“Screen Goo has been specifically engineered to accurately reflect and disperse the complex coloured light patterns produced by video projectors. “
– Goo Systems
Those that follow the Hedgehog will know that I have been creating a home cinema, each time adding or upgrading components and making improvements.
The only problem is, I do not have a dedicated cinema room. Instead, I use a conservatory which works perfectly as a multi-use room, but not ideal as a dedicated cinema room. So, consequently the Cinema is used in low light and at night. This also restricts aesthetically what I can put on the wall and impacts the type of screen I can use.
New Screen Wanted…
Screens designed for home cinema offer claims of improved contrast and improved sharpness. They can be customised for any environment, shape, and size. Most AV enthusiasts prefer putting purpose-built screens on the wall.
Up to now I have been using the simple solution of a projector pointed at a wall, painted with Dulux Light and Space paint (Moon Shimmer.) Dulux have created a matt paint that has reflective specks included to reflect ambient light. This paint is designed for small spaces as it helps those spaces appear lighter. I discovered that Dulux have accidently created a paint which is perfect as a first projector screen, the reflective properties produce a sharp, colourful image. In fact the benefits of using this paint have been discussed on various AV forums over the years.
Now that said, I know that contrast is not perfect, blacks appear a little green or not too deep. Mostly this due to the fact this is not calibrated projector paint and that the room I am using is a multi-use room with no Cinema focused adjustments – white walls and glass surround it. Its cinema’s worst case scenario!
I know I could create a better screen, but the aesthetic restrictions played havoc with the choices available to me. I looked at pull up projector screens that could be taken down when not in use, wall mounted pull down and electric screens, fixed frame screens with and without a border, each time I came back to the realisation that each option would either take up too much room, or just look wrong. Therefore, the conclusion was that a painted wall would still be the best solution.
I started to conduct some research and found out that several companies produce dedicated projector screen paint. Some cheap and cheerful, similar to the Dulux idea and some expensive with credible claims. Prices also ranged wildly from around £30 per tin, up to prices in the hundreds. I hit the specialist AV forums to seek advice (and make sense of all this) and one brand stood out that seemed to be perfect for my needs – a brand called Screen Goo supplied by Goo Systems. (NexNix).
Introducing Screen Goo
My research uncovered that Screen Goo is used in tons of different situations. I was impressed to read that large scale multi million-pound theme park rides use the paint to create 3D experiences, and various high end home cinema set ups have also made use of the paint. This gave me confidence to narrow down my choice and investigate the paint further…
Why Goo instead of typical wall paint
Snip from Screen Goo Website:
Wall paint is designed and engineered principally to cover an underlying surface and to provide colour in a room. These are relatively straightforward objectives and they are accomplished by paint manufacturers through the use of an inexpensive dispersion medium (typically, water-based acrylic or an oil-based medium) to which a pigment or pigments are added to provide colour. Usually, relatively small amounts of pigment are used and then supplemented with extenders whose main purpose is to reduce the amount of expensive pigment required to produce the desired colour. This can be done because the quantity of light reflected by wall paint is relatively unimportant.
By contrast, Screen Goo has been specifically engineered to accurately reflect and disperse the complex coloured light patterns produced by video projectors. To that end, Screen Goo starts by employing a premium acrylic dispersion with very low light absorption characteristics and excellent durability. To minimize light loss and to ensure colour fidelity, Screen Goo uses much greater concentrations of pigment than those found in house paint. These pigments are carefully chosen to accurately reflect the full spectrum of colour produced by video projectors as opposed to house paints where the goal is to reflect that portion of the light which produces the single desired colour. In addition, Goo Systems employs proprietary dispersion and pigment treatment techniques to maximize the reflective properties of the pigments employed. These techniques require custom built machinery and are very time and labour intensive.
The icing on the cake is the very special sense of image depth or feeling of looking into the picture that only a Screen Goo screen provides.
I carried out some research by specifically looking for comments on Screen Goo. The consensus being that Screen Goo is a great projector paint, but it can be a little tricky to work with. Screen Goo requires a couple of applications including a primer and sealant. I also found out that Goo Systems had addressed these concerns by developing a revised formula – a 1 bottle solution (Version 2.0) that is designed to be easier to work with and amateurs like myself could also apply the paint and obtain a decent result.
So, everything was pointing in the right direction, the only decisions I needed to make were what shade of Screen Goo to buy, and how much of it to get. Goo Systems provide Screen Goo in various contrast shades from white to dark grey/ silver
I reached out by email and to my surprise a chap called Russ emailed me back pretty much straight away. After a short email conversation with me explaining planned usage and providing measurements , Russ suggested 1 litre of Goo 2.0 High Contrast would do the trick and also provided useful information on how to prepare the wall for the paint.
