June 01, 2011
| by Lisa Montgomery
As the world’s top magician, Criss Angel has all his bases covered—especially when it comes to the big screen. Last year, in its sixth season on A&E, Angel’s highly popular MINDFREAK show left millions of viewers questioning reality. Today, you can see his amazing illusions up close and personal: Criss Angel BeLIEve, now in its third year, hits the stage Tuesday through Saturday, 7 and 9:30 p.m. at the Luxor Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
As Angel explained recently during a phone interview with Electronic House, because many of his mind-blowing illusions often incorporate technology such as video projectors and huge screens, it seemed only fitting that his own Las Vegas home, known as Serenity, would have a projection system, too. His custom-designed, 875-square-foot private theater may seat 20 instead of hundreds, but it manages to stir up plenty of drama and excitement, says the six-time Magician of the Year honoree and Magic Hall of Famer. He made sure to weave more than a little magic into his home theater while designing the space with custom electronics pro Matt Smith of Fusion Home Systems, Las Vegas. It’s only when Angel presses a button on his portable Crestron touchpanel that the 135-inch Stewart Filmscreen screen and JVC video projector reveal themselves. “At home, as it is when I’m on stage, it’s all about creating an illusion … about the element of surprise.”
Why did you decide to invest in a projection system?
I’ve always had large-screen TVs, but in this house I wanted to create a totally different entertainment experience—something that would put you in a totally different mindset. I used to enjoy going to the movie theater, but along with my fame came a lack of privacy. If I couldn’t go to the theater, I thought it made sense to bring the theater to me. So when I bought this house I decided to create an experience that would be better than a movie theater by combining intimacy with the highest quality equipment imaginable.
So did you succeed?
Yes. The A/V experience in my theater is insane. The picture is huge—it takes up the entire wall—and it’s crystal clear. I can blast the sound as loud as I want.
Were you at all surprised by the wide range of projection options available for home theater?
I use enormous projection screens in my shows, and have always embraced the latest technologies to create many of the illusions my audiences see. I applied some of that knowledge to the creation of my home theater. Projection systems have always been an important part of my professional life; now they’re an important part of my personal life.
What kinds of media do you usually watch?
The screen is perfect for watching everything. I have friends who are really into Xbox and Wii, and they’ll come over and we’ll play video games. I also rent movies online to watch and catch sports and regular TV programs, but my favorite thing is watching Blu-ray DVDs.
A video screen and projector can often dominate the design of a room. Was it important to you that they blend into the architecture?
Being somebody who makes a living about the unexpected, I always want to be two steps ahead of my spectators, so both the projector and screen appear only when I press a button on my Crestron touchpanel—as if by magic.
Was there anything about the design and installation of the screen and projector that surprised you?
Really, the only thing that surprised me was how much tweaking is involved to perfect the picture and sound. It’s all worth it, though, when you’re watching a movie. It’s an experience like no other.
So what’s next? Any future plans for your theater?
3D is definitely on my radar, but I’ll wait a little while for the technology to mature before adding it to my theater.
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.