The good side of the dark side: Optical projection screens challenge the norm

A different proposition

Every time the subject matter is about the image quality of an office presentation or movie in a cinema, traditional belief states that it is all about the projector. Indubitably, the projector plays the most important role as it controls a variety of factors that can affect the quality of a projected image such as brightness and resolution. This perception explains why individuals and organizations invest in procuring an expensive projector in order to achieve decent, if not totally perfect, image quality rendered by a projection system, which is crucial in any impressive presentation.

"Black screens" or optical projections screens present as alternatives for traditional white screens, offering better quality of the projected image.

However, in all probability, many of us forgot to consider that the screen or the surface where the projected image hits is also an important element in attaining good image quality. Most likely, we are satisfied with having that staple white projection screen. Regardless of the brand, resolution, or brightness level, it seems that all projectors have one common denominator: that white projection screen which is considered as a de facto standard in any projection setup.

Optical projection screen panels can be customized according to the projection requirements of an individual or an organization.

But there is one proposition that aims to provide an alternative, if not totally change the traditional way of thinking or what has been acceptable. At the recent Systems Integration Philippines 2016, DNP (products locally distributed by Fil-Nippon Technology Supply, Inc.) demonstrated the concept of optical projection screens. DNP stands for Dai Nippon Printing of Japan, the parent company of DNP Denmark which has been manufacturing optical projections screens since 1989. DNP Denmark claims 65% share of the optical projection screen market according to their website.

Contrast is key

While the projection screen is only auxiliary in a typical projection setup, it can contribute to enhancing the quality of the projected image. Likewise, a bad projection screen can ruin an entire presentation. By making use of a specialized material called optical projection screen or Supernova, which is actually the product DNP introduced, viewers can attain an extraordinary image quality whether they are simply an audience in a symposium or a moviegoer in a theatre.

DNP's optical projection screens consist of layers of various substrates. The use of matte black surface helps in absorbing ambient light and eliminating glare, resulting in better contrast.

DNP’s optical projection screen is comprised of seven layers, one of which is an optical lens film that helps in reducing the effects of ambient light (even in a lighted room), a reflection layer that maintains the brightness and clarity of the projected image up to the +/- 85˚, a black color layer that helps in absorbing ambient light, and a hard surface coating for mattifying effect to eliminate glare and strengthening the screen, making it resistant against scratches. In addition, the surface of the optical projection screen is finer resulting in smoother, sharper image quality. Starting off with the physical aspect, the optical projection screen can be seen offering more advantages than the traditional white projection screen.

Optical projection screens from DNP have a reflection layer that ensures brightness and clarity of the image even if a person is viewing from the side.

According to the American National Standards Institute’s (ANSI) Projected Image System Contrast Ratio (PISCR), the acceptable contrast ratio so that viewers can see and understand detailed information or an image in a projected image under typical lighting conditions is 15:1. Unfortunately, the common projection screen renders contrast ratio that is lower than what is prescribed due to ambient light and even the glare emanating from the projector. Optical projection screens can go beyond the 15:1 standard. DNP claims that its Supernova is the world’s first front projection screen that broke the 15:1 barrier and rear projection screens can hit up to 30:1 contrast ratio. The result: blacker blacks, brighter colors, and sharper images.

This demonstration shows the difference in terms of quality of the image projected on an optical projection screen (left) and the traditional white screen (right). An optical projection screen enhances the contrast and color of the image. The image on the white screen appears washed out.

A look into the future

Optical projection screens are not usurping the entire capabilities of a projector. At the end of the day, brightness and resolution rely on the projector, which is the most important instrument in a projection setup. But if there is a more cost-effective, energy-efficient, and space-saving means out there that could help in improving the quality of images rendered by a projector, such a proposition is very welcome.

Optical projection screens are now being employed in a variety of applications. They have found their way out of the boardrooms, going to learning rooms, entertainment rooms, and even out-of-home installations.

Various possible applications of optical projection screens outside the boring boardroom, traversing the entertainment room of each home, in-house and out-of-home displays, and movie houses are already implemented worldwide. So looking forward to the future, if you are or your organization is pondering of purchasing an expensive large-screen television or a new projector with better brightness and higher resolution offering, wouldn’t it be wiser to consider getting a less expensive optical projection screen and giving in to the dark side?