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Discussion Starter #1
As I've read in other posts such as this one , some people think that grey/silver screens will become extinct as front projector contrast levels improve. While I understand the point and why its made, I have to wonder if they aren't missing something.


Others have mentioned that the black on any given projector screen is only as black as the combination of the screen, the light of the projector, and the light in the room allow. This statement has a lot of issues so I'll separate the ones I can think of.


First of all, if a projector screen is white, how are you going to turn it black? Shoot black light on it? I don't think so. At best, you can shoot dary grey light onto it. After all black is the absence of light.


Next, there's the brightness in the room. As you add light to something (even black), it grows lighter in color. (That's why I like looking at my black car at night better than during the day -- but I digress). If you point a flashlight at a black area on the screen, it will disappear. Smaller amounts of light do the same -- in smaller degrees.


And, the projector itself is a source of light. To create the best contrast, I'd think a projector would need to be as capable of producing ultra bright light as it is capable of producing black. Yet the brighter the brights on the screen, the more the room (and screen light up). So, it's this somewhat of a paradox?


So, after thinking about it, my screen can never produce brightness levels that are equivalent to being outdoors on a sunny day. Otherwise, the screen would totally wash out, right? However, a grey/silver screen can bring blacks down to the level that is totally acceptable -- while not ruining the brighter colors of a scene nearly as much.


Some people argue that grey/silver mutes colors and/or whites and is inaccurate. In fact, one of Tryg's screen reviews shows how mixing grey with a color -- changes that color. I agree with that assessment, but the way it's presented (by the author -- not Tryg), makes the reader think the result is totally unacceptable. Well, I can think of examples where that's not true.


A painter will add grey (black) to a color to make it darker/richer. When I look a colors outside (in the bright summertime), I notice I enjoy colors better when I'm wearing (greyish) sunglasses. In fact, while trying to pick the perfect color to paint a custom car, I showed a red to a painter and then asked him to put on my sunglasses. Then I asked him if he could make a red that would look as good as the sunglasses made it. All he could say was he could add some black and see what happens.


Actually, I think the correct answer is that darkening over-saturated light levels (from the sun) is the only answer. This is why I suspect there is a recommended ft/L brightness to create the best theater.


If you go WAY over the recommended 20-25 ft/L recommended for a screen, colors will wash out (for the reasons stated above). If you go less, than the result is less than satisfying. So, it seems that any improvements made within this range are worth the extra effort.


One of those improvements would be to add a screen like the Firehawk. Not only does it darken the blacks at one end of the spectrum, it helps reduce ambient lighting (from the projector), and it even helps with interscreen coloration. And, the reflective surface adds with the reproduction of lighter colors and whites. In fact, I suspect much of the light is reflected back to the viewer BEFORE it has a chance to hit the grey, underlying surface and experience some "coloration".


Finally, my CRT TV and my RPTV has dark screens. As a result, I think this has to help there blacks as well. And, these devices are capable of much higher contrast than front projector will be -- for some time to come.


Now that I'm done presenting my argument, I'd like feedback. Most of what I say is unbacked by research or facts. These are merely ideas that seem to make sense. Additionally, I'm NOT trying to sell the Firehawk or any similar screen. I'm merely trying to find holes in my logic in order to determine if I'm headed down the right path toward my first screen purchase. (Guess how I'm leaning, :D).


Thanks for any feedback.

gp


P.S. If there's nothing wrong with this view on darker screens, it would seem that grey/silver screens will be around for a long time to come.
 

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grey and silver screen are two very different things
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Quote:
Originally posted by Tryg
grey and silver screen are two very different things
I'm aware of this. (BTW: This is a good example of why I posted recently that your answers are sometimes lacking. No offense).


My guess is that you're making sure that anyone who reads this does some research in order to learn the differences. However, it does not address the point of my thread.


My original post is geared toward the topic of determining which "battle" seems possible to win. Gaining more contrast on the high end vs. gaining more contrast on the low end. And, it would seem that the low end is easier to win. Additionally, grey (and silver) screens sound like a good answer -- which aren't bound for extinction in the near future.


