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Discussion Starter #1
I am a relatively atypical user with regards to those who frequent this forum but I am running into an issue and having lurked here for a while I feel that the most knowledgeable folks who might answer my questions are here.

I am a college student in Florida with my own dorm room. This summer I worked and earned a large enough amount of money to finally be able to finance my dream of owning a projector. I purchased a B-stock JVC RS2 and I am quite in love with it. For the time being I have been projecting on my wall and it looks spectacular to my admittedly virgin eyes. But even I can notice a few issues with it. Being an old dorm the wall is horribly painted and repainted with numerous poor plaster jobs. Fixing it up is just not feasible and the paint is less than ideal either. I cannot paint this wall without paying a fine or repainting it at the end of the year which seems a huge waste of resources not to mention I am bad at painting and DIY in general (or at least inexperienced). So if I am going the DIY route (which I am considering) it would have to be something like Wilsonart DW or Do-Able which is mostly pre-assembled and doesn't make a huge mess. I am also considering buying a screen and here is where the advice comes in.

I have a virtually absolute ceiling budget of $500 give or take 50 or so (though I would prefer to pay around $300) so please things like Stewart screens are out of the question. My main problem is even with this price limitation I am overwhelmed with options and I have some slightly less than adequate realities that affect the equation which I couldn't find info on. First this not my house and the walls are white/off white and I cannot repaint them. Besides that though I have shades I can't perfectly even light control the windows. So these factors are making me consider going the gray route. The problem is I am not sure at my budget there is a good gray solution for ambient light (all the ones I have found are mostly for improving bad blacks which isn't really my problem). My screen size is going to be 110-120 or so inches diagonal and I am undecided on whether to go 2.35:1 or 16:9. Frankly I could go either way since though I don't watch tv I play video games on it about in equal proportion to movies (mostly rock band). For DIY solutions and I am willing and able but don't want something that will make a huge mess or require precise effort which I am not confident I am capable of.

Sorry for the length of the post and the important details I probably omitted (please ask I am quite a neophyte at this).

While I know there is no perfect solution I am sure that I can get some more guidance by asking here rather than spending my money and then regretting the decision. (For some perspective as a college student these $500 is a good 20% of my discretionary spending budget for the semester (though one I am willing to invest)).

Also I do not need it to be acoustically transparent.

Thank you very much in advance.
 

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Seriously painting on a screen is a very easy task and can be done for under $75.
If you must go with a screen look used I see many pull down screens for $50 or even ask the I.T. department at the College if they have one that you could buy off of them. I work at a university and we always have lots of unused screens that would do the job nicely and give you a good 72" 16:9 image.
 

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I concur with Tony... or build one from a frame/cloth (see forum posts) or go to your nearest home improvement store... Lowes and HD will cut sheets for free. If you are willing to live with a 4'x 8' screen, then buy yourself a piece of 1/2" sanded (3/4" might better... but heavier). Paint (numerous suggestions on the forum) & hang as you would a heavy picture. I did something like this for an outside party once & used just your basic eggshell white paint (3-4 coats) & was surprised how good it was (of course it was for night time). I think that keeps you well within your budget.

MitchOK
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you very much for the replies. I actually asked my school and they said no luck on extra screens (we are pretty small). I am considering painting but I see three main difficulties.

The first and largest is that I am unable to paint my walls. This is non-negotiable and would cause me to be fined. Second is that if I were to buy something from home depot or lowes I don't have an easy way of transporting it (my only vehicle has two wheels not four and no trunk). Third I have no painting experience and it worries me that I would botch it and waste paint and materials. From what I have read you need to be able to apply a very even coat and I have never painted anything larger than a canvas for art class.

If I were to go painting (and if it is the best solution I am willing to learn) what mix would you recommend? I am ideally interested in some kind of ambient light solution since it is a problem, especially during the day when light does leak through. The screen is watchable but it is very washed out and is spectacular at night.

I have already budgeted the money so as long as I don't have to pay more I don't really need to go cheaper, so I don't need to look for a bargain bin solution. As I said I feel happy paying around $300 and I am willing to go up to $500. The main concern of mine is getting value for my money. I do consider my time somewhat valuable so a huge in depth DIY is tricky when I am already writing papers.

