Home Cinema Design Part 3 - Lighting, control & everything else

Making a Home Cinema rather than a room to watch movies in

Home cinema lighting, control, and all the other bits and pieces are what really makes your cinema CINEMATIC. It is what turns a room into an experience. Here is some advice on things to consider BEFORE you start picking out the fabric for the seats or discussing wall coverings with your interior designer!

Home Cinema Room Construction

Building your room correctly will ensure that you are getting the best from your hardware. As we stated in Part 2 – Home Cinema Audio Design we really want to keep external noise outside the room and make sure that the sound inside the room is performing at it’s best. There are things that can be done and the construction stage to help.

Keep external noise out by using sound insulation. Sound insulation is achieved by using high mass, thick dense walls and multiple layers. If the project lends itself to building a room within a room then that is the preferred option. Isolating the cinema room from the rest of the property to limit its effects on the cinema experience. Any property near a busy road will be aware of road noise – especially low-frequency rumbles of large vehicles passing and the last thing you want at the moment in a film where the tension has been built to an almost unbearable level, only to have it broken by the sound of a lorry, plane or even the air-con.

Keeping the sound from the home cinema is just as important as keeping the external noises out. Different building materials have different STC codes – Sound Transmission Coefficients – showing how much sound energy gets through. The room should be kept airtight to prevent sound leakage, and so particluar care must be taken with the heating/cooling and ventilation systems – large ducts and soft bends are advisable, and two 90 degree corners between the vents and the heat exchanger unit.

Lights, Camera, Action!

So we’ve looked at room size, image projection and the audio. Lighting control in a home cinema is vital. Being able to have a scene programmed to a single button does not have to be expensive. Most properties that are going to have a home cinema will probably be at the higher end, with a full lighting control system. But in communities such as care home and hospices, universities, or MDU’s where we find communal gyms and home cinemas, lighting could be controlled with a Graffik Eye costing under £1000

The starfield ceiling is still very popular and led strip lighting to highlight wall panels and steps are virtually compulsory. Good lighting design is not just adding to the aesthetics of the room, setting scenes that can be controlled from the comfort of your seat allows you to enjoy the experience.

Controlling Your Home Cinema

Controlling all these systems – AV, lighting. Hvac, needs to be done with a handheld, hard button remote. We all know from experience that you get to know where the mute, volume up and down buttons are on a remote. Imagine having to launch your phone or tablet and have all that ambient light produced in your darkened cinema and open an app to find the pause button? Apps are great, but in a home cinema, you want a single hard buttoned remote that will do everything.

Other Things To Consider

One aspect of a home cinema which is often overlooked is where to put the hardware. We really don’t want it in the room. The heat from the kit will warm the room and then your aircon will kick in and add to the background audio we have tried so hard to minimise. And of course the equipment has fans than run to keep it all cool, but they add to the noise floor further. So a seperate room for the equipment rack is highly advisable.

That room needs to be large enough for maintenance and servicing and have good airflow or active cooling to keep everything from overheating.

You will ideally want it all close to the cinema room so cable runs are kept short. The only exception might be if you are using a Bluray player or games console. In which case you might want that in the room so you can load disks easily.

Choosing Your Home Cinema Installer

We have written a whole post about how to choose a smart home professional, so take a few minutes to have a read, and then give us a call!

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