4K / UHD Projection Surfaces Explained


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4K / UHD Projection Explained

A 720p pixel will encompass each bump in the textured matte surface and uniformaly reflect the light in all directions. Some matte surfaces have gain altering properties and do not uniformly reflect the light without distorting the pixels or image.
Higher definition pixels (1080p, 4k+) are smaller than 720p and lower resolutions. The 1080p+ pixels are smaller than the texture of the matte surface. This causes a distortion of the reflected imaged, causing the picture to be less clear and defined. We refer to this as the "4k Fuzz Effect".

Matte Surface Screen

When you look closely at a projection screen surface, many surfaces look like varying grains of sandpaper and others have microscopic variations on the surface.

This causes pixel loss and "noise" in the image because the surface isn't able to perfectly reflect the projected image.

As projection resolution advances, pixel preservation becomes much more important to preserve the clarity of your image.

Compared to Compared to

Smooth HD Screens

Many advancements in the chemistry behind projection screen surfaces have been made as higher resolution projectors have become more commonplace in the market.

These new surface formulations are engineered to be free of texture and surface variances, offering brilliant light, vibrant color and the best surfaces for HD, 4K and Ultra HD projection.

In order to get the best image quality from your 1080p+ projector, a smooth surface formulated for higher resolution projection is suggested.

4K projector pixels reflecting uniformally off of a smooth HD projection surface.

Texture-Free Screen Surface

In order to avoid any degradation to the pixel geometry when using a 1080p or better projector, a surface devoid of any texture or matting. The creation of these texture-less surfaces is one of the most significant advances in projection screen technology over the past several years. All of our UHD / 4K Ready screen surfaces have the highest clarity, sharpness and definition of any projection screen released to date. This means, simply, that the geometry of each projected pixel remains as the projector manufacturer intended. To illustrate this point, see the screen material texture comparison below, showing one of our UHD / 4K Ready projection screen surfaces, as well as two other textured surfaces.

Screen Material Texture Comparison

(photos taken 2ft away)
UHD / 4K
UHD / 4K
Textureless Surface
Textured / Matte Surface Type A
Textured / Matte Surface
Type A
Textured / Matte Surface Type B
Textured / Matte Surface
Type B

The test above clearly shows that our UHD projection surfaces keep the pixels intact, while the other textured surfaces can significantly degrade the pixel geometry.

Perfect Pixel Geometry

The lack of texture leaves pixel geometry perfectly intact with UHD materials. Why is this important? With 1080p projectors now standard, using a texture-less UHD / 4K Ready material will ensures that the effective resolution remains at 1080p, while textured / matte surfaces degrade the pixel geometry to the point that the effective resolution is no longer even close to 1080p. Due to the fact that there is zero texturing and perfect preservation of detail clarity, our UHD / 4K Ready surfaces will perfectly resolve 4K resolution in both today's high endand future 4K projectors, saving you a screen upgrade by future proofing you for all.

UHD / 4KReady
UHD / 4K Ready
Standard Definition
Standard Definition

Pixel Geometry Degradation Test

(photos taken 2ft away from projected pixels)
UHD / 4K
UHD / 4K
Textureless Surface
Textured / Matte Surface Type A
Textured / Matte Surface
Type A
Textured / Matte Surface Type B
Textured / Matte Surface
Type B

Projector Screen Select UHD Offerings

Da-Lite HD
HD Progressive 0.6
Half-Angle: 85° Gain: 0.6
HD Progressive 0.9
Half-Angle: 85° Gain: 0.9
HD Progressive 1.1
Half-Angle: 85° Gain: 1.1
HD Progressive 1.1 Perf
Half-Angle: 85° Gain: 1.1
HD Progressive 1.3
Half-Angle: 75° Gain: 1.3
Parallax 0.45
Half-Angle: 160° Gain: 0.45
Parallax 0.8
Half-Angle: 170° Gain: 0.8
UHD 130
Half-Angle: 80° Gain: 1.3
Tiburon G2
Half-Angle: 82° Gain: 0.95
Half-Angle: 80° Gain: 1.1
Perforated Neve
Half-Angle: 80° Gain: 1.1
StudioTek 130
Half-Angle: 80° Gain: 1.3
FireHawk G4
Half-Angle: 35° Gain: 1.1
Reference Studio 4K 100
Half-Angle: N/A Gain: 1.0
Reference Studio AudioWeave 4K
Half-Angle: N/A Gain: 1.15

Screen Gain Explained

Q: I keep seeing the word "gain" in projection screen descriptions. What does it mean and is it important?