More and more upon thought I feel like I want an ambient light solution if one is possible. With the walls pretty light and reflective even at night it is a concern and as I said repainting is not an option in a dorm (for perspective the fines for the whole room would be around $500-800). Any help is appreciated and thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
So would you say at my price range getting a ambient light screen isn't possible? If not I think that Da-lite is very appealing. I didn't think to check Craigs-list tbh, was thinking new.
 

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The window in your room How large is it? Could you build a simple plug for it out of a Styrofoam insulation panel that you can buy from a local Home depot?
 

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I was looking at that and thinking about it seriously. One thing though was that a review I read said that it isn't really an ambient light solution, just for if you have bad blacks. Do you have experience with it to the contrary? Is the fact that it is gray going to help? I am really not very knowledgeable about this. I read your review of the high gain version, would that be a better solution? How are elite screens in general? I read some horror stories about them with people getting sent the wrong screen and bad customer service and such? But I was looking very seriously at them because they seem to compete best at my price point. Either a 115" 2.35:1 or a 120" 16:9. I have seen near the top end of my scale. Which do you think is less of a compromise when viewing the other type of material with no anamorphic lens?

Edit: The window is a bear, the shades are pretty good but it is maybe 8 feet tall and 10 long or something. It barely leaks and does so in an ambient sort of way but it does, half the problem is that the walls are quite reflective.
 

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That is a fairly good sized window, Maybe building a 1x1 frame with black cloth stretched across it would block out enough light to work.

Mech is the best guy to ask about the screen properties :T I'll just let him handle the other question.
 

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Hi Noah, welcome to the Shack!:wave:

You're getting good ideas from folks already. :T

I'll let mech help you with what screen to go with since he has experience with both commercial and DIY screens.

Since your PJ has a large amount of zoom you have the option of being able to choose if you want to have your 2.35:1 movies be displayed with black bars above and below the image and 16:9 images to fill the screen; or the other way around with 2.35:1 movies filling the screen and 16:9 stuff being displayed with black bars on the sides of the image. The first option is kind of the default since your screen would match your PJ's Native Aspect Ratio (16:9); the second option would have your screen be in 2.35:1 AR and require you to change the zoom setting of your PJ depending on which AR you are using at the time. The second option is kind of a pain in the rear if you don't have easy access to your PJ after it's mounted or if it doesn't have a zoom control on the remote control, but it does give you a larger image when watching wide-screen movies.

Gray screens are used for two things, improving image contrast and giving a better picture when some ambient light is present during viewing. These are attributes of all gray screens, the darker gray it is the more help it will be in combating these problems. It sounds like you need one, but not the other; but they are two sides of the same coin and can't be separated.

A gray screen will help you in getting better image contrast and colors in ambient light, but you will lose brightness in comparison with a white screen; this is simple physics. A funny thing happens though when your gray screen is the only "white reference" your eyes have when using the screen; your brain will be fooled into thinking that gray really is white! This is a form of optical illusion due to the way humans perceive color and brightness, but it works in our favor at times. This is why you can't compare a white screen and a gray screen side-by-side at the same time. The white screen will always have whiter whites, and the gray screen will always have blacker blacks and richer colors in ambient light.

The more light you can throw at the screen the better in ambient light situations and that is where you may run into a bit of a problem with your RS2. It is a good PJ, but not a bright one. Here is a link to a calculator that will let you experiment with different screen sizes and PJ distances so you can see how many foot-lamberts (fL.) your screen is getting hit with under different circumstances. http://www.projectorcentral.com/JVC-DLA-RS2-projection-calculator-pro.htm. We recommend at least 12 fL. when using Black Widow.

