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Projector screen - what & where to get?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I am in the process of building my first "real" home theater - in that for the first time I'll have the HTPC to "project" (getting a projector, and converting basement into theater)
The area I have for a screen is (I think) appropriately sized, but I am having a very hard time sourcing even an "acceptable" screen.

I am trying to source a closable screen - roll down or anything in the like. What I find is either too narrow, or not tall enough. When the viewable screen is large enough, the enclosure is too wide.

See, my screen would need to be "bigger than" 46" tall x 70" wide. in "bigger than" I mean that I want to use 46x70 so I'd rather have larger material than that.
Now, the space I have to put the screen is 58" tall x 82" wide. I cannot have an 85.5 inch wide motorized screen, it simply just will not fit.

Where do people find their screens? Or materials to build their own?

The best I could find so far is some ebay seller who sells 72" wide "by the foot" (but I'd rather have 74 or 76")

I am almost starting to consider getting an Levolor roller shade at Home Depot and live with the poor screen quality it would make, being that I cannot simply find anything suitable frown.gif

Please help!
post #2 of 21
Thread Starter 
I've read in these forums that there are a few who used the Levolor shade with good result ( I am almost surprised, and makes me rethink about getting one )
If I do so, should I get gray, or white?

Using BenQ MW516 @ ~10' distance, basement with no windows = controlled lights.

I guess I'd have a better gain with white, and the 10000:1 + no annoying light source means I don't have to worry too much about the contrast ratio that gray could offer?

otherwise, I have seen this PVC fabric on ebay that comes in appropriate size (I'd need to cut, and make the roll-down myself - possible without visible folds??)

and these pre-made screens
manual: http://www.ebay.ca/itm/310689287112
motorized: http://www.ebay.ca/itm/111096671007
but they are both "just" 70 inch wide, I'd rather have 72 or more...
All other options I have seen so far are either narrower, or the casing extends larger than what I have available. (bummer)
post #3 of 21
Screen size & shape (format) can be almost anything you want, however height and width are tied together.

Let's use your "46 inch" criteria for some examples.

A standard 4:3 screen would be 46" x 61" If you are wanting 4:3 formatting, then the largest such screen that would fit would be 54" x 72"

A standard 16:9 screen would be 46" x 82"

46" x 70" is stuck betwixt & between.

So...let get more info from you.

Projector Model?
Throw Distance?
Format desired.

OH...OK...I just saw you last post pop up.................

Brother, with that BenQ and a White Screen, whatever contrast the 516 has is going to be almost lost in the excessive brightness. Also, if the sides of the space on each side / top of the screen are that close in, you'll have to effectively remove ALL side light reflection coming from the projected image or the resulting wash out would be abysmally bad. Also, the Contrast spec isn't as robust as you think, and combined with the brightness of the PJ and the size...and the proximity of reflective surfaces, in truth you could use...nay need a darker Neutral Gray screen.

Retractable? Your making it almost impossible to achieve what you want, in the size you want, that will also have the Gray surface you so desperately need. And since the PJ chosen is a WS-1280 x 800 formatted machine, unless you do in fact plan to utilize only 4:3 Formatting, your image within the confines you state are present is gonna be mighty picayune. And.....be advised that the 516 has a 14" Image offset, so the PJ hase to be mounted / placed accordingly.

Lastly, bear in mind that when you switch the 516 to 4:3, you will have the unused portion of the sides to deal with if you do plan to zoom in the 4:3 image to fill the maximum size possible. That does seem to be your wish / intent, so it would seem you have some serious reconsideration to start dwelling upon.
post #4 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks a lot for your input MississipiMan.

As mentioned, this is my first projector, so I am really inexperienced with the whole thing. I have read a lot but regardless it seems I still have a lot to learn.

If I understand well, I should stay away from white altogether, and maybe consider running less bright?

