Lain and Barbara Chappell; Owners, Solid Rock Custom Homes
Whether you prefer the classics – the silver silhouettes of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, Bette Davis or Rita Hayworth; or you prefer a modern romantic comedy or comic book film, there’s nothing better than relaxing while watching a great film. And our viewing options don’t stop there, streaming our favorite TV show can be the perfect anecdote for a long and stressful work day. After all, Webster did just add the term “binge watching” to the dictionary for a reason.
Vimeo, YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu – most of us have at least one of these popular apps. They’re fun, convenient and access is inexpensive. Practically anything we want to watch is just one click away. Never has so much content been available to so many. In the world of smart phones, tablets and laptops, we can watch anything from practically anywhere… but here comes the question. Do we want to?
With a constant overload of media, content is coming at us from every angle. Between checking our e-mail, Facebook, Instagram and text messages (not to mention driving, working, socializing, shopping… in other words, living) can we manage watching movies on the go too? Seriously. Do you want to watch “Manchester by the Sea” in the waiting room of the dentist office? No.
Let’s face it, our down time is precious. When we do have time to watch something – really watch something, not just hearing that bland hum of TV while we’re making dinner, giving the kids a bath or surfing the internet – most of us would like to do so by either going to see the latest release at the movie theater or curling up on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and a glass of wine. So, why not combine the two to create a space that is state-of-the-art, luxurious and relaxing to enjoy our favorite films and TV at home?
Now, easier than ever, you can bring the theater experience to your home, putting the best of both worlds right at your fingertips.
Home theaters – also called home cinema or screening rooms – seek to reproduce the movie theater experience. They became popular in the mid-1980s, after the release of the VCR and the VHS, for upper-middle to upper class families. As the technology grew so did the culture’s interest in home theaters. Yet, in the 90s, home cinemas were only truly available to the super wealthy. An average home cinema in 1997 was $230,000 – accounting for inflation.
Today we have more technology than ever to create a home theater that truly mimics a traditional cinema – maybe even better as there won’t be anyone talking in the row behind you, at least no one that you can’t shush. And because of the prevalence of the technology, building a home cinema is more attainable than ever.
There are several things to keep in mind when deciding to build a theater in your home.
High Definition was the first format to bring a real cinematic experience to the home. After many failed experiments throughout the 80s, it was digital that enabled the transmission of a higher resolution signal. The standards for HD and the 16-by-9 aspect ratio of televisions were introduced in the 90s and allowed for an experience that was closer to the quality of the theater. Do you remember those black bars at the top and bottom of the screen on those old boxy TVs? That was because the 16:9 aspect ratio of the film (on that VHS tape or DVD) didn’t fit the 4:3 aspect of the TV. It wasn’t until flat screen TV’s were made widely available through the late 90s and early 2000s that the aspect ratios were in sync.
In 2017, we not only have HD streaming from the web and incredible Blu-ray capabilities but we now have 4K technology – TVs, Projectors, 4K Blu-ray players, and 4K discs. 4K takes our current technology years into the future. Currently, most TVs in U.S. households are 1080 pixel or FullHD; 4K has a resolution of 4096 pixels by 2160 pixels, making 4K technology the sharpest resolution in cinematic history.
Televisions are great but for those that want a full big screen experience at home, a home digital projector is the way to go.
There are several recommendations for a projector to best match that of a traditional movie theater.
- Brightness – typically 1800 Lumens
- Resolution – at least 1920-by-1080
- Contract – minimum of 5000:1
- HDMI Connection Sockets
There are several types of screens to consider when designing a home cinema.
- Acoustically Transparent – allows speakers to be placed behind the screen
- Ambient Light Rejecting – allows a screen to be placed in brighter rooms
Noise Criteria are noise-level guidelines applicable to traditional cinema and home cinema. Noise-level guidelines measure the room’s ambient noise level at various frequencies. THX certification of modern movie theaters requires a noise criteria of NC-30 or less, however, because of the average room size, a home cinema needs a NC-22 or less to be THX certified.
Having a home cinema with a THX certified sound, would replicate that crisp, clear, beautiful sound that we experience at the movie theater.
Another option is Object Oriented Sound, such as Dolby Atmos. This technique adds additional speaker locations, allowing up to 11 independent speaker channels.
For someone who is a cinema enthusiast, building a dedicated room in the home specifically for a home theater is the best way to ensure an authentic cinematic viewing experience. These advanced installations often include sophisticated acoustic design elements. This can include design techniques such as “room in a room” construction, which isolates sound and allows for a more superior noise criteria, room size, and acoustic treatment such as absorption and diffusion.
The most fun part of building a home cinema is the design. What type of seating would you choose? Couches with heated cup holders? Vintage movie theater seats? Reclining chairs? Staggered love seats? There are countless options for the most comfortable and aesthetically pleasing seating for your unique home cinema.
Home theaters are another way to add uniqueness and personality to your home. Some design ideas include:
- Build a separate room for your projector, reminiscent of a 1930’s movie house. Cover the walls with vintage posters and film canisters.
- Include a concession area with a popcorn machine, candy and soda station.
- Install recess lighting on the baseboards to illuminate the floor and walkway pre-show.
- Use chaise lounges for seating – and make sure you lay out blankets and pillows for super cozy cinematic viewing.
- Do you have a collection of something related to your favorite movies or TV like posters, memorabilia or toys? Integrate them into your theater. Personalize it to make it truly yours.
There are hundreds of ideas on how you can integrate that most loved of venues, the cinema, into your own home. It’s a great place to unwind, snuggle with your significant other and lose yourself in the magic of the movies.
Solid Rock Custom Homes has been remodeling and building custom homes in the Colorado Springs, Colorado area and the surrounding El Paso, Douglas and Teller counties since 1995. They would love to sit down with you to discuss your dream home. Call 719-494-0932 or visit www.SolidRockCustomHomes.com to schedule a consultation.