Neutral Grays and Simple Off the Shelf Solutions - Page 3 - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #21 of 179 Old 06-15-07, 10:21 PM Thread Starter
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A Request, and a new Munsell N9 Neutral that really looks neutral!

Next, Kenyee is it possible for you to take a small sample to True Value, Sherwin Williams, and even Home Depot (Lowes would be great to get a Valspar match too since it rolls so nicely) and have them do a color match? That would be a very good addition of N8 gray players. Walmart also sells Dutch Boys which is the same as Sherwin William (even the containers look the same) so they would be a very good paint match since everyone has a Wally World near by.

So everyone knows, my goal is very similar to Tiddler's and one I have advocated and tried to live by for years as far as anything I do. It is KISS personified if you like. The KISS principle for screens is to identify colors that are tested and proven to be matches for the Munsell gray scale (as referenced to D65 I would like to add) that are available to anyone virtually anywhere. I consider these base coats. For many they may never go on to any additional top coating applications and that is perfectly fine, they perform exceptionally well on their own. Some people may like to tweak and at some point want to see if they can up the ante even more, so an optical coating would be right up their alley. And with these grays they already have an outstanding foundation that performs very well on its own.

One of the things about paints over commercial screens and even the laminates (which someone once said isn't true DIY and they are virtually a commercial screen-- Thank you very much! That had to be the nicest insult anyone has ever given me out of anger! ) anyway, people do sometimes switch projectors and what works for one projector may be completely wrong for another one. Darker grays need Lumens, even the neutrals, although neutrals do produce a brighter image do to the efficiency of reflecting the source lighting. It is very inexpensive for a person to change screens when they swap projectors, although in the big scheme of things Laminates really aren't that expensive either when compared to their performance vs. their commercial counter parts. Still... $7-9 for a Winter Mountain Screen, and later if a lower lumen projector is purchased Winter Mist for an N9 shade for the same $7-9 (or vice versa) is hard to over look. Think about it like this- If a person sets up a Home Theater system, and then a couple years down the road gets a new projector... it is much less expensive to change a DIY screen than a commercial screen.

Winter Mist comes in at a very nice 220 220 220 shade which is well within the Munsell N9 range.

This is an all around great color and shade that will perform nicely for virtually any projector regardless of the lumen rating. I will have to state a disclaimer, nothing is an absolute and there are some older projectors still out there with lumen ratings of 400. That's not to be confused with video optimized lumen output, that's raw total output, so yes there are always exceptions to everything. Plus we have to take into consideration our friends that build their own projectors (and do not laugh, some of them produce very high quality images, but they lack Lumens- one person I know compared some of the best home built projectors to the same look a CRT projector makes... albiet the black aren't quite as black as a CRT projector).

So for those of you out there that are not sure about a darker gray, this is a color to definitely look at. It is very neutral, in fact the most neutral I have seen so far (pre-testing) and this shade should be no problem with whites even with lower Lumen projectors. Keep in mind, it will take a hit with ambient viewing though... everything has its trade offs.
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post #22 of 179 Old 06-15-07, 10:23 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Neutral Grays and Simple Off the Shelf Solutions

Quote:
kenyee wrote: View Post
Actually, Glidden Gripper was unusable during the day :-)
GTI N8 is actually very usable during the day. I'll try to get some pics of it. It's enough for sports, but if you're watching a dark movie like the Matrix, I don't think it does that well either (but doubt any screen would in ambient light).
The Panny AX100 has 3 presets for dark and 3 presets for light conditions.

Yes, the GTI N8 covers well. It can actually be thinned a bit because I thought it was a bit too thick. A pint covered a 98" screen area w/ no problems. And I was dumb enough to do it in the winter (luckily it was a warmish winter in Boston so I could open the windows a crack)...the stuff reeeeeeked. The apartment stunk for over a day :-P

Overall though, I'm still happy with it. I really wonder if Panasonic tested using it because Cinema2 matches with it so well...
That's very good to hear kenyee, well except for the smell.
Quote:
kenyee wrote:
I'll try to get some pics of it. It's enough for sports, but if you're watching a dark movie like the Matrix, I don't think it does that well either (but doubt any screen would in ambient light).
Not yet, but we are working on that. There are what I would like to call 'ambient light friendly' screens though.