Goo 2.0 High Contrast is a light grey projector screen paint. It has a gain of 0.85%. This is important because it means this light a grey paint will reflect back slightly less light than hits it, in essence, absorbing some light. This means the image does not become over saturated and allows the projected image to present deeper black and vivid colour, exactly what I needed.
I ordered the paint and Russ kindly dispatched my order and made sure it was shipped promptly, also kindly supplied me a new roller to use as well.
Applying Screen Goo
During my initial discussion with Russ, it was suggested that I prepare the wall with a primer/sealant such as Zinsser before applying Screen Goo. To do this, I gave the wall a sand down to remove any previous brush marks and slight paint bumps and using a spare roller applied the Zinsser paint. Zinsser is a bright white paint that seals surfaces such as drywall. It is ready to paint over in a couple of hours and fully dry in about a week. When dry, it provides a great smooth surface that should also be stain free and will prevent discoloration of the Screen Goo.
The next step was to apply the Screen Goo. I was very nervous at this point as the paint has a rather specific suggestion on how to apply it. This involves a ‘w shaped’ roller stroke and a certain amount of overlapping. The instructions also state that it may look patchy, and it is important not to keep going over the paint while wet. Any unevenness in the paint would show up when projected onto.
I am a novice DIY painter and after the first couple of strokes I quickly abandoned the technical W shape roller stroke. I resorted to the tried and tested standard up and down roller motion. I also remembered that you could add up to 5% water to make it easier to apply so dropped a small amount of water into the paint tray. Well, it is safe to say my first coat was an absolute disaster! The paint was totally uneven and looked horrendous. I thought I had totally ruined the paint and spent the next 4 hours worrying about what I was going to do and would I have enough paint left to fix it.
After 4 hours had passed, I applied coat number 2, this time adding a few more ml of water to the paint bottle rather than the roller tray. I am happy to say that the 2nd coat made a major difference, the paint looked more uniform, and I was really happy that it started to look more like a well painted wall.
The following morning, I checked the wall and could see a few patches I had missed, so I gave the wall a 3rd coat. This fixed it and I now have a great finish, not only that, but the grey colour is also subtle and really suits the house.
(Russ has since told me that I should have applied 5% of water to the mix to start with rather than trying to add it to the tray. This way the paint would have gone on perfect on first go.)
What’s it like to view on screen goo?
In daylight it is immediately obvious that something special is going on, I can see more of the projected image that was not showing up in daylight than before. However, it is when the room is dark that it shows off its full glory.
When it was dark enough, I started projecting a few things off Netflix and I was blown away.
I noticed the projector had gained more on the red spectrum. Images looked bright and a bit too red. This is possibly due to the grey hue I am now projecting onto mixed with the reflective properties of the paint. This was an easy fix and after a few minutes adjusting projector colour settings I had a perfect picture. Colours simply pop and JJ commented that it looks like one of those pictures that Demo Oled TVs have!
What kind of magic is in a bottle of Screen Goo? Suddenly I could see definition that I could not see before, such as dimples in skin. Edges seem more defined, and images have greater depth giving an almost 3D style effect from a 2D image. This is using no trickery; the picture has become an immersive experience.
Contrast provided by Screen Goo High Contrast 2.0
Wow what can I say other than it works. The high contrast paint is doing exactly what I needed it to do – add more contrast to images. Blacks look blacker, whites look bright and the grading between light to dark is vastly improved.
Screen Goo High Contrast 2.0 Texture
For the last few years, I had put up with and grown to like the paint patterns I could see when projecting onto the Dulux paint. Moving to screen goo I realise what I have been missing. The work I had done on the Zinsser preparation has paid dividends. The Screen Goo paint lays flat on the wall it has a very slight matt texture. By day it looks like a simple light grey wall, by night when it is projected onto, it transforms into a screen and it’s a little weird (in a good way). What I mean is that in the background of shots, I see the texture of a fabric cinema screen. It’s as if I am projecting onto an actual screen not a painted wall. It really does feel like I am sitting in a cinema.
Screen Goo Cost.
If you look solely at screen Goo’s price compared to a tin of Dulux, then it makes no sense and seems stupidly expensive (at £186.00 per litre.) You must keep in mind what the manufactures has stated about paint formulation and design.Instead, you have to look at Screen Goo vs other projector screens and this puts it bang in the right price range for the size that can be achieved. Essentially, I have a 9x6ft top grade projector screen for less than £200 quid, and that makes the paint great value, epecially as screens of comparable size and quality retail for about double that.
Screen Goo In Action
Screen Goo Overall Thoughts
Yes, I was nervous of the price, yes I was nervous of how to apply it, yes I was nervous on would it be worth it and I was wrong to be nervous. Screen Goo works on every level. It seems to be getting better and better as the weeks go on since painting and the paint fully dries out. I am now able to obtain a picture with stunning clarity and colour that I have not achieved before and I also have a very smart wall in the daytime!
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Photos Silver H Hog