Looking into the Creation of a Stewart Filmscreen
FireHawk Screen on a Luxus Deluxe ScreenWall
Stewart Filmscreen Corporation is a name recognized by those involved in the high-end video display market. A family business established in 1947, Stewart Filmscreen is a two-time Academy Award winning manufacturer of large screen products. They have established an impressive reputation with both installers and end-users. This is largely based on their commitment to designing the best video screens possible with the current display technologies. As the new fixed pixel displays began to emerge, Stewart recognized the shortcomings of the technology and designed their screens to improve picture quality. Several new screen technologies have been introduced in the past several years and videophiles all agree that Stewart is the screen by which all others are measured. Stewart's latest screen called the FireHawk, has been specifically designed for DLP (Digital Light Processing) projectors. Aside from the growing home theater market, Stewart provides screens for some of the largest venues in the world. Stewart Filmsceen is located right here in Torrance, California, so we were fortunate enough to get a rare tour of the facility, including areas where the latest products are being assembled for their dealers. With over 100 employees in their Torrance facility, Stewart occupies and a large chunk of real estate with several buildings in and around the area. Despite slow economic conditions in the rest of the country, Stewart continues to thrive in the high-end screen marketplace with the increased popularity of home theater.
Our tour of the Stewart facility began with Manfred Freiberger, Director of International Sales. He was kind enough to take us through the areas where the products were being assembled. Due to the inherent nature of the business, we were restricted from taking pictures in some areas. Obviously for Stewart, intellectual properties play a significant role in their business, so we certainly respected the request. After walking through the plant, Executive Vice President Don Stewart gave us a great demonstration of the new FireHawk screen material. Using a reference Runco DLP projector, Don displayed an image on a split screen with one side being the reference StudioTek 130 material and the other side being the FireHawk material. Both sides of the screen looked very good in the dark with excellent contrast. There were no obvious differences between the two screen materials from where we were sitting. However, when the side door was opened and ambient light entered the room, the advantages of the FireHawk material became very apparent. The FireHawk material maintained good contrast while the StudioTek material took on a washed out appearance. This was an impressive example of the capabilities of this new screen material and its ability to resist ambient light.
Stewart completely manufacturers their own screen material. Screen stock is stored on large rolls awaiting the assembly process. Large sheets are cut to size and then in the case of our FireHawk screen, button snaps are installed around the edges of the material. This design keeps the screen material taut around all edges and results in a smooth and consistent surface. Each and every Stewart screen is hand made by skilled craftsmen and comes with a serial number for tracking and quality control purposes. In addition, a sample of each screen made is stored away for reference in the event a customer has a problem. If there's ever a problem with a customer's screen, Stewart can pull and material out and verify any problems. The meticulous build quality is what Stewart Filmscreen Corporation is all about.
Taking advantage of California's great weather, Stewart assembles larger custom screen frames outside. It's really amazing to watch how these large frames are assembled. In fact, the number of custom sizes and applications is mind-boggling. Seamless screens as large as 90 feet wide by 40 feet tall can be manufactured at this location. We saw huge cylinders mounted on massive holding fixtures where large screens were rolled up to be loaded onto trucks. Many of Stewart's big customers are overseas companies.
Stewart's handcrafted filmscreens require a lot of time to build. The work doesn't stop once the screen is complete. Packaging the product for safe shipping requires a fair amount of effort. Once the screen and associated hardware (frame or motor assembly) is complete, the parts are securely packaged into a heavy cardboard box or crate in the case of larger heavier screens. Our FireHawk screen was wrapped in protective foam and then stored in a large firm cardboard tube. The tube along with the frame was tightly packed into a large box (14"x14"x9') with plenty of padding to survive a long rough trip. The beautiful frame was actually inserted into precut blue foam to prevent any damage. The design of the screen packaging is important and Stewart has taken care in this area. Looking at the number of screens that were being stored for pickup, led me to believe these products are in high demand. Although we could have had our screen shipped to us, we opted to pick it up since we were local and wanted to experience the shipping area.
The FireHawk screen has a gain of 1.35 with a viewing angle of 100 degrees and half gain viewing angle of 28 degrees. Stewart recommends a minimum throw distance of 1.6 times the screen width with the projector mounted from the ceiling. Our screen installation was very straight forward and went up on the wall without any issues.
Special "Thanks" to Lisa Ortega, Don Stewart and Manfred Freiberger
#1: Toshiba TDP-MT8U High-Definition DLP™
Projector (ISF calibrated)
|Review at a glance|
Luxus Deluxe ScreenWall HDTV Format (16:9 Aspect Ratio)
Part Number: SND100H-FireHawk
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