February 01, 2010
| by Robert Archer
Since its introduction to the public a few years ago as a home theater concept, anamorphic home cinema systems have grown steadily in acceptance.
Custom installers and intrepid DIYers have used CinemaScope solutions to combat not only that pesky letterboxing, but the commoditization of the video category.
With the help of anamorphic lenses, super-wide screens and high-performance projectors, integrators have been able to offer a step-up theater experience to clients. CinemaScope has been, for the most part, universally applauded for its ability to deliver high-definition images in the correct aspect ratio without adding much time to the installation process.
There are some, however, who contend that as good as anamorphic-based home theaters are, they can be better through the alteration of the CinemaScope system equation.
One of those voices belongs to video expert Joe Kane, chief executive officer of Joe Kane Productions (JKP). Kane says installers interested in offering an unprocessed CinemaScope image can do so without adding extra work to the installation.
Good, Better, Best Widescreen
For those not familiar with CinemaScope, it is a name the film industry uses to refer to a lens system made approximately 50 years ago. Today the term is commonly used to describe wide aspect ratios of 2.35:1 up to 2.66:1.
Kane says today’s home CinemaScope solutions are great for theater enthusiasts, but there are compromises within the most commonly used setups. First, he says, there’s the potential compromise of adding vertical stretch processing to fill out a projector’s inherent 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Second, is adding an extra lens to the system to horizontally stretch the 1.78:1 image to a wider CinemaScope ratio.
The final compromise is what the consumer sees, Kane says, including obstacles with viewing distance and pixel structure of 1.78:1 and CinemaScope images.
Add a Second Projector
There is a way to avoid those limitations, and it’s not that difficult, according to Kane. It’s just a little counter-intuitive.
“The two-projector approach doesn’t involve the compromises of the first two points of using the anamorphic lens approach. There is no electronic video processing distortion in the image and there is no distortion from the lens in stretching the image out to a 2.35 width,” he suggests.
“Logically, you might think the two-projector approach would be more expensive, but that isn’t always the case. A good anamorphic lens will cost about as much as the projector. If outboard image processing is used to stretch the image vertically in the anamorphic configuration, then the two-projector approach would likely be less expensive.”
Bob is a dedicated audiophile who has been writing about A/V for Electronic House sister publication CE Pro since 2000.