I guess I'll start with the gray levolor shade as a starter and see where it leads me...?

edit: I forgot to mention. My current intention are to run at somewhere between 43'h x 69'w & 44'h x 70'w
If I am right (and the prediction from projectorcentral isn't wrong) the image offset at my distance would be about 6-7" - which is good for my planned setup.
Edited by Marsupial - 6/17/13 at 1:35pm
post #5 of 21
The use of Shades is not new, and some have found them quite serviceable. Certainly, such falls squarely in line with what we advocate most in DIY Screen making: taking something not originally intended for use as a projection screen and making it work to that purpose.

let us know how you proceed and how it all works out.
post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks again MississippiMan!

It is going to be a rather long process, being that I am still putting gyprock where the theater will be, and the projector is still in the mail, but my current state of mind is to get the gray shade and see where I am.
My setup will be quite different than anything else I have seen - maybe for good reasons that I didn't consider. I'll post pictures when I get to try the new toy biggrin.gif
post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 
BTW is there any tools available online to help selecting lumens, distance & screen gain?
So far all I could find to help me is at projectorcentral.com where you can fiddle with screen size VS distance for specific projectors. Being noobeesh I didn't consider everything yet.

There's an yellow/green/red zone linked with the distance, should we understand the red area as not being good? Being still new I was under the impression that brighter is good, and that "recommended image brightness for rooms with ambiant light" was a good thing - apparently not, so I started to experiment more with it.

I have purchased a BenQ MW516 and planned to put it around 9' from the screen. This is well within that red zone with a 1.0 gain screen (thanks MississippiMan to have grought that to my attention!)
However, if I lower the screen gain down to 0.7 (the lowest projectorcentral's calculator let me) I am almost out of that zone!
After that, if I would run in econo mode (lower lumens output) I am thinking (hoping) I'd get decent results?

Then, maybe trying to make a darker screen..?

I cannot wait to get the projector to begin experimentation.
post #8 of 21
The Red Zone represents the brightest levels. Levels that help with ambient light situations. In the case of any PJ such as the 516 that have less robust Contrast specifications, that brightness i9s instead utilized to allow for a darker Gray, Higher Contrast surface. With sufficent lumen output and effective calibration, there would be little or no observable crusing of detail or excessive darkening of Whites.

At the screen size your envisioning and at a 9' throw with the 516, you will never have anything to worry about "brightness" wise. Drop down to Econo....go with a dark Neutral Gray coating (...or SF 2.5 4.0 )....all in all your set up to have something very dynamic at almost any setting.
post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks, that sound encouraging.
I've figured it is easier to reduce light output than to augment it.

Dark Neutral Gray sounds good. Wouldn't silverFire 2.5 4.0 be too bright for what I need?
Would there be any problems going with darker screen e.g. black? or would that wash out the whites?
post #10 of 21
Thread Starter 
Well i got the gray Levolor screen. I mean, roller shades. The size is appropriate. Sides tend to be somewhat floppy, which is why I'd like to get my hand on something 3-4 inch wider; but for the pricetag it is very good.

The projector is due to arrive on the 25th according to postal services, so I can't say yet about coloration, but I have a good feeling so far. Can't wait.
post #11 of 21
Originally Posted by Marsupial View Post

Thanks, that sound encouraging.
I've figured it is easier to reduce light output than to augment it.

Dark Neutral Gray sounds good. Wouldn't silverFire 2.5 4.0 be too bright for what I need?
Would there be any problems going with darker screen e.g. black? or would that wash out the whites?

SF 2.5 4.0 would work great....that's why I stated "or go with"......

You could go up to SF 2.5 6.0 by increasing the Pearl by 25% and the UPW by 10% to work with / offset the additional 2 oz Colorant added.

It's just to be understood that you limit yourself to using "Normal Lamp" at those darker levels.
post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 
If I understand well, at those darker levels & brighter lamp mode, we end up being better for daylight screening, as opposed to controlled light, theater style. That might work for other applications than what I hope.

