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Author Topic: Need help buying video projector
John Challenor
Film Handler

Posts: 3
From: Miami Shores, FL, USA
Registered: Apr 2002

 - posted 10-07-2003 06:24 PM      Profile for John Challenor   Email John Challenor   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
We need help to decide on the brightness of a video projector for our theater. Our screen is only 30-feet wide in scope format.

We need to install a permanent video projector for film festivals and a new once a week shorts program.

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Paul H. Rayton
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 210
From: Los Angeles, CA , USA
Registered: Aug 2003

 - posted 10-07-2003 07:18 PM      Profile for Paul H. Rayton     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hello from Los Angeles, in the land of the loonies.... Here's my take on video projectors: You'll probably get several conflicting replies, depending on the particular persuasions of the individuals responding.
I can tell you that, based on my experience, generally people's expectations of video projection have been going higher and higher as time goes by. Especially recently, they want big and bright. We recently did a show with a (rented) Panasonic model 9610 projector, which is about 12000 (?) lumens light output. It meets the need previously described: big and bright. We projected at about 18' x 25'.
The downsides are that this projector is expensive. And, our program director also thought the picture was pixelizing a bit (our source was DigiBeta), but I'm of the opinion that what he saw then was more a problem of the original material(s), and not so much the projector.
And, for what it's worth, it's "DLP" technology, but not "cinema-grade", i.e, it's not the exact same DLP that is in the (few) movie theatres that show d-cinema.
There are a bunch of other video projector makers, many of them now going into cinemas for the pre-show "slides", etc. I'm sure they are less expensive than the Panasonic I used, so maybe you'll get ideas from some other users out there. Actually, I'll be interested in their comments, too!

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Steve Kraus
Film God

Posts: 4094
From: Chicago, IL, USA
Registered: May 2000

 - posted 10-07-2003 07:23 PM      Profile for Steve Kraus     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'm in the same boat, only smaller. I want a projector for an 8' tall screen @ 30' throw and figure 2000 lumens ought to be adequate. The basic need is just for standard def video and maybe decent rez computer output would be nice too. There are many 3-LCD projectors that do a good job and can be had for the price range I wish to pay. But I keep looking and wanting to hold out for DLP or D-ILA, native 1.77 A.R., and HD. Not e-cinema but just basic HD. Some of the 1-chip filter wheel DLP units intended for home theatre use come close but I really want to hold out for 3-chip DLP or D-ILA. So I drag my feet.

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Bill Gabel
Film God

Posts: 3873
From: Technicolor / Postworks NY, USA
Registered: Jan 2002

 - posted 10-07-2003 07:57 PM      Profile for Bill Gabel   Email Bill Gabel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
We use the NEC XT5000 projector in our room. It's light output is 4500 ANSI Lumens on High Bright mode and 4000 ANSI Lumens on normal mode. It handles input compatibility is NTSC, PAL, SECAM, HDTV, VGA, SVGA, XGA, SXGA, MAC. The two years since we put it in has paid very well. I have a 42 foot throw in the room and have plenty of light.

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Trevor Bailey
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 113
From: Woonsocket, RI
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 10-07-2003 10:44 PM      Profile for Trevor Bailey   Author's Homepage   Email Trevor Bailey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
This company is moving into the North American market. They seem to have a broad range of products.

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Adam Martin
I'm not even gonna point out the irony.

Posts: 3686
From: Dallas, TX
Registered: Nov 2000

 - posted 10-08-2003 12:31 AM      Profile for Adam Martin   Author's Homepage   Email Adam Martin       Edit/Delete Post 
Did video projectors in movie theaters become the new stadium seating while I had my back turned?

Seriously, people. Find a local company that rents out or sells projectors and have the guy bring them by for a test run or shoot out. If he's not willing to do so, then he doesn't deserve the $10,000+ you're about to shell out for a decent projector and lens.
We just put in a 7700 lumen (800:1 contrast ratio) Sanyo PLC-XF41 for events here and bought a short throw/wide angle lens. With our 75 foot throw, the on-screen image is about 65 feet wide and 48 feet high. The image quality is "adequate" on a silver screen. I would have rather had the 10,000 lumen Sanyo with the 1100:1 contrast ratio, but I don't pay the bills.
There will be issues such as the type and amount of keystone correction, lens shift, ambient lighting, available space, signal type and source, method of control and on and on.
Don't expect to run down to Office Depot and pick up a $500 POS and expect it to perform the way you want.
[Stupid UBB and it's broken list formatting]

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Frank Angel
Film God

Posts: 5305
From: Brooklyn NY USA
Registered: Dec 1999

 - posted 10-08-2003 11:17 AM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
We just put in a 3 panel, 4 lamp Eiki with a 10,000 ansi lumen output and 1100:1 contrast ratio, or so they claim. It is their "theatre projector" and so they have a wide compilment of lenses to allow booth operation at theatre throws.

