Published On: October 6, 2008

High Performance video screens, 2.35:1, 16x9, auto-masking screens and more

Published On: October 6, 2008

High Performance video screens, 2.35:1, 16x9, auto-masking screens and more

Your neighbor can brag all he wants about his 65-inch plasma, but you know that your 10-foot diagonal video screen makes you more than twice the man he is when it comes to the video department, with a better image in most cases and always for less money.

HomeTheaterReview.com has reviewed the best in high performance videophile front projection video screens from brands like Stewart Filmscreen, Da-lite, DnP, Screen Research, Elite, SMX, Goo Systems and others.

Everything You Need To Know About High Performance Video Screens, Filmscreens and Automasking Screens.

1.0 An Overview of Video Screens

2.0 Types of Video Screens



2.1 Traditional Video Screens


2.2 Curved Video Screens


2.3 Roll-down Screens


2.4 Masking Video Screens


2.5 Glass Video Screens


2.6 Outdoor Video Screens


2.7 Painted-on Video Screens


2.8 Perforated Screens


3.0 The Screen Size Debate (16x9 versus 2.35:1)


1.0 An Overview of Video Screens
Front-projection video is the gateway drug for home theater enthusiasts to become true addicts. Your neighbor can brag all he wants about his 65-inch plasma, but you know that your 10-foot diagonal video screen makes you more than twice the man he is when it comes to the video department, with a better image in most cases and always for less money. Even the most affordable LCD projector beamed onto a specially painted wall can make for a compelling home theater experience. With big budgets, an auto-masking monster 17-foot screen positioned into place for a 2.35:1 movie is at the pinnacle of "wow" factor in luxury goods.

2.0 Types of Video Screens


2.1 Traditional Video Screens

Traditional video screens are made of materials specifically designed to receive and reflect light from a front video projector and make it look better and more consistent in a given room. The technology of the projector and the ambient light characteristics of the room where the screen is to be installed will define the screen material that is needed. Stewart Filmscreen's Studiotec 130 has been a classic material for various installation types. There are also gray screens that do well with higher light output projectors in home theater applications.


2.2 Curved Video Screens

Curved video screens go way back in the history of video, but in recent years have become all the rage in large-scale home theater systems. Many people remember the application of curved screens used with the first (Klaus Novabeam) rear-projection systems. Many of today's best video systems use subtly curved screens to get the best possible video image.


2.3 Roll-down Screens

Roll-down screens are housed in a container often hidden in the drywall of a room and can be either manually pulled down or automated to have motors drop the screens. A roll-down screen often has a heavy weight on the bottom to keep it from being moved by a breeze or the air output of the air conditioning unit.


2.4 Masking Video Screens

Masking screens use either manual or automated blackout material to change the shape of a video screen to meet the native size of the program material. A client watching an NFL football game on ESPN would want a 16:9 aspect ratio screen, but she then wanted to watch a "for your consideration" movie from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences before doing some Oscar voting. A masking video system would change the screen size to a more rectangular 2.35:1 ratio.


2.5 Glass Video Screens

The glass video screen is a new trend in video, used as a larger plasma or LCD alternative that looks better and is physically much larger. Screens like Stewart Filmscreen's Starglas are made using a special reflective material in the glass. There are a few ways for a projector to be used with a glass screen, including a relatively narrow application that reflects the image from a rig to a mirror and then onto the screen.


2.6 Outdoor video screens

The idea of outdoor home theater systems has become increasingly popular in the past three to five years, as the price of video projectors has dipped deeply for mainstream consumers. A basic low-cost LCD "presentation" projector can be used with a painted piece of drywall to make a drive-in theater by the pool for summer parties. Companies now make weather-proof roll-down video screens that can survive the rigors of being permanently installed outside. Even the new glass screens work well outside.


2.7 Painted-on video screens

Painted-on video screens are without question a budget application for consumers, but special paint such as Screen Goo can make a better reflective surface on a wall or piece of drywall than going au naturel.


2.8 Perforated screens

Perf screens, as they are called by installers and those in the movie business, either have small holes or a fabric that is woven together so that the speakers can be placed behind the screen, just as they are in the theaters. Perf screens allow consumers to hide the speakers nicely, but often don't provide as good an audio experience as floor-standing speakers do in a given room. Most speaker systems installed behind perf screens use horn-loaded tweeters to have the power to beam effectively through the screen and into the room.

3.0 The Screen Size Debate (16x9 vs. 2.35:1)
It can be difficult for new enthusiasts and consumers to understand the real-world implications of different screen sizes and/or aspect ratios. A simple way to understand it is: 4x3 is the squarer screen size used in standard-definition video. 16x9 is the traditional, more rectangular screen size used for HDTV broadcasts. It is good for video games and many other applications. 2.35:1 is a more rectangular aspect ratio, compared to 16x9, which is more popular with movie directors. It is used in professional cinemas. Masking screens allow you to have the best of all worlds (and other ratios not mentioned here) at the press of a button and with the whir of a few small motors.

For consumers looking for the best in front projection video screens check out Stewart Filmscreen. Specifically, their auto-masking screens, Studiotek 100 fabric, Starglas and other advanced screens designed for both commercial and home theater video systems.

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