Q: Why is a curved projection screen better than a flat one? I like the way it looks but what about performance?

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Q. Why is a curved projection screen better than a flat one? I like the way it looks but what about performance?

Despite its good looks, a curved projection screen plays a valuable role in today’s home theaters. Residential cinemas are more commonly featuring the same wide “Cinemascope” screen format as one would watch when actually at a movie theater. This wider format looks great but also creates problems that a curve screen design eliminates. The curve serves two purposes. First, it has an aesthetic appeal that draws in the viewer by enhancing a sense of immersion while enhancing resolution and brightness. The curved screen, together with the anamorphic accessories will increase brightness and enhance resolution by up to 30%. It does this by eliminating the black margins that can appear on the projection surface of flat cinemascope screens. Second, it eliminates a visual artifact known as “pincushion effect” which is encountered when scalers and anamorphic lenses are used to create a 2.35:1 (Cinemascope) format.  Pincushion effect is when the top and bottom center of a projected image appear to droop inward creating an hourglass-shaped picture. This happens because the light travels noticeably further to the edges of the screen than it does to the center (The further the throw distance, the larger the image), creating unsightly black margins on the screen itself. The curve design ensures that light travels the same distance to reach any point of the screen thus creating a properly proportioned image. Here is a quick video on Pin cushion and curved projection screen.

The curve screens are for enhancing the performance of Cinemascope projection.

  • (2.35:1) Curved screens work with the anamorphic lenses and scalers to eliminate 33% of “pixel waste” on the black bars.
  • Curved screens properly format the anamorphic image with optimal contrast (effects of the black framework perfectly framing the image)
  • Curved screens only real claim to enhance 3D is that their curvature helps eliminate hot-spotting on higher gain (3D) materials
  • Curve screens also eliminate the pincushion effect

The “immersion” factor on a curved 16:9 screen is mostly a myth.

  • Immersion comes from the wide-angle (Cinemascope) presentations where your peripheral vision is picking up movement from the sides of the screen while you are focused on the center picture.
  • 16:9 format is popular for TV sets because your eyes can easily take in the whole image without extra stuff happening off to the sides.
  • This is why theaters are 2.35-2.40 and TVs are still 16:9.