A demo from the amazing spiderman on SI’s Solar 4K 1.3 Gain screen.Inspiration can come from the most unusual places. For instance, in the 1780s, the Italian physicist Luigi Galvani discovered that a dead frog’s leg would twitch when he touched it with two pieces of metal. Galvani had created a crude circuit, and the phenomenon was taken up by his friend, the aristocratic professor Alessandro Volta, whose voltaic cells stacked in a voltaic pile became the world’s first battery. then there’s the entertaining and much more contemporary story of how screen innovations president Ryan Gustafson solved a design riddle that had plagued the development of his company’s new Black Diamond Motorized projection screen.
I recently visited the Austin, TX corporate headquarters of Screen Innovations, to check out the company’s complete line of screens to figure out which products would best satisfy my clients’ needs for two-piece projection. While reviewing the company’s Solar 4K and Black Diamond Motorized screens, Gustafson shared with me a story on how he came up with a solution to secure the Black Diamond Motorized screen material to its housing.
As the story goes, the company had spent three and half years developing the Black Diamond Motorized and were having a hard time finding a way to get the screen to lay flat when mounting “wings” to thin aircraft aluminum cables along the sides. These wings have natural deflection, which was making the screen tight in the middle but soft at the edges. SI had tried more than 50 solutions, but there was seemingly no way around the issue.
The answer dawned on Gustafson one night while he was struggling to get rubber bands out of his daughter Taylor’s hair. The next day, he brought a handful of her hair bands to the factory and went into the lab. The SI design team laid out the screen, punched holes along the top of it, and put the hair bands through the holes, and they equalized the screen tension perfectly. As a result SI’s 92-, 100-, 106-, 110-, 120-, and 133-inch screens would no longer require a unique wing to counteract deflection. With Taylor’s hair bands in place, the edges and middle of the screen had the uniform tension. In the final design, instead of Taylor’s hair bands, SI now uses EPDM bungees that are made specifically for this purpose.
In reviewing the company’s Black Diamond Motorized and Solar 4K screens, I wanted to keep as many constants as I could to get an accurate comparison between the screens. I used a noncalibrated Epson Powerlite Cinema 6010 projector stationed 12 feet from the screen in the “cinema” mode and viewed the same scenes from Disney Pixar’s Wall-E and The Amazing Spiderman.
Prior to Black Diamond, two-piece projection was primarily used in dark environments, not because we wanted to, but because we had to. This is no longer the case with Black Diamond, a screen that looks just as good in ambient light as it does in a dark room. Unlike high-gain screens, Black Diamond rejects ambient light; therefore the on-screen image is not polluted. The technology behind the screen material allows it to reject ambient light coming from both the vertical and horizontal plane.
When the Black Diamond Motorized screen suffered from deflection issues when mounting the screen, Gustafson solved the issue with his daughter’s hair bands. Purpose-made bungees are now used.The black levels in this screen provide a depth to the image like no other screen I’ve seen. Images seem 3D in a 2D projection. The colors provided by Black Diamond are vivid and bright; the lines are clean and distinct.
The Black Diamond Motorized screen allows you to reach a client base that just doesn’t have the space or budget for a dedicated home theater room. It is the world’s first “rollable TV” as the Screen Innovations team would call it, providing integrators the ability to put a TV where it should go, not where it has to go, such as in front of a fireplace like a flat-panel would have to be. I have a large clientele in New York City with walls that are all windows. This screen can be installed right above the window and dropped down when they are ready to watch TV. The Black Diamond Motorized does not have a black backdrop but suspends from thin wiring, making it aesthetically pleasing in a residential setting. The installation is simple, because SI uses the same aluminum brackets for mounting all of the motorized screens in the line. It will likely take an integrator the same amount of time to install Black Diamond Motorized as it does to mount a flat-panel TV.
Just as impressive during my SI headquarters tour was the company’s Solar 4K HD 1.3 gain front-projection screen featuring a new emboss pattern material. In my demo, this screen provided the perfect color neutrality and zero sparkle. It had a wide viewing angle and a vivid picture. The images portrayed on this screen were flawless with tight colors, deep black levels, and crisp, noiseless white details. In a darker environment, I found that the quality of the image was comparable to the company’s flagship Black Diamond screen.
In one scene from The Amazing Spiderman, there is a close up of Lizard’s face where he is transforming back to human form, and you can actually see the scales flaking away from his face. The picture was so pristine that you could even catch the outline of the contact lenses the actor wore to create his reptilian eyes.
Before this trip I only thought Black Diamond when I considered Screen Innovations. Now I know that the company has a full line of screens that can meet any price point and any application.
Black Diamond Motorized has no black drop, which allows it to blend well with existing décor and also to serve as an aesthetically pleasing technology enhancement that will appeal to a wide range of clientele.
At the moment, Black Diamond Motorized is only offered up to 110 inches, although, I’m told in time, there will be larger sizes available.
Solar 4K 1.3 Projection Screen Material:
• Gain: 1.3
• Minimum Throw Distance: 0.2 x image width
• Active 3D
• Greater than 4K resolution