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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'm trying to decide what to do about a screen. Fixed or Painted DIY

Here is a link to my dedicated home theater.

http://www.hometheatershack.com/forums/home-theater-room-photos/38598-forrester-dedicated-home-theater.html

projector is a Epson 8700 , carpet medium brown , walls light and dark brown (all flat paint), 100% light controlled . front row is 14' from screen. Currently i'm projecting onto (flat) light brown painted wall . It really looks good ,very movie like, but I would like more pop , and better color tones and skin tones.(colors very slightly washed out)
I currently like being able to zoom in and out on the wall depending on the source, and not having to worry about the black boarder of a fixed screen. I'm open to a fixed screen 135" or so. Budget $800.00 max , or a painted screen if I can get as good or better results than a fixed screen.

I have read that you can get equal results to Black Diamond , and Carada , etc from painted screens? Is this really so?

Like i say my budget is approx $800.00 so If i purchase a fixed screen it would probably be an Elite. So my goal in using a painted screen for me would be wanting the results of a higher end fixed screen, that's out of my price range.
 

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I am using a painted screen and love it. Save your money and try paint. You can probably finish the project for $50 plus border if you are so inclined (or you can paint the entire screen wall area the same color).

I got a screen sample from Elite for their CineWhite screen. To my naked eye, the color was a near perfect match to Kilz Premium Primer, which Harpmaker recommended I use as a starting point. I was very happy with the image but wanted better black levels.

I then tried Black Widow, which would have been perfect if it were not some shoddy drywall work on my part (being a reflective paint mix it is very unforgiving for surface defects and difference in surface texture). Then I went with a non-reflective grey mix using Behr Premium Ultra Pure White Flat Base with N6 mix (I settled on 1.5 quarts white base to 4 oz N6).

I am very happy with the results.

Regards,
sga2

PS - Nice build, by the way!
 

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You don't mention how far back the projector will be. If your front row of seats is 14' from the screen it looks like the projector is around 15', is that correct?

If so that puts you right around 11fL of brightness at the screen for a 135". That's just shy of the recommended 12fL for a dedicated room setting.

If you want to try a painted screen then check out C&S. You won't find any substrates big enough to make a screen the size you want so you'll have to either paint directly on the wall or use BOC or painter's canvas and make a screen frame.

Elite also has some great screens that are well within your budget.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
You don't mention how far back the projector will be. If your front row of seats is 14' from the screen it looks like the projector is around 15', is that correct?

If so that puts you right around 11fL of brightness at the screen for a 135". That's just shy of the recommended 12fL for a dedicated room setting.

If you want to try a painted screen then check out C&S. You won't find any substrates big enough to make a screen the size you want so you'll have to either paint directly on the wall or use BOC or painter's canvas and make a screen frame.

Elite also has some great screens that are well within your budget.
Yes lens is at exactly 15'

In THX mode it is very bright , and in it's brightest mode it is way too bright. the brightness is NOT an issue at all. I do not own a light meter but would not want it much brighter than it is currently. I can tell you the 8700 is way brighter than the Panny 4000 and the same throw distance and screen size.

Is it possible to surpass the performance of an Elite fixed screen with a painted on screen?
 

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Yes you can surpass the performance of a commercial screen with some DIY applications, and most will match their performance but at a fraction of the price.

Of course there are pros and cons to everything in life, and screens are no exception.

Commercial screens have the advantage when it comes to total ease. You still have to assemble a commercial fixed frame screen but it is easy to do and they come with all the pieces and instructions. DIY, well you have to make everything. If a person is handy and likes DIY projects, then this is right up their alley and they can make a great screen for a fraction of the cost and have the satisfaction and pride of being able to tell people "I made that!"

Where DIY really sings is for people on a budget, or... when someone wants an extremely large screen or a screen size that is a bit off the norm that the commercial guys sell. Sure you can have a custom made commercial screen, or buy screen material (but then you are back to DIY as far as making your frame) but it is not going to be cheap. DIY offers a way to get large or custom screen sizes fast and easy without sacrificing image quality... well depending on which application you go with.

If you can handle it, an N8 would be the darkest shade I would recommend. Again here is where paints can be your friend. You can paint your intended screen area with Kilz2 to get a good white reference screen that's also a unity gain screen. Calibrate to this. Once you have your size dialed in and the projector calibrated then you can try an OTS (Off The Shelf) N9 gray and an N8 gray and see which you like the best, white, light gray, or the medium gray. You may find you like the OTS enough to stop right there!

