I don't agree with the part about the 2.35:1 screen being a third wider. In his case if I understand correctly he has a width limitation of 123"
Option 1: 2.35:1 screen:
a. 2.35:1 content : area = 44.67 sqft , Width = 123 , Height = 52.3 , Diagonal = 133.7
b. 16:9 content : area = 33.78 sqft, Width = 106.7 , Height = 52.3 , Diagonal = 106.7
Option 2: 16:9 screen:
a. 2.35:1 content: area = 44.67 sqft, Width = 123 , Height = 52.3 , Diagonal = 133.7
b. 16:9 content : area = 59.1 sqft, Width = 123 , Height = 69.2, Diagonal = 141.1
What would be the advantage of CIH in this case given that the 2.35:1 would be the same exact size in option 2 while the 16:9 content is bigger?
I had a width limitation of 114" and I opted for a 16:9 screen. I can't imagine watching 16:9 or 1.37:1 content on a CIH screen. It would have just been too small. A good scene to demonstrate that was in the movie oz, the great and the powerful. The movie is in 2.35:1 but it starts at 1.37:1 within the 2.35:1 frame as a tribute to the wizard of oz then the width expands to fill all of the 2.35:1 frame. You simply can't compare that 1.37:1 image it had to 1.37:1 content when shown on a 16:9 screen. It looked too tiny in comparison.
Originally Posted by New Design
For some reason, I never get tired of this debate. Probably because it's important and there has never been a great no compromise solution unless you have a lot of money to spend on screens and lenses. If you have the cash, you can buy a screen that changes shape to match the content and an anamorphic lens that doesn't distort or drop brightness in a notice le way. A little less money and you can get a pretty good making system and a slightly cheaper anamorphic lens if you can live with some minor flaws.
You shouldn't think of 2.40:1 screens as being smaller. They are a third wider. There shouldn't have to be a compromise. Just take whatever size 16:9 screen you were going to get and make it a third wider. Btw, a 12 foot wide screen is hardly a compromise unless you plan on sitting on the moon. It should be big enough for most home theaters and unless you have a really bright projector (which quality home theater projectors are typically not), going too big will limi you to only watching in complete darkness. Then there is your field of vision which is wider, not taller so you don't want to have to keep looking up and down to avoid missing content. A movie with subtitles would get super annoying. Having space at the sides when watching football is far less offensive than at the top an bottom for me but I accept that this is a matter of taste. Borders at the side are easy to mask with curtains if they bother you. I am working on a design for sliding panels which I will attach my front speakers to which will mask my unused screen for 16:9 content.
On anamorphic lenses, they cost a fortune but there is a way of building a high quality DIY lens for very little money. I am not talking about buying those glass wedge awards and living with the flaws. I am talking high end cylindrical lenses like the ones used in the $10,000 models.
Sorry if somebody already mentioned this but just in case..... On eBay etc, there are literally hundreds of old anamorphic lenses from the obsolete 35mm theater projectors and from theaters closing generally. Now as they are, most can not be used for home theater because they are 2x stretch lenses. That means they are designed to stretch a 4:3 image to 2.37:1. This would be ok if you have an older 4:3 projector but they would give too much stretch for a 16:9 image. So you have an anamorphic lens with high quality cylindrical prisms but they are positioned at the wrong angle. I purchased one of these lenses for about $50. The prisms were large though. Importantly, they were large enough for my projector lens which is huge (as far as they go) at 4 inches in diameter. The tube the lenses were mounted in was too narrow though and cut off some of my picture. For cleaning, most of these allow you to remove these lenses luckily. I unscrewed mine in less that 1 minute. They came out with their convenient turning knob attached so it was easy to mount them in a different enclosure. In my case, I made a simple short tube out of carbon fiber which I lined with black non reflective material I cut from an old T-shirt. I then simply drilled 2 holes in the tube and attached the lenses with the adjusting knobs sticking out the top. I then mounted the tube inside an open cube shape (also carbon fiber) so it wouldn't role off the table. I then positioned it in front of my lens and adjusted the 2 prisms until they gave me a perfect even 1.33 x stretch. I was going to build something to move it in and out of place but I decided it was easier to leave it permanently in place and switch the projector to 4:3 for 16:9 content which works really well. The quality is amazing. I can't see any loss in brightness or distortion. It may be there but I don't care if I can't see it. It is definitely better quality than the lower end commercial anamorphic lenses which sell for $2000 as you might expect from high end optics made for commercial theater. I would never have paid $5k - $10k for a piece of glass but for less than $60 and an hour of labor, I'm really happy with it.
Before this, I just zoomed in like most people which was fine until I got a newer projector which needed a longer throw distance that I didn't have space for. This lens enabled me to fill my 2.35:1 screen without having to pay more than $2k for a short throw lens.
These commercial but retired anamorphic lenses are all over the used market right now with nobody to buy them except "collectors" whoever they are... Hoarders maybe? As a general rule, i make a point of not being friends with people who say things like "would you like to see my collection of old lenses".
Just make sure you don't get one that can't be focused without 50 feet between screen and projector. The best ones focus using the primary lens. Some will say "8 feet to infinity" which is also fine. If you get lucky, you may find one that has an adjustable stretch. If it is big enough for your primary lens, you'd be able to use it without a DIY project. I believe they made these in the beginning before a standard for anamorphic widescreen was set so the projectionist could dial the right screen width for different content. I had a panavision one which I got for about $80 which could stretch anywhere from 0 to 2.5x.
So back to the question, um... Go 2.40:1 obviously. It is better. It just is. No reason to be watching epic widescreen movies (which is most of them) in a squashed compromised screen with ugly black bars. Even some tv shows are 2.40:1 when they come out on blu ray. People challenged me on that last point and almost had me doubting myself but I went back and checked to confirm that I had seen House in 2.35:1. So as I originally thought, I was right. I think if you buy a 16:9 screen, you'll regret it and end up buying a 2.35:1 / 2.40:1 screen in the end.