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Discussion Starter #1
I am installing a Runco LifeStyle LS 3, ceiling mount, 106" diagonal screen at 17' from lens and will have complete control of ambient light (basement, below ground, no windows, one tight-fitting opaque door). I intend to use one of "your" paints. My installer (who has known from the beginning that I intend to paint a screen) initially recommended the darkest gray screen possible (Stewart BlackHawk, as his preference is black level and color resolution. He thought a good compromise would be Stewart GrayHawk. He then ran a program (I believe "Goo"), that recommended a white screen. I care more about black level and color resolution than brightness (suggesting a dark screen), but have no objection to a good balance of all aspects (if the white screen does it all in this setting)--or should I use some ambient lighting and a medium screen? Do you recommend Black Widow, Scorpion or Cream & Sugar? Pros and cons of each specific to my setting would be appreciated. Thank you.
 

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Black Widow. It's pretty much identical to the Grayhawk. It will give you the black levels you want without messing up the colors as other mixes do.

The real difference between each of the mixes is the shade of gray. C&S is the lightest gray -almost white. The two Scorpions are next. And Black Widow is the darkest gray. Black Widow can be made darker too if need be.

Welcome to the Shack. :T
 

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Discussion Starter #3
mechman,

Thank you. I guess that I should have been more specific--I read a great deal of your writings before posting. Any idea why Goo came up with white? What would be the pros and cons of your mixes other Black Widow?
 

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Goo is Goo. :huh: I cannot understand most things that Goo says, ie their Gain readings. They probably say white because of the room being completely light controlled. I have no experience with the Runco pj's so if you didn't say you preferred a gray screen we probably would have steered you towards white as well. But white's not always the answer. I can control the lighting in my theater as well and I have a gray screen. :T

The Stewart screens are nice but they are expensive. Black Widow and the Grayhawk are pretty close to the same. The Firehawk seems to hotspot a bit from the images I've seen of a full screen - Art's images at Projector Reviews. I've never heard of the Blackhawk - I assume you meant the Firehawk. :bigsmile: I have yet to get around to a full testing of the Stewart samples I have. They got them to me a bit late and I don't have too many windows in my life to get things like that done like I have previously. But I'll get to it someday.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
mechman,

Thank you, again. You are correct--I meant FireHawk. I believe that I did say that I have no intention of using a Stewart, or any other, screen. I will be DIY (I guess this should be DIM, but I don't like the way it looks) with one of your paints.
 

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Hi newscreen,

At your 107" diagonal 16:9 screen size your PJ will be shooting 20.6 fL. of light with it's 691 ANSI lumens in Home Theater mode. This is plenty bright and I believe Black Widow™ would work well for you.

Why do many people recommend a white screen? The answer is simple, but easy to misunderstand. If the Room Conditions are not taken into account, the PERFECT screen is a bright neutral white screen that is 100% diffusive. This screen would reflect close to 100% of the light from the PJ while allowing everyone in the room to see the same brightness of image no matter where they were standing or sitting, or how the PJ was mounted.

The problem comes when we do take Room Conditions into account. ANY light that strikes a white screen in use (other than the original beam from the PJ) WILL decrease image contrast and color saturation. Even the light from a single candle flame will cause a visible difference.

This "ambient" light can come from many sources, the most obvious are windows or regular room lighting. What people many times fail to take into account is the projected light that is reflected off the screen will bounce off of ceiling/walls/floor and back onto the screen; the lighter the color of these surfaces the more effect this re-reflected light will have on the screen image. If these surfaces are white there can be quite a large amount of ambient light even in a room with no lights on and no windows.

And then there is the PJ itself. I don't know the specs of your PJ in this regard, but my own PJ (of far less quality than yours) has problems producing black areas in a projected image. Even the blackest black shows up as a dark gray. No projector can project "black" since by definition black is the absence of light.

When we have a situation where there will be some amount of ambient light present while viewing, or the PJ itself has problems producing black blacks, the answer is usually a gray screen of one kind or another. In the real world there are very few HT situations where a gray screen can't be used to good effect. A gray screen helps to increase black levels (and perceived contrast) and to deepen color saturation, this does come at the cost of a bit of image brightness.

All of our screen mixes have been designed to have a very wide viewing cone so people viewing the screen from the ends of the couch will still be seeing a bright image too. ;)
 

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Harp is dropping science again! Nice explanation.

FWIW, these guys (Harp, Mech, Wbasset) know their stuff. They can back up their statements with science and fact (unlike in some other forums). They also have a great way of putting highly technical concepts into terms that are easily understood. They will not steer you wrong and have nothing to profit by doing so. I would trust their opinion over a commercial screen vendors opinion. And they are doing it all in their spare time!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Harpmaker and 1canuck2,

Thank you. I don't know if it makes a difference on screen recommendation, but I plan on black paint on the entire wall around the screen and on the ceiling. I expect to use SherwinWilliams Duration matte, unless you advise otherwise. We do not use carpet, due to allergies (carpets hold the allergens), so we plan on ceramic tile in imitation slate. Hopefully, this can be found in a dull enough finish. If not, we will put a dull, black rubber mat over it on the floor between the seating area and the screen. We plan side and back walls in a dark greenish gray, also in SW Duration matte. We would like to use the side wall paint on the screen wall, but I imagine black works better around the screen. Your thoughts?
 

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You don't have to do the screen wall in black, but certainly a dark colour would be most ideal. Your description of dark greenish gray for your side walls could also be suitable as a screen wall colour, do you have a link to the colour at SW?

My screen wall is a dark chocolate brown and its plenty dark enough.

The bigger issue is with the ceiling. What are your plans there? A white ceiling is quite nasty from reflected light perspective. I could not win over the wife, so have a white ceiling, and I can tell from a reflections perspective that its not ideal (although my screen still looks amazing IMHO).

