Retractable Screen in Front of Fireplace - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 14 Old 11-14-2017, 07:56 AM - Thread Starter
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Retractable Screen in Front of Fireplace

We just moved into a house and I am trying to figure out the basement projector layout (attached are photos). I thought placing a recessed motorized screen in front of the fireplace would be awesome, but I don't know if that is a good idea. A few notes about what I am looking to accomplish:

-Probably 90% off the use will be just "general tv watching". 10% will be movies.
-For general tv watching, I would like to able to get a decent picture while keeping the shades up and/or a few lights on. For a movie or something where I want a good picture, I can turn off lights and close blinds.
-Never had a projector but I really like the idea of one in this basement for a few reasons; however the basement is a walkout and there is a decent amount of ambient light

Any thoughts on the layout? The ceilings are 9 ft. I was going to open the ceiling up in a few places to install a gas line and security system so it would be a great time to rough in a projector and speakers. With a budget of $3-5k (like to stay under 4) for the projector and screen, could I get a setup that would overcome the ambient light?

I really appreciate any advice. I am dumber than a box of rocks with this right now, but I am doing my research to try to get a better understanding of my options.
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post #2 of 14 Old 11-14-2017, 11:41 AM
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I would buy an entry level projector like the discounted BenQ HT1070 for $499 from many trusted vendors. Put it on a table and hang a sheet over the fire place and find out for your self if you can tolerate the washed out picture with your desired level of ambient light. Very little investment and most have a good return policy so you can decide for your self if it worth keeping, upgrading or to forget the whole idea.

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post #3 of 14 Old 11-14-2017, 12:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by platestealer View Post
We just moved into a house and I am trying to figure out the basement projector layout (attached are photos). I thought placing a recessed motorized screen in front of the fireplace would be awesome, but I don't know if that is a good idea. A few notes about what I am looking to accomplish:

-Probably 90% off the use will be just "general tv watching". 10% will be movies.
-For general tv watching, I would like to able to get a decent picture while keeping the shades up and/or a few lights on. For a movie or something where I want a good picture, I can turn off lights and close blinds.
-Never had a projector but I really like the idea of one in this basement for a few reasons; however the basement is a walkout and there is a decent amount of ambient light

Any thoughts on the layout? The ceilings are 9 ft. I was going to open the ceiling up in a few places to install a gas line and security system so it would be a great time to rough in a projector and speakers. With a budget of $3-5k (like to stay under 4) for the projector and screen, could I get a setup that would overcome the ambient light?

I really appreciate any advice. I am dumber than a box of rocks with this right now, but I am doing my research to try to get a better understanding of my options.
You could save a ton of money by putting a fixed screen on that big blank wall, and re - arranging the furniture layout. A decent recessed screen could cost $3K by the time you install it. Just a thought.
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post #4 of 14 Old 11-15-2017, 09:53 AM - Thread Starter
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You could save a ton of money by putting a fixed screen on that big blank wall, and re - arranging the furniture layout. A decent recessed screen could cost $3K by the time you install it. Just a thought.
Thanks for the idea. I thought about that but I keep coming back to fireplace. I really like the idea of keeping the fireplace the focal point, and if I place it on that large wall adjacent to the fireplace, the pool table will interfere with seating so I will have to rearrange furniture. One note though:

The fireplace is on the south wall and that smaller window on the same wall is where sunlight enters (especially in the winter when the sun isn't as high, but most winter days are cloudy anyways). There is a deck above that window so that blocks some of the direct sunlight. I probably will make a cad and try different furniture layouts.

I think I will buy a projector and try a few different spots as well to see if it works. I have been reading a lot and people have accomplished a good picture with what appears to be more ambient light than what I am dealing with.

One questions though:

I have been looking at the Epson Home Cinema 3700 and benQ HT2050. Any thoughts on those? There is a price difference, but I will have to study those and see if the price difference is justified. One is dlp vs 3LCD and that is another thing I will have to figure out.

Once I decide on a projector, I will then play around with placing the projector on the different walls and see how the picture comes out, before buying a expensive screen if I decide to go the fireplace placement.

Thanks for the responses!
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post #5 of 14 Old 11-15-2017, 10:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by platestealer View Post
... I have been looking at the Epson Home Cinema 3700 and benQ HT2050. Any thoughts on those? There is a price difference, but I will have to study those and see if the price difference is justified. One is dlp vs 3LCD and that is another thing I will have to figure out. ...
Generally speaking at the same price point a bright 3LCD projector will have the advantage in a room with ambient light while a less bright DLP projector will have the advantage in the dark. In this case the 3700 is a price class above the HT2050 and adds extensive lens shift which can be useful where the projector can't be mounted in the optimum position relative to the screen.

