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I'd like to get a new screen. I have a Vision one and a faroudja #3000. What is the recommendation concerning which aspect ratio to get. I'm building a dedicated room and even though I have a hi-def dish, I'm not sure I want to use my projector for everyday viewing.

Stewart offers a 16X9 at 96 inches wide and a widescreen(1.85 to 1) at 100 inches. In northern California there isn't much on cable or satellite that's hi-def yet. So if I get a 16X9, unless I cheat and stretch the 1.85 to fit the 16X9, all the DVD movies will be "letterboxed" in appearance. I've heard making the 1.85 fit is not really a noticeable distortion. Given that the stewart screens are about $1800.00 with the upgrades, I'd hate to get the wrong size. Given the 100 inch size, is it better to get the 1.5 gain over the 1.3? Room width and the seating haven't been determined yet. It's about 21 feet long and just about as wide so it will need to be narrowed when this theater is constructed. I know the hot-spotting increases with gain. And I know the 1.5 gain stewart is not ISF recommended.

So there it is, any comments are apreciated!
 

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First, many, many nominally "1.85:1" movies on DVD (and on HBO-HD certainly) are actually shown at 1.78:1. Usually the mattes are opened up a tiny little bit.


Second, the "black bars" on a 1.85:1 movie when shown on a 1.78:1 screen are exceedingly small. You have to have practically 0% overscan in order to see them. On my screen it amounts to about an inch on the top and bottom.


Personally I think a 1.78:1 screen makes much more sense, but it is so close to 1.85:1 that it really hardly matters in practice.
 

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I'd suggest a 1.78:1 (16:9) screen since you can't avoid the letterboxing of a 1.85:1 movie unless you are using an HTPC anyway.


As noted by Jim, the matte of a 1.85:1 movie on a 1.78:1 screen is almost vanishingly small... and it will happen anyway, regardless of whether you have a 1.78:1 screen or a 1.85:1 screen, because your DVD player will 'know' you have a 1.78:1 screen and will apply the letterboxing whether you like it or not. That is, if the DVD presentation hasn't been truncated to 1.78:1 anyway.


- David Eddy
 

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I had a Vision One, too, and went with a 1.85:1 screen. I thought I would prefer over scanning 16:9 HD than under scanning 1.85:1 DVDs and I was right. By the way, I sat 12 feet away from my 80 inch wide screen, so it was significantly brighter than your set up. But a big picture is hard to resist. Make sure you get a Velux Delux screen so that you have the large 3.5 inch velour borders that completely soak up any over scan.


But let me throw a real big spanner into the works. If I had to do it over (and in fact I do, as I've bought a Runco CRT and the 1.85:1 screen will be given over to a digital projector for my wife and son), I'd get a 2.40:1 "scope" screen. The problem with 16:9 and 185:1 screens is that most of the modern anamorphic releases I watch are listed as 2.35:1 (actually, they're usually 2.40:1 as it turns out). When I watched these on my 80 inch wide Stewart, I found the image too small to be satisfying for these DVDs which make up the majority of my collection. Yet, at 12 feet, an 80 inch wide screen was if anything just a hair too large for 1.85 and 1.78 movies. The only solution was to move closer for most DVDs (the 2.401 ones), and further away for the 1.85 and 1.78 presentations. Not very practical. I also hated the unused band of white fabric above and below the 2.40:1 image on the 1.85:1 screen.


So, I'm going with a 96 or 100 inch wide 2.40:1 screen this time. I'll optimize my seating for that aspect ratio, and use a constant height set up that masks the sides of the screen so that 1.78 and 1.85:1 material is displayed within the 2.40:1 frame. 4:3 material would also be within the 2.40 frame, and would be displayed in the smallest area -- logical since it's your worst signal source. For more on this kind of "scope" aspect ratio screen, do a search of 2.35:1 screen posts. There's lots to absorb.


Incidentally, you'll find that there are lots of reasons why one might NOT go with a 2.40:1 screen, yet everyone who's made the switch is not only happy with the result but also wishes they had done it sooner.


Anyway, food for thought. You might also want to do a search for constant area screens as these have their advocates, too. The constant area method is also the absolute best way to optimize your seating position for all aspect ratios. It's complex and difficult to implement, however.


Good luck.
 
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