By now, most know the difference between what an HDTV (16:9) and a Cinemascope or “widescreen” (2.35:1) aspect ratio is. If not, an aspect ratio is essentially the shape of your television or projection screen. The numbers indicate the ratio of width to height measurement. For example, with 16:9, there will be 16 units of width for every 9 equal units of height. Cinemascope is even wider with 2.35 units of width for every 1 unit of height. The HDTV aspect ratio is pretty much standard for all of the television sets made today. However, the wider aspect ratio (Cinemascope) fits the wide formats of most movies. Love it or hate it, whenever you watch the “letterbox” edition, you are almost certainly watching a “widescreen” or Cinemascope presentation matted onto an HDTV screen. Many viewers find the “black bars” above and below the visible image to be distracting. Fortunately, AV manufacturers have been trying for years to bring custom solutions to viewers so there are a few choices to consider.
Today, virtually every HDTV projector currently being made has the ability to switch aspect ratios to something different from its native format. In the case of home theater screens, if there is any other option, it will be a cinemascope format. The question of which format you’ll see more of is entirely up to you. Some people buy a cinemascope formatted projection screen and it looks great if all you are planning to watch are movies of that format. On the other hand, HDTV is a very common format and all you have to deal with it the letterbox effect when watching films.
There are various solutions for AV enthusiasts to effectively mask their projected image on their 16:9 projection screens when running their projectors in 2.35:1 mode. These include applying your own masking, purchasing a multi-aspect ratio screen or alternating two screen materials that can accommodate the different aspect ratios.
VMAX Dual™ Product Video
Your browser does not support the video tag.
As always, there are rules of physics with which you must abide.
Create a masking: In some cases, a masking may be constructed for fixed-frame screens.
This incorporates a rigid but lightweight material such as cardstock surfaced by a black Velvet fabric.
*Note: NEVER use adhesives for this. It will only ruin the screen.
These are specially made products designed to accommodate the various aspect ratios that projectors have.
You can try to find two screens, one 16:9 and one 2.35:1 in matching widths and install them together.
VMAX Dual™ Series is an electric projection screen that actually contains a pair of alternating materials with either a 16:9 or 2.35:1 aspect ratio. It is formatted to constant image width so you could have a cheap projector with no zoom or no lens shift but the projector will line up with the screen anyway, regardless of it being on either mode. There is only a 12mm spacing between the 16:9 and 2.35:1 materials making it insufficient for depth distortion to be visibly perceived. The screen comes as a fully assembled, “plug & play” product. It is equipped with a full installation package including L brackets as well as a Radio Frequency remote control. A simple click of the button allows you to use whichever aspect ratio you need. It even has a wireless 12 volt trigger to coordinate your screen’s rise and drop with the projector’s power cycle. The VMAX Dual™ is available with a standard 1.1 gain matte white material. There is also a tab-tensioned matte white variant in the form of the Vmax Tension Dual projection screen.