SMX ProMaskCurv Impressions - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 64 Old 04-23-2008, 01:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Fellow AVS'ers,

I've been lurking on this site for the better part of two months now, mainly learning about the ins and outs of front projection systems. I had been living with a 70" Sony rear projector for the better part of 4 years, and finally decided (actually, interestingly enough, it was my wife who suggested it) to put in a front projection system. The vast amount of information from all of the users of this site is astounding, and certainly very helpful for a FP newbie like me. I figured it was about time to give a little back to this community, so here goes.

Initially, I visited a number of HT dealers in my vicinity, but was less than impressed with their offerings. Nobody seemed to have a properly set up system, and all seemed like they wanted to sell me on a particular product, instead of letting me decide what worked best for me. I eventually decided to check out AVSforums, which was a revelation-- just a ridiculously good source of information on all things HT.

After doing a lot of reading/researching, I decided to leap right into the deep end and go whole hog on a FP system: Anamorphic lens with an automated slide, 2.40 CIH screen with variable automated side masking, and a high quality projector. With the help of Jason at AVS (many thanks to Mr. Turk), I initially elected to go with a JVC RS2 and a Panamorph UH380 with an M380 transport. Those initial choices were relatively easy. However, choice of screen was more difficult-- just a lot of options out there. After a bit more reading, I learned about pincushion with anamorphic lenses and decided to go with a curved screen to minimize this issue. I ended up considering two screens-- Stewart's CineCurve and SMX's ProMaskCurv. After researching these two and considering Ruben's extreme attention to detail in his home theater and in his other screens, I decided to go with the SMX option, sight unseen. In retrospect, I am extremely glad that I made this decision.

In comparing the two, the ProMaskCurv has a smaller footprint than the Cinecurve-- 4" shorter in height and 6" less in width. They both provide multiple aspect ratios and good automated controls with multiple options (IR, RS232, etc). The SMX screen material seems to be one of the finest acoustically transparent screens out there with good uniformity and reasonable gain-- I didn't find as much information on AVS regarding Stewart's acoustically transparent screens. I was not planning to put speakers behind the screen at this time, but I might in the future, and a perf screen would also allow me to acoustically treat the wall behind the screen if needed. Both are pricey, but the SMX less so. Plus, Ruben seemed like a great guy to work with-- which turned out to be an understatement. Decision made...

The screen took about a month to make and arrived in a well constructed crate:


"That's not a crate, it's a space station..."

Unfortunately, I was so excited in uncrating and assembling the screen that I forgot to take photos. Suffice it to say, much like Ruben's other screens, this thing was extremely well packed. The screen was partially assembled and in four parts. All four parts were securely bolted to the innards of the crate, wrapped in foam wrap with plenty of space around each piece. The frame was in two "C" shaped pieces for the sides with a vertical support bar and two straight (well, actually, slightly curved) pieces. Everything (including the vertical support bars which end up behind the screen) was wrapped in fine, "black hole" velvet. The masking system was already installed in the "C" shaped pieces making assembly of the screen very easy. I basically laid the pieces on a padded floor, slid the straight pieces into the slots on the "C" shaped pieces, and secured everything together with the included hex screws (4 connections, 4 screws per connection). Everything was clearly labeled "top", "bottom", "left", and "right". Really idiot proof. Total assembly took about 15 minutes. Once together, the screen was nearly seamless-- just a gorgeous piece of work. Even my wife, who is not HT inclined, was wowed.

Here is a diagram of the back of the screen and where the assembly points are:



This is a shot of one side of the back of the constructed screen, taken out of the assembly manual:



This is the view from the front of one of the seams at the assembly point-- it's really only visible within a couple of feet. Even then, it's not distracting.


The way the screen is attached is really unique. The SMX is already cut the the right size and grommets are placed along the edges of the screen. The screen is then attached to the frame with rubber O-rings looped over grommet pegs on the back side of the screen frame, passed through the screen grommet, and then looped back over the peg. I found this was easiest to do with the hemostat that Ruben so cleverly included with the frame. It took me about 30 minutes to attach the screen. I really like the way of attaching the screen, as it perfectly tensions the material without me worrying if i've pulled it too tight or left it too loose. Again, idiot proof.

