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Discussion Starter #1
Hey there,

I am a new guy here, and have a few questions for all of ya'll insanely smart guys on here. I have been looking at this forum daily for the last month or so and have learned alot of great stuff; but still have a few things in question. I am converting my 18' x 20' garage with 8'2" ceilings into a dedicated movie room. But my wife would rather have the screen projected on the longer wall, so that's where I have to go with that. Which actually brings me to my first question... The screen? I am very talented with hands on jobs, and would love to do a DIY screen. But which one to do? BOC, BW paint, laminate, sheetrock and screen paint? I have read several posts on here and have a good idea on things, but just can't make up my mind. The next thing is the size of the screen? I would like to have a fairly big screen, but not too big. I know you need to have it about a few feet of the ground, and a foot or so from the ceiling. So can someone please tell me about how big of a screen I can run? Including WxH and then the total diagonally? I can move the seating as close or as far back as needed. But in ya'lls opinion, what size screen should I put in?
Finally, the projector. Some of ya'll might think I am crazy, but I think I want to run strictly 4:3. The reason being, we will mainly be watching non-HD satelite, a little bit of Wii, and some SD movies in this room. I doubt if there will ever be an HD show put on in the room. So instead of trying to switch back and forth, I think I want to do just 4.3. Which leads me to which projector should I get? Do I really need to get an HD 1080 projector, or can I go with a cheaper 720? The lighting in the room will be completley under my control, so ambient light is no problem. I just want to have the brightest and best quality SD picture that I can get. My budget for the projector is up to $1300. I already have all of my speakers, receiver, subs, and mids. So the main thing needed to get going is the projector and screen.
Thank you for all of your help and support. I am sorry if this is kind of long and drawn out, but I have no-one else to talk to in my area about this. Thanks again.
 

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Elite Shackster
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7,142 Posts
Hi Bandy,

I'm no expert in the field of DIY screens and projector setups, but I'd like to take the opportunity to welcome you to Home Theater Shack. There are some cracking guys on here that will be able to help you out, so they will be along soon to give you some good ideas :T.

All the best, and good luck with your setup, I look forward to seeing the results.
 

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HTS Senior Moderator
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5,423 Posts
Welcome to the Shack.
I 'm with Dan, I know very little about screens or projectors but we do have some great people who do know a lot about it. I've moved your thread to this forum where I think it will get a lot more attention.
 

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Moderator Emeritus
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Hi Bandy, welcome to the forum! :wave:

You should probably post your projector question in the Projector forum here at HTS, I don't know if the PJ experts here peruse the DIY Screens forum or not.

I'll point you to some HT calculators in a moment, but to just take a 'quick and dirty' stab at a screen size for you, at 4:3 aspect ratio 100" diagonal would result in a screen 80" wide and 60" tall. This allows for the approximate 2' from floor and 1' from ceiling you stated in your post.

Here is a link to the Projector Central calculator for the Viewsonic PJ503D PJ, I am not recommending this PJ to you (I have one), the only reason for that selection of PJ is that it has a native aspect ratio of 4:3. You can see how changing any dimensional measurement changes all the others.

THX Home Theater Display Setup

Carlton Bale's Home Theater Calculator

Since you are building a dedicated HT with controlled lighting the only reason you would go with any other screen than white is if the PJ you get needs a bit of help in producing black blacks (most do).

As to the PJ - keep in mind that besides being higher resolution (which you don't think you need) the newer HD PJ's also have generally better image quality, in both contrast and color, than older models so a native 16:9 PJ may be the better choice even when used with 4:3 source material. Just food for thought.
 

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Registered
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Hey there,

I am a new guy here, and have a few questions for all of ya'll insanely smart guys on here. I have been looking at this forum daily for the last month or so and have learned alot of great stuff; but still have a few things in question. I am converting my 18' x 20' garage with 8'2" ceilings into a dedicated movie room. But my wife would rather have the screen projected on the longer wall, so that's where I have to go with that. Which actually brings me to my first question... The screen? I am very talented with hands on jobs, and would love to do a DIY screen. But which one to do? BOC, BW paint, laminate, sheetrock and screen paint? I have read several posts on here and have a good idea on things, but just can't make up my mind. The next thing is the size of the screen? I would like to have a fairly big screen, but not too big. I know you need to have it about a few feet of the ground, and a foot or so from the ceiling. So can someone please tell me about how big of a screen I can run? Including WxH and then the total diagonally? I can move the seating as close or as far back as needed. But in ya'lls opinion, what size screen should I put in?
Finally, the projector. Some of ya'll might think I am crazy, but I think I want to run strictly 4:3. The reason being, we will mainly be watching non-HD satelite, a little bit of Wii, and some SD movies in this room. I doubt if there will ever be an HD show put on in the room. So instead of trying to switch back and forth, I think I want to do just 4.3. Which leads me to which projector should I get? Do I really need to get an HD 1080 projector, or can I go with a cheaper 720? The lighting in the room will be completley under my control, so ambient light is no problem. I just want to have the brightest and best quality SD picture that I can get. My budget for the projector is up to $1300. I already have all of my speakers, receiver, subs, and mids. So the main thing needed to get going is the projector and screen.
Thank you for all of your help and support. I am sorry if this is kind of long and drawn out, but I have no-one else to talk to in my area about this. Thanks again.
First- Welcome to the Shack!