I gather that the most successful examples of a grey and silver screen are the Firehawk and the the SilverStar respectively. Though I haven't seen the SilverStar in action I can easily see there would be major differences in how they work.


It would seem like the dimmer/darker colors hitting the Firehawk are barely reflected by the surface coating of the screen. Additionally, they are tinted darker by the grey base. I would expect the brighter light is reflected to the viewer more and tends to be less affected by the grey undercoat. (I liken this to looking through a window while being outdoors on a bright day. Since light is reflecting of the surface of the window, it's harder to see what's behind it).


I haven't got a theory regarding the SilverStar because I don't know enough about it. This results from a combination of its expense and it's inability to reject ambient light. I gather the reason is because it's not retro-reflective. I would guess that silver could be viewed as a merging of grey and a reflective material, where some things could be compared between grey and silver. Still, I recognize they are completely different animals.


On the opposite end of the spectrum, white pretty much leaves the final picture up to the projector (and the room), while screens such as the Da-lite High-Power are geared more toward attacking the contrast issue from the high-end. Additionally, they have the benefit of provided more light back to the viewer. As the previous poster to you indicated, ambient light is the "enemy" of the front projector. As such, I would think the High-Power screen would not perform as well with regard to increasing apparent contrast -- since it would have a tendency to washout the blacks as the room lightened.


Granted this whole argument is a subject thing since I'm sure some people prefer the extra punch of a high-power even at the expense of black levels. I was merely proposing that winning the war on blacks and ambient light seem to be the better way to achieve a better viewing experience.


This assumes that you have light control in your room.


Maybe the only answer to my question is "to each his own". If so, fine. I just wanted to see if there were any flaws in my thinking and/or my basic understanding of the Firehawk compared to a Matte White or High Power screen. (I added silver screens to this thread, because some reviewers have indicated that silver screens also help deepen blacks while raising apparent contrast. In that regard, it seemed to fit my "argument").


gp
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by GreggPenn
A painter will add grey (black) to a color to make it darker/richer. When I look a colors outside (in the bright summertime), I notice I enjoy colors better when I'm wearing (greyish) sunglasses. In fact, while trying to pick the perfect color to paint a custom car, I showed a red to a painter and then asked him to put on my sunglasses. Then I asked him if he could make a red that would look as good as the sunglasses made it. All he could say was he could add some black and see what happens.
I use to use the sunglasses analogy when I try to explain the major drawback with grey screens or filters. They do look nice when you watch a bright scene, just like wearing sunglasses outdoor a sunny day. But would you like to wear them by night? They might enhance colors in bright scenes but how will they affect dark scenes? A lot like wearing sunglasses in a dark room. You will lose details and colors will be muted...
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by GreggPenn


Others have mentioned that the black on any given projector screen is only as black as the combination of the screen, the light of the projector, and the light in the room allow. This statement has a lot of issues so I'll separate the ones I can think of.


First of all, if a projector screen is white, how are you going to turn it black? Shoot black light on it? I don't think so. At best, you can shoot dary grey light onto it. After all black is the absence of light.


I think your initial idea is missing something. If you put a white screen in a totally dark room, what will you see?


Nothing. the White screen is only as white as the light you shine on it that is reflected back to your eyes.


You turn a white screen black by shooting nothing at it. which i think maybe stated above responses in different terms.


So I think

the black at your eyes is only as black as the blackness of the room (and/or the ability of the screen to not send room light to your eyes, either by bouncing that light back to itself or a different direction than your eyes, or absorbing that off-axis light), and the blackest the projector can produce.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by GreggPenn
I'm aware of this. (BTW: This is a good example of why I posted recently that your answers are sometimes lacking. No offense).


My guess is that you're making sure that anyone who reads this does some research in order to learn the differences. However, it does not address the point of my thread.



Granted this whole argument is a subject thing since I'm sure some people prefer the extra punch of a high-power even at the expense of black levels. I was merely proposing that winning the war on blacks and ambient light seem to be the better way to achieve a better viewing experience.


