Getting Creative with Theater Ceiling Treatments

A fiber-optic starfield is a great way to personalize your home theater.

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This 6' x 16' star field installed using a FOSI kit included the Milky Way, Constellations, two Shooting Stars and a Comet.

You’ve probably seen them twinkling away on the ceilings of restaurants and amusement parks attractions, but fiber-optic starfields are gaining popularity as a decorative element in homes, too.

“We seem them being used in nurseries, living rooms and dining rooms, but primarily in home theaters,” says Cyr Ryan, owner and president of Fiber Optic Systems Inc. (FOSI) Star Ceilings.

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Star ceilings can be installed onto almost any type of ceiling, but are usually more economical to install if there is open attic space above them. The attic provides room for the illuminator, an essential piece of the system that shines light through individual strands of clear fiber optic cabling.

Those strands, which typically measure 1 millimeter in diameter or less, are connected to the illuminator. The other end of each strand pokes through a small hole that’s been drilled into a piece of paneling. If you buy a kit instead of the preconfigured panel, you’ll be able to drill this yourself.

Each fiber-optic filled hole produces a single star, and several of them can be laid out to create a specific pattern of stars. These patterns can be predetermined by the manufacturer and shipped to you in preconfigured panels, or some companies will customize the layout to your specifications.

For example, you could request a pattern of your favorite constellation, one that represents your zodiac sign, or that displays an astronomically correct night sky on the night you were married. “The individual constellations can be outlined in blue fibers so that you can recognize patterns like the Big Dipper. We can also create custom constellations like we have done for pro football players, where we include their jersey number in the stars,” says Dana Kinney, FOSI marketing director. “There are options available where you can customize your ceiling so that whenever your team makes a touchdown you can press a button to launch a stream of fireworks. We’ve even designed Star Wars effects where the ceiling simulates gunfire across the sky. Your imagination is the limit.”

The illuminator can transmit different colors though the fiber, and a backlit moon can be added for greater impact. While the stars will definitely pop on ceiling panels that have been painted a dark color, consider other colors as well, especially if the system will be installed in a bedroom, living room or nursery. For example, the panels can be painted to resemble a daytime sky, and then when the room lights are off transition into a night sky that’s filled with twinkling stars.

Below is an example of FOSI’s work in action:

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