Video and Audio Center Blog

Friday, March 13, 2015


Consumers looking to have a BIG picture in their home know that a projection system consists of more than just the projector — there has to be a screen too. But what screen to get, is a question less asked than what features the projector must have. So as to make an informed choice, we turn to Skyler Meek, Director of Marketing for Screen Innovations.

Does a projection screen create a more “epic” viewing experience than that of a large TV?

Skyler Meek: The main reason that there is such a huge following of people who are so interested and enjoy the two-piece projection setup is because images become life sized above 100-inches. When youre watching your favorite football team, the players are much closer to what you would see in real life so the viewing experience instantly becomes much more immersive.

Why not just use a white wall?

Skyler Meek: Projection screens are engineered specifically for reflecting projected light and utilize optical coatings to enhance its reflection capabilities. While you can use a white wall to view your image, it will never perform as well as using a projection screen. There are even projection screens that reject ambient light, like our Black Diamond technology, and preserve the contrast ratios from the projector.

How many different type of projection screens are there?

Skyler Meek: There are three different types of screens:

   1    Ambient light rejecting screens – Ambient light rejection is a technology that is designed to improve the quality of the screen image by preserving the contrast ratio of the projector. Screen Innovations pioneered this type of screen and are still the only ones with a screen that will reject light from both the vertical and horizontal planes.

   2    White or gray screens  – Aside from ambient light rejecting screens, there are only two other types: white or gray. White screens have been around for over 100 years and gray screens are just a darker version of a white screen. While not actually increasing contrast, these lower the overall brightness of the image in an attempt to achieve darker blacks.

Does the projector dictate the best type of screen to get?

Skyler Meek: LCD vs DLP does not make a difference in the type of projection screen you should get. However when it comes to the display type, there are a couple of different options. There are some projectors that will do rear-projection, which means that the projector is actually behind the screen rather than being placed in front. This means that you would need a material that is transmissive and not 100% opaque in order to obtain a usable image on the front side, as well as a projector that could flip the image horizontally to allow for a correct orientation on the viewing side.

There are also projectors that use a short throw lens, meaning they are placed much closer to the screen than a typical projector. Ambient light rejecting screens are not currently capable of being used with a short throw projector due to the nature of the optical filters in the material. However, Screen Innovations is pioneering a new type of short throw screen that will be capable of doing this.

How much a problem is ambient light, especially if you don’t have a dedicated room for the screen?

Skyler Meek: This is where ambient light rejection really comes into play. In a room with any amount of ambient light, white screens suffer from the loss of contrast because the darkest dark they are capable of producing is the color of the screen, in this case: white. With Black Diamond, for instance, the screens color is actually a very dark gray, almost black, so when the lights are on the contrast is much improved.

How would you answer those who say it’s easier to get a big screen TV like a 65” or even a 70” instead?

Skyler Meek: A 70-inch display sounds big, but is still very small in the world of projection, with the smallest standard size being no less than 100-inches. Imagine the difference between a 20-inch TV, and a 50-inch TV hung on the wall above your fireplace. Theres such an enormous difference there that the thought of mounting a 20-inch television is almost laughable. Well thats actually less off a difference when comparing a 70-inch to a 100-inch display. When the image is 100-inches and up, characters literally become life-sized, and you almost have to see it to believe it.

There are also some inherent limitations that go along with a flat panel display like the nasty glare that interferes with your viewing experience due to the glossy nature of the coating needed with flat panels. Mounting also becomes a gigantic chore the larger the flat panel TV becomes because, well, they tend to get really, really heavy. Installers have been starting to reinforce walls to ensure that they bear the weight of the TV before mounting it. Cost is always a factor as well, and as flat panels get larger, so does the cost per square inch. However when considering the cost of two-piece projection, as the screens get larger, the cost per square inch actually goes down, a true win-win.


How To Determine the Screen Size

The Seating Distance Calculator will calculate the suggested/recommended THX and SMPTE minimum and maximum screen sizes based on the seating distance from the screen.


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