Black Widow PFG - the Discussion - Black Widow - Home Theater Forum and Systems -

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post #1 of 1197 Old 01-19-08, 05:16 PM Thread Starter
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Black Widow PFG - the Discussion - Black Widow


Createx has changed the formula for AAA which may result in BW™ not mixing out neutral. At this time, we do not recommend using this formula unless you have some of the older AAA.

Black Widow PFG
What is Black Widow 'PFG'? It is a revolutionary way of making a screen the 'DIY' way.

Black Widow™ Wikipedia Page - contains formula's and other useful information.

***EDIT*** - adding the formula to the top of this post for easy reference - ***EDIT***

Black Widow formula

- One quart of Valspar Ultra Premium Flat Enamel (we call this VUPE frequently) tinted PPG (Pittsburgh Paints) 427-2 Bermuda Beige
- 8oz. of Auto Air Aluminum fine

Lowes, Home Depot, Menards, Sherwin Williams, Ace Hardware, Benjamin Moore and I'm sure many others can easily match PPG 427-2 Bermuda Beige. Just tell the counter person you'd like a quart of VUPE, or the flat enamel of your choice, tinted Pittsburgh Paints Bermuda Beige.

Auto Air Aluminum Fine may be found locally at auto paint stores or an airbrush supply store. If not, it's readily available online at Dick Blick amongst other places. Dick Blick runs out of the 4oz bottles quite frequently - like today for instance. What can I say? We created a lot of demand I guess. You can google it for other online vendors as well.

Add the two in a separate pail and mix until they are blended thoroughly. The Bermuda Beige is just that, beige. When added to the aluminum it becomes a dead on N7.5 neutral.

This mix can be applied either by spraying or by rolling. Rolling should be at least two coats, spraying should be at least 6 coats.

One quart of VUPE gives you 100 square feet of coverage. That plus the AAA should give you at least three coats on a 100" screen.

Some pictures of the items you need:

Vaslpar Ultra Premium Flat Enamel tinted Bermuda Beige.

The Valspar Ultra Premium Flat Enamel paint has been renamed by Lowe's to Valspar Ultra Premium Super Flat Finish. The paint is the same so the existing tint formula will still work.

You can use Behr 1850 as well and the picture of the Auto Air Aluminum is actually a quart - not the two 4oz bottles you would need for a quart of Bermuda Beige.

I also tested PPG Grand Distinction Flat Enamel - of all the paints this one seemed the best for rolling. But I think it's only available at Menards - which is a much smaller chain than Home Depot and Lowes.

When rolling, use a 1/4" nap roller for less texture. Do not use a foam roller as they have been found to create more bubbles while rolling which can create concentrations of the aluminum when they pop. It's strongly advisable to set up a work light off to one side of the screen so that you can see the progress and avoid roller marks. Avoiding roller marks is essential but it's not as difficult to achieve as most make it out to be. Roll the screen like you would a wall and you should be fine. Before the paint has had a chance to dry go back over it down rolling each pass. Apply no pressure other than holding the roller on the wall. This will eliminate any roller marks.

Spraying should only be attempted after you are comfortable with your spraying equipment. If you have to spray and have never done it before, we recommend the Wagner Control Spray HVLP gun sold at several of the big box stores. The kit comes with a viscosity cup which helps you determine the amount of water to add to your mix. A general rule of thumb is that you add water, mixing it in before testing it, until the resulting mix runs out of the viscosity cup in 45 seconds or less.

It really is that simple! No mixing tubes of artist acrylics, popsicle stick paints, etc. using tiny little milliliter measuring implements. Just dump one 8oz AAA bottle or two 4oz AAA bottles and the quart of Bermuda Beige into a pail, mix it up and apply.

***End of edit*** - January 16, 2010

A very brief history of DIY painted screens and some of the more popular methods and mindsets:
For years the debate was White vs Gray. White is easy and the most forgiving. Of course the better balanced a white screen is the more accurate it will be, but unlike a gray screen White is more forgiving and can be off more and not be as noticeable as a gray screen that isn't a well balanced color. Still even with a white screen, the closer to D65 it is the more accurate it will be.

The same goes with gray screens, the closer they are to neutral the better and more accurate they are.
But what exactly constitutes a 'neutral'?

Good Question. There are many parameters but the main ones are the color balance (L*ab and xyY values), spectral curve, and color temperature.

For years many have tried to make the 'perfect' DIY screen. One that would perform with ambient lighting but also perform equally as well in a dark and dedicated environment.

One of the biggest problems and debates has been what exactly is gray? This has literally been debated for years and rather than explain it all over again the best thing is to refer to the neutral gray thread.

As good as a simple neutral gray is, there has always been a desire to improve upon things. The most popular way up until now has been by the use of mica (pearlescent) and poly coatings. The problem is mica by nature causes a color shift.

