Each year the Custom Electronics Design & Installation Association (CEDIA) honors exemplary projects completed by home technology professionals. Winners of the Designer Awards competition are determined by a panel of expert judges that include home technology professionals, architects and interior designers. This project received the Best Overall Media Room award.
Dedicated home theaters are all about watching movies on the biggest, brightest screen that can be squeezed into the space. Media rooms, on the other hand, are designed to play host to a variety of entertainment endeavors. This award-winning media space, conceived and completed by the home systems integrators at Integrated Control Concepts (ICC), Omaha, Neb., is the epitome of versatility, transitioning effortlessly from a high-end home cinema to an engaging multi-screen sports viewing and video game playing venue. “The homeowner’s main objective was to create an entertainment room where his kids and their friends would want to hang out,” says ICC’s Dan Gosch. This solution definitely draws a crowd, providing two distinctly different media environments where everyone, no matter his or her age or viewing preferences, can find some fantastic form of enjoyment.
An AMX control system initiates the media room morph, where at the touch of a button on a wall-mounted AMX touchpanel or an iPad Mini, a 12-foot-wide, 2.35:1 (CinemaScope) Stewart Filmscreen projection screen descends from the ceiling. (The room was expanded by 6 feet in the front and 6 feet on the right to make room for the screen.) Meanwhile, a Digital Projection dVision video projector fires up and various viewing options appear on the screen of the touchpanel and iPad. For this family of sports, gaming and movie enthusiasts, ICC outfitted the media room with several DirecTV receivers and Xbox gaming consoles, as well as a Kaliedescape media server. Stocked with hundreds of the family’s favorite flicks on its internal hard drive, the server is the source du jour when Dad and the kids are in the mood for a movie. The ability to choose from a library of preloaded films and enjoy them in crisp, vibrant high resolution was a huge eye-opener for the family, says Gosch, who prior to the media room transformation didn’t even own a Blu-ray disc.
Audio assists the video by firing through the seven speakers and two subwoofers comprised of a professionally calibrated JBL Synthesis system. The room lighting reacts, too, with all but the step lights and colored RGB LED accent fixtures fading to black. The dramatic LED lighting enhances the movie-viewing atmosphere, says Gosch, by lining the perimeter of the cove ceiling, the wall columns, and the crown molding in a stunning blue hue. Although blue tends to be the go-to color when watching movies, the owner can choose from a rainbow of shades presented on the screen of the touchpanel. Add this to the twinkling fiber optic starfield on the ceiling and there’s plenty of eye candy in this 20-by-26-foot converted lower-level media room, even when the screen is tucked away.
Joining the light show as the projection screen disappears are five Samsung flat-panel TVs. Recessed flush with the perimeter-lit front wall, a 75-inch Samsung occupies the center position with four identical 46-inch Samsung TVs flanking it. ICC assigned each display its own DirecTV receiver and Xbox gaming consoles, all tied to an Atlona 16×16 HDMI matrix switcher, so that several different video streams can be presented at the same time. This capability comes in handy for viewing several sporting events at once, as well as playing head to head video games, says Gosch, which has been a big hit with the kids. It’s also a capability that required a high level of engineering and programming expertise by ICC. To simplify what could have been a complicated process of juggling video across all five screens, ICC created a graphical representation of the TV layout which appears automatically on the iPad Mini and AMX touchpanel. Explains Gosch: A user simply touches one of the five TVs on the graphical user interface. This brings up a list of available video sources. Select one and the video instantly appears on the screen. Video for the remaining four TV is accessed in the same manner. As for the accompanying audio, ICC created a default setting that directs audio from the 75-inch display to the JBL Synthesis system. However, per the owner’s request, audio from all five TVs can play in the room at the same time per commands issued from the AMX touchpanel or iPad Mini. “We never thought they would use this feature because most people would find the audio undecipherable,” Gosch says. “But the kids love it.” It’s just one more reason this multifunctional media room is such hit with everyone who visits it.