Do I need ALR or Grey screen? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 30 Old 04-26-2019, 01:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Do I need ALR or Grey screen?

Projector noob here. I'm finishing my basement so the space will be a mixed use entertainment area with a projector/fixed screen setup. I'd like to do 2.40:1 AR and eyes to screen will be about 12'. I'm thinking somewhere around a 110" screen paired with the new Epson 5050UB. The space will partially be used for entertaining with a wet bar to the side and a poker table in the back. Think sports events and awards shows where the lights will be on. It definitely will not be a bat-cave with flat black walls but the wall colors will be neutral to darker in color.

I also plan to watch movies in the dark at night after the kiddos have gone to bed so I want good performance for that scenario as well. So...what kind of screen should I be looking at? ALR, Cinegray, high gain, low gain, etc? I know it's a compromise either way but what sort of screen material do you guys use for these mixed use rooms? Budget is $750-$1000 maybe up to $1250 if it increases performance quite a bit.
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post #2 of 30 Old 04-26-2019, 02:20 PM
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I personally am a huge fan of ALR screens especially in multipurpose spaces.

The main thing is to always keep light off the screen, but if you cant, can you estimate the ambient light at the screen location?

- 0~2 lux? (Dark Theater)
- 3~5 lux? (Darkened Room with light near the screen, or falling onto)


My other question; where are you finding one for $1250? My theater uses one that was triple that, although mine is also Acoustically Transparent.
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post #3 of 30 Old 04-26-2019, 02:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BoomBoomRCDD View Post
I personally am a huge fan of ALR screens especially in multipurpose spaces.

The main thing is to always keep light off the screen, but if you cant, can you estimate the ambient light at the screen location?

- 0~2 lux? (Dark Theater)
- 3~5 lux? (Darkened Room with light near the screen, or falling onto)


My other question; where are you finding one for $1250? My theater uses one that was triple that, although mine is also Acoustically Transparent.
It's a basement with 10 foot ceilings so there will be zones of light so i will be able to turn off the lights right near the screen. Can lights in strategic places and lamps towards the back of the room. There are 2 basement windows that will have light control with black-out curtains. Movie watching: 1 lux; entertaining: 4 lux. Those are just estimates of course.

I didn't find one for $1250. That is my budget for just the screen.

Are all grey screens ALR?
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post #4 of 30 Old 04-26-2019, 11:20 PM
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No not all gray screens are ALR. It's hard to describe to one unfamiliar to front projection as what to expect from a screen. The two biggest mistakes newbies make is screen size and lighting control. 110" 2:39 screen is way to small by most preferences on these forums for a 12' seating distance. I highly recommend using the wall or temporary screen for a few weeks to decide for your self what size, AR and the effect of your lighting has before even considering a screen. Simple white is the most desirable if you can correctly control the ambient/reflected light.

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post #5 of 30 Old 04-27-2019, 06:29 AM
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I will second the idea to use a painted wall as a screen for some period of time and have the projector table mounted during this experimental phase. Almost all people that have selected a screen size and viewing distance find within a few months they like greater immersion than they thought. If you already have a screen and decide that the only option you have is moving your seating closer. When you do that you mess up your speaker placements. So for all the above unless you have been living with FP for a long time it is imposable for others to advise you.

I will assume you are going to be doing the zoom method of filling your CIH scope screen. Be aware that IMAX Enhanced is coming out and quite a few blockbusters could be coming out in the taller AR soon. Also with your use of the room for sports or awards etc where people will be sitting deeper in the room a taller AR would benefit that.

I have used DIY painted neutral gray screens for 16 years and the last 5 I have had a stealth DIY painted wall screen. It is not an ALR gray but a simple wide dispersion neutral gray. Such a screen absorbs ambient light but also absorbs the same percentage of projected light and therefore requires a brighter projector.

The first thing to learn is projectors do not project black. When they make black they do it by trying to send out no light. Thus the darkest black you will see (CR) is what the screen looks like with whatever light there is in the room. It seems logical then that a screen that looks gray will make a better black than one that looks white (over simplified) gray will also lower every other bit of colored and white light that hits the screen the same amount thus the reason a brighter projector is needed.

The second thing to learn is ALR screens work by making the viewing cone smaller and do not reject light coming from around the same direction as the projector they in fact will make that bad light brighter to the viewer. They work best when the bad light is coming in strongly from the sides or from above.

With a DIY painted wall and some time you can experiment with all these things in your room. Most screen companies also provide samples you can tack up and look at under projector and room light.