When ceiling mounted the HT2050 needs to have the center of the lens even with a point within a few inches of the top of the screen area whereas the extensive vertical lens shift of the 3700 would allow it to be mounted higher or lower. The 3700 is an exceptionally bright projector designed more for home video in ambient light whereas the less bright HT2050 is designed more for home theater in a dark environment.
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post #6 of 14 Old 11-15-2017, 07:27 PM - Thread Starter
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I think I am about to order a manufacturer refurbished Epson 3700 for $949. Seems like a good price and I think it will work well. Thanks
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post #7 of 14 Old 11-16-2017, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Dave in Green View Post
..the extensive vertical lens shift of the 3700 would allow it to be mounted higher or lower.
I just wanted to point out that although the 3700 can be mounted much lower/toward screen-center-height (as well as several inches sideways if needed), the 3700 can't typically be mounted higher than the ht2050.
The 2050 can potentially be mounted as high as ~15% of the 16:9image-height above its projected image while the 3700 maxes out at ~10% of the 16:9image-height above its projected image.

A mostly meaningless nitpick, just in case a slightly higher ceiling-mount is top priority for someone comparing these.

Easy $25 DIY black (or any color) ALR paint +$40-$50sprayer screen mix smooth/clean and very easy to learn spraying with little/no mess.
Simple $25-40 DIY black/dark-grey ambient-light rejecting screen, grab two things from a local store..mix..roll..done.
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post #8 of 14 Old 11-16-2017, 10:04 AM
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^ @Ftoast is right about the 3700's vertical lens shift limit. It would take moving up to the more expensive Epson 4000/5000 series to get greater vertical lens shift -- 96% vs. 60% for the 3000 series as measured from the center of the screen image. So the 4000/5000 series can be up to 46% of image height above the top of the image whereas the 3000 series can only be up to 10%.
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post #9 of 14 Old 11-21-2017, 11:28 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the advice. I set up the projector and tried on a few walls. Very happy with it in ambient light. The best spot seemed to be in front of the fireplace (with a bed sheet) so I am now starting to look at screens.

Any recommendations on brand? I am thinking a gray screen with a 1.0-1.3 gain? That could be a few $$$ but I also want to get something that would work well if I upgraded the projector in a couple of years.
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post #10 of 14 Old 11-21-2017, 12:42 PM
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Since in many rooms the fireplace is the focal point of furniture orientation, it is not unusual to want to place a retractable screen above the fireplace. Since fireplaces are very different on how they draw heat, I would recommend doing an easy test before purchasing a screen. Take an ordinary outdoor type thermometer and place it above above fireplace at the same position where screen roller housing would be located. Then build a good size fire and monitor temperatures. If temperature does not exceed 120F your are in good shape to install MOST commercially available screens. Also, make sure that any screen you purchase has an approved Fire Marshall Certificate for the particular screen material you select. Hope that helps.
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Last edited by Don Stewart; 11-21-2017 at 01:01 PM.
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post #11 of 14 Old 11-23-2017, 09:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Don Stewart View Post
Since in many rooms the fireplace is the focal point of furniture orientation, it is not unusual to want to place a retractable screen above the fireplace. Since fireplaces are very different on how they draw heat, I would recommend doing an easy test before purchasing a screen. Take an ordinary outdoor type thermometer and place it above above fireplace at the same position where screen roller housing would be located. Then build a good size fire and monitor temperatures. If temperature does not exceed 120F your are in good shape to install MOST commercially available screens. Also, make sure that any screen you purchase has an approved Fire Marshall Certificate for the particular screen material you select. Hope that helps.
Thanks. That was a good suggestion.

I have been thinking about it more and am starting to think that maybe I should do a fixed frame above the fireplace. It's a basement so its meant more for entertainment so a retractable one isn't necessary (if it was on the mainfloor, it would be different) and from what I found, going to a fixed frame instead of a retractable opens up a lot more options and drops the cost of the an alr screen significantly. I attached a photo to give an idea of what I am thinking (the picture is ~114"). I probably need to go smaller and I would take off the mantel so I can keep the screen closer to the wall. Not thrilled about how high the screen sits, but it is what it is. I also envision a led backlight behind the screen to give it a little pop.

