I've always been a black level fiend and I'm very sensitive to DLP rainbows. That made the JVC LCOS projectors a perfect fit. When I began this journey I'd viewed the JVC RS1 at an AVS forum member's house and was sold on that projector. But planning took so long that as I thought construction was about to begin, the RS2 had just come out. I was so confident I'd have my room built soon that I actually ordered a Hushbox from Whisperflow built specifically for the RS2.
Talk about foolish optimism! Turned out my project took so long that I ended up buying the RS20...a totally different design that didn't suit the hushbox anymore. Luckily it's quiet enough that I don't seem to need a hushbox at this time. And, actually, my RS20 sat in it's box for something like 6 months during the renovation. The newer RS25/35 models came out right after I set mine up. Sigh. Such is progress.
SCREEN MATERIAL CHOICE
Who would have thought choosing the projector was the easy part? Like many getting into front projection, I found out just how fiddly and paranoia-inducing is the choice of screen material "Is this the right choice for my room? Will it preserve my contrast? Will it hot-spot? Will I see screen texture? etc"
I viewed various materials, at stores, at people's home theaters, and at home. I was using a big screen and didn't want a dim image, so purely gray screens were out. Another way of preserving contrast in challenging rooms are the gray screens with optical coatings which give more gain and, in giving directionality to the light hitting the screen, they are better at rejecting light reflections and keeping contrast. However, I eventually ruled out gray screens with gain (optical coatings) because all of them, including the Stewart Firehawk, produced an obvious "silk screen effect" over the image, not to mention I found myself very aware of the hot-spotting.
One intriguing idea was using a huge (and hugely expensive) super-dark screen like the Black Diamond screen. These screens are so dark that letter-box bars appear virtually black. Which suggests one could zoom an image to whatever size on such a screen and the surrounding would be so dark no masking would be required. I don't know if that would play out in practice or not, but unfortunately upon viewing those screens the hot-spotting was so obvious - if I sat to one side of the screen the other side of the image looked considerably darker - that it was a no go. So I basically decided to do the best I could with cutting reflections in my room, so I could use any material I wanted.
For a while, before the renovation, I lived with a 105" diagonal Da Lite High-Power high gain (3.0 gain) screen, much beloved by many on AVS. However, as brilliant as the image could be, I found myself super aware of the changes in brightness with different seating positions. You can see here an example from some photos I took. This is the HP screen with an 8 x 10 piece of the Carada Brilliant White screen material taped in the center. The Carada BW is rated at 1.4 gain, but tends to measure closer to 1.1 as I understand it, and it maintains it's gain very evenly over a wide viewing angle.
Note from on axis the HP material surrounding the Carada sample is brighter the Carada material.
Off-axis you see how the HP darkens so much it's now actually darker than the Carada material:
Same thing but with an image:
I can't stand a "shifty" image like that so the HP was out. And I actually procured (from someone who was selling) a big piece of the Carada BW screen material to try out. The Carada was magnificent in terms of having very little if any screen texture while looking subjectively very even no matter what angle I sat at. In that respect the Carada actually mimicked one of the qualities I love from plasmas - that even viewing angle - vs LCDs or the older RPTVs in which the image would shift visible depending on where I sat.
However, with the size of the image I wanted available I was just a bit nervous about whether the Carada would give me as bright an image as I'd want.
So I tried out the Stewart ST-130 screen material. The "industry standard" as it's often called. It is a true 1.3 gain and I could see the difference between it and the Carada. So I rolled the dice and went with the Stewart screen material.SCREEN SIZE
Because of the way I'd be doing the masking, I had to order a screen that was even bigger than the images I'd ultimately be viewing (because some degree of the side masks and bottom masking would always be covering the screen...more on that later).
So I ordered the Stewart screen material, and I ordered a non-standard, custom sized aspect ratio Masquerade screen frame from Carada.
The Carada Masquerade Screen Frame dimensions that I ordered were:
130" wide by 67" tall screen surface area. The Masquerade screen frame itself
is 6" wide all around, which makes the outer dimensions of my Masquerade:
142" wide by 79 1/2" tall.
However, with masking finished the actual viewable image sizes would be approximately 124" wide max and between 61" to 62" tall.
I'll get back to how it all worked later on.