September 09, 2009
by Lisa Montgomery
It’s easy to forget about the ceiling when laying out your dream theater. There are screens, seats and back-room bars to think about, after all. But the ceiling can be one of the most important design elements in the space. In addition to housing light fixtures, speakers and projectors, ceilings can impart a feeling of spaciousness, elegance or unique style for your room.
Case in point: this renovated lower-level theater: Once used to store the owners’ odds-and-ends, the 17-by-14-foot area features a barrel ceiling. The shape adds an interesting dimension to the space, making the room seem larger than it is. One of the primary reasons it was constructed, however, was to accommodate a fiber optic lighting system.
The ceiling was constructed on site then raised 24 inches below the ceiling joists (the space had previously been excavated to provide more ceiling height). The fiber optic lighting was then installed one strand at a time in a pattern that had been penciled onto the black curved fiberglass structure. The specially fabricated fiberglass structure was constructed by Calletti Jungsten Construction, northern California.
When the lights are on, the ceiling resembles a night sky. Blue cove LED light fixtures complement the effect. Making all of this happen is a Lutron Grafik Eye lighting system. This system, along with all the other components in the room (see equipment list below) are managed by a Crestron handheld remote. When the owner is ready to watch a movie on the 103-inch Vutec screen, pressing a single button on the remote turns off all the lighting and activates the appropriate A/V gear.
All the gear, including the JVC video projector was installed by custom electronic professionals at SoundVision, Novato, Calif., to blend into the wall and ceiling surfaces, which enhances the spaciousness of the room. High-performance B&W speakers were recessed into 4-inch deep stud bays at the front of the room and concealed by the video screen that is woven with Vutec’s SoundScreen fabric. The remaining speakers were tucked into the walls, and the components were placed out of sight in an equipment closet.
The JVC projector blends into the environment, too, having been installed in a soffit at the back of the room. Concealing projectors is often tricky, requiring additional ventilation equipment and ducts to be installed, says SoundVision’s Scott Sullivan. However, this particular JVC unit, the DLA-RS-1, precludes all that extra work, having been designed to vent warm air out the front of the unit.
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.