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Why Projector Screen Quality Matters...A Lot

By Art Feierman
Projector Reviews thanks Stewart Filmscreen Corp. - the first sponsor of our Projector Screens section, for providing multiple useful articles on screens, screen terminology and how to select the best screen for your requirements.

Projection Screens- far from just a passive component...

All too often, people who are designing a projection system, concentrate their focus on features of the projector and audio components, with the screen often being the last consideration. Stewart Filmscreen, with more than 50 years of Audio Video experience, sees over and over again the problems that arise with this approach. In complex applications it is especially important to consider the screen early on during the decision making process. Screen capabilities & characteristics can prove to be the deciding factor in the ultimate design and also in determining whether a complex application is even possible. Even when designing simple projects, the same principles apply. It seems when compared with complex electronic components, the screen can be perceived as a passive component. Absolutely nothing could be further from the truth.

Why consider the screen early in the design process

The screen is what projects the image to the viewer’s eye; it’s what in reality we “look at” when watching a film or other types or media. If the screen does not have all the attributes required for the specific projection application, the image will not look its best—no matter how sophisticated the other components in the set up are. Hot spots, artifacts, poor contrast, seams… why not avoid them from the beginning?

There’s a lot involved to get the image from the screen to the eye. Some factors are projector-related: projector type, throw distance, and light output. Others may be environmental elements which include ambient light, viewing distance, & room décor. Screen materials each have their own uniqueness to suit different combinations of projectors and surroundings.

The color of the screen…

One very apparent difference in screen types is color: white or gray. White screens are typically used where ambient light can be controlled. Gray screens are used in situations where you may not be able to control the lighting situation. A gray screen can help achieve deep black levels, improve contrast and make colors appear more vibrant—even in a bright room.

There is a lot more to it than just the base color of the screen. At Stewart Filmscreen, we take a scientific approach to understanding how light disperses under different conditions. We formulate coatings with optical effects for specific types of applications. A gray screen may have multiple layers, each with a distinct function to handle light from various sources and how it is dispersed. And to handle a range of situations, we offer screen materials with different capabilities in both white and gray base colors.

The Ultimate Theater Experience…

To get the finest possible image from your home theater set up, you must have a screen that will optimize the projector’s capabilities as well as the environment it is placed in. A “Mediocre” screen will result in a “Mediocre” image, no matter how complex the other theater components are. Only a “High Quality” screen can deliver a superb image to the viewer. At Stewart we like to say “It’s in the Screen!”

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