I was surprised at the quality -- using DVD, if you are not sitting in the first 5 rows, the image is quite exceptable -- bright with good color saturation and very little video artifax. Contrast ratio exceeds our ambient light level, which, I must admit is pretty bad; I couldn't get good blacks in that room even if I had 70mm. Like John, we need a way to show video because we do film festivals which, more and more, have video entries, so much so that lately two of them had to change their name to Film and Video Festival. Eiki has pretty much abandoned their 16mm projector manufacturing and have focused on video.


BTW, the Eiki Theatre Video Projector's very impressive image doesn't come cheap -- the museum paid upwards of $20k.

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Steve Guttag
We forgot the crackers Gromit!!!

Posts: 12814
From: Annapolis, MD
Registered: Dec 1999

 - posted 11-09-2003 02:18 PM      Profile for Steve Guttag   Email Steve Guttag   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Adam, Having demo units is not always practical. We used to constantly get burned by having a demo unit since it was obsolete just a day after it was made.

Given the projector's specs, I can generally match it up to the room with VERY predictable results.

For relatively low-cost solutions, Christie has brought out varients on some SANYO LCD projectors. The Christie versions are XGA-W machines which means that they are native 16:9 so DVDs are more viable without extreme letterboxing.

Their small one the LW 25 will do for most smaller theatres.

The larger one the LW 40 will do for most medium theatres.


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Mark Gulbrandsen
Resident Trollmaster

Posts: 16657
From: Music City
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 11-09-2003 10:17 PM      Profile for Mark Gulbrandsen   Email Mark Gulbrandsen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
One thing I learned yesterday at a film premiere that I took part in is that individual DLP panels are not replacable, even by T.I., if they fail. One has to junk that part of the projector and get an entire new unit [thumbsdown] . This happened recently to a Hollywood star's home screening room DLP projector which was the second largest model made. In this case they junked the entire projector. This would certainly dampen my desire to push any of the bigger units. Not sure if the D-ILA stuff is the same way in this respect. Anyone know about this aspect of D-ILA?


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William Hooper
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1879
From: Mobile, AL USA
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 11-10-2003 12:36 AM      Profile for William Hooper   Author's Homepage   Email William Hooper   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
This would be a good time for me to report my recent comparison of 35mm & 2 Barco video projectors in 3 separate venues, same day, within walking distance of each other --

35mm: 40' wide, mix of old & new stuff, color & black & white, good illumination, good color, etc., masking was a bit tighter than I though neccessary.

Barco SLM R8: in an arts venue's "theater", 10' or 12' rollup screen, new documentary on digiBeta, weird busy upwards-rippling lines in light scenes, black & white photos had big shifting blockiness, resolution mediocre to poor, color sort of washed out, comments from the 2 others who showed up to comprise the audience "Aw, man, it's a video! I thought it was going to be a movie!" "Yeah, me too!" "Dayum, man!"

Barco ELM R18: set up in a theater with screen masked down to approx. 20' from the proscenium's approx. 38', light output barely enough to be acceptable with all the auditorium lights off, running a home video DVD of a famous title with very saturated Technicolor image that looks that way at home but on this screen was lower contrast than the low-con 35mm video transfer prints I've been mistatkenly sent & had to run, resolution just pathetic & cartoonlike, projected black bars for letterbox were medium gray.

(The AV guy who brought it was extolling its abilities & carping about having run an indie video on it earlier, "this lady came up & said the director wanted to know where the black bars are, I told her I zoomed in so people couldn't see them, the director came up & said he WANTED to see them, I told him that I was able to zoom in so that they couldn't be seen, but he insisted that he HAD to see them, so I said "OK!" & zoomed out so they could see the black bars. These directors don't know ANYTHING about how to run movies!" How do you educate someone like that? Maybe [john] has got the poker face & is nimble enough not to be mentally paralyzed when deluged with silliness; I just tried to maintain.)

Before the argument is made that those projectors were not *supposed* to be showing non-theatrical material like DVD & VHS, I'm pointing out that it's exactly WHY they were spec'd & brought in, so they could run that. They could have got them on 35mm, could have put 35mm in one venue or even left it in the other, but the point was to NOT run 35mm. Even though it looked like crap, that was not the point. It was entirely a "Digital is better" advocacy & install.

"Turn DVD over for extras"


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Steve Guttag
We forgot the crackers Gromit!!!

Posts: 12814
From: Annapolis, MD
Registered: Dec 1999

 - posted 11-10-2003 02:28 AM      Profile for Steve Guttag   Email Steve Guttag   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Okay....lets do some math...

We have a 10-12 foot screen. For starters...lets presume matte white (it probably is a higher gain since A/V types always use a higher-gain!).

The R8 is a 5:4 projector and is being presented with a DigiBeta so the actual ratio is 4:3 so it should have black bars top and bottom that are thrown away on EVERYTHING except SXGA powerpoint shows (most people come in with just XGA resolution so generally those pixels are NEVER used). Lets presume they zoomed the picture so the black bars are above the 12-foot tall area.

