Out of the Dark

Screen Manufacturers Accommodate Ambient Light and 3D Challenges Most product categories that were once the exclusive domain of the custom installer have eventually migrated down market, into the mainstream and far away from price protection. Fortunately for CEDIA channel, however, the video projector and it
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Screen Manufacturers Accommodate Ambient Light and 3D Challenges

Most product categories that were once the exclusive domain of the custom installer have eventually migrated down market, into the mainstream and far away from price protection. Fortunately for CEDIA channel, however, the video projector and its “two-piece” companion, the projection screen, have remained somewhat sheltered and exclusive, despite their own evolutionary tendencies.

Yes, there always are value-priced offerings out there, and your Uncle Steve might think the white wall of his basement is just fine for the business projector he just bought at Costco, but most projectors still require high-quality screens with appropriate surface material for the room, not to mention a craftsman’s installation touch.

There will be plenty more to learn next month at CEDIA EXPO, but here’s a quick survey of how some of the industry’s leading projection screen manufacturers are addressing new challenges such as high-ambient light rooms and 3D source material.

Screen Innovations. President Ryan Gustafson says that his focus at CEDIA EXPO is simple: “We want to help our dealers make money in a margin-eroded market by allowing them to sell profitable items, such as projectors, into more environments.”

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Screen Innovations’ Black Diamond Motorized utilizes seven optical light filtration layers to increase contrast.

Gustafson says that his company’s Black Diamond screen has been incredibly successful in helping its dealers compete against lowmargin flat panels, and with the introduction of the Black Diamond Motorized, “the possibilities are endless.”

According to SI, the Black Diamond Motorized utilizes seven optical light filtration layers to increase contrast by selectively reflecting only the projector’s light back to the audience’s eyes while rejecting all ambient room light including light within the path of the projector.

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Stewart Filmscreen plans to announce an update to its Director’s Choice 2.0 multidirection masking system.

Stewart Filmscreen. At next month’s CEDIA show, this industry pioneer will introduce a change to its Director’s Choice 2.0 video projection solution, which was introduced at EXPO 2009. Designed in partnership with PMI Ltd., this product was presented as the “ultimate marriage” of the world’s best screen materials and the most precise masking system available. Not only can the system create any aspect ratio, but it can present multiple sizes of the same aspect ratio for different source resolutions and even different audience configurations. So what’s planned for next month? “We’re not at liberty to discuss…”

Elite Screens. Marketing manager David Rodgers says that the free-standing electric projection screen, called the Raptor Modular, is still a big hit for his company despite being slightly overshadowed by the success of the Starbright7 and Whiteboard projection screens. The furniture-mounted screen features tension material, full control options, and a built-in safety feature. The company, which prides itself on his value-priced performance, also offers the Osprey Tension Dual, which is designed for the anamorphic projectors that run a 16:9 and a 2.35:1 tensioned projection screen in tandem with one another, and the Evanesce electric in-ceiling screen with tensioned or non-tensioned material options available.

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Elite Screens is offering its Evanesce electric in-ceiling screen with tensioned or non-tensioned material options.

“Although the claim of a cheaper price may indicate that the product is inferior, Elite has taken great measures to make its product lines with the same commitment to product quality as other leading manufacturers but at a highly competitive price,” Rodgers said. “Elite’s method of mass-producing items in the most common sizes and aspect ratios has led to uniform quality, product availability, and a highly competitive price.”

Draper. At CEDIA EXPO 2010, the Spiceland, Indiana, manufacturer will be exhibiting a newly reformulated projection screen surface. Its M2500 (a flexible matte white surface) now features a lower gain of 1.5.

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Draper’s newly reformulated M2500 projection screen surface features a lower gain of 1.5.

According to home theater sales manager Bob Hadsell, Draper made this change for a couple of reasons. “First of all, this new formulation reduces hot spotting while providing better off-axis viewing. As an added bonus, its gain makes M2500 a perfect screen for 3D projection using active shutter glasses.”

In addition, Draper will be showing off a new Low Gain Cineflex, which brings a wider viewing angle and excellent contrast to a flexible vinyl rearprojection surface, with a gain of 0.8.

“This surface is ideal for short throw lenses or to increase viewing angles,” Hadsell stated.

dnp. “The number one technology push for dnp at CEDIA will be 3D gaming, with the perfectly curved Supernova Epic screen,” said dnp sales and marketing manager Jesse Walsh. “The content is available now and with dnp’s Optical Front Projection Technology the 3D gaming experience can be enjoyed in the family room with the lights on.”

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Featuring seven layers of optical filters, dnp screens are designed to reject overhead light and deflect side ambient light.

Featuring seven layers of optical filters, dnp screens are designed to reject overhead light and deflect side ambient light. dnp’s Supernova Epic Screen features a curved screen and an RS232 electronically controlled masking system adjusts screen width to fit any movie format. Unlike other masking systems, the Epic curtain closes completely when not in use.

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Vutec’s SilverStar 3D screens are available for both active and passive technologies.

Vutec. This somewhat under-appreciated projection screens manufacturer continues to innovate with the introduction of its 3D-ready projection screens for both active and passive technologies. During CEDIA EXPO, the company will showcase the SilverStar 3D Active and Silver- Star 3D-P for Passive technology, along with its line of masking systems.

Da-Lite. The Multi Format Imager from this Warsaw, Indiana, manufacturer is a fixed-frame masking system that features variable horizontal masking. With the masking retracted, the screen is Cinemascope (2.35:1) aspect ratio. With masking, you can achieve Letterbox (1.85:1), HDTV (1.78:1) and NTSC Video (1.33:1) formats. Da-Lite’s Multi Format Imager is standard with Pro-Trim finish, which is a fabric frame covering that aesthetically enhances the appearance of the installation while absorbing light that surrounds the viewing area.

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Da-Lite’s Multi Format is a fixed-frame masking system that features variable horizontal masking.

The Multi Format Imager can be paired with Da-Lite’s Cinema Contour, Da-Snap, or Imager fixed-frame projection screens that are available in 13 fabric choices in either front- or rear-projection styles.

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Screen Research’s is focusing on its MultiPix fabrics for offsetting high-ambient light issues and lowlight and low-contrast projectors.

Screen Research. Although Screen Research won’t be on the CEDIA EXPO floor officially this year, the company’s focus with dealers this year has been its MultiPix fabrics for offsetting high-ambient light issues and low-light and low-contrast projectors. Consisting of the MultiPix Ultra-contrast White 1.3, Ultra-contrast White 1.5, and Ultra-contrast Gray 1.3, these new fabrics use Screen Research’s Multilayer technology to optimize performance for a wide variety of applications.

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German-based IMAGE Screens offers three grades of 3D screens and what it says is the only acoustically transparent 3D material on the market.

IMAGE Screens. This German company recently appointed the StJohn Group as its exclusive North American distributor of its AV-installer-focused line and plans to display at CEDIA together with Schneider Kreuznach. The company’s screens are hand-built, and current capabilities include three grades of solid vinyl white screens (1.2 gain), two grades of gray screens (0.8 gain), rear-projection screens (4.0 gain), unity gain white AT screen (1.0 gain), gray acoustically transparent screen (0.8 gain), and three grades of 3D screens (including the only acoustically transparent 3D material on the market). These materials can be utilized in a variety of form factors.

Jeremy J. Glowacki is editor of Residential Systems.

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