What this let's you do though is to audition three types of screens, a white reference, a light N9 gray and an N8 all for under $50. Although it may sound like a lot of work, it is way cheaper and less of a hassle than buying a screen only to find out you don't like it. This way you will know what shade you like best. Again, you may even stop right there. I had an OTS gray screen up as my primary screen for years! Nothing I tested beat it (until Black Widow that is) so there was no reason for me to change it.

The biggest criteria that you are looking for in any screen, be it a commercial screen or a DIY screen is the color balance of the screen. You what a screen that is as close to D65 neutral as possible. It isn't hard to nail D65, so don't take any excuses or made up reasons why something is better but not D65.

Oh, by the way you have a great looking theater room! :clap:
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Yes you can surpass the performance of a commercial screen with some DIY applications, and most will match their performance but at a fraction of the price.

Of course there are pros and cons to everything in life, and screens are no exception.

Commercial screens have the advantage when it comes to total ease. You still have to assemble a commercial fixed frame screen but it is easy to do and they come with all the pieces and instructions. DIY, well you have to make everything. If a person is handy and likes DIY projects, then this is right up their alley and they can make a great screen for a fraction of the cost and have the satisfaction and pride of being able to tell people "I made that!"

Where DIY really sings is for people on a budget, or... when someone wants an extremely large screen or a screen size that is a bit off the norm that the commercial guys sell. Sure you can have a custom made commercial screen, or buy screen material (but then you are back to DIY as far as making your frame) but it is not going to be cheap. DIY offers a way to get large or custom screen sizes fast and easy without sacrificing image quality... well depending on which application you go with.

If you can handle it, an N8 would be the darkest shade I would recommend. Again here is where paints can be your friend. You can paint your intended screen area with Kilz2 to get a good white reference screen that's also a unity gain screen. Calibrate to this. Once you have your size dialed in and the projector calibrated then you can try an OTS (Off The Shelf) N9 gray and an N8 gray and see which you like the best, white, light gray, or the medium gray. You may find you like the OTS enough to stop right there!

What this let's you do though is to audition three types of screens, a white reference, a light N9 gray and an N8 all for under $50. Although it may sound like a lot of work, it is way cheaper and less of a hassle than buying a screen only to find out you don't like it. This way you will know what shade you like best. Again, you may even stop right there. I had an OTS gray screen up as my primary screen for years! Nothing I tested beat it (until Black Widow that is) so there was no reason for me to change it.

The biggest criteria that you are looking for in any screen, be it a commercial screen or a DIY screen is the color balance of the screen. You what a screen that is as close to D65 neutral as possible. It isn't hard to nail D65, so don't take any excuses or made up reasons why something is better but not D65.

Oh, by the way you have a great looking theater room! :clap:
I did a lot of the work in the theater myself and have been in the cabinet biz for 20+ years , so DIY is not a problem if it's worth it to me. That being said . If i can get equal or better performance of a commercial screen with a Painted screen , that's what i would prefer to do. I have gotten very used to zooming in and out to suit the source , and when playing a bluray I simply zoom it all the way to the soffit box and wall corners to maximize the screen size and bars. If it had a black velvet frame I could not do that. First. starting with kilz 2 is no problem I know exactly what that is. but what do you mean by N9 or N8 gray ? and are you saying simply applying Kilz 2 will duplicate , lets say a Elite Cinewhite screen surface? or is this just to calibrate to? if the latter , what paint process would duplicate the screen surface of the cinewhite , and cinegray from Elite?
 

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I did a lot of the work in the theater myself and have been in the cabinet biz for 20+ years , so DIY is not a problem if it's worth it to me. That being said . If i can get equal or better performance of a commercial screen with a Painted screen , that's what i would prefer to do. I have gotten very used to zooming in and out to suit the source , and when playing a bluray I simply zoom it all the way to the soffit box and wall corners to maximize the screen size and bars. If it had a black velvet frame I could not do that. First. starting with kilz 2 is no problem I know exactly what that is. but what do you mean by N9 or N8 gray ? and are you saying simply applying Kilz 2 will duplicate , lets say a Elite Cinewhite screen surface? or is this just to calibrate to? if the latter , what paint process would duplicate the screen surface of the cinewhite , and cinegray from Elite?
Color-wise, Kilz is going be very close to CineWhite (see my last post). Texture-wise, you will get good results from spraying or rolling. The screen surface for the CineWhite has a bit of texture (see cutsheet from Elite's website). You can expect similar result by rolling, which is what I did.

You probably will not be able to tell any difference in picture quality at 14ft, and I doubt even at 4ft, between Kilz and CineWhite. And, as has already been stated, you have ultimate flexibility to make the screen as light or dark as you want.

