Timothy Greer, Sr. has served the Air Force for more than 20 years. Although officially retired, he has worked for four yeas in support of PM RUS (Program Manager Robotic and Unmanned Sensors) and Lockheed Martin. As an aerostat field engineer manager for the Department of Defense’s Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) team, the lighter-than-air “balloons” Greer helps operate and maintain, are equipped with surveillance cameras that watch over the battlegrounds in Afghanistan. Each time a balloon goes up, soldiers and Marines are able to come home, he says.
Greer is in Afghanistan now, but when he returns he’ll have a brand-new … well almost brand new … home theater waiting for him. During his last 30 days of R&R, Greer made it his mission to hire a custom electronics (CE) professional to convert an unfinished room of his house into a dedicated theater. “I talked with several people, visited showrooms, but no one really made a good impression,” Greer recalls. “Then I went to the grocery store.” It was here, in the parking lot of Tom Thumb, that Greer received “a call from above.” As he was about to leave the lot, he noticed a truck with the words “Theater Advice” painted on the side. “It was a sign,” says Greer. “I had to stay and meet whoever was driving that truck.”
It’s a good thing he did. David Huse, owner and CEO of Theater Advice, Frisco, Texas, turned out to be the ideal person for the job. “We handle every aspect of a project, down to the design of the curtain rods,” he says. This nuts-to-bolts approach was critical in Greer’s case, as he would be deployed soon for another stint in Afghanistan. He instinctively trusted Huse, and felt comfortable leaving all of the decisions to him rather than to several individual designers. It helped that Huse provided Greer with a 3-D rendering of the finished project. With it, Greer was able to gain a real sense of what his theater would look like, including the Air Force blue and gold color scheme, 130-inch screen and elegant columns he had requested.
With rendering in hand, Greer left for Afghanistan, and Huse and his team went to work. The existing angled ceiling was reframed to better accommodate a fiber optic star field and simplify the installation of a JVC DILA projector. To free up ceiling space, Huse installed the projector into a specially designed, air conditioned housing in the attic. The lens of the projector was positioned to shoot through a six-inch hole that Huse drilled through a support beam. Images travel to a 130-inch Stewart Filmscreen screen affixed permanently to the front wall of the room.
Since the theater shares a common wall with a game room, isolating the sound was critical. An acoustician engineered a plan for the isolation materials, which included a combination of absorption, diffusion and reflective treatments, so that no sound would be able to escape or enter the room. Theater Advice complemented the acoustical design with Dali speakers. “They are enclosed in solid steel so that no sound is able to permeate into another room,” Huse explains. The front left and right speakers were mounted directly to the wall, the two side speakers were built into the walls and concealed with acoustical fabric, the rear two speakers were installed into the ceiling and the center-channel speaker and Velodyne subwoofer were tucked underneath the stage, along with an Onkyo receiver and Panasonic Blu-ray player. The entire setup is controlled by a Universal Remote Control MX980 remote, custom programmed by Theater Advice to require just one touch of a button to start the show.
Within four months, Theater Advice had finished the theater, just in time for Greer’s return home. “I stayed in that theater for all of those 30 days,” says Greer. “My wife couldn’t get me to leave.” The first movie Greer watched: “Avatar, because that’s what my 4-year-old granddaughter wanted to see.” Star Wars is top on his list of must-sees when he makes it home for another visit. “It’s got everything a love in movies: a lot of action and great sound effects.”
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Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.