Some photos from the manual on the screen attachment:



The screen frame is then hung using a french cleat system (It can also be aperture mounted). Two "top" cleat bars are affixed to the vertical support bars on the screen frame with screws, and two "bottom" cleat bars are then affixed to the wall where the screen is hung. The 120" wide screen I put up probably weighs about 175 pounds, so I used 4" deck screws into finished drywal on wall studs (16" on center) to put up the cleats. I ended up mounting the two bottom cleats onto three studs with 2 screws each to roughly center it on my wall.




I put in a low voltage wallplate behind the screen hanging area to pass the CAT5 cable/connectors from the frame's masking system to the separate control box.

The frame is then just "hung" over the mounted cleats. It's totally solidly fixed, yet allows some easy horizontal adjustment as well as easy removal if needed.

The CAT5 wiring from the masking system is then connected with male/female type connectors (already attached) to the control box, which is handsomely made:
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post #2 of 64 Old 04-23-2008, 01:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Final result:



Curve of the screen:



Back of the screen:


Masks in:


The masks move in quickly and quietly, and are just millimeters away from the surface of the screen:


The build quality on the frame is off the charts, and it is solid as a tank. Really a piece of art. The assembly could not have been any simpler. As I told Ruben, I think they hit a home run with how it was designed. Ruben was incredibly helpful throughout this entire process-- I even called him late on a Friday night to ask his opinion on something (I didn't notice what time it was until I called!). He answered my questions without even blinking an eyelash. I cannot imagine better customer service than what SMX/Ruben has provided.

Now I've just got to get the projector set up on it, which is a whole 'nother story. I changed my mind after getting the RS2 and am swapping out projectors to the Marantz 11s2 (thanks AVS!). I'm just waiting for the new projector now...

By the way, I did not mean for this to sound like an advertisement if it does. I have no disclosures to make-- I am just a tremendously satisfied customer. I don't think I could give any higher marks for this product. If you are in the market for a CIH, side masking screen system, give this one a serious look. As Mr. Bueller once said "It is so choice... I highly recommend picking one up."

Cheers!
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post #3 of 64 Old 04-23-2008, 04:17 PM
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excellent post! Could you do one thing? Could you snap a shot of your smX screen masked at 16x9? I would like to use it as scale. Also why did you decide on the switch to the Marantz 11s2? Thanks in advance
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post #4 of 64 Old 04-23-2008, 09:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Insomniahead View Post

excellent post! Could you do one thing? Could you snap a shot of your smX screen masked at 16x9?

Here are snap shots of a ProMask-curv at the common aspect ratios...












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post #5 of 64 Old 04-23-2008, 10:01 PM
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Hi Brain Sturgeon,

What a awesome review, thank you very much for the kudos! It's a great feeling knowing that our customers appreciate a well built product. It took allot of R&D to get to this point and it's a good feeling knowing that we are heading in the right direction. We build each one of these systems to the highest standards, that's why it takes a couple weeks to turn them around. Once you get your projector set up and the theater finished, your neighbors are going to envy you .

PS: I love those B&W 802d's!

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post #6 of 64 Old 04-23-2008, 10:19 PM
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thanks Sandman!
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post #7 of 64 Old 04-23-2008, 11:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Insomniahead View Post

excellent post! Could you do one thing? Could you snap a shot of your smX screen masked at 16x9? I would like to use it as scale. Also why did you decide on the switch to the Marantz 11s2? Thanks in advance

Ruben beat me to it...

I only had the RS2 for a short time, and only spent about an hour or two demo'ing material on finished drywall before shutting it down and waiting for the screen. Not exactly great conditions for demo'ing a PJ. The image that it threw was beautiful-- very "film like" as many people have reported. As expected, details in low APL images were amazing on it-- I saw stuff in scenes that I had not noted before when playing clips from Master and Commander, Casino Royale, Ratatouille, Cars, and others. However, I didn't feel it had the 3D or "picture window" effect though. The picture seemed sharp, but I have no basis for comparison.

