Designing a home cinema room - Part 1

Picture

Home cinema design is somewhat a mixture of art and science. Since the dawn of mankind, we have told stories through the use of words and pictures. Pictures on a cave wall told of great hunting battles, stories and songs passed down from generation to generation have modelled our heritage.

The art of story telling

Home cinema design is somewhat a mixture of art and science. Since the dawn of mankind we have told stories through the use of words and pictures. Pictures on a cave wall told of great hunting battles, stories and songs passed down from generation to generation have modelled our heritage.

Telling stories also created a feeling of togetherness and community. As babies our parents read us stories as a way of comforting us at night, or sparking our imagination, or just to pass the time. And as we grow up the hunger for that escapism never leaves us and we develop a desire for more advanced storytelling. Our love of stories has become so great that we have even invented ways to generate moving pictures that we can watch on huge screens.

Cinema is the modern-day form of storytelling, whether it be a Hollywood blockbuster, a Netflix Boxset or even gaming.

A home cinema is now a must-have in the prime residential market. But surely, a sheet hung on a wall and a projector borrowed from the office is all you need. Why then do budgets run from £15k to half a million pounds and upwards?

The technology has changed a little, but watching a movie is still about being taken off to a Galaxy far far away. Where good and evil meet and battle it out until, eventually good conquers all. Fortunately for us in the UK it’s something that is not weather dependent. In fact, there are few greater pleasures than lighting a fire and curling up with loved ones when it’s cold and rainy outside and watching a movie together.

In this first part of our Home Cinema Design post, we discuss image display. Projectors, screens and a little bit of room design. In Part 2, we will cover Audio, including acoustic treatment. And then in Part 3 we will talk about everything else.

Home Cinema or Media Room

When we talk about home cinema, we are generally talking about a dedicated room with a single purpose. A media room is slightly different in that it is a multi-purpose space that you can enjoy a movie in, but may also be a living room or part of an open-plan space. The design and performance principles are the same, but with a media room we realise that there will need to be some compromise. In a home cinema design, we always strive to reach certain technical performance parameters with as little compromise as possible.

How big should your home cinema be?

The question should not be “how big” but “how small”. The temptation is to build a huge room that can seat 20 or 30 people and think that you can do it for £5k. The reality is that when you double the size of the room you roughly quadruple the budget. The more people you want to seat, the more seats you need and so the more floor space. The further back you are seated the bigger the screen will need to be and when you increase the size of the screen, you must balance that with a better projector capable of projecting an image onto a screen that may be 8m away.

Image brightness

We would generally find a projector and screen in a home cinema, although not exclusively. A projector is a light source. If you take a torch and hold it close up against the wall you can see the light from it clearly as a circle on the wall. But as you move the torch away from the wall, you get to a point where the light can no longer reach the wall and the image disappears. It is the same with a projector. The further away the screen is, the more powerful the projector has to be and the better reflective properties the screen will require.

But making the projector brighter comes with it’s own problems. Black is an absence of light and as we increase the brightness of the image, black becomes grey. We project onto white material so that it reflects the light and colour projected on to it. It’s a trick of the mind that makes us think what we are seeing is black, it is in fact whatever colour the screen is when the projector is turned off – in most cases white.  So finding the balance between brightness and generating convincing blacks is a technological nightmare!

Home cinema screen size

As a very rough rule of thumb, the distance from the screen to seat should be 3x the height of the screen. There are various calculations that your home cinema design professional will carry out to make sure your screen image is big enough to feel like “cinema”, but not so big it is uncomfortable to view. You need to consider the aspect ratio of your screen. Generally if you will be watching movies most of the time then you would pick a screen that matches a movie aspect – 2.35:1 is common. If however, you watch sporting events or TV boxsets then you might consider what is commonly known as “widescreen” or 16:9.

You can read more about screens in our recent post here.

Ready to Start Your Project?

Let’s discuss your property visions and how our services can facilitate your journey into the wonderful world of home automation.

Make an Enquiry
Next Post
Home Cinema Audio Design
View Post