We have developed a DIY screen mix called Black Widow that works well in ambient light situations. It is easy to mix (only two different paints are used) and no measuring of components is required. It can be applied with a roller or sprayed. It has even been applied to retractable screens with good results. ;)

Don't be afraid to ask questions. There are a lot of knowledgeable folks here that will be glad to help you.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
My projector is just table mounted so access is easy and the remote allows zoom so that isn't particularly an issue. I am leaning towards buying a screen partially because I am not all that confident that I can paint a screen to the quality I would like. I have very little experience with painting large areas and I am worried that I would mess up and create an uneven coat with hot-spots and such. Also it is somewhat time consuming and makes a mess. According to that calculator I have either 12 or 13 FL. Supposedly the cinegray from elite is a rather light gray. Would that mean I would need a higher FL number? If so Black Widow looks significantly more appealing if I can manage it. Any advice for painting? Am I overestimating how hard it is?

I am still not sure if I want a 2.35:1 or a 16:9 screen both have advantages but I feel like with the 2.35:1 option I may be happier since though my 16:9 is smaller my movies are what really demands size. Plus I watch movies at night more when it is more advantageous to have a bigger screen whereas during the day smaller is better due to having more FL. Are almost all movies 2.35:1 now? Thanks for the responses all.
 

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I was looking at that and thinking about it seriously. One thing though was that a review I read said that it isn't really an ambient light solution, just for if you have bad blacks. Do you have experience with it to the contrary? Is the fact that it is gray going to help? I am really not very knowledgeable about this. I read your review of the high gain version, would that be a better solution? How are elite screens in general? I read some horror stories about them with people getting sent the wrong screen and bad customer service and such? But I was looking very seriously at them because they seem to compete best at my price point. Either a 115" 2.35:1 or a 120" 16:9. I have seen near the top end of my scale. Which do you think is less of a compromise when viewing the other type of material with no anamorphic lens?

Edit: The window is a bear, the shades are pretty good but it is maybe 8 feet tall and 10 long or something. It barely leaks and does so in an ambient sort of way but it does, half the problem is that the walls are quite reflective.
General ambient light solutions for your dollar range are gray. You cannot afford a Supernova, a Black Diamond, or a Chromavue. So you're 'stuck' with gray. I'm not a fan of the Powergain version as I don't like the graininess it adds to the picture. Gray helps because the first thing to go in an ambient situation is your blacks. The gray helps the pj to keep the blacks and to make them deeper.

I like Elite screens. They are one of the few that offer their product at the right price. Carada is another that comes to mind. I've heard of folks getting bad material from Elite, but they've always come through in the end. :dunno: Plus they sponsor the forum. And If you get the CineGrey material you will have the same screen as myself soon. I'm getting a Silver Frame as well cause you really cannot beat that price!

The problem for you won't be the screen. The problem is your screen size related to your pj. Please correct me if I'm in error , but looking at PJCentral your pj only throws out 13fL at the average distance for a 110" screen. It looks like for you to be able to take advantage of a gray screen the pj will have to be as close as possible - ~10'8" for a 110" screen. Keep in mind that I'm not that familiar with that pj and I know that you can go to as little as 10fL easily with Black Widow so....:dontknow:

As for the aspect ratio, you're stuck with a 16:9 for that Elite product. There's a reason it's that cheap. :bigsmile:

Take a pic of the room with the shade closed and show us how much light your dealing with. :T Maybe one from the worst time of day and one from a better time of day. :scratch:
 

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My projector is just table mounted so access is easy and the remote allows zoom so that isn't particularly an issue. I am leaning towards buying a screen partially because I am not all that confident that I can paint a screen to the quality I would like. I have very little experience with painting large areas and I am worried that I would mess up and create an uneven coat with hot-spots and such. Also it is somewhat time consuming and makes a mess. According to that calculator I have either 12 or 13 FL. Supposedly the cinegray from elite is a rather light gray. Would that mean I would need a higher FL number? If so Black Widow looks significantly more appealing if I can manage it. Any advice for painting? Am I overestimating how hard it is?

I am still not sure if I want a 2.35:1 or a 16:9 screen both have advantages but I feel like with the 2.35:1 option I may be happier since though my 16:9 is smaller my movies are what really demands size. Plus I watch movies at night more when it is more advantageous to have a bigger screen whereas during the day smaller is better due to having more FL. Are almost all movies 2.35:1 now? Thanks for the responses all.
Elite CineGrey is a tad bit lighter than BW. The whites are equal with both with BW having better blacks. If you do go diy, definitely go with BW. :yes:
 
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