In the past 5 or so years we have seen a raft of Black Screens and Grey Screens hit the market.
Grey screens have been around for quite a while in actual fact. “Lunar Grey” as often they are referred to, were introduced over 10 years ago.
The primary reason for such screens was to increase contrast ratio in order to produce better colour levels.
The problem with these Lunar Grey screens in the main are:
So apart from these Lunar Grey screens, pretty much all you could go for alternatively were white screens.
In general, no. It just depends on what grade you go for.
They use superior fabric, materials and technology, and perform well in dedicated and completely darkened Home Cinemas.
White screens also come in different options such as standard, high gain, Acoustic Woven and Microperforated (the last two allow you to place your speakers behind the screen – for more on these two technologies please read our article on Audio Transparent Projector Screens).
They also can be quite cheap, although remember about “you pay for what you get”. So the good ones can start around the $1500 mark whereas Black Screens typically start around the $3500 mark.
However, white screens do have a couple of issues :
The theory behind Black Screens rather than Grey is down to the development of optical technology, led by Screen Innovations.
A Black Screen benefits you by:
There are some downsides to Black Screens such as:
As a Black Screen does not scatter light as a White screen does, in effect that reduces your viewing angle. So if using a Black Screen in a dedicated Home Cinema you need to ensure that you have planned your seating positions, screen height relative to those positions and projector positioning carefully.
This should be something undertaken in any Home Cinema design anyway and should not be an issue if your designer / installer knows their stuff.
Shimmering and Hotspotting in most cases can be near eliminated by lowering the brightness of your projector. Alternatively choosing the right projector to suit the environment and screen will negate this as well. Some of the newer generation of these Black Screens as well have almost eliminated effects such as shimmering, such as Screen Innovations Black Diamond 3rd Generation screens.
Screen Innovations did something quite unique about 5 years ago.
Whilst projection screen technology stagnated in “Lunar Greys” and “Whites”, they produced Black Diamond.
Black Diamond was the first screen to take the concept of Lunar Grey (higher contrast ratios) without the drag factor of “greying” out the whites. Made out of 8 layers of a special optical plastic, Black Diamond was the first domestic screen to truly overcome the issues of the white screens as well.
Now in its 3rd generation, Black Diamond has been further refined to overcome many of the issues known to be inherent with Black Screen technology. Screen Innovations are constantly improving the performance with each generation.
Screen Innovations a few years later produced Slate, which is a more affordable version of Black Diamond™. Both of these from Screen Innovations reject ambient light from both the horizontal and vertical plane.
Stewart Screens also released Firehawk™ and Grayhawk™. These are also ambient light rejecting screens more at a similar level of Slate™. Greyhawk™ is a lower performing light rejecting screen designed to give far better viewing angles with the basic properties of a dark screen.
However, Screen Innovations made this a big category in recent years. They have taken this type of screen from being a niche product into the mainstream.
The major element here was the ability to take the cinema out of the cinema room and into your living room.
As a result of success by both these companies, many more other companies are coming to the market with “Black” screens and customer demand has shifted so strongly to these, but those that invented and refined the technology are still way ahead.
Some simple guidelines here to consider.
One more thing…please do not underestimate the value of a good screen regardless of the material. The quality and performance of a projector screen will have a huge impact on the quality of the image.
Buying an $8k projector then sticking it with a $1000 screen is out of whack. The projector’s limiting factor in this equation is the screen.
Also never, ever go just use a white wall as your screen. Ok, so if it is outside as a temporary projection setup – sure go a white wall.
But in a permanent set up, avoid the white wall. It creates too many issues (uneven surface, bad light refracting properties, inconsistencies in uniformity amongst many others). A basic screen will outperform a wall any day, even a wall with “special paint” on it.
Of course, I always suggest talking to an expert or undergoing a cinema design service to ensure that you get the best result for your room. Planning and analysis will always ensure a great outcome.