About four years ago Kyle Steele, president of Global Wave Integration (GWI) of West Hills, CA, was called into a construction site for a new home. He was shown the concrete block basement where the homeowner wanted a theater installed and was told to essentially do whatever he thought was called for to make it awesome.
That’s always a great way to start a fun project, but in this case there were additional challenges: At 4,000 cubic feet, the basement was barely large enough for the reference class theater the client had in mind. A projector big enough to fill a 140 inch screen takes up a lot of space. Then there was the two rows of seats on risers, a small stage, automated masking, curtain, tables for snacks, and tons of speakers—all hidden. This was going to be tough.
Luckily for Steele, the homeowner was game for just about anything. Steele decided right away that this theater, and in fact the entire home, deserved a Crestron control system. Every subsystem in the house (lighting, whole-house audio, HVAC, lighting, security) was to be integrated, and he outfitted the home with an extensive fiber network to support the new Crestron control.
Because this job started more than three years ago, 3D TV was still new to a lot of people, but Steele recommended a Digital Projection Inc Titan 3D Reference 1080p projector—a big unit with outstanding image quality. To give the client a taste for what the family was going to get, Steele gave them tickets to see Avatar in 3D in a commercial theater. That sealed the deal.
To hide the big 10,000 lumen projector, GWI built a soffit at the back of the room, but that came with another problem. The rear wall was cinder block, so the projector couldn’t be serviced from the other side. As one of the many custom engineering projects in this home, Cinema Design Group International (CDGi) designed an automated sled that would slide the projector out of the soffit for easier access. The powered shelf is over engineered to hold 500 pounds. In fact, the system worked so well, that CDGi is now marketing it for other home theaters (check it out in more detail here).
For audio, Steele is a big fan of JBL Synthesis speakers, but there was no way he would be able to fit those units in this room, hidden, without sacrificing precious space. Steele decided to go with James Loudspeakers, because they sound incredible, but take up less volume than the JBL option. A total of 12 individually driven channels of audio, seven in-wall THX rated enclosures and five subwoofers are spaced around the room, but none of them are visible to guests.
The theater was professionally treated for acoustics with panels designed by CDGi (as was the rest of the home) and received a full audio calibration using Crestron’s Audyssey calibration kit and the Procise calibration software.
A stand for the 15-inch Crestron touchpanel was custom created to fit one of the seats. From the touchpanel, users can preview any video input (including an Apple TV, Oppo Blu-ray player and DirecTV receiver) and simply tap the screen to make that input pop up on the big theater screen. Some clever programming ensures that no one misses a moment of a film, even if a guest needs to take a powder room break. When the theater is in use and someone enters the nearby powder room, a Séura mirror TV in the room automatically turns on and switches to the theater source.
But wait, there’s more
The basement isn’t the only room to get the custom theater treatment. The homeowner also wanted a big disappearing screen in the bedroom, but a flat-panel TV hidden in a cabinet just wasn’t going to cut it.
GWI suggested another two-piece projection system, but the homeowner didn’t want to see any equipment when not in use. The solution was to a built a custom trap door in the ceiling to accommodate a drop-down 90-inch Screen Research projection screen with integrated James Loudspeaker left/center/right channels. Creating that system was difficult because the trap door assembly needed to accommodate not only the screen, motor, speakers and wiring, but it also needed to perfectly match the Venetian plaster walls of the bedroom.
Opposite the screen in a much smaller trap door, in the wall above the bed, the projector lens is concealed. Both the screen door and projector door are controlled by the home’s Crestron system.
When not in use, the screen disappears and the lovely window scenery takes over the room.
Electronics Design and Integration:
Global Wave Integration, LLC
Telephone: (818) 451-9866
Burdge and Associates
21235 Pacific Coast Highway Malibu, CA 90265
6740 Wildlife Road Malibu, CA 90265
Cinema Design Group
9930 Clint Moore Rd Ste D102
Boca Raton, FL 33496
Platner and Company
23410 Civic Center Way # E10 Malibu, CA 90265
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Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. His latest book is Necessary Myths
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.