Thanks for your reply.
Here are my specs.
Sharp DT200 Thego. It's not the best projector I know, but brand new for $1000 I could not pass up the chance to enter the HT arena. During my initial setup I projected against a plain window shade and I find the image spectacular.
Contrast ratio 1200:1
My theater is in a portion of my finished basement. I can control the light quite well and get it completely dark if necessary. On the otherhand, I can also turn off the lights in the HT area while keeping the other lights on and the image is still very sharp and not washed out.
The HT area is not so large (12'x14') so I am not going for a massive screen. I am planning on about a 72-78 inch screen (diagonal dimension in 16:9 mode).
The projector is 800x600 (4:3) format so when I view widescreen images I have the dark gray bars top and bottom. To deal with this, my widescreen side of the screen will have a generous (apprx 6 inch) masking.
When I project the image my width remains constant and only my height changes with the dvd format. (4:3 format movies are taller than 16:9 movies). This is why I am planning on a 4:3 side and a widescreen side of the screen. Otherwise I will have huge top and bottom bars for 2.40:1 movies.
Projection distance will be about 8-9 feet. Front row (eye to screen) will be about 8 feet and the second row will be about 13 feet.
With 800x600 resolution I don't want to go with much more of a 72-78 inch screen because it may be too large for the front row views and the pixels start to become noticeable. At 72 inches I am thrilled with the image even from the front row.
I agree with you now about the 20 pound comment. I think 30-40 pounds is probably more realistic. But still I think it will be reasonable to flip the screen to change for the standard vs. widescreen formats.
I realize we will never have perfection but stiving for it is fun. I don't plan to make a career out of HT screen production. I imagine I will make my screen and enjoy the results. I also expect perhaps an improvement or two as time marches on and new and improved paint formulas are created.