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-   -   Grey screen paint tests (screenshots LONG) (http://www.avsforum.com/forum/23-screens/19672-grey-screen-paint-tests-screenshots-long.html)

JP 03-26-2001 02:44 PM

A few of us have been discussing here the choices of different greys out there and which is best. I sat down and decided to build a test screen with blackout material which turned out way better than my expectations. You can see pictures and construction here:


I then went to home depot and bought 3 different shades of grey. All were glidden interior latex flat. Specifically, they are called Snowfield (lightest), Universal Grey (UG for short), and Veil (darkest that I used). I then sectioned off the screen in fourths using masking tape and left one area as-is and then painted the remaining three. Judges (if we can call them that) were myself and two other friends. It became clear right away the grey was yielding an improvement and that the Snowfield just wasn't enough. The real debate was between the UG and Veil. The only problem was that sectioning the screen in fourths put the UG and Veil on the right part of the screen. This made things difficult because in most movie scenes light seems to be coming from the right or the left and not top to bottom.

So back to painting we went. This time I painted the top half of the screen UG and the bottom Veil. This gave me a much better comparison but it is still tough. We all basically agreed it boils down to what means more: Whiter whites or blacker blacks? Whiter whites will occur on the lighter paint (UG). Blacker blacks will occur on the darker paint (Veil). I am considering splitting the difference between the two and having a custom made paint made. All I think you would have to is split the difference between the lamp black. Anyway, here is a number of different screenshots with the UG on top and the Veil on the bottom. These images were taken with an Olympus C2000Z on a HQ setting and everything else at default except no flash. They were all taken during the movie so there might be some blur. None were taken with the dvd paused. They were then ONLY resized. The big difference between the images and reality is that the black level shown on the top part of the image isn't quite as bad as the images would lead you to believe but it can you give a comparison at least. Still for images shot with a digital camera they aren't that far off:

Here you can see the screen itself with the different shades of grey.

Here you can see what shades of grey can do to color. Do we call this inaccurate or more rich http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif? I prefer the latter.

Here is the start of fifth element. You can really see the difference in black level and yet white is only slightly effected between the two:

More fifth element:

This is my favorite. My biggest complaint with dlp's and lcd's is this white haze that forms over the image so many times. I think you can see here by comparing the top left of the image with the bottom left how moving to a darker grey can help alleviate this effect.

The Matrix is one of those movies again were the scenes are fairly dark and with blacks not at least being close to black the movie can be difficult to watch.

Boiler Room screenshots:

I just painted the entire screen with the darker color (Veil). It might be too much but I just can't tell until the entire screen is done. I'll keep everyone posted.

****ARGH! I did not know the maximum amount of images which could be posted is 8. So I had to take off a few. If you want to see the whole album just go to photopoint.com and use my e-mail address (johnpaulw@aol.com). The album is titled grey split screen I believe.


RonF 03-26-2001 03:26 PM

Nice work, JP!!! The methodology is great, and the pictures are killer!! At least some of the positive effects are very visible.

[This message has been edited by RonF (edited 05-19-2001).]

sstieferman 03-26-2001 03:59 PM


Looks great. Say, what kind of projector are you using? Are you satisfied with its overall performance and would you purchase it again or recommend it to others?

Thanks Scott

PAP 03-26-2001 05:24 PM

Superb (!) posting. Thanks so very much for taking the time to do this and report it. I'm going to do my screen now!

Forgot to add: Can you tell me what you used to apply the paint? Foam brushes, fine rollers, spray, etc?

Lex MC1/Sunfire CG/Hales Rev3's x3/M&K SS150 tripoles/Quadscan/Plus UP1100/Homemade screen

[This message has been edited by PAP (edited 03-26-2001).]

JP 03-26-2001 10:34 PM

Hi Ron: I know next to nothing about paint. I simply went to home depot and recognized the paint that Chris Calder (forum member) had mentioned that he used with good results. I just sort of took it from there. As far as your suggestion is concerned it is pretty much over my head. Maybe somebody else more knowledgable about paint can field this one?

Hi Scott: I was using a friend's NEC vt540 and still trying to decide whether this projector is right for me or not (thus the experimental grey screen to try and improve the image). It is pretty nice and at its price I would highly recommend it. With all the talk about the Sony 10HT lately though I sure would like to see it with a grey screen.