Let's start with the projector, normally I say with a ground up build the room should be considered first then the screen then mate a projector to those.

With your budget I really would have to recommend either the Panasonic AX200u or a 720p Epson. Both will knock your socks off and you can play standard def up to HD. The reason I recommend these is because they are within your price range, they are outstanding projectors, and last... the days of 4:3 are coming to an end. I know there is still a lot of 4:3 content out there, but soon everything will be 16:9. If you get a 4:3 projector you are already obsolete.

As far as needing 1080p... If you can afford the Panasonic AE4000 (around $2K) it is not only a fantastic 1080p projector, but it also has a lens memory setting. What is that? Simply put it means you can use a 2.35:1 screen and when you play 16:9 content you can hit a button and the projector will zoom in and out for you to fit the image on the screen! No black bars on the top and bottom (although for 16:9 content you will have bars on the left and right).

Another caveat of the AX200u is it is often called the poor man's 1080p projector. When Projector Central tested and reviewed the AX200u they said it looked like they were watching a 1080p image. Unless a person has a very decerning eye or you are watching the AX200 next to a 1080p unit, they said you'd swear it wasn't a 720p projector. It does exhibit jaggies more than a 1080p, but that is to be expected of a 720p projector and honestly it isn't noticeable- I have a Panasonic AX200u :)

Screen size depends on the projector and the room. You said this will be a dedicated room so I assume you will have good light control and be able to control any ambient sunlight. The next big criteria for screen size is how far back will the projector be mounted? If it were me I would try to shoot for 14-16 feet from the screen. This will give you a brighter image than placing the projector all the way back at the far wall.

At 16 feet I probably wouldn't go much more than 120" diagonal screen (59"high by 105"wide) and definitely no bigger than 140" diagonal (69"high by 122"wide). There are a couple of reasons why I recommend those sizes. First you will get around 14fL of brighness at the screen for a 120" diagonal screen and 13fL for 140" diagonal. 12fL is the mininum recommended brightness for a white screen with total light control, and 14fL is the minimum for THX standards. Probably more important though is the zoom setting. 120" diagonal is around mid setting and 140" diagonal is around 3/4 setting. The closer you get to the max setting the more and more the image quality takes a hit. At a 14' throw you will get a much brighter image but now the 120" diagonal is around 3/4 zoom (17fL) and the 140"diagonal is max zoom (actually 139" diagonal) with 16fL of brightness. A happy medium looks like the 15' throw range.

If at all possible, I would try some different throw ranges and zoom settings and see what looks the most pleasing to your eyes. Keep in mind if you find you are moving your head or if your eyes are constantly moving in order to take in the image, then it is too big and will overwhelm you and can even cause headaches or nausea from motion sickness. If you can do this, knock out two birds with one stone and paint the intended screen wall with Kilz2 primer and do a baseline calibration on this as a white screen reference. Try various sizes to see what everyone likes the best and is the most comfortable.

Once you determine what size screen you like best, next is to determine what screen to go with. This could be the most difficult process. For a dedicated theater setting the rule of thumb is a white screen, however a gray screen can also work in a dedicated room setting and will help with black levels for older projectors or projectors that are lacking in that area. So at this point it will also be a matter of personal preference to you. Here are a couple of links that talk about using a gray screen even in a dedicated room with total light control. Post 23 and 24.

I would say you could go with either a Scorpion or Cream&Sugar screen for your proposed theater. If you want to test out some gray screens but don't want to spend a lot of money get a quart of True Value 1983 Winter Mountain and 1982 Winter mist. Lowes should be able to call True Value colors up in their system, they have done it for me before. I like the Valspar Signature Series paint in the matte finish, but at this stage you're just testing to see what you like the best.

This may seem like a lot of work but trust me, once you dial things in and get your final screen up you will be amazed at how good everything looks. And if you go the DIY route even doing the baseline calibration and auditioning a couple neutral grays before making your final decision will still be far less than if you went with a commercial screen. Not that commercial screens are bad though, to me everything has its place and purpose. :)

Good luck, take lots of pictures and enjoy your new theater!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Awesome guys! Thanks for all the help so far. I will keep all of your ideas in mind. Thanks again.
 
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