What are peoples thoughts? Should I go back to the drawing board and rethink it and the layout? Also, I have looked at about every ALR material on the market and am seeking advice on that. I thought the cinegrey 3d/5d looked pretty good, especially for how relatively affordable it is (but it seems like elite has terrible customer service). I believe the vertical angles should work out (projector would be mounted as close to the ceiling as possible).


I would probably build my own frame too if I went with a material that can be purchased bare.
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post #12 of 14 Old 11-24-2017, 11:27 AM
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@platestealer , the issue with mounting a projector screen too high is that it can cause neck or eye strain during extended viewing sessions. Optimum screen height is influenced by personal preferences and seating posture. For example, if sitting upright our natural gaze is straight ahead, so the naturally comfortable screen height would be close to even with our seated eye height. But when viewing from a recliner with head inclined our gaze tends to naturally fall higher, so a higher mounted screen can be more comfortable. If possible it's always best to experiment and find what screen height works best for your seating position and personal preferences.
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post #13 of 14 Old 11-24-2017, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by platestealer View Post
Thanks. That was a good suggestion.

I have been thinking about it more and am starting to think that maybe I should do a fixed frame above the fireplace. It's a basement so its meant more for entertainment so a retractable one isn't necessary (if it was on the mainfloor, it would be different) and from what I found, going to a fixed frame instead of a retractable opens up a lot more options and drops the cost of the an alr screen significantly. I attached a photo to give an idea of what I am thinking (the picture is ~114"). I probably need to go smaller and I would take off the mantel so I can keep the screen closer to the wall. Not thrilled about how high the screen sits, but it is what it is. I also envision a led backlight behind the screen to give it a little pop.

What are peoples thoughts? Should I go back to the drawing board and rethink it and the layout? Also, I have looked at about every ALR material on the market and am seeking advice on that. I thought the cinegrey 3d/5d looked pretty good, especially for how relatively affordable it is (but it seems like elite has terrible customer service). I believe the vertical angles should work out (projector would be mounted as close to the ceiling as possible).


I would probably build my own frame too if I went with a material that can be purchased bare.
I am going to take off my screen expert hat and put on my interior decorating hat on. IMO, if you put a fixed screen over the fireplace as shown in your photo, you are taking a very attractive fireplace and a nicely done game room and making it all look kind of cheesy. Anyway....just my 2 cents.
Also, you would never be able to light a fire with the screen material so close to the fire box. Your first instinct to go with a retractable was the correct call for this particular installation.


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http://www.stewartfilmscreen.com/

Last edited by Don Stewart; 11-24-2017 at 08:35 PM.
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post #14 of 14 Old 11-24-2017, 09:52 PM - Thread Starter
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I am going to take off my screen expert hat and put on my interior decorating hat on. IMO, if you put a fixed screen over the fireplace as shown in your photo, you are taking a very attractive fireplace and a nicely done game room and making it all look kind of cheesy. Anyway....just my 2 cents.
Also, you would never be able to light a fire with the screen material so close to the fire box. Your first instinct to go with a retractable was the correct call for this particular installation.
Every idea I have had with the screen has had its trade offs. If I move the screen to a different wall, it creates a less than ideal configuration. If I go with a fixed frame, it blocks some of the fireplace, but it is significantly cheaper (I would use a smaller screen size then shown in the picture if I went fixed frame) and if I went the retractable screen, it would work well for the room, but at a relatively high price for an alr material and tensioned screen (compared to the other options, maybe ~$4k?).

So new game plan: Right now I am trying to figure out if a projector works for the room. If I get an alr material (i.e. cinegrey 3d/5d) and build a frame just so I can see the results, I can do that for ~$250. Then assuming all is well, I spend the money and purchase a nice retractable. From what I have seen, people have made projectors work with a lot more ambient light then I have, but I want to see it in action before I spend the money. I think this is a logical route to take instead of just diving in.

Don Stewart-I didn't make the connection until now that you are with Stewart Screens, but I did research the Phantom HALR material and it is one of the alr screen materials that work in a retractable screen! Is the Phantom HALR overkill for my room based off of the photos or would the Firehawk material be better suited for the room? All the windows are on the same wall as the fireplace or on the wall to the left of the fireplace and the lights are recessed so I have very little light coming from the same direction as the projector thus I believe an alr material would work well. I can easily have a 1.8 throw ratio for the Phantom material. I can provide ambient lighting levels if that helps.
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