HOME THEATER DESIGN is all about creating an experience. When done right, a home theater is a room specifically engineered to transport you far from the normalcy of your everyday life and engross your senses in a visual and auditory wonderland. Commercial theaters generally achieve this with sheer size and volume, but this Crestron-controlled home theater makes your local Loews or AMC Cineplex look quaint by comparison.
Do you think those little guiding lights along the stairways in commercial cinemas are clever? Then how about 18 pressure-sensitive bottom-lit glass steps that change color as you walk on them? Or maybe you like the stadium-style seating that gives everyone a great view of the screen. Well, the creative minds at home systems integration firm Movietime, of Corona, Calif., took that idea and really dug in, literally. They asked the homeowner what he thought of digging the room six feet deeper into the ground to give them enough headroom to create a two-level theater with seating for up to 13 people. He loved the idea.
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“We hadn’t done anything like this before,” says Movietime owner Ilya Kandibur. “We brought the pressure steps idea to the owner and he thought it was cool, so we ran with it. Then we asked what he thought of making it a two-tier theater, and the room was born. We love bringing new, unique ideas to our clients, and when they get excited about it, it’s exciting for us.”
So how do you create an effective sound system to accommodate viewers seated on two different levels? Movietime’s solution: Design an 11.4 (11 speakers, four subwoofers) JBL Synthesis system with two separately equalized surround-sound areas. While this powerful audio system, candy-colored steps, and luxurious leather seating from Fortress promise to envelop guests in a one-of-a-kind entertainment viewing experience, the main attraction has to be the screen.
To blow away the owner’s expectations for video quality, Movietime pulled out all the stops and completed the world’s first-ever installation of a new 12,000-lumen laser projector made by Digital Projection International, and paired it with a 160-inch Vutec screen utilizing an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, a current super-wide screen standard. The projector is so powerful that it generates enough heat and noise to require its own isolated ”hush box” behind the actual theater, much like a commercial theater separates its projection equipment from the viewing area.
This room is all about the presentation. The lights, the stairs, the ceiling, the seats, and even the walls are carefully and collectively coordinated to be one of the most unique home theaters any guest will step foot in. Putting all the video and audio equipment behind the screen was literally the only way to wire this room, so it’s fortunate that the homeowner was able to work with such a stellar team of designers and installers. This is one project that shows that it matters who you hire, because a wild imagination can be a rare commodity.
With all of the amazing pieces in the room, there wasn’t much space left for the considerable amount of audio/video gear, so the installation team devised a clever solution, engineering the screen mount to swing up and allow the placement of two large equipment racks behind it. Even the design of the racks is unique; due to limited space, they were made to rotate so that the Movietime crew could easily reach the backs of the equipment if necessary. And like the projector, each rack has its own cooling system, venting hot air generated by the equipment into the attic.
The entire room’s lighting is controlled by a commercial-grade DMX lighting system, which is most commonly found in nightclub and concert venue settings, allowing for precise control of the 20 architectural LED lights, more than 500 feet of LED tape, the 18 step sensors, and a fiber-optic starfield ceiling.
What was once the homeowner’s dream is now a one-of-a-kind reality, thanks to the ingenuity of a creative team of professionals and a willingness to say yes to innovative ideas.