Next post... Grays for total light controlled viewing...
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post #23 of 179 Old 06-19-07, 07:26 PM Thread Starter
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A Gray Screen even with total light control?

Many people hear the mantra over and over again, and that is "For viewing with total light control, a white screen is best."

Like has been said many times in this thread, yes and no.

Every Home Theater setup is different. Even if two people lived in a housing development where the contractors built all the houses with the exact same floor plan, and two home owners decided to build Home Theaters in the exact same room, and set them up exactly the same with the exact same projectors... it is highly unlikely that they both would have the exact same viewing tastes. (I think I just used my yearly quota of that word in one sentence!)

The new digital projectors are bridging the performance gap between them and CRT projectors with each new model that comes out. As much as people hate to believe it though, CRT is still king in many ways. It produces stunning images with brilliant whites and deep dark blacks that even the best digital projectors have yet to match. Some are getting close, but they still haven't reached that level yet. Their size and typically low lumen output is the biggest detractors of the mighty CRT projectors, and that is where digital reigns.

There is a larger majority of people out there with older projectors, or newer projectors that are more of the budget variety. These projectors are still very good units, but they cannot produce the blacks of the much more expensive models, which as stated still have yet to match CRTs. For some people blacks are a crucial element of what they desire in a projector image. Gray helps in this area even with lights off. True a white screen is the most accurate at reproducing the image the projector puts out, but if that projector doesn't produce stellar blacks, even with light control some people may not be satisfied.

As stated, white is the most accurate at reproducing the image, but it doesn't have to be that way. A neutral gray will absorb some of the lumen's the projector is throwing at it, but reflect the colors back with the least amount of color skewing than other grays that are not very well balanced. This makes the screen more efficient too so the image will be slightly brighter than an unbalanced gray close to the same shade.

A person with total light control won't need as dark of a gray as someone viewing content with some ambient light. This part is a juggling act and is where the lumen chart will come into play when it is finished. A gray in the N9 shade is sufficient to give a projector deeper blacks than a pure white screen while retaining a bright and vivid image where the colors remain true. N9 is actually a very light gray, in fact some commercial screen manufacturers sell white screens that are actually a very light gray. (The High Contrast Matte White screen is actually closer to N8 than N9 in shade)

Here is N9 again. As it can be seen this is a very light gray indeed.


Here are some lights out images with a gray screen.


Sin City is a tough movie to shoot because of how Rodriguez filmed it. He used black and white with with computer enhanced bold vivid colors only on certain elements of the image. Some may initially say the shadow detail is poor in that shot, but that is a very true image as compared to what I see on my HDTV. Any problems with shadow detail is a fault of my projector only having a 250:1 CR. Now look at the image again, especially the wisps of hair. The detail is very much there, as are the colors, image brightness, and the blacks are very deep and dark.

What about the whites?

Here are my favorite gray screen shots showing how white whites can be with a darker shade of gray...

So one thing to remember about forums, is there will be many people giving advice. Most of it is actually very good advice, some is good advice with personal preferences and opinions mixed in. Everyone has the best of intentions, but as I pointed out with the example of the two home owners, their tastes just may be very different from your own. Like me, I love deep blacks and prefer watching movies with the lights out, but I personally prefer a gray screen... someone else may hate it and swear by white only. The key is to determine what shade of gray your projector can handle without the whites becoming muddy, and the colors dull. From there only you can decided whether you prefer a white screen over a gray screen, but don't totally discount gray just because you have a dedicated HT room.

tomorrow night, how to determine if gray is for you...
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post #24 of 179 Old 06-23-07, 07:17 PM Thread Starter
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How to determine if Gray is for you...

For those building a Home Theater room from the ground up, this is easier than for those that are working with an existing living room, but it is still very easy and well worth the little extra time even with an existing living room setup.

