December 13, 2007 by Rebecca Day
This couple liked their 1940s-era Nashville, TN, home theater so much that when they moved into their home in Tampa, FL, they asked their Tennessee integrator for a do-over. Richard Friesen, president of Absolute A/V, was happy to oblige, with an upgrade or two. After all, the two years between installations is a couple of generations on the technology timeline, and he wanted to make sure his customers remained on the cutting edge.
So away went the standard def–era DVD player, and in came a Toshiba HD-A2 HD DVD unit. For Friesen, it was all about keeping his clients safe in a world fraught with obsolescence. At the time, only HD DVD offered backward compatibility with the couple’s vast library of classic movies, so that sealed the deal.
The space in the Tampa home made for a tricky installation. Instead of a large basement that could function as a multipurpose entertainment room, the house had a bonus room over the garage. Long, thin and with a barn-styled ceiling, it was hardly the ideal space for a theater. Friesen took out the 30-inch-wide door to the theater and opened up the entry. He designed a lobby space complete with a popcorn machine and ticket booth to give the theater the dramatic entrance it deserved.
At its lowest point near the wall, the theater’s ceiling is less than seven feet tall. “You felt like you had to duck,” Friesen says, so he had some walls moved and installed a starlight ceiling to give the sense of an infinite space. The fiber-optic lights turn on as part of the overall opening scene that’s put into motion by the AMX control system. The projector powers on, drapes open, stars twinkle and footlights come on for dramatic effect. Then the lights fade, the movie starts and it’s back to the age of Gable, Leigh, Hepburn and Tracy.
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