If there's some way you can go darker with the ceiling (even if its just the first few feet of the screen wall), then that would be ideal, however, it has the potential to look ugly and/or too dark if you want to use the room for other purposes.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
1canuck2,

Thanks, again. Ceiling will be black--room is dedicated home theater. We have not picked out the exact wall color yet, but will use as dark as tolerable--perhaps Jasper 6216 or Rookwood Shutter Green 2809. Generally are SherwinWilliams Duration matte paints good for walls and ceilings or are there better finishes? Is there a "best" black paint for ceilings?
 

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Since it sounds like you are making a dedicated HT (totally controlled room lighting and dark room colors) I'm wondering why your installer recommended a very dark gray screen (unless they were simply trying to make the sale since those go for $$$). :scratchhead:

In general, the better your PJ is a producing black blacks, the darker your room can be made during viewing, and the darker your room surfaces are - the whiter your screen can be; and it sounds like you could use a fairly light screen. Here is where DIY really comes into play. None of our screen mixes are very expensive so if what you first put on is too light or dark for your taste you can always change the shade as needed with another mix - you can't really do that if you use a commercial screen (unless you are quite wealthy).

Black Widow™ will still work for you in a dark colored, light controlled room such as you are making, but it sounds like you could also use a lighter mix such as Scorpion™ N8 or Elektra™ N8 (these are about the same performance only they use different ingredients). Cream&Sugar™ might even work for you, but it is not very tolerant of any room lighting such as one might have if hosting a party where there needs to be enough light on in the room for folks to safely move around; this mix is more for those folks that simply have to have the brightest screen image they can get even at the cost of contrast and color depth (but it still beats the dickens out of a white screen).

After reading more about your room conditions I think I would recommend an N8 mix (Scorpion™ or Elektra™).

Interestingly enough, the color of the screen wall has the least impact on the projected image quality of any surface in the room. As long as no light hits it directly, it will have the least amount of light hitting it; the PJ will only be illuminating the screen area so it would only be reflecting light that is being reflected from other room surfaces. It can actually be a relatively light color without impacting image quality. Painting it the same color as your walls would work fine. :T

Painting the ceiling black will help improve image quality a lot in most cases since the ceiling is almost always the closest surface to the screen.

I've heard good things of SW 'Duration' paint. :T

It's always nice to see other folk's home theaters. Please post some photos here when you are done, or even during construction. You need not be concerned about being treated harshly here, we play nice. Those that don't get a visit from Muggsy... :paddle: :bigsmile:
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Harpmaker,

Thank you. My installer has known from the beginning that I am going to DIY a screen and has kindly advised me on colors (for the screen and the room). Right now, the room is framed and wired and awaiting town inspection before drywall. I am not sure of my abilities, but I will take some pictures and try to post them as work on the room progresses. What is the advantage of Scorpion N8 compared to Black Widow N7.5 in a dark room?
 

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What is the advantage of Scorpion N8 compared to Black Widow N7.5 in a dark room?
The main difference between Black Widow™ and Scorpion™ is the physical darkness of the screen. Both mixes appear like a lighter gray screen than their actual N-Level under projection because of the reflective elements in them, but they act as their actual shade (N7.5 and N8 respectively) when it comes to fighting ambient light. The directionality (collimation) of the PJ beam does make a difference.

If your PJ has good black levels natively, I don't see the need for going as dark as Black Widow™ in a dark colored/light controlled HT, and I would consider Scorpion™ (or Elektra™ N8) as being more of a general purpose gray screen in that the image will be a bit brighter than with Black Widow™ all things being equal. The other thing is personal preference; some people just like a lighter or darker screen than others.

While there is a very noticeable difference between Black Widow™ and Scorpion™ screens, it isn't a day-and-night difference since they are only N0.5 apart.

To finally give you a direct answer :)D) a Scorpion™ screen will be a bit brighter than a Black Widow™ screen, but it won't have as good ambient light tolerance (or help a PJ with gray blacks) as much as Black Widow™ will.

When it can be done, we recommend that you paint your screen area with a white primer and then calibrate your PJ to it and use that as a screen for awhile and keep notes of what you like and don't like about the image quality. If you are having problems getting black blacks or colors appear washed out then you know you can correct that by going to a gray screen mix. In essence, the white primer screen gives you a reference to judge screen performance by. Speaking personally, I found that I can get more saturated colors and better contrast in my projected image by using BW™ than I can by trying to adjust those controls on the PJ and using a lighter screen; and no, I can't explain that. :dontknow:
 

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I just made up a color swatch to compare N7.5 and N8.0 side-by-side. The accuracy of the swatch depends on how well your computer monitor is calibrated, but it should give a relative comparison anyway.

 

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If your on a budget there a site that has done a lot of testing with regular paint.I decide on the behr 1050,but then I ended up making a blackout cloth screen so it can be semi- portable.I really liked the behr 1050 .check it out by googling: paint test projector screen or
Behr paint silver screen blackout cloth white opal pearl paint
 

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While the site Red Zone references is interesting in it's own right, the author specifically states that the testing done is in no way scientific. We use science to develop our mixes so that we know the color neutrality and gain of our mixes.

It should be noted that the "metallic" paint added to the basic gray paint on that site uses mica, and is designed to mimic the appearance of light reflecting off fish scales. This is just the opposite of what we want in the reflectance of a projection screen. Paint jobs on cars and fishing lures look good when they shimmer and change color in the sun; projector screens that shimmer and change color under projection (and some do!) don't look good. While keeping the amount of mica paint at 25% of the total mix and using 75% white or gray flat latex paint will probably control the negative aspects of mica, we have better ways of doing the same job. ;)
 
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