After reading through the 11s2 owners thread, it was pretty clear the Marantz was a step up from the RS2 (as it should be at its price point): sharper image/better lens, more flexible light output options, better build quality/warranty. Moreover, people who had seen the two all said the 11s2 threw a better image: a more 3D, "organic" image was frequently described. I also sought some advice from Jason, who has been tremendously helpful. The cost difference was in my budget, so I decided to make the swap. I'll let you know once I get it if I'm glad I switched.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SandmanX View Post

Hi Brain Sturgeon,

What a awesome review, thank you very much for the kudos! It's a great feeling knowing that our customers appreciate a well built product. It took allot of R&D to get to this point and it's a good feeling knowing that we are heading in the right direction. We build each one of these systems to the highest standards, that's why it takes a couple weeks to turn them around. Once you get your projector set up and the theater finished, your neighbors are going to envy you .

PS: I love those B&W 802d's!

Ruben

You're most welcome-- it's been a pleasure through and through.

I am very much looking forward to getting everything finished up. I just spent most of this afternoon/evening/ohmygodwhattimeisit finishing up the riser for my second row of seating. The electrical for it (stair lighting, outlets for the motorized Berks/buttkickers) has been a real PITA. 12/2 Romex is just too freakin' stiff. But it's done.

I've still got a long way before getting anywhere near the amazing theater that you have. One of these days... Probably in our next house....

Cheers,
j
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post #8 of 64 Old 04-28-2008, 10:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brain sturgeon View Post

You're most welcome-- it's been a pleasure through and through.

I am very much looking forward to getting everything finished up. I just spent most of this afternoon/evening/ohmygodwhattimeisit finishing up the riser for my second row of seating. The electrical for it (stair lighting, outlets for the motorized Berks/buttkickers) has been a real PITA. 12/2 Romex is just too freakin' stiff. But it's done.

I've still got a long way before getting anywhere near the amazing theater that you have. One of these days... Probably in our next house....

Cheers,
j

Thank You. I know all about those late nights but you are already ahead of me. Surprisingly, I'm still using the first ProtoType SmX screen in my theater. I just can't find enough time in the day to tear my screen wall down and install a ProMask-curv like yours. This will be the third time the screen wall has changed.

You are building a kick ass theater with top-notch components, you will be astonished once completed. Please be sure to share pictures once you are completed.

Ruben

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post #9 of 64 Old 04-30-2008, 08:39 PM
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Brain,

Can I ask what you did to the wall behind the screen? I mean what is the white rectangle? Also what radius curve did you buy?
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post #10 of 64 Old 05-02-2008, 03:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Insomniahead View Post

Brain,

Can I ask what you did to the wall behind the screen? I mean what is the white rectangle? Also what radius curve did you buy?

The wall behind the screen is finished drywall painted with a sand colored latex paint (we're modifying our previously finished basement to be more front projector friendly). My wife and I blacked out the wall by hanging thin velvet sheeting from McMaster-Carr on the walls/ceiling. The stuff is reasonably affordable, and is very black/light absorbent. The "white" rectangle that you see is the portion of the wall that we didn't black out since that area is covered by the screen that was hung.

The screen I have is 40' radius.
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post #11 of 64 Old 05-03-2008, 02:14 AM
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I am considering putting my 802Ds and HTM1D behind an AT screen. Please let us know if you do any experiments with your speakers behind the screen.
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post #12 of 64 Old 05-03-2008, 10:15 AM
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Just wanted to chime in here- I just set up my 14' wide curved masking system- I have had the screen research, stewart, and da-lite Hipower before this screen- In every way this blows them all out of the water-
First using the black velvet on the screen soaks up more light than any other screen- the masking system is very quiet and works perfectly-
I just had my system( Sim HT-5000) ISF calibrated by jeff Mierer(UMR on avs)- He loved the screen- Said it was much better than the stewart and we noticed that even at 6-8' you could not notice the weave in the screen-
Jeff is also THX certified and we did my full audio setup( active ATC all around, with JL gotham and Danley DTS-20 subs)- We could not tell the difference in measurements between before with the speakers in front of the screeen and now with the speakers behind the screen-