Regards,
sga2
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Color-wise, Kilz is going be very close to CineWhite (see my last post). Texture-wise, you will get good results from spraying or rolling. The screen surface for the CineWhite has a bit of texture (see cutsheet from Elite's website). You can expect similar result by rolling, which is what I did.

You probably will not be able to tell any difference in picture quality at 14ft, and I doubt even at 4ft, between Kilz and CineWhite. And, as has already been stated, you have ultimate flexibility to make the screen as light or dark as you want.

Regards,
sga2
I went back and read your post again. Which projector are you using? that you were not happy with the black level on the Kilz wall?

I have a light tan/ brown wall now . but there is no pop , the picture is very good but no pop, not vibrant at all , colors look slightly washed out. could that be the light tan wall color or not calibrated correctly ?
 

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I did a lot of the work in the theater myself and have been in the cabinet biz for 20+ years , so DIY is not a problem if it's worth it to me. That being said . If i can get equal or better performance of a commercial screen with a Painted screen , that's what i would prefer to do. I have gotten very used to zooming in and out to suit the source , and when playing a bluray I simply zoom it all the way to the soffit box and wall corners to maximize the screen size and bars. If it had a black velvet frame I could not do that. First. starting with kilz 2 is no problem I know exactly what that is. but what do you mean by N9 or N8 gray ? and are you saying simply applying Kilz 2 will duplicate , lets say a Elite Cinewhite screen surface? or is this just to calibrate to? if the latter , what paint process would duplicate the screen surface of the cinewhite , and cinegray from Elite?
Okay sorry about the 'N's. They denote Munsel gray shades, with 0 being black and 10 being white and then 1 through 9 being steps of gray. If you are really interested there is a ton of information in the DIY Screens section, just check the sticky.

Kilz2 will give you a nice white unity gain diffusive surface. A 1.0 unity gain screen is what they use as a reference screen and it is also what all the projector companies calibrate and do QC test on. So with that said, you want to calibrate on the closest thing that the manufacturer set the projector up to work on. Kilz2 is also within D65 specs so you won't have any color push from the screen.

Once you set your size and calibrate, you will now know exactly how your projector looks and performs at factory specs. If everything looks great, bright whites, vivid colors, deep blacks... you could stop here if you are satisfied. Well, stop here in the sense you decided if you are in love with a white screen. Kilz2 being a primer isn't a durable surface so you'll want a paint that will hold up, or you can buy a commercial white screen. The reason I always recommend Kilz2 is because if you are going to paint, a primer coat is always the way to go. And if you are going to put up a primer coat, why not use it for calibrating your projector? It certainly doesn't cost anything if you are painting anyway and putting up primer.

N9 is a very light gray, some people even think it is white. There are quite a few commercial screens out there that advertise a 'white' screen but it is actually an N9. This is light enough that whites stay very bright and white but the slight gray does help with perceived contrast. Then of course N8 is the next step darker, but it still is a relatively light gray in the big scheme of things. When it comes to screens though, N8 is often referred to as a medium gray even though on the Munsel scale it is still a light gray. Still with me? :)

The key to any screen is how neutral it is. The video and film industry use D65 as their neutral reference point, which is where I got the D65 I mention earlier. This is in my opinion the number one screen spec that separates great screens from not so great screens. Some people (especially at other forums) like to say gain is the number one screen attribute, but it isn't. Gain is just a tool used to achieve the minimum required brightness for a room setting. Too much gain and there will be viewing cone issues, hot spotting, and even color shifting. Too little gain and the image will be dull and lifeless. Color balance though (neutrality) is the one spec that has no pros or cons because you can't be too neutral... the screen is either neutral or not. If it is not then the screen will have an impact on the color balance of the projected image. Maybe it can be adjusted out at the projector, but depending on how far off the screen is you may not be able to compensate. Most commercial screens are D65 or within target and can be compensated for. DIY can't say that. D65 is attainable, we do it here all the time, but some other mixes are just thrown together by eye and we found when we actually tested them with spectrophotometers they didn't even come close to D65.

So when in doubt just ask if it meets D65 specs and ask to see the test result. Some people will say anything it takes, but the proof is in the numbers. Again, there is a ton of information about that too over in the DIY Screen forum. With all that said, the nutshell of why we want D65 is because it will not skew the colors of the projected image. So if you calibrate to a D65 white screen and then change to a D65 gray screen, you'll still need to recalibrate but you'll find that you won't have to change your color settings, only your brightness and contrast. If the new screen isn't D65... then you'll have to fiddle around with your color settings to get them to look right, and sometimes you can't.

