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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First, I’ve concluded you guys do great work from the several months of off and on reading I’ve done here. Thank you for all of your efforts and sharing them. As a self proclaimed geek, and one who relies on quantitative measures in my career, I like the quantitative approach! This forum has the highest signal to noise ratio I’ve seen in many years visiting tech forums.:clap:

I’m doing research in the hopes the economy will allow me to spend what I’ve been saving for a HT on a HT (as opposed to unemployment). I’m looking for confirmation and/or advice on an appropriate screen for my situation. I have tried to make a comprehensive first post :nerd:; my apologies for the length for those that do not like long posts.

This is for a HT in a basement family room. It is a “multi use space” and thus has some typical family room compromises. Seating is two couches forming an ~80 degree angle, facing the screen wall (the couches like legs of a triangle). Screen sizes referenced below are diagonal unless stated otherwise.


1) Room dimensions:
a. 18’10” North-South, 15’10” East-West, 8’ ceilings. The “screen wall” is the south wall. The screen wall is bare at this point, with 12’ centered width having no interruptions (i.e. light switch). East wall has 9’ of glass – patio door and windows. No other windows. Lined curtains cover the glass, they are 90% black out.

b. Wall color is a medium/light gray. Ceiling is white. Curtains are a dark red/burgundy (and cover ~50% of the east wall square footage). Carpeting is a medium/light darkness cream color.

c. Projector will be ceiling mounted. Distance from lens to screen is 12-13’, centered in the 12’ of available screen width.

2) Seating Distance:
a. First “row” is 12’ from the screen wall, 9’ wide (41 degree viewing cone from screen center). Second “row” is 15’ from the screen and centered. This is the prime seat.

3) Lighting Conditions
a. Ambient: see note about curtains in #1 above. Lighting is 12 ceiling cans, in 2 separate circuits, each with dimmers. The “front” circuit is on the screen end of the room, call this circuit #2. Circuit #1 is over the two “rows” of seating on the opposite end.

b. I took some light readings from a moderately directional light meter I borrowed for the weekend from work. Readings in Foot Candles. CC=curtains closed, LOFF=all lights off, CO=curtains open, etc.; “viewers eyes” means the meter facing the screen, amb=meter on viewers seat facing up (toward can lights). Windows face east, so morning = direct sun. Readings taken in January (snow on ground), cold, clear skies.
i. 4PM, CC, LOFF: 0.1 on screen, 0.2 viewers eyes, 0.2 amb
ii. 4PM, CC, LON (all): 8.5 on screen, 8 viewers eyes, 37 amb
iii. 4PM, CC, LON (C1 full on): 1.3 on screen, 5 viewers eyes, 33 amb
iv. 4PM, CC, LON (C1 on dim): 0.1 on screen, 0.2 viewers eyes, 0.2 amb
v. 4PM, CO, LOFF: 4 on screen, 8 viewers eyes, 2 amb (in shadow)
vi. 4PM, CO, LON (all full): 12 on screen, 11.5 viewers eyes, 40 amb
vii. 9AM, CC, LOFF: 1 on wall, 1.25 viewers eyes, 1.25 amb
viii. 9AM, CO, LOFF: 47 on wall, >2k viewers eyes (direct sun).
So, in fully “light controlled” conditions not in the morning, I’m at 0.2fc ambient, with 0.1 on the actual screen wall. Some rear lights on dim do not measurably increase the light on the screen or hitting the viewer’s eyes when looking at the screen. No I do not remember the calibration accuracy of the meter :huh:.

4) Viewing Habits:
a. It will be a mix of TV, gaming and movies. Some solo (lights off), some with family/friends (lights on in background, likely dimmed, eating, etc.). Call it 70% some lights on gaming/TV, 30% lights off movies.

5) Projector: I have not decided or purchased. 1080p. 2-3k USD price range. If screen/room were not a consideration I would go Panny AE3000 as first choice, 2.35:1 screen CIH using the zoom/memory. I’m open to no (moveable) masking or a manual masking system. Screen may be painted or mounted on the wall. Epson 6500 is the second choice, though that means 16:9 for me (I’m not bucking up for an anamorphic lens at this point).

6) Skills: moderately handy at wood/metal working and electronics. Finished my own basement (dong most of the work), including low voltage conduit (hence the specified projector distance). I have an Eye One Display LT I used with Color HCFR to calibrate my plasma and CRT. I intend to use it on this front projector too.

7) Screen size/gain/color thoughts:
a. Given that it will be used in some ambient light likely > half the time, and it’s not a bat cave with respect to room colors, I’m thinking a gray would be more appropriate than a white. Not sure the best N value.

b. Screen size: SMPTE specs 30 degree min field of view; THX says >=36 degrees in the back row is preferable. At 15’ viewing distance a 110” 16:9 yields 30 degrees. 115” 2.35:1 gives 33 degrees; 125” gives 35 degrees at 2.35 and the same screen yields a 100” 16:9 image with no change in masking.
i. So, with adequate lumens and geometry, a 125” 2.35:1 screen seems ideal for the room and seating.
ii. From 12’ the AE3000 can project a 115” at 2.35 or a 133” at 16:9. It’ll do 125” 2.35 at 13’ throw.
iii. At gain 1.0, a 125” screen yields 18 fL in normal mode which reportedly calibrates very well; 20fL on a 100” 16:9 that fits in the 125” 2.35.
iv. At a gain of 0.88 (black widow) this translates to 16/18 fL. Good enough!
v. This would allow me to shrink the projected image size and/or use Dynamic mode to dial up the fL too (e.g. for gaming, lights on viewing, etc.).

So, why am I posting again? Shoot holes in my logic and offer suggestions for improvements and screen recommendations (or any other constructive comments). I’m comfortable with DIY paint (preferably roll on) or laminate on frame, or commercial at ~$500 or less.

Thanks in advance. I should be able to check this thread each evening to post any responses.

103 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the thorough reply! Indeed, a Blue Ray player and new 5.1 setup will be part of the package -- I'm starting from scratch other than a HTPC I already cap TV/cable with and watch DVDs from (Sage backend on the file server with their set top box for viewing).

I think I'll go BW after a white baseline (to get a first hand idea of how that reacts to the ambient, show the wife how bright it is but the ambient trade-off, etc.). If I find it too dark (not likely based on the math), I can always try something in between.

It'll be months before I can pull the trigger (at the earliest), but I'll be watching the forum and I'll post when it's all done.

Thanks again and of course I'm open to further suggestions.
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