Planning your Home Cinema project

Picture Courtesy of  Just Add Popcorn

Picture Courtesy of Just Add Popcorn

For some 'Home Cinema' may mean a big TV and a Sound Bar.

We don’t think about it like that.

We believe that the experience created should be compelling, arresting, and all-encompassing, so that the world goes away and you’re in the film - or the box set, or the game. ‘Immersive’ is a great term - if a bit over-used these days.

When planning your cinema system, here are some things to consider.

Picture Courtesy of  Bespoke Home Cinemas

Picture Courtesy of Bespoke Home Cinemas

Who’s it for?

Often the home cinema is something for the family, maybe this is somewhere you’d enjoy with friends too. For seating especially this gets important - how many people should be entertained in comfort, say during the holidays? Should we plan ‘occasional’ seating - still good but not the best seats in the house? Children are often happy with beanbags in the front, for sleepovers and parties.

Think about friends, extended family, kids, everyday use and special occasions. But also think about yourself - in an empty cinema, where would you sit? In the centre sure, but at the front, or towards the back? Many of us would be about two-thirds back where some cinema companies have premium seats. Yours should be the best seat in the house.

What will you be watching?

Good quality films, event TV and gaming are all important. But how important? Really that depends on you. Is ‘movie night’ more special than Saturday afternoon football or a long gaming session?

One decision to make is, should your screen be in ‘cinemascope’ letterbox, or regular 16:9? A masking screen lets you do both at the highest quality - the black border moves to suit the content you’re playing.

Picture Courtesy of  ConnectedWorks

Picture Courtesy of ConnectedWorks

Cinema v Media Room

The classic distinction is that the cinema room is dark and single purpose, while a media room is mixed-use, social and probably lighter.

A lot of our favourite rooms combine both approaches. For us the ideal is really convincing cinema performance, in a room that’s fun to hang out in - that also works when there’s a bit more ambient light, for example when watching the big match with friends. Blackout blinds let us control the ambient light level. We’ll need higher brightness from the display too, so that picture quality is maintained.

It’s quite reasonable to have two displays - a flatscreen TV for casual use, and projection screen for that full cinema experience.

The Space

Is this an existing room, or does it exist on your architect’s drawing board? Even more excitingly, do we have a blank canvas? Everything is possible, but we need to know where the doors are, and the dimensions of the room, and any other possible constraints. If you’d like two or more rows of seats we’ll want to raise the upper levels so that everyone can see perfectly, in complete comfort.

For really good results, we want to treat the room itself, preventing echoes and bass resonances, and to stop sound from escaping or ambient sound getting in, all of which improves the performance of the cinema. To do that we either use tasteful acoustic panels, or have room treatments and speakers hidden behind fabric walls. That will reduce the floor area of the room itself a little, so plan for that if you can.

Picture Courtesy of  iCubed

Picture Courtesy of iCubed

The Vibe

Do you prefer the Odeon or the Everyman? What sort of style would you like for the room and seating?

Home Cinema is about escapism and stories - would you like to do something over-the-top, or themed around your favourite film? We’ve seen James Bond cinemas, Batcaves, Roaring Twenties themes - anything you can imagine. Whatever age your home is, the cinema room could match that, or be a total contrast, and it’ll work brilliantly.

Products

We’re not there yet! The outline specification comes from your answers to the questions above - who’s it for, what will you be watching, is this a cinema, a  media room or a bit of both, and what’s our room size. Once we know that we can draw down the performance we need, and then at last we can go looking for equipment.

We’re always really excited to help with cinema and media room projects.

Written by Owen Maddock of ConnectedWorks