A few more words about High Contrast Gray (HCG) -
With my first projector (a Compaq) I was staying "out" a lot - the ability to take it with me to hotels and other temporary housing was attractive. In these situations, wall projection worked well enough, but I became very aware of ambient light as an issue. A plain white wall always produced a faded looking image to my eye with relatively poor black levels. This was a 1600 lumen projector, but wasn't 1080. (1024x768 if I recall) One night, I happened to stay at a place with slightly gray wallpaper on the only surface I could project on. It provided a noticeably better image.
From then on, whenever I visited an AV showroom, I paid close attention to the projection surface. The Gray screens consistently looked much better to me.
Based on that experience, I shopped around on the internet and purchased the screen I have now (Draper LUMA - ceiling mounted pull-down). It's actual surface is 84 inches across has no black border, well none at all really - it was intended for slide projection - I just don't extend it all the way. This combo gave the best viewing I ever got from that
My Compaq burned out one night (it's a color wheel type) and I eventually replaced it. (a week after I bought a spare bulb for it... grrr
After "doing without" for a while, I decided on the Epson 1080p which is the subject of our thread here.
It was the showroom demo model, which made it affordable. Unfortunately I was a week outside eligibility for the "Free Spare Bulb" everyone else got. Fortunately for me, the original never burned out.
Back to the HCG screen...
I was amazed at the images this new machine put on my screen. Once I calibrated it (over several rounds) I was even more impressed. It took a couple years, but eventually as I became accustomed to it I began to notice the combination's limits, as I suppose we all do. Here's a list that has to do with the choice of screen.
- Surface Grain - every once in a while, depending on the projected content, my eye suddenly becomes aware of the grain of the screen coating. This happens when the image is "flat" in color and intensity - and the camera moves across the scene. It's usually only momentary, but is there. My next screen, I'll pay attention to this and seek a finer grain.
- Color Shift - Apparently, the psycho-visual characteristics of the eye compensate for many things. Having watched so much TV in the NTSC color system, a true HD image was a delight not only for it's resolution, but range of color. As I've gotten used to it, my ability to discern colors has improved. Recently, when I bought Lawrence of Arabia on BD (Great Job SONY) I began to see slight color mismatches. Why it took this title to make it so obvious to my eye, I don't know - but it motivated me to do a more serious color calibration. Thanks to the projector's great flexibility - I was able to create a profile that worked for this kind of content. I find myself using it now, most of the time - rarely reverting to the old one. So my admonition is: Be prepared to spend some time resetting your projector's color balance if your switching from White to Gray. It really threw me for a while, and not initially.
- Size - This may not surprise some of you but it does me - Using an HCG screen allows one to go with a bigger surface than with a White one. Yeah, it's not intuitive - but the improved Black Levels could be used to "Step Up" size rather than benefit from deeper blacks if you're happy with your the White screen's performance. Split the difference and you can improve both. As it is, I would go with a ~100 inches next time instead of 84 and have no fear of getting dim.
- Border - In showrooms, I noticed what a difference a black border made. It seemed to help define the Black for the rest of the image. However, most of these (well all actually) were screen pannels Directly On The Wall - not screens suspended before one. I reasoned that in my situation, the border was not required as there was nothing behind my screen to reflect light so I'd have a "Void" of black. I think this is actually working, and being able to use the entire surface for image appeals to me. Your milage may vary.
I didn't want to mislead anyone with the happiness of my choices, so those are the gory details. Now you can judge for yourselves.Lord_Zath
- I know just where you're coming from. If I could make a suggestion it would be to buy some small cans of paint and experiment by covering some plaques with each. (maybe 1 ft square) Include Rust-Oleum's "Aluminum" color paint among your selections. Place them in front of the wall and project on them side-by-side. If you find one you really like - consider painting the wall or making an appliance. Of course an appliance could include a pull-down screen too. Still it might not work in your situation, as you say. Making plaques will allow you to see if a small change is beneficial without upsetting your whole scheme. Your room sounds great.heavy-b
- Yes, airflow is probably important to keeping your bulb healthy. Moreover - the heat resulting from blocked ventilation will shorten the life of your projector's electronics too. I too considered an outlet vent - but decided an input would be quieter (really important as I sit under it) and would take the heat and air dust away from the area immediately around the projector. I think this worked as I routinely clean the filter once a year and it never looks "Scary".