masking system, with links to the companies and products, here from my build thread:http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showp...07&postcount=6