Hi PAP: I used just a simple brush and the paint. Actually I went to the trouble to buy an expensive brush but now I really wish I wouldn't have. I just don't think its needed. If it keeps the individual bristles in the brush ok it should work fine. I was a bit paniced after I painted because the screen looked awful. There were streaks everywhere and I just knew it wasn't goind to dry evenly. However, once it dried it greatly improved. If you get right up on top of the screen you can see some of the streaks but in no way does it affect the resulting image. I did try using some flotroel because others had suggested it but this stuff is bright white. It claims to keep the paint color intact when mixed well but I did not find this was the case. I had one section where I used flotroel and one where I didn't using the same paint. The section with flotroel was lighter and I didn't find it really helped all that much. I asked at home depot if one of those foam brushes might work better for something like this. They said no but looking back it I think they were wrong. I haven't tried it but something tells me a foam brush might be the way to go for something like this. I would think you sure could get an even coat that way.

RonF 03-27-2001 08:06 AM

A short knapped roller with good paint leaves very little pattern after the paint has dried.

Anyone have any opinions or experience with taking very small quantities of the exact same color gray paint you are using, but in semi gloss, and mixing in with the bulk of the matte finish quantity. Like 20 to 1 or 15 or 10 to one? Just wondering if that retains the benefits of gray, but possibly gives a little more punch without sacrificing too much on off access viewing. Or does that defeat the purpose when there is any ambient light in the room?


Jay C 03-27-2001 11:52 AM

You should look into the short "finger" foam rollers. They leave no nap behind and with a flat finish, no streaks either. I bought the short handled one (about 2" total length) with a yellow foam roller (rounded on the end) and the small paint tray to go with it.
I orignally tried the small foam brushes...don't bother with those.

I have started with Dover Cliffs, but think I will try veil as my LP340 in the daytime is washed with a lot of ambient.


JP 03-27-2001 01:19 PM

KBK: the projector used was an NEC vt540. It might not come across in the screenshots but I don't really feel the colors are weak. I have compared with an lp340 (dlp) and without a doubt I felt the lp340 had weak colors (still a great projector though).

bwolff: If you have a grey between these two shown here I would be willing to bet that is about perfect (at least in my situation). The Veil is great for the blacks but I think it still loses a little punch due to the really dark color.

Jay C: Good luck but take what I have said with a grain of salt! I should have probably worded my post better but it wasn't my intent to give people the impression that Veil was the color to go with. Veil is pretty dark and although the blacks look pretty darn good I think the overall picture might suffer just a bit. Like I mentioned before something in between Universal Grey and Veil might be the best (at least in my situation YMMV). Just remember...you can always repaint http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif

bwolff 03-27-2001 10:08 PM

COOOL SHOTS.. I used a satin or an eggshell I can't ever remember. I used the one that is not as glossy as semi-gloss, but 2 up from flat. I was afraid of the sheen with semi-gloss. I used a short napped roller. I played with colors I used diamond white and black, mixing them myself. The picture is outstanding, I am so glad I did it. I can't figure out how to get good screen shots. I did the same thing with half a screen painted. I think my gray is in between JP's.

My Theater
Champagne tastes with a beer budget

KBK 03-27-2001 10:10 PM

There are many different types of paint out there, and there are many different ways to paint your screen. One can crate a very basic grey using our CRT1.6 paint, and adding a bit of Carbon black. For those wishing to experiment with the highest grade of dedicated design paint availible, this would be the way to go. It still fully qualifies as DIY, As it is certianly nothing more than a paint. The best made and available, granted, but still a paint. I have done this with our paint and the results are very, very good. Better than some commercial 'grey' screens out there, as the grey was created that matches the given situation exactly.. not averaged for the 'average' consumer and user. That's about the best you can hope for. We will be creating dedicated specific greys for such work, but,in the meantime, this is the best way to go.

The website is not up and running yet as far as the payment system goes, but I will take orders at this time via private e-mail. AVS will be on-line as a dealer soon.

What sort of projector are you using? It appears to be a DLP, or maybe that is my imaginantion with the slightly weak colors, there.