A: To over-simplify it; the higher the gain the brighter the image on that screen.

A projector screen works by reflecting the light back from your projector to your audience's eyes. 

screen gain

The brightness of the image reflected back off of the screen's surface is measured in units of "gain", gauging the reflectivity of that surface.

The gain number represents a ratio of light that is reflected back from a surface from a light source. This ratio is in relation to the light reflecting off of a block of either barium sulfate or magnesium carbonate, serving as the industry's standard for a gain of 1.0.

Gain is measured from the vantage point where the screen appears to be at it's brightest. This is generally the very center of the screen, directly in line with the projector. This is at 0° and known as the "Zero Degree Viewing Angle". As you move to either side of this position the brightness of the projected image may start to diminish. The point at which the brightness diminishes to 50% brightness from the measurement at the Zero Degree Viewing Angle is known as the "Half Gain Viewing Angle".

A viewer outside of this viewing angle (also known as viewing cone) will see the image at half the brightness as the audience inside of the cone.

viewing angle

A screen with a gain measurement of greater than 1.0 infers that the image projected back off of the surface is brighter than the image being projected at the surface. 

For example; a projector screen with a gain of 1.5 will project back the light 1.5x brighter than the light being projected at the screen. A 1,000 lumen projector aimed at a screen with 1.5 gain will be perceived at 1,500 lumens. The screen achieves this by focusing the light into a more narrow reflective angle, instead of uniformly reflecting the light in all directions. This is why higher gain screens have a smaller viewing angle.

A projector screen with a gain measurement of .8 will reflect back at 80% of the original brightness. That same 1,000 lumen projector will be viewed by the audience at only 800 lumens.

Some projection surfaces also have a "Vertical Half Gain Angle". These surfaces are generally ambient light rejecting surfaces which require specific placement of the projector in order to achieve maximum brightness for the intended audience while diminishing the ambient light hitting the screen's surface.

Q: It sounds as though a high gain screen is better. When would I choose a lower gain screen?

A: A high gain screen is not always the best solution; brighter does not always mean better.

Higher gain screens often have reduced viewing angles/cones. While providing a brighter image for those within the cone; those outside often experience significantly diminished brightness. A smaller viewing angle means there is a smaller area that the audience must be seated in in order to experience the screen's maximum brightness.

Higher gain screens can also experience issues with "hotspotting". When viewing the screen from the Zero Degree Viewing Angle the center of the image will appear brighter than the outside edges. This is less noticeable with screen gains of 1.3 and below and becomes more noticeable on many surfaces as the screen gain increases.

Some higher gain surfaces also have difficulty with accurate color reproduction. Red, green and blue colors are often not reflected uniformly causing noticeable color shifting as one changes their viewing angle.

(*This is not the case with certain premium high gain screens such as the Vutec SilverStar SSX which boasts an incredible 6.0 gain without many of the issues discussed above.)

vutec silverstar ssx

Lower gain screens have their advantages as well. Lower gain screens reflect all light back at a diminished ratio; not just the projector's light. Lower gain screens are good options to help reduce the amount of ambient light that gets reflected back to the audience when specific ambient light rejecting surfaces are not used. 

Lower gain screens also help to bring out more vivid blacks and enhance a projector's native contrast ratio. Lower gain screen are often used in conjunction with a high lumen projector in home theater setups. 

In a dedicated home theater environment the ambient light is usually well controlled so a specific ambient light rejecting surface is not necessary.

With lower lumen projectors, a 1.0 gain screen is often the recommended surface.

Your room's lighting conditions, audience's seating configuration and projector specifications all factor into determining which screen surface to select.

Don't hesitate to contact us today with any questions; we are here to help!

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