I highly rec. this screen and Ruben is great to work with - I would be happy to answer any questions- gary
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post #13 of 64 Old 05-03-2008, 04:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bebop86 View Post

...First using the black velvet on the screen soaks up more light than any other screen- the masking system is very quiet and works perfectly-
I just had my system( Sim HT-5000) ISF calibrated by jeff Mierer(UMR on avs)- He loved the screen- Said it was much better than the stewart and we noticed that even at 6-8' you could not notice the weave in the screen-
Jeff is also THX certified and we did my full audio setup( active ATC all around, with JL gotham and Danley DTS-20 subs)- We could not tell the difference in measurements between before with the speakers in front of the screeen and now with the speakers behind the screen-

I highly rec. this screen and Ruben is great to work with - I would be happy to answer any questions- gary


I have to say that screen is excellent for both audio and video.
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post #14 of 64 Old 05-06-2008, 09:08 AM
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Hey Ruben, whats your email address. I have emailed you and PMd you but I guess they are going to the wrong address.
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post #15 of 64 Old 05-06-2008, 04:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deepsky4565 View Post

I am considering putting my 802Ds and HTM1D behind an AT screen. Please let us know if you do any experiments with your speakers behind the screen.

Why would you ever want to hide those beauties! Shame on you, Shame!
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post #16 of 64 Old 05-06-2008, 10:52 PM
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Originally Posted by chadcummings View Post

Hey Ruben, whats your email address. I have emailed you and PMd you but I guess they are going to the wrong address.

Hi Chad,

I responded to your email, hopefully you got it, as we have been experiencing some email issues.

Thanks
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post #17 of 64 Old 05-06-2008, 10:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AudioChick View Post

Why would you ever want to hide those beauties! Shame on you, Shame!

I Agree! Those are speakers you want everyone to see!

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post #18 of 64 Old 05-07-2008, 02:42 AM
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I know they are my lovelys. Since I have to do double duty with home theater, it is the only way to get a bigger 2.40 wide screen and get the front channels at the same height too. I have seen a screen that flips up out of the way for audio only duty, might do that. Thanks for the concern!
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post #19 of 64 Old 05-07-2008, 06:19 AM - Thread Starter
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The 802D's are a bit of eye candy-- really helps with the WAF. I think I would have to go with a wider screen (12-14') if I wanted to get the mains and center all behind the screen; but I don't think leaving the mains visible will hurt the look of the room. Plus, I'd probably have to switch to another PJ (3 chip DLP) if I went wider.

I might consider building a screen wall and putting the HTM2D directly behind the screen; but I don't think I will mind having it under the screen. The final appearance should still be "clean".

My 11S2 is finally getting here tomorrow; I'll try to post some pics of the (getting close to) final setup and the PJ/screen in action.

Cheers mates!
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post #20 of 64 Old 05-07-2008, 07:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brain sturgeon View Post

The wall behind the screen is finished drywall painted with a sand colored latex paint (we're modifying our previously finished basement to be more front projector friendly).

I just read this, this is a bad move. You want the wall behind your screen to be at least a flat black painted wall but at best a black low sheen velvet or similar.

Some light from your projected image will pass through the CineWeave and bounce off the light colored wall behind it and come back through the screen and wash out the projected image making it appear to be soft.

Try to black out the wall by draping some thick black velvet behind the screen.

Ruben

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post #21 of 64 Old 05-07-2008, 08:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brain sturgeon View Post


I might consider building a screen wall and putting the HTM2D directly behind the screen; but I don't think I will mind having it under the screen. The final appearance should still be "clean".

I have my HTM1D below the screen now, and it seems fine, but I really think having it at the same level as the front mains would be a plus. I listen to a lot of m/c music, and this is important to me. I don't want to have a separate room for music versus video, so it is a concern. Let us know what you do, and I'd love to see the results.
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post #22 of 64 Old 05-08-2008, 05:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SandmanX View Post

I just read this, this is a bad move. You want the wall behind your screen to be at least a flat black painted wall but at best a black low sheen velvet or similar.

