There's been a lot of CIH talk in this thread - lenses, zooming, stretching, oh my - but nothing beats a cheap set of DIY masks to help rid you of those unsightly "black bars" with scope material so I thought I'd fill those interested in on my journey to making new masks for my screen.
Years ago I had masks for my old 110'' but I never got around to doing it for my 106'' screen. Now that I have a 5030ub I care about such things again, but not enough to spend more than the projector cost on a lens, scaler, and 2:35 screen. Making these masks cost me $44 and an hour of my time and will result in a much nicer picture with scope material.There are better, sturdier ways to do this, but none cheaper or quicker - if you want to try out masks and see if they are for you (hint: you will probably find that to be the case) then this is as easy as it gets. Caveat: The method I describe below works with 16x9 screens up to 110'' diagonal. Over that, you'll have to use a couple pieces of backing board/cloth and attach them together, which will take a little more time and effort but nothing too onerous. If your screen is under 110'' you are in luck because it's easy as pie.
Reference notes: A 106'' screen like mine is 92 inches across, horizontally. A 110'' screen is 96 inches - 8 feet exactly. 8 feet happens to be the largest size you'll find for most backing material, so keep that in mind. MEASURE your inner screen dimensions before you set out, and don't forget to project some 2:35:1 and 2:40:1 material so you can measure the dreaded "black bars" too - mine are 7 inches high top and bottom.Part 1: Buying the mask material (on the cheap)!
First, you need some good black velvet cloth. In the US, Hobby Lobby sells this by the yard, so for a 106'' screen 2.6 yards will do. They have a 40% coupon going right now for any single item, so this ended up costing me $18. It's nice cloth too - thin, but not too thin, super deep black, nice texture. It'll match whatever you have for your screen now just fine.
Second, you need some good fabric glue. Don't use Elmer's or wood glue, get the good stuff, also at Hobby Lobby. Some folks like fabric tape but I find tape to be a PITA for this kind of project, at least on a permanent basis - use it to adjust the fit then use glue to set it right.
Third, you need some backing material. Home Depot or Lowes are your friend here - get a 4x8 sheet of foam insulating material. It's stiff enough for the job while being lightweight and easy to cut/work with. I used 1/2 inch thick stuff since I didn't want it to be too deep but looking at my current screen frame I probably could have gotten away with 3/4 if I wanted.
For masks that are "heavy duty" and made to survive years of being put up/taken down you might want to consider a more solid substrate - particle board, maybe - but the foam will get the job done. It's also $12 for a 1/2 inch 4x8 sheet. And - don't forget this step - those big box stores will cut it for you. I had them cut me two 92 inch long 7 inch high strips from the material on the big table saw they have there - it's free, and unless you have a (huge) table saw of your own you will never get it as straight as they will.
10 total minutes and $12 later I left Home Depot with two perfectly cut strips:Part 2: Making the masks.
I had Hobby Lobby cut my velvet fabric too, though they did a crap job of it. So I laid out the foam backing and got to work with some scissors. 5 minutes later all was right and I carefully wrapped the fabric around the foam board, holding it in place with fabric tape until I had a perfect edge, then I went along and glued it.
20 minutes later (most of it time for the glue to set while I had a beer) I had a pretty perfect, straight mask:
Repeat for the bottom one and you're almost done.Part 3: Attaching the masks to the screen:
This is the part I'm doing now - given the holiday I probably won't get back to it until Friday, when I'll update the post. At first, I am simply going to use a couple pieces of double-sided Velcro tape on each end to hold it in place (it's pretty light, overall). After that, I am probably going to go the magnet route and "hang" the masks off my screen with some black fabric. That will make for a more usable solution, and keep the masks off the floor/side of the room.
Again, if you want something a little sturdier - something that will last you years of use without worrying about breaking the foam - go with a sturdier substrate. However, this method is as easy and cheap as it gets and looks great.
Will post more pics soon.