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Movie Poster Lightbox Research (2012)

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Last year I bought an original, double-sided Back to the Future II movie poster, and decided I wanted to have it autographed by Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd. It turns out that Michael J Fox is extremely difficult to find, but I traveled to a Comic-Con in Chicago, and had Christopher Lloyd sign it (halfway there!).

Anyway, I was going to have the poster professionally framed, but then realized that being double-sided, it would probably look just as good in a lightbox (sadly, I don't expect the signature to shine due to the light). I began researching lightboxes online, and found that there are a number of options, but I also wanted something that would offer protection to my poster...

I would like to thank Sue Heim of Hollywoodposterframes.com. I left her a brief voicemail regarding my search, and she not only called me back, she spent over 15 minutes discussing the type of acrylic I should use in my lightbox if I want to protect my poster from the elements (at least for the front. Protection from the light diffusing acrylic in the back of a lightbox is a different story). In this instance, her recommendation was to only buy lightboxes that had 1/8" thick acrylic sheets, and to use a UV-filtering, non-glare acrylic for the front of the lightbox. If I bought a box that couldn't handle 1/8" thick acrylic, she recommended PETG with UV-filtering. Her info was invaluable!!

A previous post offered a number of sites to check, though it was a few years old. In the end, I visited all of the following sites, and also called or e-mailed a number of them as well.

www.blueriverdigital.com - the first one I tried. They seem to have the fanciest site, with the most options, but they do not "specialize" in movie poster lightboxes, and when I asked for options, the salesperson suggested there were other sites that may better meet my needs. However, they have a CinemaLyte that comes in the correct size, but it's incredibly expensive (over $1,000). They also have a DirectLyte LED (a backlit LED lightbox - similar to some of the DIY's you find on this site, and the only retail backlit LED I found in my research (versus Edgelit), but it's also over $1,000).

www.hollywoodmarquees.com - they sell Bass Industries lightboxes (www.bassind.com). The site isn't as great as Blue River, but these boxes are clearly designed for movie posters. It turns out a marquee is a light box that may or may not have lights around the outside, and a poster case is a marquee with a lock. These boxes have more features, and fancier frames, but I did not want to spend this kind of money ($700+), and I also could not find details about the types of acrylic used in the boxes.

www.stargatecinema.com - they have some lower priced options, but I thought their non-LED lightbox was too deep (5.5"), and their LED lightbox was Edge lit. Edge lit just means that the lights are on the edges, and the diffuser panel distributes the light throughout the poster. Since my poster is dark on most of the edges, I wanted something with direct backlighting, but wanted it to be as thin as possible. It turns out the thinnest box in my price range was 4", but that is still better than 5.5".

www.bassind.com - I found their website difficult to use, as it was very slow to load pages, and was extremely lacking in details regarding the lightboxes, but a call to them led me to realize that if I was going to buy anything from hollywoodmarquees.com, I would be better off buying from Bass Industries directly. I did not ask about shipping charges, because I felt the boxes were still too expensive (my budget was $500, and the cheapest lightbox was going to be over $600 plus shipping).

www.moviegoods.com - I really liked these lightboxes. The pricing seemed reasonable, and their FAQ provided the details I was looking for... sadly, I e-mailed them on a Friday, and they did not respond until the following Wednesday. The reason for my e-mail to them was that I was shocked they wanted to charge me $70 for shipping, and a footnote on their shipping page said that lightboxes could take 3-4 weeks. For $80, you can get 2-day delivery, but why bother if it still takes 3 weeks to process the order? By that time, I had researched further, and found the exact same lightboxes (as far as I can tell), but with more wood color/style options, and free shipping, at:

www.movie-theater-lightboxes.com - after all of my research, I was back to the recommended site in some other avsforum threads. This site offers a number of wood styles, nearly all are backlit with 4 bulbs (except the entry 2-bulb model), and I truly believe these are the same as those at moviegoods.com. My e-mails were promptly returned, and they even offered a UV-filtering front acrylic for an added fee (though it is not non-glare, so I decided not to purchase - more on that below).

In the end, I placed my order with movie-theater-lightboxes.com. Their customer service was great, and I was able to choose a wood color that my wife and I both really liked. The acrylic in the lightbox (both pieces) is 1/8" thick, which met Sue's recommendations.

I may have visited a few other sites, but these are the ones that at least had something that I considered.