It is highly recommended that even for a living room that is going to be more of a multi-function room than a dedicated Home Theater to still paint the walls a darker color than the typical Off White that most walls are painted. This does a couple of things, first the darker colored walls help tone down any light reflected from the screen itself. The last thing anyone wants is to create their own ambient light from reflections off of white walls. Next it also helps to make the screen image look more vibrant and for us to see more depth and a vivid image. It is similar in principle to the black border adding to our perceived black levels and image contrast. Lastly... a nice Burgundy or other darker shade can add a flair of style to the room and decor.

If you decide to repaint the entire room as suggested, before painting the wall where the screen is going to be, and this applies to whether a person decides to go with a substrate, or to paint the screen directly on the wall, put a nice coat of Kilz2 primer on the wall. Why not? It certainly isn't going to hurt the final wall color the room is being painted, and it gives you a nice white reference screen. All the projector companies I talked to do their testing and setup calibration on a plain Jane white unity gain screen. Kilz2 will give you a nice white unity gain (1.0) screen, or in this case a wall with a nice white surface that you can test your projector on. Kilz2 is pretty inexpensive and this step is well worth it.












Turn the projector on and project an image on the wall, preferable a solid blue image, but a welcome screen such as this example will work.























Select the desired Aspect Ratio dimensions on the projector if applicable, then use the zoom function to set the screen size on the wall to the exact size you prefer.

















Once the screen placement and ratio have been setup, calibrate the projector. Most people neglect to calibrate and check the initial projector performance and limitations on a reference screen. This will show you exactly how well your projector performs and give you a baseline. AVIA or Digital Video Essentials are the two calibration discs most people use, but the THX Optimizer that is included with every THX certified DVD works nicely too if you don't have either of the calibration DVDs mentioned.

Here is a sample of one of the calibration screens.

Now sit back and watch some content. Make sure to watch both DVDs and any sports or television channels you like. Basically, spend a few nights watching the type of content you plan on using the projector for. This part is very important in determining what it is you want to do with your projector, and if there are any weak areas that could use some help with the right screen.

If viewing is going to be done only at night, or total light control is possible, this will show how well the projector black levels are as well as the color. If you are satisfied that the blacks are black and the image looks good then a white screen will work fine for your setup and environment, you're done- paint the wall the color of the rest of the room and select a white screen. You now know what your projector baseline is and if you are happy with the blacks, there is no reason to go any further with grays.

A lot of projectors, especially older ones (even ones that are only a year old too) have trouble with black though. If you feel even with the lights off and in total darkness the blacks look more gray, or just aren't what you expected and want, then even with total light control you may want to look at a gray screen. A light gray can have a dramatic effect on the black levels. The most annoying area on the projected image that this shows up is in the letter box area. If this area doesn't look black, it can be very distracting to some people. With my white screen, even with light control I wasn't happy with the letter box area and was going to build a complex masking system. Once I switched to a gray screen, there is no longer a need for a mask.

So if a gray seems to be in your future, which gray and shade? An N9 shade of gray will punch up the black level a surprising amount over a plain white screen. This may be all the darker in shade you want or need to go. Projector Lumen rating comes into play with grays too. What you are looking for is the point where the image has dark blacks, the whites remain white, and there is no loss in the color vibrancy or shadow detail.

If there will be times when some lights are on in the room, an N8 shade will help with the ambient lighting. Two very inexpensive ways to quickly test what shade is optimal are Winter Mist for an N9 shade, or Winter Mountain for an N8 shade. (Both of these are True Value colors and are $7-$9 a quart) I am not sure if Tiddler broke down the EasyFlex colors to what their Munsell rating is, but those tints can certainly be used as well. Simply use a pencil to mark off the corners of the screen image area, and then use painters tape to mask the entire area off. Roll on two coats of whichever shade you want to try (I would start with an N9 shade first) and then watch some movies again when it is dry. Don't forget to calibrate the projector for the darker shade or you won't get an accurate idea of the performance. (Note: with the right gray, you shouldn't have to make changes to the color balance, only he brightness and contrast levels. If any color balance changes are needed, they should be very slight or else the gray is shifting the colors) If this still isn't producing satisfying black levels, repeat the process with the N8 shade. For total light control though, I honestly can't see going beyond an N8.5 shade.