If your image is as bright as you say it is, test it on a white reference like Kilz2 and see how the blacks look. If they look a bit washed out you might be a candidate for for our Scorpion N8 screen or an N8 commercial screen. Again the beauty of DIY is you can test out an N9 or N8 shade of gray and then decide which you like and then go buy your screen (or stick with DIY). You can't test out a white reference screen then send it back and test an N9 screen and send that back and then test... well you get the point.

Odds are if you were having a professional installation done they'd more than likely just tell you that you need a StudioTek 130 and that would be that. This way you can actually see a few options and then decide. Again I know this sounds like a lot of work, but in the end you'll know without any doubts you got the right screen for your setup and personal tastes. If I was your installer this is exactly how I would do it so you could decide and not let someone tell you what you like.
 

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I know that's a lot to digest.

Let it all sink in and maybe even check out some of those educational links about gain and color balance and things like that. If you noticed though, I'm not steering you in any direction yet. It doesn't matter to me if you go DIY or commercial. You'll be happy either way that I am sure. Right now though before you do anything DIY or commercial you need to find out if you are a white or gray screen person, and if a gray screen... what shade. Then we can throw some actual screen solutions at you.

You have a great looking room. The last thing you want now is to get a screen that doesn't perform and look as great as the room does! Spend just a little time on this step and in the end you'll be happy for years to come.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Okay sorry about the 'N's. They denote Munsel gray shades, with 0 being black and 10 being white and then 1 through 9 being steps of gray. If you are really interested there is a ton of information in the DIY Screens section, just check the sticky.

Kilz2 will give you a nice white unity gain diffusive surface. A 1.0 unity gain screen is what they use as a reference screen and it is also what all the projector companies calibrate and do QC test on. So with that said, you want to calibrate on the closest thing that the manufacturer set the projector up to work on. Kilz2 is also within D65 specs so you won't have any color push from the screen.

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Thanks , now i'm understanding. I will kilz it tomorrow. so the kilz screen is a 1.0 gain ? That all makes sense to why the colors have no pop and not vibrant at all
 

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That plus you really need to calibrate your projector. You'll be amazed at what a full calibration can and will do for the image. Anytime you change screens you should always recalibrate, but like I mentioned, if they are both D65 you won't need to change your color setting.
 

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It's a unity gain screen right at the 1.0 mark
 

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I went back and read your post again. Which projector are you using? that you were not happy with the black level on the Kilz wall?

I have a light tan/ brown wall now . but there is no pop , the picture is very good but no pop, not vibrant at all , colors look slightly washed out. could that be the light tan wall color or not calibrated correctly ?
I have a Panasonic 4000 throwing onto a 130" 2.35 screen from 14ft in a bat cave (100% light control, dark walls and ceiling). The black levels were pretty good with the white primer, but I like them inky black. I ended up with a pretty light grey screen which helped noticeably.

What also helped is that I've seen a few movies in the theater since I was tinkering with the screen. I was initially afraid that after seeing something in the theater I'd be nitpicking my HT's performance. Honestly, it is the other way around and I have a very modest setup. I have to say that even our very decent theaters around here the black levels are not that great and the image is rarely very sharp even when it should be.

Regards,
sga2
 

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I have a Panasonic 4000 throwing onto a 130" 2.35 screen from 14ft in a bat cave (100% light control, dark walls and ceiling). The black levels were pretty good with the white primer, but I like them inky black. I ended up with a pretty light grey screen which helped noticeably.

What also helped is that I've seen a few movies in the theater since I was tinkering with the screen. I was initially afraid that after seeing something in the theater I'd be nitpicking my HT's performance. Honestly, it is the other way around and I have a very modest setup. I have to say that even our very decent theaters around here the black levels are not that great and the image is rarely very sharp even when it should be.

Regards,
sga2
I know exactly what you are saying. Other than the mammoth screen size at the theater, everything else looks ten fold better on my screen at home.

Part of the problem (not all) has to do with the projectionists too. Now-days theaters don't have top notch technicians running their booths. That really shows when it comes to the out of focus and dull images. I've been to some theaters where the focus was so bad you couldn't read the credits. If they had someone properly setting up their systems and checking them at least once a week they would look a lot better, but I still bet our home setups beat the most of the theaters hands down. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Well I have my C&S screen installed and It's amazing how much different it is compared to the light brown wall I was projecting on. Much Much more vivid and alive. I even compared them to the Elite samples they finally sent me . Though the Cinewhite was very close , the colors still did not look as clean and vivid , and the cinegray , Very good blacks and that was it.Colors really suffered. made them look dingy by comparison. Being able to compare screens side by side really makes a difference. The C&S DIY screen is amazing , and it only cost me $ 80 and I have enough left over to do two more screens.
 
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