We’re huge fans of CinemaScope-type superwide movies. If the directors wanted to make them in more immersive 2.35:1 or 2.40:1 (or heck, even Ben-Hur-like 2.76:1) then he obviously had a good reason to stretch that image and fill it with important film features.
But most high-definition TV is broadcast in 16:9 aspect ratio (or 1.78:1), as are a good deal of movie presentations ... so when home theater started to emerge with big-time projectors and screens, everything was geared toward 16:9—and you wound up with black bars on the top and bottom of CinemaScope movies due to the unused pixels.
Then came companies like Runco and Stewart Filmscreen to jump on the ‘Scope format for home theater and offer solutions that let you watch those wide 2.35:1 presentations on full screens shaped for the format. Only when you did that, you got vertical black bars on the sides when you switched to video content that was 1.78:1 (or 1.85:1, another common aspect ratio).
This “constant image height setup” has become popular, especially with the AVS Forum crowd, and more so if the bulk of your movie nights are those super-wide movies.
All that being said, Elite Screens showed at CES 2010 its unique solution that allows you to easily switch back and forth between aspect ratios and not worry about the black bars infringing on your viewing pleasure. It’s called “Osprey,” and it’s not one but two screens for your theater.
The full name is the Osprey Dual Motorized Home Cinema Projection screen, and that kinda says it all. It’s a motorized piece, so the screens drop down from their casing when called upon for movies with particular aspect ratio. In the mood for an episode of Lost, press a button and go with the 16:9 screen; want to pop in Transformers instead, click and the 16:9 scrolls up and 2.35:1 scrolls down.
The Osprey can maintain a centered image coordinated to a projector’s lens memory, and comes with a full control package with internal IR and RF receivers, IR and RF remotes, and an RJ45 port for 5-12 volt triggers and external wall boxes, according to Elite. It uses the company’s CineWhite 1.1 gain tensioned front projection material.
“It’s the perfect solution to producing both aspect ratios in one versatile product,” says Elite’s David Rodgers (pictured), who adds that with the starting price of $1,999, people are still looking at an affordable solution compared to pricey masking systems or anamorphic lens systems (if you’re going with a lens memory option to zoom on the 2.35:1).
Osprey is available in four sizes: 97”(2.35:1)/78”(16:9), 110”(2.35:1)/88”(16:9), 117”(2.35:1)/94”(16:9) and 133”(2.35:1)/106”(16:9), plus custom requests can be taken.
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Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.