Hidden Entry Just the Beginning of Home Theater Tricks

From its moving bookcase entry to the stealth projection screen and fiber-optic star ceiling this theater's worthy of James Bond.

Photos: Joe Hilliard

At Electronic House we’ve become very familiar over the years with theater designer Donny Hackett’s signature touches—elaborate ceiling domes, mega curved projection screens, stealth stylings … and motorization of just about anything that he can make move, from panels hiding A/V racks to bookshelves that reveal hidden entryways.

This home theater has it all. The homeowner, Michael Kaplan, had enlisted Hackett previously to build a room for watching sports on three TVs. He wanted the technology to be hidden, to be controlled with one-touch activation, and to have a “James Bond feel” with “wow factor.”

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The solution was motorization under a star-field ceiling made up of 2,000 fiber-optic lights that shine through the ornate dome once the main lights go down. Hackett created a man-cave sort of a room that features motorized walls playing important roles. The motorized bookcase wall serves as a door and moves to reveal the theater room itself; inside, two motorized panels holding flat-panel TVs shift to cover the windows and reveal a third display—a big, CinemaScope-wide projection screen. And with the projection screen out in the open, the two flat panels flanking it are still there up front, just pushed out to the sides but still highly viewable for multiple sports watching.

The homeowner loves how a separate bookcase door on a track makes the room “secret,” fulfilling his James Bond theme idea. (See the video below to watch the room’s transformation in action.)

“Most, if not all, of the motorization came from Donny,” Michael says. “The planning discussions were mostly Donny coming up with great ideas and me loving the ideas and then wondering how he could make them happen. My goal was three TVs that could show three different games. He came up with the sliding panels to hide the main TV. The entrance was a weird space that was too big for a door. Donny came up with the idea of the bookshelf and putting it on a track.”

Michael says among the biggest challenges was finding the best way to make the ideas work. “The bookshelf is a one of a kind, so it took Donny a few tries to make it work. The time it took to put the detail in every aspect of the room was hard to estimate at the beginning of the project. Donny is a perfectionist and did not take any shortcuts. He was sure to make sure every little detail was taken care of.”

Along with the slick design, the other essential part would be the ability to operate everything easily. Hackett worked with Nashville, Tenn.-based Visual Concepts on incorporating simplified controls. He says Visual Concepts’ Jacob Abbott programmed the Control4 iPad interface that activates and makes all of the motorized pieces work seamlessly.

Then there’s the elaborate ceiling dome, which is another Hackett calling card. And this one is even augmented with the glowing fiber-optic lights, truly the icing on top of this unique cake. “Overall it’s a very comfortable room that seems like an escape,” Kaplan says. “I like to go in close the door and watch a movie or football game. The room is soundproof, so when you are inside it seems like there is nothing else going on in the world.”

Media Room from Redwood Pictures on Vimeo.

See More Hackett Theaters Here:
A Look at the Art of Motorization
Paris Theme Illuminates Home Theater
Rotating Floor Transforms Theater
Return of the ‘Titanic’ Theater


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