Update: Projection Screens
What you thought you knew about screen technology may change.September 2009 By Joe Kane, chief executive officer, Joe Kane Productions
We've written articles detailing the history of our involvement in the development of screen materials for video projection. We've discussed how what JKP was requesting of screen manufacturers ran contrary to the conventional wisdom and practices of the time. We wanted low-gain screens when projector manufacturers were demanding higher-gain screens. We wanted a neutral color, where all colors of light would be reflected equally, when conventional screens were noticeably blue and or blue-green.
Once we got involved with lamp-based projectors, we needed options in shades-of-gray screens. Those properties assisted us in obtaining better black levels from smaller images. We eventually reached a point in projector detail capability where there was an interference pattern with the grain structure of the surface of the screen and the pixel structure of the projector. This called for yet another look at the way screens were being made.
All of this was being Done while some consumers were still asking, "What do you mean we can't just project the image on the wall?" Selecting the right screen is a critical part of what you see in your home projection system. As projection capability gets better, the screen becomes a more important part of the quality of image being presented.
We feel some of the trends currently being promoted in screen technology go against consumers' best interests. Curved screens head our list. From the point-of-view of a high-quality image, curved screens should have died a permanent death with the passing of Kloss Nova-beam projectors. But, somehow, what's old is new again, as we forget why we abandoned the idea in the first place. The new reason for needing curved screens is just as old as when they first appeared. It is a fix for something wrong in the projection path.
Some projector manufacturers have gone back to specifying curved screens to apply a patch to the poor lenses they are using for an anamorphic stretch to a 2.35:1 image. The industry has once again sold the consumer a bill of goods, hiding the fact that they messed up. The irony is that if you either buy a better lens so the curved screen isn't necessary or drop the stretch idea altogether, you'll end up with a better image.
Before going into our current discovery of better resolution, there is another perspective on the history of screen technology we find fascinating. When you get into the science of what it takes to properly reflect light, we are often surprised that in 100-plus years of manufacturing screens we are still learning what it takes to make them better. Who would have thought in this age the screen could be a limiting factor in image quality?