(I added silver screens to this thread, because some reviewers have indicated that silver screens also help deepen blacks while raising apparent contrast. In that regard, it seemed to fit my "argument").


gp
Yes, sometimes I give very general answers that might get the topic back on track but also so some people will do a little research. I get many people that want me to just tell them the answer.....there is no one answer. This can get very frustrating. Imagine if you got 10 emails a day asking "what car should I buy?".


Secondly black levels is very overrated to me. The projectors I've seen that do very good black level also crush everything at the low end(except crt). Add a Grey screen to that and now you cant see any detail. What a higher gain screen does is seperate the grey scale points so that you can see detail.


you are on track with the "apparent contrast" thing. Does it matter what the spec says if your eyes cant percieve it? no. The higher gain screens boost this apparant contrast by really boosting whites and other visiable information. Yes the black level comes up...but the apparant contrast is much better in my opinion.


If all you want is black just turn the projector off. ;) I myself want to see the image
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks Tryg.


In another thread, I posted the opposite side of the screen argument. In that post, I talk about how the High Power seems to raise detail, provides sharper focus, and it seems to raise white levels MORE than black levels. The result being that apparent contrast is again increased.


Additionally, a high-power screen wouldn't require the projector to work as hard (as on a grey screen). Less heat and longer bulb life probably make for a happier PJ.


I've seen my HS20 on a white wall and on the Firehawk and I have to say the extra depth made it looked more satisfying on the Firehawk. This led me to some of the points I make above.


If the High Power increases apparent contrast (vs a white wall), I may like the HP solution as well. However, if blacks aren't very realistic, I may not. Then I'd be forced to contemplate a filter. If I added a mild filter (to improve blacks) would I lose the "apparent contrast" increase provided by the HP? Would the PJ have to "work harder" than if I just selected white? (IOW, would a mild filter remove all the positive gain of a 2.8 HP screen)?


gp
 

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I like your first paragraph.


The firehawk for the most part simply doesn't offer the gain necessary for some of these super CR DLPs many of which deliver 300 lumens. This means about a 15 -20 square foot screen. This is not HT for me


The 2.8 high power offers a lot more. 3 times more flexability for gettting the light. ND filters come in a variety of levels. or you can turn your brightness down if your projector is capable of this. I would never think it's too bright.


Just shoot for 20 foot lamberts or more. That is a healthy image. My new motto is 20 - 40 FL depending on your viewing habits


you don't listen to your stereo on #1 volume setting do you? then dont view your HT on a grey screen unless you have 3000 lumen projector
 

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Yeah, but too bright of an image gives me a headache. Watching such for a 2 or 3 hour movie or football game would send me to the hospital. I prefer the blacks to the whites, so give me gray anyday.
 

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Turn on some low lighting in the room.


Even with mild ambient lighting and 50+ foot lamberts it still is 1/1000 that of going outside.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
What if your projector can produce 20 ft/L on a grey screen? Would you consider it at that point?


I know many levels of filters are available. What I don't know is if even a minimum filter would knock out most/all of the positive gain of the high-power.


I suspect that my projector will be producing 600+ lumens (based on reviews). If so, it could produce 25 ft/L on a grey screen and it would be about double that on a high power screen. These numbers are based on the 337 magic number thread started by Michael Grant.


However, these numbers are based on maximum brightness (since they use the maximum gain value as part of the equation). Regardless, the Firehawk will still produce an image that is bright enough for recommended viewing conditions. Once that threshold has been achieved, then "attacking" contrast at the top or bottom seems to be the next most valuable hurdle. High Power attacks from the top, while Firehawk attacks it more from the bottom. If I can adjust the contrast, brightness, color level, etc. to get the high-power to have blacker blacks than matte white -- while maintaining better top end (compared to matte white), then this would definitely seem to be the best choice. Especially, if since the required adjustments should result in a cooler running projector!


OTOH, if you can't get the depth and richness that the Firehawk seems to exhibit (even if the IRE scale is shifted up somewhat), then I wouldn't be able to get very excited about that solution.


To help with my decision, I'm trying to find a local A/V store that will let me rent/borrow a Da-lite high power screen for demonstration.


gp


P.S. For those how encourage me to seek the high power solution, can you comment on the room's ambient light issues (comparing the effect of Firehawk to matte white to High Power).
 

