While new and improved front projector models appear almost weekly, the development of new front-projection screen materials occurs at a much more leisurely pace. Da-Lite’s debut of their new Affinity HD Progressive screen material, rolled out at trade shows last summer and fall, caused quite a stir as this new type was co-developed with Joe Kane, perhaps our industry’s most noted video guru, and this was his first collaboration with veteran screenmaker Da-Lite.
Kane approached Da-Lite to develop a better-performing screen for the broadcast and post-production industry, as he was becoming increasingly dissatisfied with current screen offerings. The current crop of screen materials, supposedly optimized for 1080p high-definition projectors, exhibited too many noticeable artifacts that he felt impeded critical viewing during HD disc and program mastering in the demanding post-production studio environment.
With stunning speed, Da-Lite developed a new material that met Kane’s exacting requirements, taking just four weeks to do so—a remarkably quick development and production gestation. I was highly impressed with Kane’s demo at CEDIA, where (of course) the new HD Pro screen was paired with the Samsung SP-A800B 1080p DLP projector, another Joe Kane Productions co-development. The images I saw there were of best-in-show quality, made all the more remarkable given that the pricing of the projector/screen combo is only about $12,000—a bargain when you’re talking state-of-the-art HD front projection.
A recent visit to Joe Kane’s home theater studio in Los Angeles confirmed my earlier enthusiastic impressions, and when he played scenes from the recently released Baraka ultra-high resolution Blu-ray disc, I was blown away. This film, shot entirely in large format 65mm and mastered for Blu-ray with highest resolution 8K telecine technology, is chockfull of literally breathtaking imagery from start to finish—if you don’t have this disc in your collection, you simply can’t know what Blu-ray is capable of.
Consider this HDTV if:
you’re looking to achieve true studio-quality big screen imaging—this new Da-Lite material is truly neutral and artifact-free and will bring out the very best of your high-definition front projection setup.
Look elsewhere if:
your front projection setup is in a room that isn’t light-controlled—best results will only be achieved in a properly light-controlled environment. Other screen material types are better optimized for viewing in conditions where ambient light can’t be tamed.
|This Blu-ray title takes the top honors as the most breathtakingly sharp high-definition movie out there, and during the preparation for the Blu-ray release, the Da-Lite HD Pro/Samsung SP-A800B setup at Joe Kane’s home theater studio was used for critical evaluation of test pressings prior to the disc’s release.||Absolutely gorgeous, with so many standout scenes in this remarkable film, such as the fires of Kuwait after the 1992 Desert Storm invasion, as well as the intricately woven and colorful fabrics of peoples from numerous foreign lands in other scenes—a revelatory viewing experience.||As you would expect, Joe Kane’s home theater studio is properly light controlled, which allows the best blacks you can imagine, exemplified again during the Kuwaiti oil fires scenes.||A scene of a modern chicken coop has the forward elements brightly lit, while the ceiling above is very dark, and the Da-Lite/Samsung combo lets me easily see details in the trusswork.||None noted, and that’s what is so noteworthy about this screen material—the screen itself becomes invisible—all you can see is the image, which is as it should be.|
|Crisp and clean, with no screen-related artifacts to impinge on the HD image, which lets me see all of the fine details of the various attorneys’ suits.||Rich yet natural, the Da-Lite is completely neutral color-wise, so bright whites are pure and untainted, and the various actors’ skin tones are natural and believable.||A scene with the various attorneys in a conference room has them all dressed in black and dark gray suits, sitting on black leather chairs, which the Da-Lite/Samsung combo presents with excellent black definition.||That same scene reveals details of the conference room surroundings which are intentionally shadowy, and it’s easy to make out dark details.||None noted, and none expected either.|