Final note - www.evonik.com sells cut-to-order acrylic sheets (actually, you have to click through to their acrylicshop site, but evonik is the manufacturer). Once I receive my lightbox, I plan to measure the front acrylic, and purchase a cut-to-order sheet from evonik (OP-3, P-99) - it is UV filtering and non-glare, and is also about 1/8" thick.
post #2 of 10
Congrats on your light box purchase! That is a lot of good info on your past thread on where to buy... I just 2 light boxes from Bass...
post #3 of 10
Hello everyone! I'm looking for some practical advice on the non glare and diffusion panels for Light boxes please. I've noticed that many suppliers use fairly thin PETG vs 1/8 acrylic for the front lens. While in both cases, the sheets are anti glare, there's a very significant difference in price. Ultimately, is there a sufficiently large difference to merit the price variance? Can anyone suggest a supplier of the 1/8 material that offers same at wholesale or at least at reasonable prices? Any advice or experience would be much appreciated! Thanks
post #4 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by rschleien View Post

Hello everyone! I'm looking for some practical advice on the non glare and diffusion panels for Light boxes please. I've noticed that many suppliers use fairly thin PETG vs 1/8 acrylic for the front lens. While in both cases, the sheets are anti glare, there's a very significant difference in price. Ultimately, is there a sufficiently large difference to merit the price variance? Can anyone suggest a supplier of the 1/8 material that offers same at wholesale or at least at reasonable prices? Any advice or experience would be much appreciated! Thanks

There are two factors that influence the price. First is the manufacturing cost, and second is the shipping cost. The pet-g material is somewhat easier to produce, but the big part of the equation is that it can be rolled and shipped in a tube. The acryllic must be shipped flat and a 27x40 package is testing the limits of what UPS will handle.

I have received frames from Sue shipped UPS, so it is possible, but the costs are fairly high. You might do better researching a local source, unless you intend to order multiple sheets.
post #5 of 10
rschleien:
Quote:
I've noticed that many suppliers use fairly thin PETG vs 1/8 acrylic for the front lens. While in both cases, the sheets are anti glare, there's a very significant difference in price. Ultimately, is there a sufficiently large difference to merit the price variance?

There is no reason, that I am aware of, to go with an 1/8" thick lens. The PETG material is made to be a lens and usually comes with with an anti-glare surface as you mentioned. The main reason the the backing/diffuser is 1/8" is to provide a rigid surface for the poster and to keep it flat and straight. If there was something thinner that was strong enough and diffused the light well enough I'm sure that would be used for the diffuser. But 1/8" is the thinnest material that is durable and rigid enough to do the job. If you find a good reason to use 1/8" thick material for the lens please post it here.

Also, if you plan to replace a PETG lens with 1/8" material and have a unit with a snap frame be aware that the snap frame will not close all the way and will probably have small cracks in the corners at the miter joint that will allow light to come through. The snap frames are mitered for specific thicknesses.

Thanks!
Ken
Edited by KenLerch - 2/26/13 at 7:52am
post #6 of 10
thanks very much gentlemen.. much appreciate your advise! Just one oter question.. at least for now.

Can anyone advise me of any issue with tightly sandwiching the poster between the thin front lens and the 1/8" diffuser. I've read various threads about this possibly causing fading/damage to the poster. Does there need to be abyt space at all.. and if so, how much?

thanks once again!
post #7 of 10
The PET-G based frames are designed to have the two layers tightly around the poster to provide stability. Any air gap would cause the poster to flop around inside.
I personally have no problem just using the 2 layers of PET-G as Ken suggested. Others have placed a third diffuser layer a small distance behind the two that secure the poster, and I suspect that is what is confusing you.

None of this is going to have a substantial effect on fading. You can read about fading for hours and hours and just scratch the surface. Suffice it to say that you need to keep the poster out of direct sunlight, and you want to provide a lightbox that doesn't transfer a lot of heat to the poster. UV and heat seem to have the most effect, but I have seen posters fade that were only subjected to indoor lighting over a long period of time. You simply cannot display a poster without risking some fading.

That said, the poster in my avatar has been hanging on my wall for over 20 years. I recently removed it from the frame for inspection, and there is no visible fading. Normal care will keep your posters looking good for a long time. Setting them out in sunlight will cause them to fade in mere months.
post #8 of 10
Thanks very much for the the additional insight! Much appreciated - r
post #9 of 10
Is there light boxed frames that are battery operated? I don't like how there is a cord hanging down the wall on the models I've found. Thanks
post #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chad711 View Post

Is there light boxed frames that are battery operated? I don't like how there is a cord hanging down the wall on the models I've found. Thanks


Chad: It would be easy enough to install a recessed plug behind the light box.
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