Few rooms start out perfect for a home theater. Some are too small, some too large, some ill-shaped, and other filled with obstructions. However, a skilled professional knows how to take what’s available and turn it into something spectacular. That’s what happened when Jeff Jenkins of FX Pros was invited to design and install a home theater for an existing Little Rock AR home.
The owner, a luxury home builder himself, knew what goes into quality construction, but he didn’t know anything about home theater design and technology, so he gave Jenkins and his team some very general guidelines—along the lines of “make it awesome.”
What made this a less-than-ideal room for a full-bore home theater was both the size (16 feet by 20 feet) and orientation. Small theaters aren’t too unusual, especially when a person is taking an existing room and remodeling it for theater use, but in this case the orientation dictated that the long wall would be in the front. A door on one wall and a bank of windows on the opposite ruled out the short walls for screen use. That meant that between the screen and the projector there was only a 16 foot throw distance, even less when you factor in the space that was lost to the custom millwork and large crown moulding. Jenkins had to be careful in order to properly fill the 130-inch Dragonfly screen with the image from a JVC DLA-X500R 4K projector.
In fact, the big screen wasn’t the homeowners’ original idea. The occupants, and their college-age children, are big football fans and wanted a place where they could watch sports on television as well as videos of their college teams on Hudl.com. Jenkins suggested they go with two TVs so the viewers could watch two games or play two separate video games (the younger family members are big gamers) at the same time.
To fit a large projection screen and two 60-inch Sharp TVs into the space, Jenkins used a motorized screen which descends from an alcove on commend. It needed to be a big screen, though, because hiding two 60-inch TVs is no small task.
Built into Jenkins’ custom millwork around the screen are Episode speakers and Velodyne subwoofers (2). The room’s center channel is actually made of three individual Episode HT-700 speakers because Jenkins wanted to ensure that everyone in the wide room could properly hear the all-important center channel dialog. Two Episode HT-900 speakers are installed in the back of the room for surround sound. The raised platform for the rear row of seats features two more built-in Polk subwoofers, added mostly to give the seats a little extra thump during action scenes. Audio power is provided by a Marantz pre-amp and amplifier. An Oppo Blu-ray player runs the main movies.
Jenkins added a few automation perks, using RTI for the room automation, to make the system easy for anyone to use. For instance, when a user presses the watch button, the RTI app, touchpanel or remote will prompt the user to pick a TV or the projector. If the user chooses TV, the system will ask which speakers to use—the TV’s own speakers or the whole-room system.
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Two TVs and a motorized screen would be enough to call any room impressive, but Jenkins made sure this room stood apart with special automated lighting effects.
The lighting system includes LED lights recessed into the ceiling, color-changing LED strip lighting hidden behind the crown molding and behind the two TVs and an LED star ceiling directly above the theater seats. Lighting helps add to the WOW effect of the theater, but the custom programming is what makes it different. Jenkins programmed lighting scenes that make the LEDs change color depending on the video source. When the users watch a Blu-ray disc, the colors change to blue. When watching Netflix, the colors change to red, purple for Roku, etc. When the system is in video game mode, the rack that holds the game systems stays lit just enough so players can see to change discs. An all-off feature allows the user to make the room completely dark for a better cinema experience.
Another fun feature Jenkins added coordinates the lights to the pause/play buttons. When the pause button is pressed, the LED lights turn red. Press play again and they turn green briefly and then fade to dark or the previous lighting program.
A final user-friendly touch Jenkins added is the storage and charging alcoves for the game controllers, 3D glasses or tablets. Those same alcoves are hidden from sight when the screen is deployed for movie viewing. View the slide show here.
You can see another award-winning project by FX Pros on Electronic House here.
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