We have an effective picture of 12 x 16. The imager is actually putting out a 12.8 foot tall picture or about a 205 square foot picture. With a matte-white screen you should have 39 foot-lamberts since this projector has 8000 lumens. Industry spec is for 12fL on video to correspond to 16fL for film with no film in the gate...if you were to measure 16fL on film then put a piece of the brightest exposed film in the will drop to about 12fL so the whites should be similar. Personally, I think video has more snap at 16fL as well.

In any event...this projector is too bright for this installation...even at low-light it is too bright. The contrast ratio of 800:1 will not be enough to overcome the wash out. The problem isn't the projector it is the projector is wrong for the space.

If the guy that speced this planed to zoom out for "Scope" or 16:9 DVDs then a large portion of your pixels are wasted. For scope, you would be down to a mere 535 vertical resolution or slightly better than TV and on par with just plain VGA resolution. On the otherhand...with it zoomed out to a scope DVD... you will achieve 12fL so your blacks will come back as well as an 800:1 machine can deliver. I would be better to invest in a smaller projector (less lumens) and use an Anamorphic lens for the wide screen stuff. You get all of your resolution and make a more effective use of the brightness of the projector.

As to the DLP aspect of it...a DMD chip is never a static such a static image always has a bit of a waver to it as the mirrors move is one of DMD's dirty little secrets. It makes it not the ideal data projector but for motion will never notice it. It also does NOT have the biggest grey scale table...the DMD uses dither to make the mirros do their trick...with dither you loose dynamic range. The 800:1 contrast ratio is full-on to full-off...real world is not that...the mirrors are jiggling.

The other case...ELM R18. This is a 17500 lumen beast with a mere 450:1 contrast ratio or 8750 lumens at 900:1 So, what do you want, light or can't have both!

Ok...presuming a matte white screen...if they are running a "Scope" DVD with the 20' tall picture...then the imager is trying to fill a 38.24 tall by 47.8' wide picture. In the high brightness mode...we have 9.57fL with a crappy 450:1 low brightness you have 4.8fL...kinda low no matter how you look at it. If it was merely a 16:9 picture things get a little better. You should have received a respectable 17 fL or so in high-brightness low-contrast mode. In the higher contrast mode you would get only 8.5fL...too low.

The high brightness mode on this projector really should be thought of for high-ambient light situations (Power point and the like) since low-contrast isn't an issue then (you can't have high-contrast with high-ambient light on a reflective screen).

Now...put that projector in with an anamorphic lens...what you get in 16:9 on high-contrast mode is just over 12fL with the FULL 1280 x 1024 resolution! For scope, you are at a low 6.8fL if you use a 1.42X anamorphic or 9.2fL with a 1.9X Anamorphic. You could go to high-brighness with the 1.42X lens and achieve 13.6fL but a low contrast ratio that many will find just too grey in the black area...especially since you will be zooming out the black bars.

Is the problem video or the way it was specified? If you want to have a 20-foot tall picture then think about a projector in the 11,000 - 11,500 lumen range and an anamporphic lens. You can cheat the lumen requirement a bit if you go with a gainier screen but you will then have to accept hot-spotting. This will give you a 16fL 16:9 picture with the anamorphic lens. With no anamorphic lens, you will have a super-bright picture for powerpoint shows in high-ambient light and good light for slightly zoomed 2.39:1 shows with the anamorphic lens.

Again, it isn't necessarily the fact it is video, it is a matter of putting the right equipment in place.

As to the source...don't depend on the video projector's scaling capability...they often suck. Video projectors nowadays are data projectors that have a specific X by Y is measured in lines...somewhere along the way the video image is translated to the data imager. Some projectors have good scalers, the vast majority don't.

If you want a DVD to look good on a big picture, you need to start with the best DVD you can lay your hands on (some have high-bit count) and then a good scaler to bring it up to the resolution of your projector...most DVDs start out as 480 line sources. Since most started life in film, you also have the whole 3:2 pull down artifacts in there as well. There are also the choice of signal outputs...most DVDs output in composite (use it only as a last resort) and S-Video...better ones have component...use the component if possible). If your projector is a 16:9 device or you have an anamorphic lens or if you have a good 16:9 on the DVD player...that is the native ratio of the DVD and will have the best quality image coming out of the player

Again, start with the best image possible then send it to a good scaler for up conversion to the resolution of your projector. The difference in just plugging the player into the projector and using a good scaler will surprise you.

For are hosed right at the start. The resolution of the typical VHS tape is really around 250 lines...forgetting about theoretics of what it could resolve...about 250 is all you are going to get out of it. Over 90% of the players you will come across will have composite as your "choice." The resulting picture that was "okay" on a small monitor will be hedious on a big screen. Using a scaler is an absolute must and even then it will take it from utter garbage to pretty bad. Dont run VHS to a paying audience unless your screen is quite small.


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