Welcome to Installer's Insight, a new periodic column at ProjectorCentral. My name is Terry Paullin, and I have been installing custom home theaters for more than 30 years now. Since 1988, when I established Front Row Cinema in Livermore, CA, I have done over 1,000 theaters—really.
About 15% to 20% of my installs involve front projection. Most are in dedicated theaters (what some might classify as "man caves") and the rest are in what I call "theater environments," less- than-ideal (for projection, anyway) living room-style spaces that do double duty for watching movies. I'm also very active with the Imaging Science Foundation as a senior instructor who teaches new and advanced calibrators the latest tricks for optimizing today's displays. I occasionally consult to industry on the topic of imaging science.
My industry colleague and ProjectorCentral's editor-in-chief Rob Sabin has invited me to offer an occasional insight into our collective hobby/passion and share observations from my catbird seat as an integrator and industry insider. Over time, I expect you'll get a little of this and a little of that from me: installation tips, calibration advice, general thoughts on new products I see at the trade shows or get to experience in client's homes, or even a few words about a particular UHD BD demo that I'm excited to recommend. Most of my columns will focus on projector/screen applications, but some will touch on related topics.
So let's get started. This time, let's examine...
Front Projection: Why?
As in... why do projection at home instead of a flat screen? I'll speculate the main reason is what I call "Movie Theater Drama"—done right, it replicates what we feel when we walk into a commercial theater: curtains, sconce lighting, and multiple seating arrangements. Home theater "drama" can include the same sconce lighting, art deco treatments, movie posters, in-room popcorn machines, pillows and blankets, and interesting little confectionery tables. You can even do "stadium seating" with a riser in the back of the room. I suppose you could do all that with a flat panel, but it just wouldn't be the same...and nobody does it.
Another reason, believe it or not, might be price. We saw a crop of new projector offerings at CES this year, bright enough for HDR and attractively priced compared to what will certainly be the serious premiums on 100-inch flat panels when they appear in Q4. Of course, those new projectors should be paired with appropriate screens...something I'll say more about in a future column.
One reason not to shy away from front projection is limited room size. My demo theater is simply a converted 13 x 17-foot bedroom. It has stadium seating, all the art deco accoutrements, an accessible equipment rack, and a wide front-speaker sound field placement. I even found some paisley "movie " carpeting.
Larger and larger (100-inch plus) flat panels may challenge projector/screen applications into the future, but always at a serious price premium to front projection and with, well, a lack of "drama."
Until next time...enjoy the movies!