So how can we improve on a well balanced neutral gray without introducing color shifting that mica's and interference pigments are known to cause? By using non-interference pigments instead...

[MOUSE]PFG stands for 'Pigment Free Gray'. Granted anything added to a white based paint to change the color is technically a pigment, this is a gray that is not created by use of the standard pigments used in paint shops or by other DIY methods. Hence the original name 'PFG', or Pigment Free Gray.[/MOUSE]

It was found that by adding aluminum based paint (which is a water based paint comprised primarily of aluminum and no other colorants) a gray was created. Aluminum is a very bright and universal element. It has been used over the years as a 'silver' substitute, and has even been used for making mirrors. Needless to say it is very bright and reflective.

That and the fact that it is a non-interference substance it was a very interesting element. The results were astounding.

First let's look at one of the most neutral Off The Self neutral grays made the conventional way with various colorant pigments.

This is about as neutral as it gets with pigment based colorants. Look at the values highlighted in green. The color balance, temperature, and spectral curve all are well within our desired specifications.

Now let's look at what happens to that same ideal neutral when an interference material such as mica is added.

Quite a change from the neutral balance seen before, and this was with just one coating.

Next up is one of the most well known and popular DIY advanced screen methods.

Again a major change from our well balanced neutral reference.

Black Widow PFG is up next... First a 4:1 mix ratio using Sherwin Williams Luminous White.

It isn't dead on neutral but is a very close near neutral. Look at the spectral curve though, it's still very flat!

Next is a 5:1 ratio mix using True Value's Winter Mist, the same as the very first data graphic shown...

So what exactly is Black Widow? It is a gray made using Henry Aluminum roof paint added in the proper ratio to a common base paint. You can't just use anything, it has to be a water based aluminum paint so we went with Henry 558. The original material was a plain water based aluminum paint, but unfortunately it was discontinued.

What are the benefits? Well as the Spider says-
  • Better Blacks
  • Bolder Colors
  • Whiter Whites
  • Excellent performance with both ambient light and lights out dedicated setups
  • A brighter and more vibrant image without the color shifting problems caused by iridescence.
  • Sharper image quality and shadow detail
That's some pretty bold claims... seeing is believing though.
The center of the screen are the two original PFG test panels in a 3:1 and 4:1 ratio. To the left is a known performer, Sherwin Williams Gray Screen, and to the right is a generic general run of the mill N8.5 shade of gray.

SW Gray Screen was one of the Kings of Off The Shelf (OTS) grays that provided deep blacks, excellent color reproduction and very white whites. It's no contest between the two.

So PFG wins with blacks but what about color? Another good question...
Color reproduction is just as accurate but has a more vivid look to them. Here we can see that there is no discernible difference in color reproduction between PFG and a known performer. What the camera can't show is the depth and detail is much greater in the PFG screen.

The secret is the aluminum, but the key is not only the lack of color shifting that iridescence cause, but how uniform the aluminum is.
To the left is a PFG sample, to the right is a mica based application. The aluminum has a much denser and more uniform coverage as compared to the larger mica flakes. It's also very easy to see reds, blues, yellows, orange and other colors throughout the mica. That is a perfect example of uniformity and lack of color shifting.

What is really amazing is this is a darker screen but doesn't look dull or muddy like most dark grays look. The aluminum is the performance difference.
Lights out...

Lights on...

It was these tests that led to the current application that we are now ready to present... Black Widow PFG!

The next logical question is how do you make it and how do you apply it.

Making it is very simple. For a 4:1 ratio take 8 ounces of Auto Air Aluminum Fine and add it to a quart of Valspar flat enamal tinted to PPG Bermuda Beige, stir and apply. That will make 40 ounces of Black Widow

How is Black Widow applied? It's just like painting a wall. No special rollers or rolling techniques are needed. Just a good quality low nap roller. Prime the surface with a good primer, my primer of choice is Kilz2, but any good quality white primer will work. Mix up your Black Widow, and roll it on... it really is that easy. Stay away from foam rollers though. They sometimes cause bubbles to form and when the bubbles pop a bright spot is formed. If you see a bubble, don't panic, just roll it out and move on.

Coming up next are some actual Black Widow shots and even a first hand account of making a full size screen and how it performs.

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

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

Last edited by Harpmaker; 02-06-12 at 01:29 PM. Reason: Updated due to Valspar paint name change.
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post #2 of 1197 Old 01-19-08, 05:47 PM
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Re: Black Widow PFG

Very interesting and very informative Bill...
This certainly appeals to me more than a straight grey screen..
But before I get too excited, none of the products you mentioned are available down here..

I will be most interested to see what you are able to find as alternative paints..