Ken Hotte

[This message has been edited by KBK (edited 03-27-2001).]

bwolff 03-28-2001 06:05 AM

You hit it on the head. Your situation. From what I have read each model projector needs a little different color formula. Reading KBK's posts helped. Along with all the other input from everyone else. I had a chance to see my projector on a 2 gain screen. It was nice but it needs the gray screen. Thanks for the pictures.

My Theater
Champagne tastes with a beer budget

johnbm 03-29-2001 07:51 AM


Your effort and posting has reinforced the merit of that old adage - a picture is worth a thousand words. Those are great demonstration shots. Though I am pleased with the blacks in my images, I am keen to try your recipe on my own DIY screen.....if I could just squeeze out the time!!!

By the way,I recomend you christen your screen recipe "the GRAYMOCK". It's that good!
All the best.


[This message has been edited by johnbm (edited 03-29-2001).]

EricG 03-30-2001 04:08 PM

Are you running component or s-video the 540?
Any external scaler?

the projector used was an NEC vt540. It might not come across in the screenshots but I don't really feel the colors are weak. I have compared with an lp340 (dlp) and without a doubt I felt the lp340 had weak colors (still a great projector though).

JP 03-30-2001 06:38 PM

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by EricG:
Are you running component or s-video the 540?
Any external scaler?
Thanks everyone for the kind words. To quickly answer your question I used a htpc for the screenshots. Based on these screenshots I have gotten SWAMPED with e-mails about the NEC vt540. This unit is my friend's projector and I have been pretty impressed with it. I have also had the opportunity to take a look at the lp340 which is also a very capable unit. Personally, I only really like the vt540 when coupled with a htpc. I tried it with a dvdo and it does look good but I feel the htpc adds just a slight bit more detail and sharpness which after seeing it I just couldn't live without. The lp340 with a straight s-video input also produces a detailed sharp image but light leakage, rainbow, and weak colors are a problem for me. Ultimately, I think the lp340 is a good unit for those of us without htpc's and the vt540 is good when coupled with a htpc. Hope that helps some of you out there.

jdang 04-23-2001 12:50 AM

Hey, quick question,
I don't think I read anywhere, but how do you paint the blackout material? I mean, what tool or instrument? Paint brush, roller, etc.? Also, which side of blackout do you prefer? If you've answered this already, sorry, but didn't see it.

JP 04-23-2001 07:22 AM

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by jdang:
Hey, quick question,
I don't think I read anywhere, but how do you paint the blackout material? I mean, what tool or instrument? Paint brush, roller, etc.? Also, which side of blackout do you prefer? If you've answered this already, sorry, but didn't see it.
No problem Joe. I actually have gotten a few e-mails asking this question so its good to address it here. All I did was use a paint brush. I preferred using the whiter side of the b/o material to paint on. I doubt it really makes a difference. From about 4 feet out you cannot really see the brush strokes. Just a forewarning here, once I completed the painting I stepped back to take a look at it and it was awful. The brush strokes were everywhere. I thought I might have to scrap the whole thing. However, once it dried it looked very even and when projecting an image there is no way to tell at all. Another big tip is to paint the screen with it being flat on the ground or on some sawhorses (that's what I used). If you paint it standing up you always have the risk of the paint running down the screen while its drying.

Good luck!

raugustyn 04-23-2001 09:27 PM

I used the same technique and the screen looks very good,
I compare it with a white blackout material and with Draper 2.3.
I used a roller from Home Depot look for best roller you can get for a flat finish I think it is number 10 on rollers scale.
It works very well actually after painting it once it was very good.
Have fun and good luck.


KBK 05-15-2001 09:50 AM



Ken Hotte

Chris Williams 05-16-2001 04:40 AM

Just a suggestion on technique:

Paint from dry to wet. Start on a dry area with a loaded brush, and paint into an area that is already painted. When you paint from wet to dry as most people do, the chemicals in the paint that help ensure the even distribution of pigment dry out before all the pigment has been deposited on the surface.

This works well. Before the invention of sprayers, car bodies were actually painted by hand using brushes.

David600 05-17-2001 12:06 PM


very nice, I thought it was 3DLP! really. but could you do some more screenshots, from flics such as ZORRO or GLADIATOR ? would be great see some other colors, warmer colors ( reds, yellows, beige etc ).

thanks. all reviews of the 540 say it's an excellent projector with surprising really high but real contrast ratio.


for cinema sound in your HT, use cinema speakers and cinema amps! unbeatable.

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