December 07, 2009
| by Steven Castle
When are two video projectors better than one? When you’re putting in a 3-D home theater, for sure. (Watch for this within the next year.)
But what if you’re not doing 3-D? Why on earth would you need two projectors?
David Barson of Opus Audio Video Control (Opus AVC) in North Haven, Conn. explains why his company installed two Digital Projection Inc. (DPI) projectors in this over-the-top, 13-seat subterranean home theater: “No single projector and lens combination could faithfully reproduce all the resolutions and aspect ratios required from 14 video sources as diverse as Xbox and Blu-ray,” he says.
The projectors handle five aspect ratios, or image sizes, including superwide 2.35:1 CinemaScope high-def (150 by 64 inches), CinemaScope low-def (95 by 42 inches), 16:9 high-def (132 by 75 inches), 16:9 low-def (88 by 50 inches), and squarish-old 4:3 standard-definition TV (79 by 60 inches). A 1.85:1 format is also available but not used currently, according to Barson.
“Each projector does certain aspect ratios and certain resolutions,” depending on the source material, Barson explains. For instance, anything in 2.35:1 from the Kaleidescape movie server switches on DPI’s 10,000-lumen, 3-chip DLP Lightning Reference 1080p-30 projector.
But when the VCR — hey, any theater with 14 video sources has to have a VCR — cues up something in 4:3, that goes to DPI’s 5,100-lumen dVision 30-1080p. A high-res DVD movie might go to the Lightning projector, while one with lower image quality goes to the dVision that will give the video a softer treatment and won’t highlight all of its flaws.
In the spirit of saving energy, the lower-lumen dVision comes on by default, unless overridden by content like a CinemaScope movie or a preset. The system also has settings for family members. When high-performance-minded Dad selects a Blu-ray source, the big Lightning projector comes on, but in a family setting with the kids watching, the dVision is used.
“The video system ensures maximum image size for all picture formats and maximum flexibility to display different source material at just the right size,” says Barson.
That means using a custom-made 150-by-75-inch Screen Research display in an entirely different aspect ratio called 2.0:1. It isn’t the actual aspect ratio of the movie being shown, but the optimum aspect ratio of the screen required to show everything from CinemaScope’s superwide 2.35:1 in high resolution to HDTV’s 16:9 to even 4:3.
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates