View Poll Results: Back-lighting a movie screen: good/bad/ugly?
It makes the viewing experience better 0 0%
Itís annoying/distracting 7 87.50%
Itís good IF Ö (elaborate) 1 12.50%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 8. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 06-09-2012, 09:30 PM
Join Date: May 1999
Location: Bangkok/52/Male
Posts: 8,869
Does back-lighting a projection screen add anything to the viewing experience?

I'm a firm believer in the "don't add, subtract" school of thought on interior design. Almost nothing should be added to a room purely for aesthetic reasons; it should also have some practical value or useful purpose.

I'm about to put up my own projection screen. A friend pointed out this funky back-lighting job on you tube and I initially thought it looked cool, but them my left brain spoke up and asked "sure it looks cool, but what does it do?"

Stills taken from the linked video:

Front view of back-lit screen

Side view

Front view with movie playing

And if you watch the video you will see the back-light slowly cycles through all the colors of the rainbow. I'm thinking that would be more distracting than anything. I'd also be worried that they would be too bright and the only LED strips I can find around here aren't dimmable.

Is there some benefit to this other than "it looks cool"?
Old 06-09-2012, 10:02 PM
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 10,775
An argument can be made for a low level white backlighting of a neutral surface behind the screen. The idea is that it is less stressful than a large screen that is constantly changing in brightness.

The argument against it is simple: Ever seen it in a movie theater?

Editing suites don't tend to use backlighting, but color suites do, where they need a neutral reference to have repeatable results.
Old 06-09-2012, 10:20 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: In the Minority
Posts: 3,498
I think it looks like crap. I want as much black around the screen as possible so my eye isn't distracted by anything outside of what I am suppose to be concentrating on.
Old 06-09-2012, 10:27 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Posts: 26,586
At one time I mounted some dim lights behind my large flat screen TV. I can attest that it does take away some of the strain of watching a bright TV in an otherwise dark room. It makes the transition from blaring light to pitch black wall considerably more gentle. But at some point I moved or got tired of turning it on or took it down or something and don't use it.

I've also seen some TVs that project light on to the back wall that's an average of the colors on the screen. That would make more sense then cycling though random colors. As for whether or not that's distracting or just blends into the viewing experience, I can't say since I've never seen it. I'm not even sure if it's still around but if it is I'm sure there's plenty of talk about it on some of the AV boards around the net.

One thing you could try is to just get a couple of cheap under cabinet halogen lights and mount them behind them behind the screen for a few days to see how you like it. If you like it, install the ones you want permanently, if not, pull them out and you can say you tried. I would use halogen over florescent since the color is warmer and I think the cold/blue cast from the florescent is going to look really bad and skew your results.

I had something similar to this which I somehow mounted onto the back of the TV so it lit up the back wall. Worked like a charm.
Old 06-09-2012, 11:00 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 24,866
It sounds like Philips "Ambilight", which does the same thing for their LCD TVs. That website describes the research they did.
If, Philips researchers proposed, people naturally take in more than just the screen when they watch television, why not put that extra space to use?
Guided by that insight, Philips researchers developed prototypes and introduced them to small test groups – real, flesh-and-blood human beings. Some group members didn’t think they were going to like Ambilight, says Boris de Ruyter, scientist at Philips Research in Eindhoven, the Netherlands.

“A few said, ‘I don’t want disco lights in my house,’” de Ruyter states when he discusses what the test persons told the scientists.

But once those doubters actually experienced Ambilight, most changed their opinion.“Winning them over showed us the difference between experiencing a system and just imaging it, " de Ruijter said.
Old 06-10-2012, 06:39 AM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: "Hicksville", Ark.
Posts: 32,978
Originally Posted by gaffa View Post
The argument against it is simple: Ever seen it in a movie theater?
No, but one is not expected to sit in the theater for longer than one movie. And movies don't have commercial interruptions.

I assume the idea of this is to allow for continued viewing.
Old 06-10-2012, 08:10 AM
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: The Golden State
Posts: 2,026
Although what the guy did in the video looks like crap, I certainly am a fan of back-lighting. His implementation was not back-lighting, that is front-lighting from behind the screen. It was far too bright; and what was the point of the changing colors? It only served to distract from the movie.

A subtle back-light behind the screen or flat panel can make the picture pop more. It makes blacks look blacker, probably because your pupil are not dilated as much. It also seems to reduce eye strain and makes watching TV generally more enjoyable.

All you need is one 6W fluorescent tube, properly positioned; or, a small set of LED lights, like a rope light or a set of under cabinet lights. The amount of lighting can be controlled by just covering them with pieces of white paper, which also acts as a diffuser.
Old 06-10-2012, 08:49 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Posts: 26,586
Originally Posted by randwill View Post
I think it looks like crap. I want as much black around the screen as possible so my eye isn't distracted by anything outside of what I am suppose to be concentrating on.
You're distracted from the TV by this? How do you manage to pay attention during the day? Or drive?

Anyways, as you (the OP) can see, the opinions are going to be all over the place. Just stick some cheap lights back there (even behind your regular TV) for a few days and see how you like it and go from there. If you like it, install it, if not, don't. Even if you install it and hate it, you don't have to turn them on and they're not that expensive.

Last edited by Joey P; 06-10-2012 at 08:52 AM.
Old 06-10-2012, 08:03 PM
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 3,457
Originally Posted by Joey P View Post
You're distracted from the TV by this? How do you manage to pay attention during the day? Or drive?
There's no contradiction between being able to watch TV in spite of distractions and not wanting to deliberately add unnecessary distractions.

I can watch TV during the day when the sun has slightly washed out the screen but I'm not going to shine a spotlight on my TV once it gets dark.
Old 06-10-2012, 08:14 PM
TBG TBG is offline
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Michigan
Posts: 8,592
That would drive me insane. My TV has a USB port, and I had to cover the little LED on the USB drive I use so that it wouldn't cast a blue light on the wall behind the TV when I'm watching something from it, and that was just one tiny little LED, not a whole slew of them all around the TV.

That said, it's your viewing experience. Anyone who does like it, good for them, but I'm not coming over to your house to watch a movie!
Old 06-10-2012, 09:58 PM
Join Date: May 1999
Location: Bangkok/52/Male
Posts: 8,869
I just noticed in the comments of the video, in response to somebody asking

how can u enjoy a move with that funky led lights?
the guy says

Yeah I don't use the lights when I watch a film.
Wow, so they'r just for mood lighting when people are sitting on the sofa looking at the screen but not actually watching a movie? Strikes me as more bizarre the more I think about it.

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