Yes it is a lot of messing around but the result is worth it, or you can go with all dark colors / black and a white 1.0 screen and do all your watching in pitch black and the image will be beautiful. That’s the reason Commercial Theaters do it that way.
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post #6 of 30 Old 04-27-2019, 09:01 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rekbones View Post
No not all gray screens are ALR. It's hard to describe to one unfamiliar to front projection as what to expect from a screen. The two biggest mistakes newbies make is screen size and lighting control. 110" 2:39 screen is way to small by most preferences on these forums for a 12' seating distance. I highly recommend using the wall or temporary screen for a few weeks to decide for your self what size, AR and the effect of your lighting has before even considering a screen. Simple white is the most desirable if you can correctly control the ambient/reflected light.
Well, eyes to screen would probably end up being closer to 11 feet. I do have the option of doing a 16:9 AR as well but wanted to use the motorized zoom and lens memory feature that I'm paying for in the Epson 5050UB. Like many others, I also don't like the idea of 'scope movies being smaller than HDTV.
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post #7 of 30 Old 04-27-2019, 12:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cla55clown View Post
Well, eyes to screen would probably end up being closer to 11 feet. I do have the option of doing a 16:9 AR as well but wanted to use the motorized zoom and lens memory feature that I'm paying for in the Epson 5050UB. Like many others, I also don't like the idea of 'scope movies being smaller than HDTV.
You can use the presentation called CIH+IMAX. That allows you to use your memory functions and also show every AR and format in its correct size and immersion without moving seating. IMAX on home media would be a movie like Dunkirk or Aquaman it is intended to be the width of scope only taller. Other movies called Flat filmed in 1.85:1 are intended to be the height of scope only not as wide. Examples would be Shindlers List, Saving Private Ryan.

Of course if screen masking is important to you then you would need 4way masking.

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post #8 of 30 Old 04-28-2019, 07:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cla55clown View Post
... Budget is $750-$1000 maybe up to $1250 if it increases performance quite a bit.

I think ALR screens are vastly superior to old-style screens but you're going to find a good ALR at $1250 only in the second-hand market.


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post #9 of 30 Old 04-28-2019, 04:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cla55clown View Post
Projector noob here. I'm finishing my basement so the space will be a mixed use entertainment area with a projector/fixed screen setup. I'd like to do 2.40:1 AR and eyes to screen will be about 12'. I'm thinking somewhere around a 110" screen paired with the new Epson 5050UB. The space will partially be used for entertaining with a wet bar to the side and a poker table in the back. Think sports events and awards shows where the lights will be on. It definitely will not be a bat-cave with flat black walls but the wall colors will be neutral to darker in color.

I also plan to watch movies in the dark at night after the kiddos have gone to bed so I want good performance for that scenario as well. So...what kind of screen should I be looking at? ALR, Cinegray, high gain, low gain, etc? I know it's a compromise either way but what sort of screen material do you guys use for these mixed use rooms? Budget is $750-$1000 maybe up to $1250 if it increases performance quite a bit.
XY Screen Black Crystal .8 gain screen.
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post #10 of 30 Old 04-29-2019, 02:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cla55clown View Post
Projector noob here. I'm finishing my basement so the space will be a mixed use entertainment area with a projector/fixed screen setup. I'd like to do 2.40:1 AR and eyes to screen will be about 12'. I'm thinking somewhere around a 110" screen paired with the new Epson 5050UB. The space will partially be used for entertaining with a wet bar to the side and a poker table in the back. Think sports events and awards shows where the lights will be on. It definitely will not be a bat-cave with flat black walls but the wall colors will be neutral to darker in color.

I also plan to watch movies in the dark at night after the kiddos have gone to bed so I want good performance for that scenario as well. So...what kind of screen should I be looking at? ALR, Cinegray, high gain, low gain, etc? I know it's a compromise either way but what sort of screen material do you guys use for these mixed use rooms? Budget is $750-$1000 maybe up to $1250 if it increases performance quite a bit.
I am in almost the exact same situation with my basement. Also getting that same projector. I am going to try the DIY route though and use Carl's ALR material and build my own screen. Way cheaper. Hopefully just as good as most other ALR screens.



https://www.carlofet.com/projector-s...-material.html
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post #11 of 30 Old 04-30-2019, 07:18 AM
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Does anyone have any experience with the Dark energy DIY fabric? I've been thinking of trying that myself.