I got the levolor blind. I'd be happier with just 2 or 3 inch wider, but this is already good looking IMHO. Have a look:

Once I start screen tests with the projector, I'll have a better idea what I want to try. Is there any way to experiment with silver fire without acquiring spray-gun equipment?
post #13 of 21
Originally Posted by Marsupial View Post

If I understand well, at those darker levels & brighter lamp mode, we end up being better for daylight screening, as opposed to controlled light, theater style. That might work for other applications than what I hope.

Once I start screen tests with the projector, I'll have a better idea what I want to try. Is there any way to experiment with silver fire without acquiring spray-gun equipment?

Of course the most important emphasis regarding the use and adaptability of a high gain / high contrast screen is on ambient light viewing, but the depth of Gray also improves contrast on screen, and enriches colors and gray scale detail beyond what any white screen can accomplish. That then is what make such a screen deliver an even more dynamic image in the dark than you would otherwise have.

A well balanced and blended system helps in no matter what circumstance one views content in.

If you want to point to something having distinct limitations, direct that effort at a White Screen.
post #14 of 21
Thread Starter 
Projector is due to arrive on tuesday. Tomorrow is our National Day in Quebec (which also means a day off) so between today and tomorrow I should be able to finish applying gyprock on the projection area.

In the meanwhile, I did initial installation test of the curtain to make sure all is mecanically OK at the screen installation.
Here's how it looks like with the red curtains deployed

and retracted

I am also looking at a way of pulling and maintaining tension in the screen to avoid wrinkles. Is seems if I pull on both corners all looks great, so I am thinking of extensible hooks on the corners.

With school done now, I promised the kids they'd be able to test-drive the cinema soon, so I hope the screen gives adequate results. While I have a good feeling about it, I won't be able to prove it until I have the projector.
post #15 of 21
It will be at least everything you expect it to be, and many who have used such inexpensive "make do's" have come to realize they turned out better that the expected considering the cash / effort out layed.

But be advised, in the end, it will also leave you thirsting for the next level. Small issues you can accept now will become big ones you cannot abide later...and the desire for realizing something "Mo Bedder" will infect you, and leave you with a burning fever, and a ache in your innards.

Such a great feeling! Indulge yourself in the pain....it'll be good fer ya!
post #16 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the encouraging words!

I finally received the projector today. Quick test upstairs in the "there's too many windows for a projector" living room, and I agree with you, there's NO problems whatsoever with this projector's brightness. It is impressive. Never tought 2800 lumens was that bright.

Anyway, did initial screening tests in the theater room. with all lights on, even in econo mode, it looks great. In fact, econo mode apparently gives 80% brightness, but the difference really is subtle. But the projector is less noisy and whites are less bright. I think I like it in eco mode. It gives what... 2400 - 2500 lumens in that mode? Plenty for my needs. With all lights off and a bright image (such as the BenQ logo screen) you don't need light, the room is all lighted out.
Soon in my todo list: paint the walls yet. Deep dark blue should help. Still need a little drywall and we're up to that.

The screen coloration is very good. Thanks again MississippiMan for the help in selecting it.
I will work out a system to get the blind more ... tight? there are minor folds or wrinkles (for the lack of better words, my english language isn't that strong, I speak french...) that are somewhat visible, and I am certain I can easily avoid that by putting some tension at the corners of the rollershade.

However, the shade seems to have remnants roll marks from being rolled in storage for so long. In bright colors, you can somewhat see them. I assume this will dissipate if we leave it unrolled long enough, so I decided to leave it unrolled permanently for a while.

Guess what the first screening was in the theater? Some episode of iCarly from my daughter's DVD collection. Kids enjoyed very much, even if just playing audio from the weak mono speaker.

I'll try to post pictures as soon as possible.

All in all I like where this is going, but I will likely try to improve on the screen side in the short-to-medium term.
post #17 of 21
Thread Starter 
Hey I don't like having that good quality image at that size...

those cheap low-resolution kids DVDs really look terrible when that large!
post #18 of 21
Thread Starter 
Kidding aside: here's a snapshot of a decent resolution DVD.

