Dueling Projectors Handle 14 Sources in Theater


Two projectors fire from the back of the theater to handle all of the family’s preferences and several different aspect ratios and resolutions. The space for the theater was blasted out of granite 22 feet below ground.

Two projectors and a custom-sized screen meet the needs of five aspect ratios, a slew of video sources and several family members.

Dec. 07, 2009 — by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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.

The 2.0:1 aspect ratio comes from a specification developed by Performance Media Industries, called PMI 2.0, and designed to optimize the size of varied aspect ratios without compromising picture quality. PMI says 2.0 also minimizes the amount of masking required to eliminate letterboxing and bars. This is one of the first theaters done in the format.

A four-way electronic masking system is used on the screen, and the projectors change aspect ratios not by stretching the sides of the image, but by an index zoom lens that only affects the top few rows of pixels in an image instead of stretching the sides. An anamorphic lens for CinemaScope-wide images is not required.

Equipping this room with two projectors proved the easy part. “All the equipment could handle two outputs, and it was easy to run content to them with HDMI [high-definition multimedia interface] and DVI [digital visual interface] cables,” says Barson.

By the way, the Lightning projector costs a whopping $192,000, and the additional cost for the second, smaller projector system was about $35,000, plus about $10,000 for programming and installation. 

The hardest part was actually getting the equipment into the room. The theater was built under a new wing of the house by blasting through granite 22 feet under the ground. It’s encased in concrete and would be served by a spiral staircase descending through a 4-by-4-foot shaft, so all the equipment had to be lowered through the shaft before the staircase was installed. 

Other components in the theater complement the uncompromising performance of the two-projector system. There’s a Lexicon controller and DVD player, Lumagen video processing, a herd of Professional Home Cinema speakers, subwoofers and amps — we count 12 speakers, eight subwoofers and 13 amplifiers—the Kaleidescape video server, Crestron control system, MSR acoustic treatments and much more.

System & Room Design
Opus AVC
North Haven, Conn.

Power & Grounding
Ground One

Video Sources
Pioneer BPD-05FD Blu-ray Player
Lexicon RT-20 DVD Player
Sony PlayStation 3 Game Console
Microsoft Xbox 360 Game Console
Kaleidescape DVD Server
Cable TV receivers (3)
Apple TVs (2)
TiVo DVRs (2)

Digital Projection Lighting 1080p DLP Video Projector
Digital Projection dVision 1080p DLP Video Projector
Lumagen (2)Radiance XD Video Processor
Professional Home Cinema LSC-212ai Subwoofer (8)
Professional Home Cinema SCR-15sm Screen Channel Speaker (6)
Professional Home Cinema SCRS-8ai Screen Surround Speaker (6)
Professional Home Cinema DPA-1002 Power Amplifier (7)
Professional Home Cinema DPA-502 Power Amplifier (6)
Ashly 4.24PS Audio DSP (2)
Lexicon MC-12B-HD-EQ Surround Processor
Screen Research X4S-200.3-2.67-2W-UA Custom 150” Wide Screen
MSR Acoustics Various Custom Acoustic Treatment System
Crestron PRO2 Control Processor
Crestron TPMC-8x Wireless Touchpanel
Crestron TPMC-8x-DS Docking Station
Crestron CNX-PVID-8x4 Video Matrix Switch
Crestron CNX-PBAR-4 Audio Receiver
Crestron CNX-PBVR-4 Video Receiver
Crestron C2N-SPWS300 Power Supply
Crestron ST-IO Relay Module (8)
Crestron C2-COM3 RS-232 Expansion Card
Crestron C2-ENET1 ethernet Card
GroundOne Various Studio-Grade Clean Power System
Gefen EXT-HDMI1.3-144 HDMI Distribution Amplifier (6)
Scientific Atlanta 4250HD Cable Tuner
Kaleidescape 1080p Player Video Client
Audio Design Associates PTM-6150 Power Amplifier
Theil Audio PowerPoint Ceiling Loudspeaker (2)
Bay Audio Model 886 Ceiling Loudspeaker
Cineak Fortuny Theater Seat (13)
Aphex 120A Audio Distrubution Amplifier
ATI DA-416 Audio Distrubution Amplifier
Dell Powerconnect 2724 Ethernet Switch
Liberty Wire and Cable Various Bulk Cable
AudioQuest NRG-2 Power Cable
Straightwire Various Interconnect Cable
Middle Atlantic Products SLIM-5 Equipment Rack (4)
Middle Atlantic Products RLM-20IG Power Controller (16)
Middle Atlantic Products M-2x20IG Power Controller (24)
Middle Atlantic Products MPR-8 Power Raceway (5)
Middle Atlantic Products M-20IG Power Receptacle (4)
Middle Atlantic Products USC-6R Sequencing Power Sequencer (2)
Middle Atlantic Products DC-4 Rackmount Storage Drawer (8)

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