35 years ago I watched The Way We Were never did forget at one of the stars homes a huge screen came out of the ceiling for them to begin watching a movie. Unfortunately they never get that far because a hidden microphone tears the screen as it comes down. None the less that left an impression on me for the rest of my life and a home theater enthusiast was born!
Recently I could not take it anymore. Having calibrated many front projectors and salivating over the image and size I had to get this ball rolling! Then I came across constant height native 2.35 display systems triggering an even greater response because that has been my dream since 1992. With the huge price reduction in beginners level 720P front projectors not to mention quality ones due to the onslaught of 1080P product I finally pulled the trigger.
The final result I am looking for is:
1080P projector, HDMI remains in the digital domain, 72hz capable, 2.35 anamorphic.
Bluray/HD DVD with 1080P 24 frame output into scaler for the anamorphic 2.35.
That level of performance is not even available quite yet so in the meantime I am going to do the far harder and time consuming work to get the room completely setup and optimized for a native 2.35 screen and the final step will be to simply replace the light engine, add the anamorphic lens, hook up a Bluray and/or HD DVD player and ISF calibrate!
I purchased a Panasonic PTAE700U from ebay for $1200. A very lucky purchase in that when I went to look there was one listed with only one hour left on the auction. New in box it said. The funny or coincidental part is I nearly missed out on this one putting in my maximum bid at 20 seconds left snagging the unit upon hitting enter which instantly claimed I was the winner. I received it on Thursday and not only was this new in box it was factory sealed and never opened. Indeed upon firing it up I entered the menu and the lamp timer was set at 0 hours. Too cool!
Grabbing that and my Oppo DVD player I threw it on top of a rack in the back of the room and pointed it towards where the screen is going to be which is currently curtains. Really glad I did this because initially I would have gone with a smaller screen in the neighbor hood of 7-8 feet wide but decided instead that for the impact I was looking for 2.5-3 screen heights was required which is more like a 10 foot wide screen. Anther point that I dwelled on was screen height from the ceiling. In all the rooms I have done the screen is very close to the ceiling putting the viewers face in the lower quarter of the screen creating a feeling of constantly looking up. There are good reasons for this and all are related to how many viewers the client wants the room setup for. When I visited the New Jersy IMAX dome I was reminded yet again the importance of getting the viewers face near middle and when checking out some scenes on my curtain this came up again. The screen is going to end up being pretty much centered for room height putting the viewers face in the lower quarter from middle which creates a feeling of literally walking into the image!
The reason I selected this beginners projector was features and performance, namely lens shift and the iris. Lens shift is one of the greatest things to happen for FP because it allows you to put the projector in the wrong place yet still get a decent response without taking a hit in resolution by accessing keystone adjustments. Current Panasonic LCD does not suffer from poor fill factor so pixels are not plain as day and some of my ISF colleagues have given it kudos for performance versus price noting that it does calibrate well. The greatest flaw is black level, even with the iris engaged, an ND filter will likely be necessary to get the black levels low enough even on the 128" 2.35 .8 gain screen slated for installation. This is comparable to a 135" 16:9. Point here being that the DLPs I have been calibrating have good blacks on 16:9 100-110" 1-1.3 gain screens. In fact we prefer these larger sizes just for the purpose of reducing black levels while adding impact via the size.
I do intend to properly install the projector at a later date so why lens shift? This application is for a constant height imaging system. This means that regardless of the format black bars or no picture areas only appear on the sides, never top and bottom. This follows the same experience you would have in your local movie theater where the curtains open up and the screen gets wider and wider as aspect ratio increases. Runco now has a turn key 2.35 projection system called widescreen. This new concept for home theater is all the rage with videophiles and discussed heavily at the AVS Forum.
The high performance 2.35 anamorphic method is to view 4:3 and 16:9 content just as you always would on your 2.35 screen masking the left and right sides with curtains or something similar to match the image width. When watching 2.35 content an anamorphic lens drops down in front of the projector lens stretching the width to the edges of the screen which will make people short and fat just like stretching 4:3 content to fill out a 16:9 screen. That geometry error is fixed by using an external scaler that supports custom setups which stretches the image vertically to fill out the screen top and bottom correcting the error. In the end you have fully maximized the available resolution and light output of the projector for a 2.35 presentation.
Starting out I am going to do this using an inexpensive route which I am going to coin as Zoom 2.35 Anamorphic. For 16:9 and 4:3 content nothing changes. For 2.35 content the zoom is adjusted to fill out the screen left to right and the tilt is used to recenter the image top and bottom. The price paid for this is image brightness as the top and bottom black bars will still exist but will be over scanning the native 2.35 screen. This equates to about a 25% decrease in light output but you can counteract with either a manual iris or by turning up the lamp power. There are also debates centered around using all pixels available on the projector to scale for the best response. When my 1080P system finally arrives I may switch to Anamorphic 2.35 instead.
I should note for others who may have interest in the Zoom method that the focus and zoom on this Panasonic is manual and the manual tilt is very course and difficult when dealing in the realm of inches. When ceiling mounted this manual adjusting method is not convenient and the amount of pressure required to move the lens tilt could easily misalign your mount. The solution is to get a projector with all of these functions motorized allowing you to make these adjustments from your viewing position with the convenience of your remote.
I have not been this excited in a long time! I started out in 1992 watching laserdisc widescreen movies on a 27" TV that I would pull forward to about a 4 foot viewing distance. Within a year I upgraded, kind of an upgrade anyway, to a crusty old 1981 50" CRT RPTV beached whale. Well at least it had enough size to have more impact than the 27" and I would move it forward for a 10 foot viewing distance for 2.35 content. Ok, it sucked but... About a year later I snagged a current Mitsubishi 50" that was a lot smaller, lighter, so much better at imaging and easier to scoot around. I would move that forwards to about a 8 foot viewing distance for 2.35 and 10 foot for 1.85. Finally in January of 2002 I bought my current Mitsubishi 65" 16:9. While I no longer pulled it out for 1.85 I still pulled it out for a 10 foot viewing distance with 2.35 DVD and 8 foot for 2.35 D-Theater. That had me just salivating for a future front projector on a very big screen. As a note in all cases 4:3 content has always been a 12 foot viewing distance.
My 35 year old dream theater and 14 year old native 2.35 dream screen is finally arriving!
Last edited by Richard
on 14 Jan 2007, 16:12, edited 1 time in total.