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Ambient/Ceiling Light Rejecting® Materials

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Elite Screens' Blog Team
2017/04/14,

Elite Screens' Blog Team

Q: I have a high lumens output projector but my room has ambient light/ light colored walls/ceiling. How will the CineWhite® and CineGrey 5D® perform? Is the CineGrey 5D® a silver or grey screen? How does the screen color affect grayscales?

A: Our CineWhite® material is an excellent screen material that is highly recommended when you have either a really high output (+3000 lumens projector) and/or are able to control the light in your media room (i.e. a dedicated home theater).  However, under conditions when a lower output projector, uncontrolled ambient light, or  light colored walls and/or ceiling, the CineGrey 5D® has four key features that result in a better overall viewing experience.

  1. The CineGrey 5D® material has an ambient light rejecting surface. The material has an angular reflective material that incorporates a diffusion layer over a highly reflective surface.  This causes direct light from the projector to reflect squarely into the viewer's field of vision while the outer contrast layer enhances image quality while absorbing indirect ambient light.
  2. The CineGrey 5D® contains elements of a silver screen despite its dark appearance. These both work to enhance the contrast ratio and color reproduction in either a well lit or a dark room. With most standard white materials, the image will become washed out when ambient light is present. The ambient light reflecting properties allow the CineGrey 5D® to maintain the image quality even under conditions where there is a high amount of light. In light controlled rooms, there are still certain reflective surfaces that may interact with the projected image such as the colors of the walls/ceiling. The grey/silver properties of the CineGrey 5D® reduce the impact the reflective surfaces, such as light colored walls and ceiling, have on the screen image. Although a white surface is recommended in completely controlled designs, the difference in grayscale between the CineGrey 5D® and CineWhite® surfaces are so slight that they may not be noticeable to most human eyes.

     Video review of the CineGrey 5D® by AV expert Andrew Robinson

  3. The CineGrey 5D® is a 1.5 gain screen material that improves the image quality when active 3D projectors are used. There is approximately 50% loss of brightness when 3D is activated and there is even more brightness (aka lumens) being lost when the tinted shutter glasses are worn. The 1.5 gain of the CineGrey 5D® reflects the image at 1.5 times the original brightness of magnesium carbonate which is the standard industry control for creating a 1.0 gain white projection screen.
  4. The CineGrey 5D® is also a polarized material that allows for true 1080P 3D content when using a passive 3D projection system (i.e. dual projectors with an AFlex5D passive 3D video processor). The CineWhite® material is not polarized and thus the only 3D content that can be displayed on that surface must be from an Active 3D projector. In general, passive 3D is easier on the eyes as the viewer is able to see the image with both eyes at the same time rather than the left/right split that occurs during Active 3D. 

Q: Will the CineGrey 5D® ambient light rejecting screen material cause the “hot spot” effect?

A:  Elite Screens CineGrey 5D® is a color neutral smooth surface with sparkling elements to increase screen gain in an ambient light room environment. These special characteristics incorporates a diffusion layer over a highly reflective surface which scatters ambient light while improving picture performance with a brighter image. 

The projector itself, however also plays a big part in creating a hot spot.  Projectors highest brightness levels are focused in the center, and only about 70% to 80% in the corners.  In other words, the uniformity itself is not spread entirely even across the screen, thus creating a brighter spot in the center area.

To combat this, we recommend the following.

  1. Reduce the projector’s light output by choosing an economy mode
  2. Install the projector further away from the screen, minimum of 1.5 x the image width
  3. Go with a lower gain screen

Q: Why choose an “ALR” screen like CineGrey 5D® over CineWhite®?

A: Although matte white materials such as CineWhite® are ideal for environments where room lighting can be controlled, the image is easily washed out by ambient light. Ambient Light Rejecting (ALR) materials such as the CineGrey 5D®  are suitable for environments where there are high levels of indirect (ambient) light. This material trades off on the wide diffusion uniformity of white materials in favor of a brighter (angular reflective) image. Elite’s CineGrey 5D® incorporates a diffusion layer over a highly reflective surface which scatters ambient light while improving picture performance with a brighter image. This includes color neutrality with enhanced black levels and improvement over Active 3D presentations.