Some light from your projected image will pass through the CineWeave and bounce off the light colored wall behind it and come back through the screen and wash out the projected image making it appear to be soft.

Try to black out the wall by draping some thick black velvet from the screen.

Ruben

Ruben,

Thanks for the tip-- shouldn't be a big deal as I have the extra velvet sheeting to cover the area.
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post #23 of 64 Old 05-25-2008, 08:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Well-- getting closer to finishing the room. My Berklines have been delayed until late June unfortunately. I did get the entire wall behind the screen blacked out with velvet sheeting, and most of the audio components are set up. I'm waiting for some bass traps/absorption panels from GIK (thanks to Bryan Pape for his help).

Here's some shots of the close to completed room:





Finally got the 11s2 set up:





Some screenshots:



1.85:1


2.40:1






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post #24 of 64 Old 05-26-2008, 07:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AudioChick View Post

Why would you ever want to hide those beauties! Shame on you, Shame!

Are those B&W's? If so, because they're ugly and sound bad?

Bob
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post #25 of 64 Old 05-28-2008, 05:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brain sturgeon View Post

Well-- getting closer to finishing the room. My Berklines have been delayed until late June unfortunately. I did get the entire wall behind the screen blacked out with velvet sheeting, and most of the audio components are set up. I'm waiting for some bass traps/absorption panels from GIK (thanks to Bryan Pape for his help).

Here's some shots of the close to completed room:

Awesome screen shots! its coming along nicely, you must proud!

Bryan Pape is a great guy to deal with.

Ruben

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post #26 of 64 Old 06-03-2008, 01:05 PM
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can i ask do you have the acoustically transparent mask (or are they all like this?) if so is it just more cineweave sprayed black? is it quite effective at light absorbing?

My concern is that the screens are 2.40:1 so masking is always required for 2.35:1 which will then hit the masking, or am i missing something? why are the cinecurves not native 2.35?
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post #27 of 64 Old 06-04-2008, 09:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elliot View Post

can i ask do you have the acoustically transparent mask (or are they all like this?) if so is it just more cineweave sprayed black? is it quite effective at light absorbing?

My concern is that the screens are 2.40:1 so masking is always required for 2.35:1 which will then hit the masking, or am i missing something? why are the cinecurves not native 2.35?

The leading 3" of the side mask is a panel lined with black hole velvet, and is very, very good at absorbing any light. The remainder of the side mask is acoustically transparent and appears to be black cineweave HD (SMX). The cineweave is not as good as the velvet in absorbing light and you can fairly easily pick out an image projected on it if you're looking for it.

I have set up my system for 1.85:1 and 2.40:1 by zooming the image to slightly larger than the screen material (about 1" above and below) and then using v-stretch and sliding in the Panamorph lens as needed. The image spill is very difficult to pick out unless you are standing right in front of the velvet. This has worked very well for me for DirecTV content as well as DVD and BD.

I'm not sure if the CineCurve's masks are acoustically transparent or not.
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post #28 of 64 Old 06-04-2008, 09:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Elliot View Post

can i ask do you have the acoustically transparent mask (or are they all like this?) if so is it just more cineweave sprayed black? is it quite effective at light absorbing?

My concern is that the screens are 2.40:1 so masking is always required for 2.35:1 which will then hit the masking, or am i missing something? why are the cinecurves not native 2.35?

Hi Elliot,

The acoustically transparent mask panels we use are a different material than the CineWeave. Once you are watching a movie, the mask panels are completely black.

Most major CinemaScope movies are shot in 2.39:1 but people still call them 2.35:1 due to old convention. So a 2.40:1 position usually works well with most widescreen movies.

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post #29 of 64 Old 06-04-2008, 11:26 PM
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Thanks Ruben

So is it common pratice to overscan a 2.35:1 film at the point of setup to fill 2.40:1 and then blank the overscan (assuming projector or scaler has this functionality?) Or do you recommend setting up a 2.40:1 and then using the mask for 2.35:1.
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post #30 of 64 Old 06-05-2008, 04:50 AM
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Gorgeous room Brainsturgeon, awesome screen Ruben !

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