Sound & Visonary: Grant Stewart Page 2

Sound & Visonary: Grant Stewart

With Stewart Filmscreen's CineCurve screen (designed to be used with Runco's CineWide system), the masking in the frame changes to match the aspect ratio of whatever you're watching, eliminating the black or gray bars you see on a flat-panel or rear-projection display.

Now that there are plasma TVs bigger than 100 inches, what's the advantage of a projector/screen combo? We see a huge difference in quality between a projection system and a plasma. For the true home theater experience, a projector's "matte" look is far better than a plasma's "shiny" look. As plasma TVs get bigger and cheaper, many people will buy them for their performance in brightly lit rooms. But a 108-inch plasma requires a forklift to install and creates a lot of heat at a premium price. Screens and projectors are much easier to install. We also make our screens to order based on the viewing environment in the user's home. Every Stewart screen is customized for the viewing position and the height and width of the room.

A huge advantage of our projector/screen combos is that they accommodate Cinemascope's 2.35:1 aspect ratio. While a flat panel's 16:9 display can show a 2.35:1 image, you're going to have black or gray bars on the top and bottom of the screen, which diminishes the cinematic effect and exposes your TV to burn-in. Speaking of which, our screens have a very long life, they don't fall prey to the pitfalls of plasma and LCD, and they can easily accommodate the 2.35:1 ratio. Plasmas are subject to burn-in and have decreased lifespans, while LCD has a very expensive cost-to-size ratio compared to other technologies.

That doesn't mean a projection screen and plasma or LCD can't work in the same space, though. A lot of people have a flat-panel TV on the wall for broadcast and high-ambient-light viewing, and then roll down a FireHawk G3 screen in front of the TV for that authentic, darkened-movie-theater Cinemascope viewing experience. A Stewart 110-inch screen, with controlled lighting and a 1080p projector, is far less money than a 108-inch plasma.

Was Stewart's CineCurve screen developed in response to videophiles' interests in seeing super-wide images without black bars? In home theater, the missing link that commercial theaters already had was the constant-height screen. The technology has been around since the '50s in movie theaters, and Stewart has been a part of it from the start. But it wasn't possible in home theater until Runco introduced CineWide.

Our goal was to support projector development of the CineWide technology. In turn, the CineCurve solved some industry problems with anamorphic lens units. It supports a 2.4:1 aspect ratio, which delivers a much wider picture that's more lifelike with no annoying black bars on the top, bottom, and sides of the image. The screen's custom room-dependent curve also enhances brightness to the audience and shields ambient light. And there's something appealing about a curved screen versus a flat screen. It's not only different, but sexy and sleek, and has that "wow!" factor consumers are looking for. It's an industry first.