Unique Home Theater Overcomes Obstacles to Minimize Visual Impact

This integrator was faced with the daunting task of upgrading a living room with the premium quality of a commercial movie theater—a challenge riddled with unique issues and resolved through even more exceptional solutions.

Yves Richarz of Integrated Systems Design needed to find a way to satisfy the requests of a client who worked professionally in the movie industry. The main goal was to transform an existing living room/home theater combo into a Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI)- compliant home theater system.

DCI is a standard for projection and film exhibition that essentially meets the sound and image quality one would expect from a commercial movie theater like AMC or National Amusements. This particular client wanted to receive digital content on hard drives directly from major movie studios, then ingest it into a DCI-compliant projector and showcase it in the intimate venue of a living room.

The projector can come down from the ceiling for maintenance purposes, but lives in the ceiling for the most part.
The projector can come down from the ceiling for maintenance purposes, but lives in the ceiling for the most part.

Overcoming Obstacles

The previous owner of this home had already installed a home theater system within the living room, but the drop-down projector would not work for a DCI-compliant solution.

DCI-compliant projectors are generally large and also use Xenon bulbs, which require very high currents to operate properly. These high currents create a generous amount of heat … which requires adequate cooling … which demands a large collection of fans … which, in turn, creates an obnoxious amount of noise.

As you can see, this client’s request created a myriad of inherent problems.

“If you were to drop this out of the ceiling, because there’s no booth, you would have something that’s not only huge, but so noisy that you couldn’t really watch a movie,” says Richarz. [dt_gap height=”10″ /]

With a separate projection booth and drop-down projector both out of the question, Richarz needed to innovate in order to satisfy the desires of his client.

A Unique Solution for Commercial Quality Projection

The only visual impact of the projection system is this small flap that opens up from the ceiling.
The only visual impact of the projection system is this small flap that opens up from the ceiling.

The challenge was met with an exceptional design solution that Richarz describes as a “projection booth in a box that lives in the ceiling.”

The projector exists inside of a ceiling enclosure that allows for adequate cooling and ventilation, and it actually projects its image towards the back of the room.

“But how does the projected image reach the screen?” you may ask.

The projector aims its image backwards towards the rear of the room and reflects off a mirror inside the enclosure, which is angled at 45-degrees. Below the enclosure is a small flap, which opens up to reveal another mirror, also at a 45-degree angle.

The image bounces from the first mirror to the second mirror, which subsequently aims and projects the image perfectly on the screen. “Because of [this solution], you have no noise, because it’s fully enclosed up in the ceiling,” says Richarz.

“You have very little visual impact. When you want to project, all you really see is that little flap that opens.”

Speakers and Screen Enhance the Experience

An additional aesthetical challenge was the client’s request regarding speakers. He did not want any speakers to be installed on the floor or walls, so this once again required Richarz to integrate the technology, unseen, within the ceiling.

“The result is that you have a fully commercial theater in a home without the visual impact of it,” says Richarz. [dt_gap height=”10″ /]

The final piece of the puzzle was the non-perforated, drop-down screen from Stewart Filmscreen. The screen has masking capabilities, allowing it to transform itself to the two major aspect ratios—Scope (2:35:1) and Flat (1:85:1)—typically seen in Hollywood productions.

These solutions set a perfect example for builders, integrators and designers with clients that may desire a home theater system without constructing a separate room solely devoted to it. Richarz believes, in the end, this is actually the better option to pursue.

“A lot of people figure if they limit a room to just being a home theater, they won’t use it as much,” he says. “If they use it as a multi-purpose room, they get the best of both worlds—a home theater and a living space.”

The final product.
The final product.