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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi All,

I am new to this hobby...I use to be really into flying 3d RC airplanes, but just recently sold everything RC related to invest in a home theater (after seeing my planes sit in the garage collecting dust for over a year because I never have time to fly, I figured it was time to let them go...it was hard, I almost cried, but I cut the cord and said good bye to that chapter of my life). I am quickly realizing this could easily be my next addiction, that is, trying to get the perfect home theater experience. Anyway, what I am trying to decide now is whether to spend my limited funds on a projection screen or just project onto a white wall. When I first started down this road, I thought it was a no brainier, I should get an actual screen. However, now that I have my projector and I am seeing the quality of the picture on my plain white wall painted with white Kilz2, I actually do not see how the picture quality could improve much because it already looks so good.

My viewing environment is 100% light controlled (it will be mostly completely dark when viewing). I am using the BenQ HT1075 as my projector.

In researching the question, a few reasons I have seen others cite for why not to just project onto a white wall is 1. you will see the texture of the wall, 2. the wall is uneven, 3. it does not reflect the picture back to your eyes quite as well as actual profession grade screen material does. If just for reasons 1 & 2, (texture and uneven), I would not be convinced to spend money on a screen. I personally do not see the texture in my wall when viewing the projected image from any more than a few feet back, although I will still apply some plaster to make it as flat as I can just because it's cheap and I can. And as far as any unevenness, maybe I am just lucky, but my wall seems flat to me, every point in the picture seems in focus when I look at it.

The reason I am not sure about is #3, the quality of the picture, contrast, color brightness, overall picture quality...of actual (insert your favorite screen material here) type screen material versus simply projecting onto a blank white wall. My dilemma is two fold, time constraints and budget constraints...meaning, I work a lot so I do not have unlimited time to futz around with countless experiments of different kinds of screens and secondly, even if I did have the time, I do not have the money to do so, I cannot spend even $300 just to see if I like it better. Right now I am projecting onto my white wall that has been painted with Kilz2 and it looks great. To be honest, I do not really see how the picture quality could get much better, I mean, maybe it could improve marginally, but unless I am really missing something here, I cannot for the life of me imagine how a screen would be drastically different because the picture is already crystal clear and the colors look right to me, black level is fine and the screen is plenty bright... what is there to improve upon?

So basically, I want to take a survey. I am looking for help from anyone that has personally seen a projector projected onto a white wall as well as that same projector projected on your favorite screen material. If you could let me know on a scale from say, 1%-100% how projecting on a white wall compares to projecting on screen material. 100% being perfect, cannot get any better picture, and 1% being, well, basically no picture at all.

My guess, without having seen anything accept the white wall, is white wall is about 94% and the perfect best screen material possible would probably be about 96%-97% (given my projector would be the weak link keeping it from 100% accurate picture). If I am right, then in my opinion, my money would be better spend upgrading some other component of my home theater versus getting a screen for the marginal 2%-3% increase in picture quality that would hardly even be perceptible except to the most discerning eye. On the other hand, if I am just totally not getting the picture (pun intended) and the variance is more like a 20% improvement in actual screen over white wall, I would most likely want to spend the money on a screen. Secondly, if you think an actual screen is significantly better, which screen material are you using?

Thanks,
Jeremy
 

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The simple answer is a screen will be better than a white painted wall however there are paint options that do work quite well but need some mixing to achieve the right results.
Jamestown screens are relatively inexpensive but he can test you patience in his delivery times. I have one of his fixed screens for a few years now and can not complain and it was an improvement over the painted wall I originally used.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The simple answer is a screen will be better than a white painted wall however there are paint options that do work quite well but need some mixing to achieve the right results.
Jamestown screens are relatively inexpensive but he can test you patience in his delivery times. I have one of his fixed screens for a few years now and can not complain and it was an improvement over the painted wall I originally used.
Thanks tonyvdb for your reply. I do not doubt it would be an improvement, but I am wondering how much of an improvement. I mean, was it like night and day, or how closely did you have to look to see that it was an improvement. I know this is a very subjective question, that is why I am attempting to put a number on it. One person could say, "It was a huge improvement!" While another might say, "It was only slightly better." While it may be possible both are really saying the same thing in essence because it's possible in the first guy's opinion a 2%-3% increase in picture quality IS a huge improvement, while to the second guy a 2%-3% increase in PQ is only a slight improvement. Does that make sense?

I know it is not an exact science, but could you just throw some numbers up there to give me a sense of what you are seeing from your perspective, a 2%-3% increase in quality, 20%-30% increase, 10%-15%...etc.
 

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The simple answer is a screen will be better than a white painted wall however there are paint options that do work quite well but need some mixing to achieve the right results.
Jamestown screens are relatively inexpensive but he can test you patience in his delivery times. I have one of his fixed screens for a few years now and can not complain and it was an improvement over the painted wall I originally used.
4 months for my delivery but I agree.

To answer the original posters questions

Jamestown screen if it equals 100%
white painted grey wall using kilz 123 - 75%

I saw a considerable improvement but the white wall was pretty impressive for what it was ($12 in paint) Most of my improvement went from going from a textured wall to a smooth screen though.
 

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It was a good 35% improvement over the painted wall.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Wow, really, you saw that much improvement? I am looking at the 150" Jamestown screen for only $325. If it really provides the improvement in PQ you guys say it does (25%-35%), I think that is worth it.

