May 03, 2010
by Arlen Schweiger
It’s difficult to decide what’s most impressive about this stunning theater.
(Click here for additional photos.)
The 174-inch screen?
The dusk-to-dawn time lapsed constellation-filled sky ceiling?
The 200-pound, ultrahigh-performance projector?
The airtight 350-pound custom door that seals the room like Fort Knox?
The chairs’ frosted glass cupholders that glow with LED lights?
The answer is easy: all of the above. But one factor that Jeffrey Smith of theater designer First Impressions Theme Theatres doesn’t want to understate is how utterly quiet the room is before the sound comes on, and how that impacts the impending home cinema experience.
“The first thing you do is bring guests in and go, ‘Shhh … what do you hear?’ Nothing,” Smith says. “Then we know we’ve done our job. You literally hear your heartbeat — no HVAC, footfall, electronics or projector noise — we really work hard at that.”
As guests are settling in, other aspects feed their anticipation. A walk-in mode programmed into the Crestron control system keeps the room well lit and fills the sky ceiling with daytime blue and “happy clouds,” Smith jokes.
Then show time begins. A programmed 7-minute delay lowers the lights and fades the sky into coral, magenta and finally a midnight blue. Fiber-optic LED constellations appear, and shooting stars streak overhead. When the homeowner presses play on the Crestron touchpanel’s Blu-ray page, the room fades to black and the projector and screen take over. After the film, the homeowner presses a button to trigger the effects in reverse.
The entry to this theater is certainly not your average door.
To suppress and isolate sound as much as possible, designer First Impressions Theme Theatres installed a 350-pound, 3.5-inch thick door that effectively locks down into a threshold. Its sides and top are pushed against rubber gaskets for sealing, and the door opens and closes automatically after being pushed or pulled. Five cam-lift hinges allow the door to lift slightly out of the threshold and open.
Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.