Wide Screens Bangor ME
March 24, 2008 By David Birch-Jones
“You have reduced my film to a postage stamp!” So said director David Lean upon seeing the first video transfer of his epic film Lawrence Of Arabia. Back then, virtually everything was “panned and scanned”; widescreen images were chopped down to a squarish 1.33:1 aspect ratio to fit the TVs of the time. The advent of widescreen 1.78:1 (or 16:9) TVs in the 1990s helped matters, but most motion pictures have even wider aspect ratios, ranging from 1.85:1 to 2.40:1. Show these films on a 1.78:1 screen, and you get black bars at the top and bottom of the picture. Because the black bars can chew up as much as a third of the picture area, they tend to spoil the cinematic effect.
A couple of years ago, Runco pioneered the idea of using a special anamorphic lens and electronic processing to stretch the 1.78:1 picture from a video projector horizontally, so it could fill a super-wide screen and replicate the look that super-widescreen movies have in the theater.
The lenses, from companies such as Panamorph and Isco, are now used by many projector companies; the processing required to make the lens work is available in projectors as inexpensive as the $2,699 Optoma HD80
Now all you need is a screen with a super-wide aspect ratio—and Stewart Filmscreen has one that fits the bill exactly.
The CineCurve has black masking that retracts when you watch super-widescreen 2.35:1 movies, and slide in and out to cover the sides of the screen when you’re watching less wide images, such as 1.85:1 movies and 1.33:1 TV shows. The screen also has a gentle curve that directs more light toward the audience and provides a more uniformly bright picture across the full width and height of the screen.
Unlike my conventional Stewart screen, the CineCurve screen is delivered fully assembled. It shows up on the back of a freight truck in a custom wood crate that measures 10 feet wide by nearly 6 feet tall. Aided by the installers at Guaranteed Entertainment Systems here in Palm Springs, Calif., I unpack the CineCurve from the crate.
The CineCurve frame weighs more than four times as much as the frame of my fixed-mount screen, so it demands a secure mounting. We attach a plywood sheet to the wall studs to provide this extra support, then three of us lift the frame into place. With just four bolts to screw in, it’s securely mounted to my wall in about 20 seconds.
The included screen controller module easily mounts to the wall, hidden behind the frame’s right screen flank, and the compact keypad controller and IR receiver is installed in a standard light-switch housing off to one side.
Then it’s time to unpack the actual screen itself, which like other Stewart screens features button snaps and is similarly easy to install. Everything about the product is well thought-out, intuitive, and obvious, right down to the color-coded and numbered cable connectors from the controller box to the side masking motors.
Once installed, the ...