Projectors under 1000 Lumens should stick with an N9 shade of gray or white screen. 1000 to 1500 raw lumens can handle an N8 shade, and 1700 lumens and over can go to an N7 shade, but N8 seems to be optimal for both daylight and lights out performance for 1700 and higher lumens. Also keep in mind that there is a difference between raw lumen ratings and video optimized lumen output. My projector is rated at 1700 lumens, but video optimized it is more like 500 lumens. I am working on a lumen chart that should make all of this easier for people.

This does seem like a lot of work, but in the end it is really worth it to know your projector and have a baseline on it no matter what screen method you go with. One huge advantage of DIY is the cost factor. It would be extremely cost prohibitive for a person to get a white screen, calibrate, and decide they don't like the performance... then get a grey screen like a GrayHawk, only to find out that is too dark for their tastes... the process can go on and on. Unless the company you are buying your screens from has a very liberal return policy, it could start running into quite a bit of money. Even for those wanting a commercial screen, this method is a very easy and inexpensive way for them to narrow down what shade they like the best, so they would only have to make a one shot screen purchase... however most people end up amazed at how well DIY screens perform and opt to just stick with it rather than spend hundreds, even thousands on something that looks the same, or maybe just marginally better.

"Make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler." - Albert Einstein

"If all else fails, spin the cat."- Grzboken
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post #25 of 179 Old 06-28-07, 04:26 PM
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Re: Neutral Grays and Simple Off the Shelf Solutions

Hello,

I had a quart of Dulux Diamond matt interior latex mixed up yesterday. I had a 3-1 ratio of lamp black and yellow oxide added to get it to a nice neutral grey. It is somewhere between the N8 and the N9 by looking at it. I will do up a few panels with it, some with a matte poly top coat, some without.
If anyone would like to test this color I will gladly send them a dried sample or a small amount of wet product.
post #26 of 179 Old 06-28-07, 05:46 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Neutral Grays and Simple Off the Shelf Solutions

Hey biglyle, welcome to HTS!! Boy have I been looking for someone like you... someone that knows how to spray!

I know you are very familiar with the paint industry, you wouldn't happen to have a colorimeter would you? I saw your post about this and it sounds very nice. I'd like to get some specs on it and add it to the list of available grays. If this is between N8 and N9, N8.5 is pretty much the perfect general purpose shade that people with low lumen or higher lumen projectors can both use with excellent performance.

Who sells Dulux? Is it sold through distributors or do they have their own store like Sherwin Williams?

The lb and yellow oxide is similar to how Gray Screen is made. It seems from everything I have seen that raw umber mucks up things more than it helps make a balanced gray.

Anyway, welcome aboard! We look forward to seeing your ideas.

"Make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler." - Albert Einstein

"If all else fails, spin the cat."- Grzboken
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post #27 of 179 Old 06-28-07, 09:59 PM
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Re: Neutral Grays and Simple Off the Shelf Solutions

Hey Bill, good to see you.

Glidden Paint stores here in Canada carry the Dulux line, specifically the Diamond matt. The diamond matt contains some form of ceramic material that allows it to dry with a matte finish and still be highly washable. It is also a very white paint that applies very easily and drys nice and smooth.

I look forward to the open mindedness this board offers, it will be a welcome change.

As for my work, I am starting from scratch pretty much, and hope to be a lot more "out of the box" with my thinking this time around.
post #28 of 179 Old 06-28-07, 10:35 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Neutral Grays and Simple Off the Shelf Solutions

ceramics... Sherwin Williams also has a matte finish that is extremely durable.

Glidden and Behr are the same company and Glidden is sold at Home Depot, I'm going to look for this over the weekend.

"Make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler." - Albert Einstein

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post #29 of 179 Old 06-29-07, 06:28 AM
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Re: Neutral Grays and Simple Off the Shelf Solutions

I am pretty sure HD sells this as well.
Its Called "Diamond Matt"

Its a little pricey, but hey, if it works.
post #30 of 179 Old 06-29-07, 07:41 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Neutral Grays and Simple Off the Shelf Solutions

Sherwin Williams is too, $42 a gallon for the Duration brand, but it also works very good too.

"Make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler." - Albert Einstein

"If all else fails, spin the cat."- Grzboken
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