for about $40 i built a screen that seems to work unbelievably well.
additionally i built a floor to ceiling 'frame' that extends 1' on each side around the screen, which is masking area.
this masking is entirely black velvet and is a fixed mask.
if you have some basic tools, you should have a pretty easy time constructing it.
if not, you may want to consider investing in some of these, since you can easily afford them with the money you'll save over a $300-500 pro screen.
tools you should have;
additionally i would suggest a power saw or table saw. if you don't have or don't want to buy these, you'll have to do some serious figuring and make good notes, then you can have the wood cut at home depot when you buy it.
i bought blackout fabric from Joanns fabrics. you'll be limited in the vertical size of your screen, because this material only comes in a fixed width. for a 16:9 or 2:35 (what i'm using) it should be plenty big enough for most people.
get it cut afoot or so over what you think you'll need.
also, roll it up instead of having the person fold it after its cut. Once its stretched on the frame, most wrinkles will disappear, but just to be safe carry it out rolled.
you'll need 1x2" 's for the screens frame. you'll need 1 for the top and bottom, obviously and several shorter pieces to brace it at each end and in the middle.
one of the big problems in DIY, is finding a clean area large enough to put it together.
lay the material flat out on the floor, which ever side you want for the projected surface down.
lay the 1x2's on each end and roll the material up over the 1' side and staple to the 2" side, being sure to stretch tight between staples. alternate going back and forth between the top and bottom beams, working from the inside to the ends
roll the wood over once after stapling, to give it more strength, (the edges with the stapled fabric edge should be facing each other)
then measure out the difference inside from top to bottom-
add about 1-1 1/2" to that figure and then cut the bracing pieces to this size.
when you insert them, you'll have to stretch it, almost ot the breaking point it will seem, but this will give you a nice flat, tight screen. you'll have to go in, drill pilot holes thru the top and bottom pieces into the braces and then screw those in place.
thats about it. it pretty easy ( although i'm sure i've made it seem far more complex than it is).
i have a visual diagram made, if i can find it i'll e-mail it to you,
[This message has been edited by ckolchak (edited 09-18-2001).]