https://www.darkenergyscreens.com/diy-flex
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post #12 of 30 Old 05-19-2019, 07:15 AM
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Can anyone tell me if ALR screens give have less brightness than a White screen?
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post #13 of 30 Old 05-19-2019, 07:51 AM
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Originally Posted by jbail804 View Post
Can anyone tell me if ALR screens give have less brightness than a White screen?
Depends on the specified gain, many ALR screens have positive gain.
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post #14 of 30 Old 05-19-2019, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by noob00224 View Post
Depends on the specified gain, many ALR screens have positive gain.
Sorry, I should have been more clear in my question. In general, If they both have the same gain, should the perceived brightness be the same? I just started a new post as to not hijack this one. But my specific question would be how the perceived brightness of a 1.4 ALR screen would compare to a 1.0 gain white screen.
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post #15 of 30 Old 05-19-2019, 05:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbail804 View Post
Sorry, I should have been more clear in my question. In general, If they both have the same gain, should the perceived brightness be the same? I just started a new post as to not hijack this one. But my specific question would be how the perceived brightness of a 1.4 ALR screen would compare to a 1.0 gain white screen.
As long as the gain measurements are accurate and not marketing speak a 1.4 gain screen should appear 1.4 times brighter than a 1.0 gain screen to a viewer seated at the center point of the viewing cone. However, screens with directional gain become increasingly less bright as you move away from the center of the viewing cone. A 1.4 gain screen could appear to be 0.6 gain to those seated 45 degrees off center. A matte white 1.0 gain screen is considered Lambertian because it will provide 1.0 gain and therefore appear equally bright from any viewing point in the room.
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Originally Posted by Dave in Green View Post
As long as the gain measurements are accurate and not marketing speak a 1.4 gain screen should appear 1.4 times brighter than a 1.0 gain screen to a viewer seated at the center point of the viewing cone. However, screens with directional gain become increasingly less bright as you move away from the center of the viewing cone. A 1.4 gain screen could appear to be 0.6 gain to those seated 45 degrees off center. A matte white 1.0 gain screen is considered Lambertian because it will provide 1.0 gain and therefore appear equally bright from any viewing point in the room.
Dave,
Thanks for the input. I am observing directly in front of the screen.
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post #17 of 30 Old 05-20-2019, 06:10 AM
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Originally Posted by jbail804 View Post
Dave,
Thanks for the input. I am observing directly in front of the screen.
I see now that you are posting this discussion in multiple threads and that in another thread you measured the brightness of your "1.4" gain ALR screen to be less than your 1.0 gain white screen. That seems to indicate that the manufacturer of your ALR screen is exaggerating its advertised gain, which seems to measure <1.0.
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post #18 of 30 Old 05-25-2019, 06:38 AM - Thread Starter
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What happens when you pair a ALR screen with a "dark room" projector like the BenQ HT3550?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cla55clown View Post
What happens when you pair a ALR screen with a "dark room" projector like the BenQ HT3550?
No mater what screen type you have it can't alter the contrast ratio of the projector as it is what it is. ALR/high gain screens are designed to combat ambient/reflective light and/or increase the light reflected back from the projector.

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A grey ALR screen will boost contrast of the projected image, but this type of fabric has drawbacks.

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Cinagrey 5D was tested and reported on https://www.accucalav.com/wp-content...een_report.pdf
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post #21 of 30 Old 05-25-2019, 09:41 AM
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A grey ALR screen will boost contrast of the projected image, but this type of fabric has drawbacks.
This is somewhat incorrect. Nothing will boast CR the projector is able to produce. Ambient light dilutes the available CR and an ALR screen helps to preserve some of the losses. The net result is always still going to be lower than a perfect room with a simple 1.0 white screen.

So nothing is being boasted it is just being hurt less. So if you have a poor room and a 1.0 white screen and then you switch to an ALR screen the CR will seem to be boasted but it is still less than what the projector has the capability of doing.

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post #22 of 30 Old 05-25-2019, 10:38 AM
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This is somewhat incorrect. Nothing will boast CR the projector is able to produce. Ambient light dilutes the available CR and an ALR screen helps to preserve some of the losses. The net result is always still going to be lower than a perfect room with a simple 1.0 white screen.

