I'd been heading toward a CIH set up but now, after borrowing a projector and trying it out in practice - keeping a constant image height - I think I've decided to do something a bit different. Basically, I want more control over the image size than offered even by CIH. And why not, thinks I, after all projection is the only technology that really gives you the option for radically changing the image size to suit your whim or to best match the source material.
What I found is I had a hard time locking in both my 16:9 and my 2:35:1 image size. Sometimes an image felt awesome really big, sometimes it came off much better when projected a smaller size. That went for both 16:9 and 2:35:1. Sometimes I like my 1:85:1 films to be very large and immersive (even up to 108" wide). But if I chose my 2:35:1 based on that 16:9 height:
1. The 2:35:1 images would be too large for my comfort - the extra width added by 2:35:1 at that height brings on too much eye scanning left and right.
2. The 2:35:1 image wouldn't fit on my wall anyway.
CIH intuitively appeals to me because the scope format has always been my favorite for film. I just love the shape of the frame, which to me feels more cinematic and expansive. And to have a screen that shape, vs the standard 16:9, is mega-cool as well. And I like the idea that scope films would not be shrunken smaller than 1:85:1 films, as has been the case with HDTV displays up until now, but be wider as they should be.
At the same time, I don't want to feel I've downgraded all my non-scope movies. While you'll hear from some people that their 16:9 image size has not been compromised, if you've been reading the board you'll also notice a familiar theme of how many people with CIH set-ups state they much prefer viewing 2:35:1 content over 16:9 content (some people even have said "I barely want to watch 16:9 shaped content anymore). I don't necessarily want to get to that state of mind because to me it's like the reverse problem
many people found with 16:9 screens: that it tended to be preferable to watch 16:9 content because the physical limitations of the 16:9 screen meant 16:9 was bigger and more immersive than 2:35:1 films. For better or worse, a CIH set up would seem to reverse the scenario. When you have a CIH set up that makes the difference in image size pretty dramatic between 2:35:1 and your 16:9 images, it's no wonder people start to find the 16:9 stuff less compelling than the scope films. Just as it is no wonder lots of people with 16:9 screens find images fitted to their screen more dramatically immersive than scope films shrunk to fit the width.
I personally want to have any size image, particularly 1:85:1 films and 2:35:1 films feel impressive and immersive. So that I don't feel mildly disappointed when I switch from one to another. In using simply the zoom method on my wall for a while now, I've been able to achieve that. Whenever I feel like it, I can have the 1:85:1 movie big and immersive - taller than I would had I settled on an image based upon a comfortable 2:35:1 size. And every film, whatever it's aspect ratio, is impressively encompassing. And at the same time, 2:35:1 is still wider than my 16:9 images and still wonderfully impressive.
My challenge now is how to translate that into my desire for a fixed screen and masking, as I'd like to use 4 way masking to achieve this variable image size. I may also end up employing an anamorphic lens for a couple reasons, including:
1. It will help me achieve a wider 2:35:1 image than I might be able to achieve from my projector alone, given the limitations of my throw distance.
2. There might be visual benefits to using the lens vs the zoom method for scope films. That I have yet to be able to test for myself.
So, basically, I have found thus far that my ideal size for lots of 2:35:1 movies does not result in an ideal size for lots of my 1:85:1 films, and visa versa, which has been an impediment to my deciding on a CIH set-up.