Home Theater Aspect Ratio Screens
So when we we have a new client that wants to design a new facility or home theater we always like to get a few things out of the way besides just the acoustic design or number of panels needed to go on the wall. Some of those technical details involve what aspect ratio of screen are we going to use? Is it going to be 16:9? 2.35:1 ? 2.39:1? 1.9:1 ? What is the best and why?
So first let me start off by saying the typical home theater is going to be 16X9. Now if you want more a cinematic experience, you are going to want to be looking into the 2.35:1 or 2.39:1 aspect ratios. So that begs the question, why do theaters put such a wide anamorphic screen up in movie theaters... and the answer, after designing a lot of home and commercial theaters is, well, to get as many people to the sweet spot of the screen viewing distance as possible. It's difficult to get people in the correct viewing distance to the screen in 16X9. Going anamorphic allows you to fit more seats and likewise more people in those areas. But the downside is, although cool, and super pricey, are you losing some resolution? and unfortunately the answer is yes. The best screen size to maximize your resolution is 1.9:1 which supports the full 4096 X 2160 resolution. 16X9 is kind of close but only supports UHD or broadcast 4K which is 3840 X 2160. All the other anamorphic screens actually cut down the 2160 to different levels of resolution to fit that image on the screen. Now if there is budget there is also screen masking which is black cloth that will change the dimensions of the screen with little motors and guide wires. Honestly in my opinion it's a little over rated and you're essentially paying a lot of money to project a black image on black fabric in areas you're not really using to begin with. If the masking didn't exist, the projector would just be projecting black in that area anyways.
But... it does make the screen and theater look cool. On top of that you need to make it sound cool... and in that lesson it's basically just a lot of acoustical equations and acoustical design that allows for the theater to be awesome. Also the speaker system has a lot to do with the end product. I have a few favorites and a few favorite designs that are amazing but we need to have the space for the acoustical design inside the home theater to be able to do it.