I need to use a real camera (as opposed to my cellphone) and learn how to make decent pictures of the movie. where are the documentation on how to achieve good pictures of a projected screen?
post #19 of 21
Thread Starter 
This week-end after installing a dolby pro logic amp, I was watching a movie with the whole family... Then it struck me, if I changed the plans completely, I could use a bigger wall with longer throw capability and have a bigger screen!
Made me think about this sentence you told me.
Originally Posted by MississippiMan View Post

But be advised, in the end, it will also leave you thirsting for the next level.

... I don't plan on changing the current setup. Improving the screen, maybe. Likely. but not the whole setup. We've been in this set of home improvement for months, at some point it needs to be completed before we think about something else. And that something else might be a second room with projector. lol!

Back to roller-shade. There seems to be remnant lines on the surface - somehow not visible at normal light, but which reflects differently a uniform line when projecting on it. I assume it is the material that has been squeezed on the roller. I am wondering if this will wear off, or if it is something I could circumvent by applying a layer of paint. This is (to me) the most annoying part of that screen. It is not huge, It is subtle enough so friends and family can't notice it, and it won't show on camera. It somehow reminds me of CRT scanlines, and only shows on brighter coloration & on certain areas of the screen, but I see it and it somewhat bugs me.

For the time being, I decided to leave the blind opened and equipped with weights, hoping it'll help dissipate it.
I am not sure if this happens with all Levelor roller shades or if I was simply less than lucky. Nevertheless, the image is great once you can get yourself to not focus on the few lines - maybe I am a bit critic of it while I am working it out.

I did comparative testing with various surface: glossy white wall, pale gray unpainted drywall, the beige underside of drywall, black cardboard, a few colors of clothing and various papers in the pale gray coloration. I would have good result with white/pale gray wall, but the coloration & brightness is increased with the medium gray roller-shade <-- it was a great buy.
post #20 of 21
Are those "lines" regularly spaced? It sounds like they are a property of the Mfg process. The Mfg doesn't expect such critiquing, or that the surface will be inundated with a focused spotlight-like beam that has varible colors, detailed elements, all moving around.

If the "lines" have absolutely no "tactile" feel....no bump of ridge....them paint will cover 'em up.

Personally, if I was advising you as your Design /Installer, and this project was indeed supposed to give you a workable and ultimately the most enjoyable experience possible, without the need for retrospective wishful thinking ("I guess I could'a....probably should'a..." .) I would do my uttermost to convince you to go with the most satisfying (...and permanent ...) solution, one ideally suited for the job at hand, not something that several compromises had to be made just to get by. Usually, when pointing such things out "in person" and if the Wife's "opinion" doesn't run contrary to what would be most ideal, I almost always can convince someone to spend money ...whatever amount they can spend...after the best possible solution / results. No one likes to look back and think about how they should have looked "forward".

In your case, even if you didn't up the screen size, using a more ideally suited surface would in and of itself up your satisfaction index considerably. That's the only way I can look at such things.

But that's me....and whadda I know from nuthin'? wink.gif
post #21 of 21
Thread Starter 
I'll give a closer look at those lines this evening. If memory serve, there's like 3-5 of them that are visible, mainly in the upper area when the rollershade is down. I haven't checked "farther" on the shade (which is twice as long as I need - if it is some MFG issue I might be luckier on "the rest" of it)

In the ideal world, I'd use the wall for projection. But the compromise with Ms. Mars is that we have a storage closet behind the screen, to double-up the usefulness of the room. I was originally looking at professionally-made tab-tensionned screens, but as I already mentionned, I cannot seem to find any that fits in the room available to me. When/if I find one, I would likely upgrade. Unless I decide to acquire the material to make one myself (BO Cloth? Ebay vendor's gray 0.7 screen material?)

Unless I manage to find a way to make a removable hard screen.
mmm... that sounds interesting. Might have to think about that one.
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