Would it not be possible to just add aluminium powder to a brilliant white base paint, to match what you have with your "Black Widow"?
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post #3 of 1197 Old 01-19-08, 06:04 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Black Widow PFG

Prof that is actually being worked on too. One of the problems with powders is they aren't typically a local item either, and then there is working out exactly how much equates to the same 8 ounces of HE558 or the previous PFG component. Needless to say 8 ounces of powder isn't the same as 8 ounces of a premade compound.

Plus I think it is very important to state that with the wrong type of aluminum powder, when added to water it can cause a very nasty reaction. So no, at this point in time we don't have any powders ready to be recommended. We're still testing in that area.

Performance and balance wise when we're done with that testing it will be the same and if we can make this even easier that's the goal.

A lot of people wanted to hear something substantial and we finally have some tested ways that we are recommending. Another reason for not just waiting for a powder based version is people started buying aluminum paint and I know some were getting solvent based and not water based. That's not going to mix or apply well with a water based latex so rather than people having a bad experience and walking away disgusted it was time to give the details along with our recommendations of what we found to work the best.

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

"If all else fails, spin the cat."- Grzboken
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post #4 of 1197 Old 01-19-08, 06:55 PM
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Re: Black Widow PFG

Looks like I'll have to wait for some alternatives then..
Where I'm living now (Southern country) there isn't much in the way of paint stores or paint brands, so I can't do any experimenting myself to find any suitable alternatives..
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post #5 of 1197 Old 01-19-08, 09:01 PM
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Re: Black Widow PFG


I'm impressed that you guys can come up with a mix that is unique and this good. I look forward to giving it a go.

Prof... can someone not ship you a quart/pint of the HE558?
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post #6 of 1197 Old 01-19-08, 09:51 PM
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Re: Black Widow PFG

From what I've been told, there are heavy restrictions on importing any type of liquid into Australia..and requires a certificate to do so..and usually is only available to bulk importers..

I think I might have to make some direct enquiries myself...just to make sure..
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post #7 of 1197 Old 01-19-08, 10:31 PM
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Re: Black Widow PFG

Thanks Mech...Certainly don't rush it on my part..I'm still a long way off from making another screen at this time..
I'll look forward to seeing what you come up with..

Home Theatre...the never ending story!

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post #8 of 1197 Old 01-19-08, 11:09 PM
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Re: Black Widow PFG

Don't panic Prof, I have been experimenting with Resene products which is avaliable in Aus aswell.
I have been working on the resene range experimenting with filtering and was about to return to some developement work.(Home redecorating the house has held up hobbies).
They have an aluminium paint in their range, but I haven't been overly happy with the spectrums of the straight whites. Think I even have an old testpot of ali in the garage.

I can do a spectrum reading with my gear. I'll keep ya posted.


Light changes what it is doing depending if we are looking or not. Considering we only see this as a reflection of the past....what is it really doing now?
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post #9 of 1197 Old 01-19-08, 11:24 PM
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Re: Black Widow PFG

Thanks Smokey Joe, but unfortunately Resene products are not available in SA..
I've already had the occasion to look for them when I was after their clear matt acrylic for the top coat on my Melamine screen..And they won't ship one can..

I may have to do my own experimenting on the aluminium side if nothing else comes up..

Edit..I take it that you were happy with the alum you have..just not the white paint..

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post #10 of 1197 Old 01-20-08, 12:38 AM
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I have this screen in action, have been for that last few days.

I think it's fabulous myself.

I could NOT find the Henry 558 locally, even though I went to their website and found local distributors, maybe you guys will have better luck, but I ordered it online after MANY hours of frustration....

It was pathetic.....

I have personally taken more pics than I care to mention, getting a really good screen shot(REAL, LIKE WHAT YOU REALLY SEE), is a nightmare in itself, ESPECIALLY on LIGHT backgrounds.....

White Balance

White balance can take up a whole LARGE thread in itself, and be MANY pages in itself..

Alot of views will be LESS affected by this than others, but some shots are SEVERELY affected,I'm trying, and I have 2 cameras here......
Facts are this,
LARGE white areas look a bit bluish, I MUST get a Whibal, and even then it'll change per shot.
Like I said, WB is a big deal in regards to NON DOCTORED SHOTS.
ALL of the shots you see, are NOT doctored AT ALL, not touch-ups, etc.... is what it is (hopefuly!!).

There IS software available to correct WB on shots.... I think thats a VERY debateable subject,, but I know that it's WIDELY accepted for corporate,and sometimes HT shots..
I have NOT retouched any of my pics, although I could for the WB issue....
I just feel it's a bit weak, and REFUSE to do that. hence the problems I have stated..


My Projector is a Panasonic AX100U, with over 1900 hours on it, so I USUALLY use he "NORMAL" setting, I think it's the 3rd from brightest, the pics shown are using that setting.

I don't lie, what you see is a FAIR, but NOT perfect rendition of what I see here, any questions LMK.

Pics to come...
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