So nothing is being boasted it is just being hurt less. So if you have a poor room and a 1.0 white screen and then you switch to an ALR screen the CR will seem to be boasted but it is still less than what the projector has the capability of doing.
Are you saying that even a good grey ALR (in a regular non treated room) will be inferior to a white screen in a batcave?
Dosen't the grey screen plus the increased gain result in (perceived) increased contrast, even above what the projector is capable?
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post #23 of 30 Old 05-25-2019, 05:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noob00224 View Post
Are you saying that even a good grey ALR (in a regular non treated room) will be inferior to a white screen in a batcave?
Dosen't the grey screen plus the increased gain result in (perceived) increased contrast, even above what the projector is capable?
That’s correct actual CR measured with a test instrument measures what the brightest white a projector will produce compared to the darkest black the projector can manage. As an example if white was 1000 lumens and black was 1 lumen the system would have a CR of 1000:1 on say a 1.0 gain white screen. If the screen was a .5 gain gray and the projector was the same the screen would attenuate 50% of the light. So white would be 500 lumens and black would be .5 lumens and the resulting CR would be 1000:1 still. Black would indeed be blacker at the expense of loss of half the brightness.

Now perceived contrast is a different thing and it takes into account not a light meter to measure CR but uses our eyes. Eyes are awful light meters. They react to brightness and the iris gets smaller as the brightness goes up. The eye always tries to make what we see a constant brightness kind of like a camera with an automatic exposure. When part of an image is very bright the eyes iris closes keeping the bright white correct and then with the small iris black gets blacker. That’s the perception.

The story goes the reason pirates wore a patch over their eye all day was so at night when they jumped on the ship they were going to plunder they would flip up the patch and that eye would be fully dilated from no light for a day and it gave them night vision to go and kill everyone on the ship in the dark.

It is widely believed that a screen can give a projector more CR than it has. It is widely talked about in the DIY screen forum that this or that screen paint has ALR properties and will make whites brighter and at the same time blacks darker. That just goes against science and the fact any and all screens are passive devices and act on all light the same.

Perception is a different thing and it is something I think everyone should strive to understand.
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post #24 of 30 Old 05-26-2019, 01:20 AM
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Quote:
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That’s correct actual CR measured with a test instrument measures what the brightest white a projector will produce compared to the darkest black the projector can manage. As an example if white was 1000 lumens and black was 1 lumen the system would have a CR of 1000:1 on say a 1.0 gain white screen. If the screen was a .5 gain gray and the projector was the same the screen would attenuate 50% of the light. So white would be 500 lumens and black would be .5 lumens and the resulting CR would be 1000:1 still. Black would indeed be blacker at the expense of loss of half the brightness.
I wonder what the Max and Min screen gains can be. Say if you have a screen of black velvet so we would say this is close to a gain of 0 as we can get and at the other end a perfect mirror so this would be a gain of infinity. Something is not right with the math here.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by rekbones View Post
I wonder what the Max and Min screen gains can be. Say if you have a screen of black velvet so we would say this is close to a gain of 0 as we can get and at the other end a perfect mirror so this would be a gain of infinity. Something is not right with the math here.
Whenever you take any problem close to the extremes and start dealing with numbers like zero or infinity or numbers very close to those, things start getting harder to measure and the math goes a little wacky.

Years ago in the DIY screen forum MM was building screens starting with a mirror as a base and then applying thin layers of paint over the mirror as to be diffusive and translucent. He called it “light fusion” and was able to manage some high gains and as best I could tell equally narrow viewing cones. Another member once painted a mirror with Christmas spray snow like you spray on a window. He had a gain of I’m guessing 50 and a sweet spot of almost nothing in terms of viewing cone.

The biggest drawback to gain IMO is the change in brightness across the screens surface. Like a hot/warm spot. I love the uniformity of a wide dispersion screen for any moving images that travel across the screen. For me nothing gives away the illusion more than change in brightness as it moves.

I love my darker neutral gray screen. I just don’t like them as well with the gain component.
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post #26 of 30 Old Yesterday, 03:37 PM - Thread Starter
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OP here. Things have changed from my original plan. I ended up getting a Epson 3700 on sale and plan on having it do double duty as my basement projector in the winter and backyard projector in the summer. From what I read, it is a "light cannon". I've also switched my thinking of needing a 2.39:1 screen and will be going with a 16:9 due to the 3700 not have lenses memory and motorized zoom. Still will be used in a multi-purpose room with lights on during the day and dark at night if a movie is playing. My worry is the extra lumen output will have the image too bright and lead to eye fatigue with all the lights out. I guess I need a negative gain screen to combat this?
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@Cla55clown , the 3700 is a true bright room light cannon that sacrifices deep black levels for maximum lumens, so it's always going to be somewhat compromised for optimum dark theater performance. Assuming you have no previous personal experience with video projection in the dark and in ambient light, I would highly recommend experimenting on plain old painted walls under both light conditions to get a feel for what works best for you. There are pros and cons to every type of screen under every lighting condition and different people have different personal preferences about which pros are most important to them and which cons they can most easily live with. So you will get conflicting advice on which way to go. Ultimately only your own eyes can tell you what will work best for you, so don't rush into spending your hard-earned money on a screen type that may work for others but turn out not be optimum for your personal preferences.
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post #28 of 30 Old Today, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Cla55clown View Post
OP here. Things have changed from my original plan. I ended up getting a Epson 3700 on sale and plan on having it do double duty as my basement projector in the winter and backyard projector in the summer. From what I read, it is a "light cannon". I've also switched my thinking of needing a 2.39:1 screen and will be going with a 16:9 due to the 3700 not have lenses memory and motorized zoom. Still will be used in a multi-purpose room with lights on during the day and dark at night if a movie is playing. My worry is the extra lumen output will have the image too bright and lead to eye fatigue with all the lights out. I guess I need a negative gain screen to combat this?
Personally, I would use a white screen of ~1.0 gain for overall picture quality.

