Posted on March 12, 2017 By Art Feierman
Stewart Filmscreen has been around for more than 70 years and operates from their home base in Torrance, California. They started off supplying projection screens to the movie industry and are still today the leading supplier of projection screens to the Hollywood movie studios. Stewart Filmscreen offers a truly extensive line-up of screen types, including both motorized drop down models and fixed frame models (the type used for this review) that are intended for home theater use. Their commercial products includes models intended for just about every application including studio post production and screening rooms, large venues/auditoriums, education, simulation, theme parks, etc.
The Stewart Deluxe Wallscreen equipped with SnoMatte 100 screen material received our hot product award for its combination of superior build quality and reference quality performance when used in combination with a high quality projector and in a well designed home theater environment.
The Deluxe Wallscreen screen that I installed in my home theater, and used as the basis for this review, had a 2.40:1 aspect ratio and a viewable size of approx. 127 inches by 53 inches. The screen’s frame is 3.25 inches wide, therefore the total outside dimensions of the frame are 6.5 inches wider and 6.5 inches higher than the dimensions of the viewable area of the screen.
The front of the frame is covered with what Stewart calls a “Velux” finish. I found this black material to be extremely effective at absorbing any light spill from image overscan. The front of the frame has an attractive beveled edge and the frame itself is made from a rather heavy duty extruded aluminum.
As seen in the above 3 photos, using a screen with a ‘scope’ widescreen aspect ratio allows video to be displayed with a constant image height. In the 1st photo, from the DVD release of the movie “Mars Attacts “, a conventional 1.33:1 (4×3) aspect ratio image is being projected, the 2nd photo shows an image from a Blu-ray Disc release of the movie “Click” with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio (just a little wider than the 1.78:1 HDTV standard) and the 3rd photo shows a scene from the Blu-ray Disc release of the movie “The Day After Tomorrow”, with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. I intentionally had some room lights turned on and slightly overexposed the 1st and 2nd photos in an attempt to make the unused portions of the screen visible in these photos. Widescreen ‘scope’ movies (e.g., using Cinemascope or Panavision) generally have an aspect ratio between 2.35:1 and 2.40:1 with most newer titles being closer to 2.40:1.
There are two approaches for conveniently displaying both standard HDTV video, with its 1.78:1 aspect ratio, as well as a ‘scope’ movie, with an aspect ratio up to 2.40:1, on a ‘scope’ screen with an aspect ratio in the 2.35:1 to 2.40:1 range. The first approach is where the projector has a lens memory feature that allows the user to adjust the projector’s zoom, focus and lens shift at the push of a button on the remote. Certain recent vintage home theater projectors from manufactures such as Epson, JVC and Sony offer this feature. Going back several years, Panasonic was the first projector manufacture to offer the lens memory feature. This feature allows the projector to resize and reposition the image on the screen when going between video source material with different aspect ratios, such as from a HDTV 16X9 (1.78:1) image to a Cinemascope format movie using a 2:35:1 aspect ratio. The second, and more traditional method, for conveniently using a ‘scope’ screen is to place an external anamorphic lens, mounted just in front of the projector’s own lens, to add a horizontal stretch to the image. In order to make this work, the projector itself, or an external video processor, must also electronically apply a vertical stretch to the image. This can be a rather costly approach since good quality anamorphic lenses can be expensive and adding an optional motorized sled to move the anamorphic lens into and out of the light path as needed adds even more expense.
I’m using a JVC DLA-RS600U projector in my home theater and it has a lens memory feature, so I used that feature of the projector to display source videos with varying aspect ratios on the ‘scope’ screen.
The full name of the specific Stewart Filmscreen model being reviewed is a “Luxus Deluxe Wallscreen Quicksnap ” (or just Deluxe Wallscreen for short). In this case the Deluxe Wallscreen has been outfitted with Stewart’s “SnoMatte 100” screen surface (i.e., fabric). For those not familiar with the different screen materials offered by Stewart, the “SnoMatte 100” is essentially the same fabric as their “StudioTek 100”. These have a matte white surface with a gain of 1.0 (i.e., unity gain). Stewart currently offers the consumer the choice of at least 9 different front projection screen materials for use with the Deluxe Wall Screen, as well as 5 different screen surfaces for rear projection applications. The range of screen materials intended for front projection applications includes grey, white and silver surfaces. The grey surfaces are intended for use where there is ambient room lighting to contend with, the white screen surfaces where the room lighting can be well controlled, and the silver surfaces are intended to be used for projecting 3D images with a polarization based 3D projection system. I appears that Stewart’s new “Phantom HALR” light rejecting screen material is, or soon will be, available with the Deluxe Wallscreen. The available screen surfaces have gains ranging from 0.7 (i.e., Greymatte 70) up to 3.0 (Silver 3D).
I selected the “Snomatte 100” screen surface for use in my fully light controlled home theater. This screen surface, along with the Stewart’s StudioTek 100, has a reputation for providing an ultra-smooth surface free from visible texture and sparkles (i.e., sparkles are frequently seen with most higher gain screen surfaces). For those needing an acoustically transparent screen material (for speakers placed behind the screen), Stewart offers a option called Microperf X2 which adds 30,000 perforations per square foot to the screen material. This reduces the screen’s gain by about 10%.
Details on Deluxe Wallscreen can be found HERE, details the SnoMatte 100 screen material can be found HERE and the Micropert option is described HERE, all on the Stewart Filmscreen web site. The screen used for this review did not have the Microperf option.
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