My 9' wide 'constant area' screen in action!
Bjoern Roy (last update April 3rd 2004)

Welcome to my screenshot page, folks

At first I was kinda sceptical whether it would be possible to take screenshots that come even close to what i see with my setup in action, but i am very pleasantly surprised. I knew my semi-professional digicam Canon EOS-D30 is a sensational beast, but i didn't expect it to deliver overly satisfying results in a task as difficult as screenshots. These concerns were completely unfounded.

I use the D30 on a tripod, roughly 15 feet from the screen, just behind the first seating row. Aperture 4.0, shutter time mostly 1 second. All pictures are taken at the D30's native resolution of 2160x1440 and are scaled down to 800x533 in Photoshop afterwards.

The pictures show pretty much what i am seeing here. They are a bit soft, on screen there is a fair bit more detail. And while the color balance on all pictures is not really bad, it is not completely accurate either. Most of the pictures contain quite a bit too much blue, especially in the darker regions.

To optimally view the screenshots, check that your black level is set properly on your monitor. The black mask surround the pictures is totally black. Increase your brightness (black level) until the black mask stops looking ink black and gets slightly grayish. Back down a little again, so that its just barely black again. You should be able to clearly see the reflective tops of my front speakers in some of the pictures.

Update: The Moulin Rouge HD screenshots were done with a Canon 10D at its native resolution of 3072x2048 and scaled down to quarter res. 1536x1024 in Photoshop.

 

My home theater setup

I made a panorama shot to show what my HT looks like. It can be a little confusing, because my room has a trapezoid shape with a little asymmetry in the back. So i draw a sketch of how the room looks and where the camera was located (turquoise):

Here is a panorama shot:

Here is a brief description of the system:

  • 4 seats in the front row, 3 in the second row (1 feet elevated) standard setup, more seats if needed.
  • The trapezoid at the ceiling is the projector hushbox with a ventilation path that is routed through the 4" dropped ceiling.
  • Floor, ceiling and walls covered with heavy black carpet, thus little to no backscattered light from the room to the screen, giving incredible contrast even in very bright scenes.
  • Spot lights directly pointed at each of the seats, yielding almost no ambient light to the screen, even if these lights are on. We usually watch movies in complete darkness, of course. But when we have snacks while watching sports etc., we have these spotslights on and the picture is not washed out at all, like it usually is with lights on. Look at the picture, thats how good the contrast is when the lights are on!
  • Projector is a Nec XG110LC 8" CRT (liquid coupled, EMF) and source is a Radeon equipped HTPC for DVD.
  • One of the special things about my home theater is, that i am neither using a constant height scenario (like you would with a 2.35:1 screen), nor a consant width scenario (like you would for widescreen movies on a 1.78:1 screen), but rather a 'constant area' methodology. That means 2.35:1 movies are displayed at full 9' width with 46" height. 1.85:1 movies are shown at 8' width, but at 52" height. 1.33:1 material is a little less than 7' wide and 61" high. This is made possible with a CRT projector and my 4-way maskable screen. 'Constant area' projection is IMHO by far the best methology, because the brains 'size sensation' is perceived through area, not width or height.
  • For each ratio from 1.33:1 to 2.76:1, i use a display resolution that has excatly those proportions, for example 1440x780 for 1.85:1, or 1920x820 for 2.35:1. I call this concept 'active area scanning'. This means that the beam never 'scans' any black bars, only the actual image content. This optimizes phosphor decay and thus increases brightness or tube life.
  • The movie on display is Clueless, a stellar transfer from Paramount. Since it is framed at 1.85:1, the screen is in its 8' wide 1.85:1 config.
  • On the right rack, you see my 5 parasound stereo amps, on top of the left rack is the Lexicon MC1.
  • You can barely see the two rear speakers on the left of the pic, but the left side speaker is well exposed on the wall with the racks. All 4 rear speakers are monstrous 9000 cubic feet THX certified switchable mono/di/bioples. I operate all 4 in dipole mode.
  • The front speakers were on 3 brown boxes in this pic, with the 3 subwoofers behind the screen. That was only a test that evening, I usually have each front speaker seated on a sub.
  • In the left back corner, you see 2 windows completely covered with ugly brown cardboard. Thats one of the things where i still have some work to do.
  • On the right wall, the opening to the next room (bar) has no thick black curtains yet, thats also very high on my todo list.
  • If you have a panorama viewer, you can use it to show the pic (150 degree horizontal, 45 degree vertical). Makes it somewhat easier to understand the geometry of the room.
  • Remember that this is a 150 degree panorama that skews the perspective quite heavily! From the picture you might get the impression that the screen is rather small. Its not! When the screen is in the 9' wide 2.35:1 config, the first seating row is roughly 1.4-1.5 times screen width away. I find this to be the best compromise between movie immersion and picture quality.
  • A lot of additional information about my setup and especially the 'constant area' methology that i am using can be found burried in this thread on the AVS forum (a bit on page 1, more detailed on page 2).

 

On to the screenshots!

 

I will try to update this site with new screenshots from time to time. You are welcome to visit anytime!

 

 

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