If you feel your projector is too bright for night use, you have the option of three lamp brightness settings with the HC3700; High, Medium, and ECO. Using a lower lamp setting will reduce brightness while keeping the same overall settings.

You can also use what's call an ND or Neutral density filter in front of the lens. An ND filter in front of the lens will reduce the light output while preserving color balance. ND filters are specified by their light-reducing ability in filter strength by f-stops and a wide range is available.

Last edited by b curry; Today at 08:09 AM.
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post #29 of 30 Old Today, 10:41 AM
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@Cla55clown, as @b curry said if the image is too bright other lamp modes can be used.

Your setup would greatly benefit from an ALR screen for lights on viewing.
I have an Cinegrey 3D (1.2 gain) which claims to reflect up to 65% of ambient light.
The parts of the projected image that are bright will be reflected back with increased brightness. If ambient light is present that may wash out the dark parts of the projected image, depending on strength and position.

What this means in practice is if mostly bright pictures are projected, like a cartoon with bright colors, a studio environment with lots of lightning (like the news), or most athletic type broadcasts, it can be viewed with lots of lights on. The only requirement is that the lights are not directed towards the screen from the same position as the projector.

I played brightly lit games at noon with the windows open, no clouds on a lamp that probably was giving out 1000-1200 efective lumens, and got a very good image. All the light was coming from one side, from 160 and 45 degrees. White walls.
Don't have pictures of that, but I do have some (with sports) with a single light about 1m/3ft from the screen: https://www.avsforum.com/forum/68-di...l#post57673262

I had a Black Widow Grey Pearl (paint) 1.2 gain (with metalic parts) large sample which matched the Cinegrey 3D in the dark. But with lights on the image was very washed out, including the bright parts.
There are ALR paints that can do a good job with lights on, but it's more complicated: https://www.avsforum.com/forum/110-diy-screen-section/

I also had a grey matte 1.0 gain screen which gave better blacks at the expense of everything else. Colors washed out, white was yellow, and that was with the lights off. Lights on was worse.

I imagine a room with a bar and pool would have some, and depending on the number and the intensity the entire image could be washed out with lights on, whereas with ALR the bright parts would be retained and enhanced. No matter what projector you have (unless a very high lumens model) the image will be washed out with non ALR screen. So a negative gain grey or white screen would not be recommended (IMHO).

If you can build a wooden frame the fabrics themselves can be acquired at a fraction of the cost of the screen framed by the company.
Carl's ALR, Cinegrey 3D and 5D can be had for under $200. The fabric is an 135 inch, 16:9 format.
The framed versions of the Cinegrey's cost between $800-1500 depending on the diagonal. Carl's does not frame the fabric.

Other alternatives are:

Des Pulsar 1.4. Fabric is just under 1k (I think), framed is around 1.5k.
https://www.avsforum.com/forum/23-sc...l#post55847894

As someone recommended above, XY Screen. Haven't had any experience with these ones.
https://www.avsforum.com/forum/23-sc...on-review.html

There are other alternatives, but more expensive.

Some video examples of what you can expect. You can notice the dark parts seem to get washed out, while the bright ones much less.

Last edited by noob00224; Today at 11:29 AM.
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post #30 of 30 Old Today, 12:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Yes, I'll throw an image onto the wall before I go buy anything. I plan on getting the Visual Apex 120" outdoor portable screen for backyard viewing and I can put that up in the basement to see what a regular white screen will look like with lights on and off. Samples tacked onto the wall should help a lot also.

With my limited throw distance of around 12' i can't go much bigger than 100" unfortunately.
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