Based in Denmark, dnp is the screen making subsidiary of printing giant Dai Nippon Printing, a corporate behemoth that is the largest printing company in the world. Dai Nippon has been in the screen business a long time, and is the dominant maker of rear projection screens, which employ a lenticular/Fresnel lens combination. Aided by their extensive experience in the lithographic printing industry, dnp developed new multi-layer optical lamination technology that provides both high ambient light rejection as well as maintaining the overall picture quality provided by conventional front projection screens.
As dnp’s U.S. subsidiary wasn’t able to supply us with review samples by our deadline, I instead arranged to meet with their head honcho, Manfred Freiberger, at their new facilities in Los Angeles and brought with me a 1080p DLP projector, a Samsung Blu-ray player, and my test equipment, as they had only just moved to new office and warehouse space and were still in the process of putting it all together—in short, they hadn’t yet completed their home theater demonstration room.
There, I was able to set my projector and player up in the training room, where we did the testing and evaluation. The Supernova screen is available in two versions, a low-gain (.8), wide viewing angle type, as well as a higher-gain (2.0) but more narrow viewing angle version.
At the moment, the lower-gain type is available in both fixed frame and roll-up types, while the higher-gain material is only currently available as a fixed frame type (but a roll-up high-gain material is currently in development). The low-gain screen is also available in dnp’s new deluxe Epic curved screen that features motorized side masking to handle multiple aspect ratios, up to 2.40:1, with compatible projectors and anamorphic lenses.
The low-gain Supernova screen in the training room is their Flex model, a motorized roll-up screen that is distinguished by an elegant curved facia that hides the mechanicals and screen roller. The material is flexible enough that when unfurled it is as flat as a conventional tab-tensioned drop-down screen, and the Flex features a thin-wire tensioning system that is all but invisible from a normal seating distance.
Once the projector and Blu-ray player was set up, I fired up my Konica-Minolta color analyzer, and put up a 100 IRE white window test pattern. I had previously calibrated the projector for use with one of my reference screens at home (Stewart Filmscreen’s Joe Kane-approved GrayHawk RS) and was curious to see if the Supernova introduced any color shift. In an instant, the analyzer reported a virtually perfect 6490-degree Kelvin result with the Supernova, confirming that it is indeed possible to have a high-contrast screen that is colorneutral (old-style high contrast screens tended to have an excessive shift towards blue that seriously impaired the overall color fidelity).
Before we got to watching actual program material, Manfred ran through a quick demonstration, comparing the Supernova material against a conventional white screen type. Using a flashlight, he aimed the beam from a high angle above both screen types, simulating light coming from a track lighting fixture. With the white screen material, the reflected beam was easily visible, even in the very brightly lit training room. As he moved the flashlight over the Supernova material, the beam’s intensity diminished dramatically—it was indeed visible, but ever so much less so than with the white screen material.
The Supernova high-gain material is designed for situations with high ambient light conditions, and features more gain (2.0) to direct the most light back to the viewer. Darker in appearance than typical gray screen materials, the high-gain Supernova features the same shimmer-free surface of its low-gain sibling, and while a flexible version is in development that will allow roll-up and curved very-widescreen options, for now it’s only available in fixed-frame styles.
At the time of my visit, dnp only had high-gain Supernova versions in a modest 45-inch diagonal size at their facility—a size that would be not large enough for a typical home theater, but was fine for our test purposes. As my host Manfred Freiberger noted, in addition to targeting the residential market, the Supernova line also appeals to commercial and corporate customers (boardrooms, conference rooms, and the like), so dnp offers a wide range of sizes.
We set up the screen on a table front of the low-gain Flex screen, and after I adjusted the projector to match the smaller screen size, I again took a snapshot of the white balance with my color analyzer and was astonished to find that the high-gain screen material had virtually the same near-ideal result, coming in at 6390 degrees Kelvin.