For 3 years, the black bars in cinemascope movies have been bugging me. But I really didn't want to order a 2.35:1 screen as easily half of my HT use involves PS3 or HDTV viewing. So, in my remodel, I decided to create horizontal masking panels that I could easily move into place when I needed it. And by using 1/2" foam (as many others have done here at avsforum.com), they would be nice and light.
Now, I could have built panels that fit inside my screen frame, however, I was not keen on a friction-fit to hold them in place, and I didn't want them touching the screen itself. So I wanted to create masks to go over the entire screen and frame rather than just the screen material. And since I constructed my wall to be flush with the screen, I decided that I could securely hold these masks using magnets
. Eureka! It turns out that I wasn't the only one with this idea as I soon discovered; I thought I had stumbled on a fantastic idea that would benefit avsforum users worldwide! Oh well. I don't mind being a follower rather than a pioneer.
I ordered neodymium magnets from a local online retailer, http://www.magnet4us.com
. I had read about how strong these magnets are and how careful you need to be in handling them. Having only experienced ceramic magnets in the past, I was skeptical about these "unnecessary" warnings. I'm not a child after all! Needless to say, I had my fingers pinched between 2 magnets within the the first minute of handling them, and it hurt! Damn! Kinda like testing a knife edge that you know
is sharp just to see if it is sharp.
I ordered 1/2" x 1/2" magnets that are 1/4" thick. Here you can see how they easily stick to each other through 5/8" maple shelving.
Because of how strong these magnets are, I had concerns that they would pull on the velvet of the wall and masking panels (even if I secured them with duct tape). So, I decided to install them onto the back-side (i.e. opposite side) of the side panels and the front side of the foam masks. So, just before I attached the side panels to the walls, I chiseled the backside of the panels.
On the sides of the foam masks, I covered those magnets with duct tape and then vinyl j-bead (which I used for all edges of the mask). For the top and bottom wall panels, I chiseled out the wood, glued the magnets with No More Nails, and then covered them with duct tape for good measure. Probably overkill, but I didn't want the magnets pulling and loosening the velvet later on. Let me reiterate: these magnets are scary strong.
After installing the bottom foam mask this way, I found that 5 magnets were strong enough to hold it in place, but just barely (the weight of the mask steadily increased as I added vinyl J-bead edges, magnets, duct tape and Gorilla tape, and velvet). Two magnets on each side and one magnet on the bottom centre. And, if you can picture it, I installed the magnets so that I needed 3 on each side panel, 2 on each side of the mask, and 2 in the centre of each mask.
I also used Gorilla tape on the back of the masks to cover the staples and provide an added measure of security for the velvet.
I made panels 12" tall so that they were the same height as the wall panels. That way I could place them over the wall panels when not in use and then move them into place when needed. Then I wouldn't have to move them into another room.
Bottom mask down
Bottom mask in position
Bottom mask in position, showing 1.25" gap to the screen.
Once I got to the top panel, I realized that I had made a HUGE MISTAKE. I did not install the magnets on the side wall panels with matching polarities --- they were mixed up, with the left wall magnets from top to bottom being + + - and the right wall magnets being - + +. As a result, I couldn't install 2 magnets on each side of the foam mask like I did with the bottom masks (which as luck would have it, I installed with matching polarities). As a result, I had to redesign how the top mask would anchor to the top wall panel. I decided on 3 larger magnets on the wall panel (and disregarded the side wall magnets altogether; they're still there, just not in use). Now since the top mask would only be supported by 3 magnets, I had to buy larger neodymium magnets which were 1" x 1" by 1/4" thick. I installed these into the front of the top wall panel by chiseling the wood again, about 3/8" deep, gluing it in place, and then covering the magnets with more glue so that it would not stress the velvet. Now the top panel can be held in position using three 1" magnets on the wall, and three 1/2" magnets on the mask. These magnets are soooo strong! Gravity takes care of the rest, keeping the bottom of the mask flush with the screen frame. And since the mask magnets are only 1/2" square and the wall magnets are 1" square, this allows for a little bit of "play," almost 1/2", in case I need to move the top mask up or down by a tiny bit. This is quite helpful since many cinemascope movies are not equally centred (vertically) within the screen frame. For my size of screen, variances ranged up to 1" or so. In hindsight, I probably should have done the bottom magnets in a similar fashion by using 1" long magnets on the side wall and bottom wall panels.
What I really like about my masking technique is that when the masks are not needed, they become part of the screen wall and I don't have to cart them to another room. If you look closely enough, the screen is 1/2" "recessed" into the wall with the masks present, but from a regular viewing distance, you can't even see the masks protrude because the Fidelio black velvet is incredibly light absorbing.
And the first feature film I watched on my HT remodel
STAR TREK (without mask)
STAR TREK (With mask)
What a HUGE difference these masks make!!! I'm so glad I took the extra time and effort to make them!