Andrew Robinson, an industry expert, shared his thoughts with Elite Screens about the performance of the CineGrey 5D® ALR material, "…of all the features, the one that gets me and really speaks the most is the fact that the CineGrey 5D® material from Elite Screens is the most cost effective ambient light solution on the market today. This is why I use it and this is why I recommend that you check it out for yourself. Because, at the end of the day, we all want performance but we also want incredible value  and these are two things that the CineGrey 5D® delivers in spades.”  

Andrew Robinson's endorsement of the CineGrey 5D®

Q: What is the difference between Elite’s CineGrey 3D® and CineGrey 5D®?

A:  For a complete side-by-side comparison, please Click Here

Q: I have a short throw/ultra-short throw projector, will this projector work with the ambient light rejecting CineGrey 3D®/5D® materials?

A:  The ambient light rejecting properties of the CineGrey 3D®/5D® make the materials incompatible with short throw and ultra-short throw projectors. The recommended minimum projector throw distance for these materials is 1.5 times the viewing image width. There are two main reasons behind this:

  1.  The CineGrey 3D®/5D® are high gain and angular reflective screen materials. These types of materials require proper projector and screen alignment as hot-spotting may occur if not set up correctly.
  2.  Due to the CineGrey 3D®/5D® materials being angular reflective, the angle of incidence from short-throw and ultra short-throw will be too close to the material and the viewer will not experience the optimal projector/screen performance. The material will treat the projector’s light as ambient light and thus it will reflect it in the wrong direction.

Q: Which side is the front/backside on the CineGrey 5D® material on the ezFrame Series?

A: In addition to the sticker labeled "Back Side" placed along the edge of the material, the backside will be slightly shinier and has material folded outward.

Q: How well does the CineGrey 5D® or CineGrey 3D® perform in a dark room environment?

A: The CineGrey 5D® and CineGrey 3D® is great for dark room environment also, but we must understand its limitations.

First of all, both materials have narrow viewing angles.  So if you wish to have a wide seating arrangement after 80 degrees, you will notice a drop in brightness.

Second, because they are higher gain screens they reflect more projector brightness.  This may tire your eyes, so we recommend using a less brighter mode if your projector has a such setting.

If that is not a problem, then these materials will work.  And the best thing is, because they are angular reflective material, the projector’s light will not diffuse in all directions like a matte white material.  Meaning that they will not scatter the projector’s light and create side lighting. Thus, eliminating the need to absorb it with black velvet or paint a room really dark.

Third, because both of these materials are made with a neutral gray substrate, the color balance and temperature will be exceptional.  The dark gray also enhances contrast and great color saturation.

Q: I have an Ambient Light Rejecting screen but it does not seem to work. There are windows behind my projector and the picture is washed out; what can be done?

*Disclaimer:  As great as ambient light rejecting screen technologies are, there are still certain laws of physics that define what should and should not be done with a specialty material such as this.

Main Answer:  Ambient Light Rejecting (ALR) projector screens are specially formatted to reject the majority of off-axis lighting from the top, bottom, and side angles. 
However if a strong light source is hitting the ALR material at roughly the same angle as the projector does, it will wash out the image.  
There is an easy solution.  I strongly recommend light blocking curtains or blackout shades to shield your room and to rely on the interior lighting that ALR screens work with.

Q: I am interested in improving image performance (brightness, color, contrast, etc.) for projected images in a church sanctuary with high levels of ambient light. A salesperson recommended using a brighter 4700 lumen projector. Would this offer more noticeable improvement than using elite cinegray 5d screen material?

A: A brighter projector (higher lumens) will help with image brightness but it does not help with color contrast or black levels.  Since the projected image performance is important here, a contrast-enhancing material such as CineGrey 5D® is essential.  White materials will reflect all of the light in the room; the projected light, indoor lighting, and sunlight through windows and doorways, everything.  Because of this, the ambient lighting will still spoil image performance even with a bright projector.  Ambient light rejecting (ALR) screens such as CineGrey 5D® filter out indirect light allowing your projected image to be what your audience will see instead of the extra glare.  In addition to that, the screen’s filter layers enhance black levels and color contrast.  This means that shadows, textures and slight variations in color shading in the projected image can be easily seen.  Without an ALR material, such detail and clarity will not be visible. As you can see from the photos below, a bright projector does not enhance contrast.