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My viewing habits are are more multiuse. Movies, television, sports etc. I am at about 40 ft lamberts.


would I be happy with 20 foot lamberts? only in a dedicated theater for watching movies only. Heck I'm convinced now I would rather have a full 50 foot lamberts.


This would require a true 1200 lumens for my 10 foot wide screen. None of the single chip DLPs we talk about is remotely capable of that. Maybe the HS20 could come close or plv70. Like I said, maybe a couple 2000 lumen projectors could deliver enough umph but probably a 3000 rated one.


But why use up all that energy and louder projector when you can get the same thing with a higher gain screen. Heck you could get a 10,000 lumen projector and .3 gain screen grey screen


Quieter, cheaper....balanced. get a higher power screen
 

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Quote:
I use to use the sunglasses analogy when I try to explain the major drawback with grey screens or filters.
OK, that does it. I have begun my definitive grey screen treatise. Included will be an explanation of why filters are not the same as gray screens. It will be on AVS forum within days.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Michael Grant
OK, that does it. I have begun my definitive grey screen treatise. Included will be an explanation of why filters are not the same as gray screens. It will be on AVS forum within days.
Hehe. I knew that was coming.


I am going to do a test to see if a gray screen actually changes color or just makes the image dimmer. People say that the colors become muted, but I think it's just the effect of a darker image. I won't be able to do it for a while though. It should be interesting. I'm looking forward to your discourse.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Michael Grant
OK, that does it. I have begun my definitive grey screen treatise. Included will be an explanation of why filters are not the same as gray screens. It will be on AVS forum within days.
Note: I am not saying that they are the same thing but I think that the analogy holds true for both of them!
 

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Quote:
People say that the colors become muted, but I think it's just the effect of a darker image.
That is most certainly the cause. So if you can make up for the lost brightness somehow, or you truly have extra brightness to spare, you're golden. I'd say the biggest problem people have with the Firehawk in particular is that in practice it doesn't have the gain that it claims to have... so they treat it as a 1.35 gain (or so) screen only to be disappointed because it's actually dimmer overall than a StudioTek 130.
 

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I tell people all the time the Firehawk in practice is more like 1 gain. EXPECT ABOUT 1 GAIN!
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Quote:
Originally posted by Tryg
My viewing habits are are more multiuse. Movies, television, sports etc. I am at about 40 ft lamberts.


would I be happy with 20 foot lamberts? only in a dedicated theater for watching movies only. Heck I'm convinced now I would rather have a full 50 foot lamberts.


This would require a true 1200 lumens for my 10 foot wide screen. None of the single chip DLPs we talk about is remotely capable of that. Maybe the HS20 could come close or plv70. Like I said, maybe a couple 2000 lumen projectors could deliver enough umph but probably a 3000 rated one.


But why use up all that energy and louder projector when you can get the same thing with a higher gain screen. Heck you could get a 10,000 lumen projector and .3 gain screen gray screen


Quieter, cheaper....balanced. get a higher power screen
To me, the Firehawk boosts apparent contrast by lowering black levels while holding the rest of the spectrum fairly constant. I would agree that white levels (at best) may be near 1.0 gain levels. The end result (to me) is a picture which provides additional depth while still maintaining a majority of the punch necessary to create satisfactory movie watching.


(I'm not sure if this applies for sporting events, but I will say this. Even though a "sports" option is selectable on my RPTV, I never select it because it blows whites and colors out unnaturally. Additionally, I would always choose colors on the normal to subdued side vs. colors that are bright and bold -- since the former seems more representative of the real world).


Tryg:

Above, you imply the "same thing" can be attained through the use of a high power screen. Can you really achieve this "same thing" using a High-Power screen? (fyi: The "same thing" means a deeper richer picture so the PJ runs easier. And, it would be a bonus if the IRE scale could be shifted back upwards to a level halfway between the Firehawk and a matte white surface). Can this be accomplished using a mild neutral density filter on a High Power, or can this be accomplished using PJ adjustments alone, or have you made a potentially mis-leading figure of speech -- with respect to my target goal?
 
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