This dedicated basement home cinema is the perfect family space for enjoying movies and playing games.
Our client and his family are big supporters of football and enjoy watching movies. Accordingly, they asked us for a high-performance dedicated basement cinema, which would allow their family to gather and enjoy time together. Being gamers, they also wanted to be able to play together on the big screen. Since this was to be a space in which the whole family would gather, the design would need to accommodate everyone comfortably. Moreover, it was essential that we created an excellent cinematic experience.
An Unusual Home Cinema Room
This project was unusual, as the client had two very distinct requirements for his room. The client’s young children were to use the basement cinema for the staging of live performances. Also, it needed to provide our client with a sanctuary for the viewing of his beloved Monday Night NFL games!
We had already been working with the client to deliver a complete home automation system. This incorporated audio and HD video distribution, heating control, lighting control, intercom and integrated security (and much more). As a result, the client challenged us to provide the same level of integration and high standards that he enjoyed in the rest of the property.
He had distinct views about the types of seating and décor we would need to accommodate. He gave us the freedom to work with his interior designers and cabinetry makers, to ensure that the room was delivered, both aesthetically and technically.
Our client had a strong preference for freestanding Bowers and Wilkins loudspeakers (he had a pair of Nautilus speakers in his music room). Consequently, he was very keen for us to accommodate a pair of their speakers into this theatre room.
High-Performance Basement Cinema
Our major design consideration was the wooden stage for the children’s performances. So that it would be easy to use, it was decided that the stage would be motorised. Naturally, it would then be integrated into the electronic systems. We realised that we would need to make clever engineering decisions to ensure that we could provide the client with a system that would perform on a technical level. Naturally, our design protocol addressed all of the usual design objectives in the most intelligent way possible.
To provide an enveloping sound stage, and to accommodate the client’s request for freestanding Bowers and Wilkins loudspeakers, we chose to locate the front left and right speakers subtly on either side of the stage/screen area. We installed the centre channel within the stage – this actually moves with the stage when it motors out.
With the remainder of the Bowers and Wilkins loudspeakers located behind the panelling, we have provided an immersive home cinema experience. As a result, there was no compromise to the room’s aesthetics.
A motorised cinema screen was a natural choice for this basement cinema, as it would allow for the movement of the stage. We worked very closely with the cabinetmaker. Most importantly, we ensured that the cabinetry housed the screen perfectly and concealed the projector discretely at the back of the room. We used forced-air cooling to keep the projector at the optimum temperature. The main content for the basement cinema was to be Sky TV football matches and so a 16:9 screen was selected.
We acoustically treated the room using absorption, diffusion and reflection panels hidden behind fabric-lined walls. The ceiling was constructed from a double-lined plasterboard with green glue to aid acoustics. Although at the client’s request, we were not able to position the seating as we would have done in a dedicated cinema; we designed and calibrated the theatre using a preferred seating position. Using Audyssey Room Correction we further improved the acoustic merits of the system and ironed out any remaining issues. We followed correct industry performance objectives, making intelligent compromises where it was necessary.
The system delivers a full HD experience; 1080p at 24 frames per second. Currently, the projector uses a full spec HDMI, but we also installed Crestron DM Multi-mode fibre. This was in case we should need more bandwidth in the future.
Two User Interfaces
We created a brilliant user experience by installing two user interfaces. The first was a wall-mounted Crestron touch panel, which gave the user access to the room’s lighting, heating control, intercom, security etc. The second was a hand-held Crestron RF remote. The basement cinema controls (stage, screen, motorised curtains, cinema electronics and lighting) were accessed from this. Then, for additional value, we used Lutron learnable lighting; allowing the client to make and save modifications to the lighting scenes from his iPad. Next door to the theatre is the client’s fumidor and wine-tasting rooms; for convenience, we have programmed the system to allow him to prepare and warm up the cinema system whilst there.
Our solution allowed for gaming (X-Box and Wii), HD video switching from shared sources, and dedicated DVD/Blu-Ray playback. Additionally, the client has a comprehensive movie collection, shared with his other residences in Switzerland and America; we needed to ensure that his hardware would play the discs from both regions. For the ultimate user experience, we installed a Kaleidescape movie server.
The client considered that the cinema element of this room was his gift to himself. Beforehand was concerned that the compromises needed by such a unique combination of uses for the room would result in a less-than-stunning experience. We are delighted that his expectations have been completely exceeded by our basement cinema solution.
For further reading, please see our article, What’s the difference between a media room and a home cinema? or here is our home cinema project, Grey Matter.
Team members on this project
Guy, Brad, Aiden and David.