WARNING: This is a long post but I wanted to be as thorough as I can. I also thought it would provide a good reference for someone like myself that is completely new to the field to give some things to think about that they may not have considered yet. It takes a lot of grinding and jumping in and out of threads to get all the information you need.
Some pointed questions are at the bottom and you can feel free just to skip down to the questions and come back up to a specific section if you need more info.
After reading countless threads for countless hours to learn about home theatres, I finally feel like I'm at a point where I can ask for some help and not be completely embarrassed by my questions.
As someone who has never had any experience at all with home theatres I have to say without this website I have no idea where I would be. All the users who contribute to the site are much appreciated even if lurkers like me don't get the opportunity to say that very often. Especially considering some of the posts are even years old.
The point of this thread is to make sure I'm not completely out of line as I finish making the purchases I need to get started on my home theatre set-up and to get some info cleared up that I am having trouble finding.
My room is 11'9" wide and 7'4" tall with as much length as required. It's an entire basement so I can push the projector or seating back as far as I need. Currently the couch is approximately 12 feet back.
There is no windows in the room until you get about 20 feet back down the length and it is only a small basement window which can be covered if use in the day is needed.
The ceiling is white tiles which can be pushed out and in and at this point will not be painted but as my home theatre setup becomes more advanced I will likely do something with them as I figure out what my room needs.
MY VIEWING NEEDS
I will likely split my viewing between movies and TV, with a little gaming mixed in once in a while.
The biggest reason from switching from my current HDTV. Aside from it only being 60 inches is to get rid of the black bars when watching a scope image. It really takes away from the experience for me and it is more important that I can get that working correctly than having a large picture when I watch tv as half the time I am researching something on the laptop or my phone when the tv is on anyway.
Black levels are something that are high on my priority list but not as high as cost savings at this point in my life.
After reading through several threads on screens I decided to build my own screen. I made the frame out of 1x4 wood and attached white blackout cloth to it. The cloth was one of the limiting factors for the size of the screen as the largest cloth I could find was 54" wide but given the small wall I am placing it on it couldn't have gone much bigger anyhow.
So in the end I built a frame that is roughly 52" wide and 120 inches long and will use black hockey tape to make the border for now until I can bet my hands on some felt tape. Being a Canadian resident and not being directly in a major city seems to make getting materials a little more difficult. But so far I only have about 45 dollars in it so considering it got me exactly what I needed for my space I am very pleased with the outcome.
My budget was around $1,000 for the projector. I would consider going slightly higher but it seems like moving up from the Epson 2030 at 699.99 CDN or the Benq w1070 at 799.99 you need to really double the price to see much else and triple the price (Sony HW40ES and panasonic AE8000) if you want better zoom and black levels.
At the moment I am leaning towards the Benq W1070 as this community seems to hold it in high regard.
CONSTANT IMAGE HEIGHT
From what I have been reading there are two main ways to achieve the 2.35:1 ratio with pretty much all projectors out there. There may be other methods using a HTPC and shrinking? but honestly I couldn't really follow those conversations. If someone feels like that would be a better solution for me I would certainly read more into it.
Zoom method - Please correct me if I am not thinking about this correctly as I have never actually used one. I am considering purchasing the Benq W1070, which means the zoom method will pose a significant challenge as it does not have quite enough zoom to fill a 2.35:1 screen and also does not zoom up and down equally but rather holds the top of the screen and pushes the entire image down. This means I will need to manually tilt the projector back up to get the projector back in place which likely means refocusing each time. I have seen in several places that the solution to this is to mount it to a sliding ceiling mount that pushes the projector forward and tilts it up to accommodate this. This solution is somewhere in the Benq W1070 thread but it is over 11,000 posts and I'm only about 4,000 posts in or so. It's taking a while to find it.
Anamorphic Lens - The only one I could find so far was around $5,000. This unfortunately is too expensive for me at this point in my life. Fortunately there are a lot of people out there who are building their own lenses out of crystal wedge trophy prisms. This is something that interests me a lot and I would consider building this if it ends up being the best solution. I have been having a hard time finding any of these prisms in Canada but will order them from a US store if need be.
I haven't found much information on DIY masking. My end goal would be to cover the white sides of the screen when I am watching TV in 16:9 format but other than curtains I haven't really seen much out there for ideas. Any thoughts on this area would be much appreciated.
1. If I start with the zoom method and then decide to go with the 2 prism lens will I need to completely change my ceiling mount or will it be roughly the same spot in both cases assuming I am filling the height of the screen with 16:9. Also if there are any Canadians that know of a decent outlet to buy prisms that would be much appreciated.
2. I have had salesmen recommend the Epson 2030 to me over the Benq W1070. Is there any merit to what they are saying or should I stick with the Benq? It of course has even less zoom that the Benq so I hadn't given it too much thought as I was planning on just using the 1.3x zoom to get as close as I could but now I am wondering if I need to be completely rethinking my approach.
3. If I use the 2 prism lens system, is it just as simple as moving the lens in place (once you have them working correctly) for 2.35:1 and moving it back out to get back to 16:9 or will there be refocusing and lens shift again?
4. Is there anything I am overlooking that you wished you knew about when you first started this process or anything glaring that I missed mentioning?
5. Are there some areas where I should undoubtedly not be cheap in?
Thanks for any and all help on any of these topics. Look forward to chatting with everyone here.