My only reservation is that Talley said the improvement was mostly from going to textured surface to smooth. What if I cannot see the texture? Is it possible that I am seeing it, but not knowing I am seeing it? For instance, if I were to see the projected image on a screen and the textured wall back to back, then I wonder if I would see a difference? Right now, even if I strain, I cannot make out any texture whatsoever, maybe your eye site is better than mine, seriously. I wish there was a way to test it out without forking over the cash...I got a sample from somebody, but it is about 4" by 3", pretty much useless to use as a PQ test.
 

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Are you the only one watching movies in this space or are the lots of seating position's? Direct viewing with a painted wall is going to be fairly close but anyone sitting off to the sides will suffer alot of image quality loss.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Are you the only one watching movies in this space or are the lots of seating position's? Direct viewing with a painted wall is going to be fairly close but anyone sitting off to the sides will suffer alot of image quality loss.
Good to know, I will check that out. I have only ever watched it head on. Eventually there will be multiple seating. The room dimensions are 20' x 20' x 8' ceiling.
 

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It was a good 35% improvement over the painted wall.
You know your probably closer to the right number than me. I was originally thinking 30% but ya I'd almost agree. Somewhere between 35-25% improvement. It's pretty significant.

To the OP:

You cannot see the texture... or at least I could not but this is sitting head on too. The texture just gave a grainy look which actually mimic'd film... I thought it was pretty cool. I did notice that sitting off to the sides it was very noticable.

So directly in front of the screen.... probably a 25% improvement.... off to the side closer to 60% improvement. I remember now checking angles but I don't care about any place but my seat so thats what I was referencing.
 

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I went from Black Widow to an Elite Cinegray screen. I think the Black Widow was better overall. But there was a lot more time and effort into it (the Black Widow) and that trade off makes it not worth it.
So is the general consensus that Black Widow is the best if you are going with a painted on screen?
 

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Discussion Starter #14
btw, I sat a little closer last night and at an angle and the texture of the wall was very apparent.
 

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So is the general consensus that Black Widow is the best if you are going with a painted on screen?
I would never categorize anything as best. It's whatever suits your needs that is best, be that an OTS neutral gray or a dnp Supernova.
 

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If you are willing to give the surface a quick sanding to round off any particularly sharp peaks/bumps and then skim the area with light-weight pre-mixed drywall compound (available around $15 for a 5gallon bucket that can cover a ridiculous amound of area), the smoothing process can be surprisingly easy and fast..but dusty.
Then you have a smooth surface ready for either a flat-neutral white/grey paint or a specialty mix if you'll need to fight some light or light-colored surface reflections.

Some things involve a risk of messing up and being disappointed, but I'd say smoothing a textured wall and painting some flat neutral paint over it does not qualify as one of those things. It is almost impossible to not get a solid improvement from compound and an appropriate flat paint. ..for a combined ~$30. :)
 

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I will be buying the BenQ 2050 soon and I am trying to decide between a painted wall and a fixed screen. Going to do 100" for now.

I was looking at the wall it will be projecting on last night and I can see imperfections, specifically the line where the two pieces of drywall meet. Would the above mentioned drywall compound help with this?

Part of me wants to just spend the $200 and save myself the time and labor but I would also love to save $$$ and paint one for less than $50.

My brother has a 140" painted screen and it looks fantastic.
 

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I will be buying the BenQ 2050 soon and I am trying to decide between a painted wall and a fixed screen. Going to do 100" for now.

I was looking at the wall it will be projecting on last night and I can see imperfections, specifically the line where the two pieces of drywall meet. Would the above mentioned drywall compound help with this?

Part of me wants to just spend the $200 and save myself the time and labor but I would also love to save $$$ and paint one for less than $50.

My brother has a 140" painted screen and it looks fantastic.
A 100" screen with that bright 2050 could easily benefit from a simple OTS grey. You're likely able to see those imperfections on the wall right now because the paint is somewhat glossy..the flat paint will hide imperfections MUCH better and any sanding/filling you can do before painting will also help get rid of those little bumps and holes.

The original CineGrey can be bought as just the material itself called the Designer Cut Series which you would then attach (staple even) to a frame of your own choosing or building. Buying the material this way is about $70 from what I've seen.
A somewhat similar option would be Carls Flexi-Grey material which would be a similar or lower price at the size you're aiming for.

If you decide to paint instead, that will be the least expensive option of all and the neutral grey color "Veil" or "OONN 53/000" will start that projector's dimmest preset around 16ftL. You'll want a flat or matte finish, and ask for an enamel flat/matte if you need it to be as durable as possible...otherwise a plain interior flat latex works great for around $10-$15/gallon and you can just keep the leftovers (which will be plenty) in case you need to paint over damage or stubborn dirt/staining.
I've just been using cheap ColorPlace brand paint, but "Veil" is a common color especially among the brands; CIL, Delux, Glidden.

The really unique thing you'll get from painting like this is how much light absorbtion you'll have happening from every angle. You'd have a hard or impossible time finding a 0.55gain matte-grey screen from any manufacturer, but with paint it's just, "I'd like a gallon of [insert brand] interior flat tinted 'Veil', please"...and that's it. :)
 

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I built my theatre room around my screen. I bought a 10' by 54" piece of drywall and glued it and screwed the perimeter as to leave no texture or imperfections. I then bought a super pigmented white screen paint I ordered through a Paint supplier in town in which you mix paint with water in a part to part ratio. After screen was done I then proceeded to install columns etc etc. I've been more than satisfied with my setup but have no direct comparison to screen to offer input on quality difference.
 
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