Hidden Room Helps Create Unique Home Theater
DPI projector lights up a StarGlas screen for a perfect installation.
June 08, 2011 by Zachary Worden

What kinds of bells and whistles does your dream home have? Does it have a pitch-perfect sound system? Automated lighting? A lawn gnome out front? In Lake Oswego, Ore., a homeowner is hard at work integrating a bevy of technology into his luxury residence, the latest being a fully automated home theater.

To make his home theater dream a reality, the owner enlisted the help of AV Awakenings, a custom electronics (CE) integration firm based out of Beaverton, Oregon. While he would leave the design and installation to the experts, he had some clear ideas of the types of product he wanted his theater to have. First and foremost was a StarGlas screen from Stewart Filmscreen. The homeowner had seen the innovative product at a CEDIA (Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association) Expo, and was immediately intrigued by its unique design. StarGlas is unlike traditional fabric screens, in that it sandwiches the projection material between two pieces of glass. This design makes it extremely durable and able to display images with high contrast levels. Also, a projector can beam images onto the glass from behind, which means the machine can be hidden completely out of sight. The downside is that positioning the projector behind the screen can often require more space than the more typical front projection system where the projector is suspended from the ceiling or mounted to a wall in front of the screen.

The integrators solved this dilemma by leaving space behind the screen. This 20-by-20-foot “room” houses the projector and the racks that hold the A/V equipment and other electronics, as well as a 200-bottle wine cellar.

AV Awakenings paired the 147-inch screen with a Digital Projection HIGHlite Cine 260 projector from Digital Projection International (DPI). The homeowner took advantage of DPI’s loaner program, testing out the HIGHlite Cine 260 for several days before deciding to purchase it. The video portion of the home theater system was rounded out with an OPPO Digital BDP-95 Blu-ray player, Windows 7 Media Center PC, an Xbox 360, and a Nintendo Wii. AV Awakening complemented the video with an Integra seven-channel amplifier, which drives theater speakers custom-built for the install.

Control was a big part of the design, too. Rather than relegate the control to one device, AV Awakenings gave the family the flexibility to use a variety of products to operate their new theater system. A dedicated SR-250 Control4 remote, an iPad, or the homeowner’s personal iPhone can all be used. To watch something that was recorded on the system’s TiVo Series 3 DVR, a user presses the appropriate button on any control device; the projector and preamp will turn on, the Control4 lighting system dims the room fixtures to a preset level, and everything switches to the correct input channel.

Bill Reynolds of AV Awakenings describes how the new theater has changed the client’s life: “March Madness games became a social event, while watching The Masters became a weekend escape for a client who is an avid golfer. College football season can’t come fast enough for [him].”



Photography by Leo Arfer

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How to Be a Good Home Theater Customer

Be excited:
Whether it’s a home theater, automated lighting, or a new sound system, be excited about the details of your project. This homeowner- and his entire family- were involved in every stage of this installation and gave direction to the installers. Maybe one member of your household is an audio-aficionado, while another has the perfect idea for a game-room? Why not use everyone’s strengths?

Know what you want:
This homeowner knew he had to have StarGlas after seeing it at an electronics trade show. Do some research beforehand to see what strikes your fancy.

Be flexible:
Your installers are an invaluable resource- use them! Their job is to make sure you have the best experience with whatever project you are working on. If they suggest something, ask them about it and you may find an experience even better than you thought possible.

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