A home cinema for a star Wars fan.

Home Cinema Above Garage – Think Outside the Box!

With some immersive home cinema rooms costing less than an average tennis court, there’s never been a better time to think about installing a high-performance cinema room in your home. In this article, we look at a home cinema room which was installed above a garage.

Our client wanted a luxury-feel home cinema room; a man-cave in which to watch his extensive movie collection. The space he had identified was an unused room above his garage. He wanted a home cinema that would perform at the highest level. It was to comfortably seat his family and guests and should have a masculine, luxurious feel.


Home Cinema Room Above the Garage – Size and Shape

The shape and layout of this room don’t immediately lend themselves to a home cinema room, as it would mean that the access walkway would have to be through the middle of the room. Ordinarily, the seating would be directly in front of the screen. Traditionally the “money seat” would be in the optimum position in the middle. But we are engineers and we work in the real world, where things are not always perfect. Our job is to use intelligent design and engineering to overcome real-world difficulties. In this way, we provide the very best solution for our clients.

We opted for comfortable black leather motorised recliner chairs. We arranged the seats in four groups of two, with a slightly larger row of three at the back. Some of the chairs have D-Box integration, meaning that they vibrate slightly to the soundtrack of the movie. This is a subjective thing; some will love it and some not so much! But there’s no denying that this can add drama and intensity to the experience.


Baffle Wall and Acoustically Transparent Screen

Our client’s wish was to have the largest cinema screen possible in the space available. In good design, the screen size and the seating distance are relative to one another. This consequently determined various other elements of the design. For example; once we had calculated the minimum seating distance from the screen, we were able to plan the seating in the remaining space. One of the design objectives was to provide seat-to-seat uniformity. (This means the best possible experience in any given seat, with as equal an experience as possible, across all seats.)

We constructed a baffle wall to mount the front array of loudspeakers and used a THX and ISF certified Screen Research acoustically transparent cinema screen in front. The screen incorporated ClearPixTM technology, to provide an acoustically transparent surface, which had minimal insertion loss. This ensured that there would be minimal performance loss from the loudspeakers. Unlike conventional screens, the Screen Research screen had a woven construction. This avoided an unpleasant moire effect to ensure that the image was pin-sharp.

Home cinema with kaleidescape movie server, black leather home cinema seats and inwall speakers
The front array of loudspeakers are housed behind the screen.

Loudspeakers

Due to the shape of the room and the skeilings, we felt that in-wall and in-ceiling loudspeakers would provide the best option for the side and rear channels. The client wanted to see the speakers, so we left some in their white colour. We installed further speakers in the acoustic treatment, hidden with acoustically transparent fabric. All of the loudspeakers were from Bowers and Wilkins.

The side and rear loudspeakers were installed in the walls and ceiling in this home cinema above a garage.

Kaleidescape Movie Server

The client had a large DVD movie collection, which he had been curating for many years. He was very sure that the collection should be available in the cinema and also in other rooms. For this reason, we installed a Kaleidescape movie server. This equipped him with the means to access his movie collection in a visually intuitive way, through the brilliant Kaleidescape user interface. We also added the Kaleidescape to the video distribution system, making the movie collection available to the other video zones within the residence.

A very useful feature of the Kaleidescape system was the ability to use flags within the movie to action pre-determined events. For example, when the end credits were rolling, we could gently bring up the low-level lighting within the room.

View of home cinema screen with kaleidescape movie browser.
The famous Kaleidescape user interface.

Acoustic Treatment, Lighting, Installation and Calibration

Acoustic Treatment

Since the space below the home cinema was the family’s garage, we understood the need to isolate the home cinema room. This was to prevent unwanted sound transmission and to overcome the acoustic difficulties of the room environment. For this reason, we constructed a “box within a box” to produce a high-performance acoustic solution. Using the correct materials and construction, we ensured that we kept sound pressure within the room. This resulted in predictable acoustic responses.

“Those who do not think oustide the box are easily contained.”

Nicolas Manetta

Lighting

The client was keen to use mood lighting within the room, to add to the cinematic experience. With fittings in the ceiling, walls and along the carpeted steps, the lighting added to the luxurious authentic experience. The client could dim the lights down to 1% for times when the room was in use. Conversely, he could raise them up to 100% for cleaning and maintenance. Since the lighting was part of the house-wide Crestron system, it meant that the client could recall scenes of light from his smart devices.

Installation

We housed the equipment within a Middle Atlantic equipment rack, to ensure that it was serviceable and maintainable. We used forced air cooling to keep the equipment room at an optimal temperature. Using the right cable management, we made certain that everything was well installed and neat. We are renowned for the high quality of our installation work and, in fact, one of our many CEDIA awards was for the high quality of our equipment racks and installation.

Calibration

Once the installation phase of the project was complete, we moved into a period of extensive calibration and commissioning work. It was (and is) vital that the audio and video were correctly calibrated, to achieve the very best performance. We had used performance objectives defined by THX and ISF during the design phase. Of course, we worked diligently throughout the project to ensure that they were met. The final commissioning was where everything came together and we made the last adjustments to the equipment to ensure that the design objectives were fulfilled. This is always the part of the project when our more tech-savvy clients get very excited. And often keep us company when we work!

Home cinema equipment rack
Equipment rack housing the electronic equipment.

In Conclusion – Home Cinema Above Garage

The client was thrilled with his luxurious and comfortable man-cave. Despite his plans to use the space to watch his beloved Star Wars films and sporting events, there are probably more showings of Frozen than he would wish!

We are delighted with the outcome of this home cinema. We used intelligent engineering to overcome the difficulties that the room presented and we delivered a high-performance room that caters to all of the client’s needs. It’s fantastic that the room is so well used and loved by the whole family.

When you consider adding a home cinema, don’t discount areas that aren’t immediately “perfect”. This is an instance where we can help you to think outside of the box. With the correct design and implementation, we can create rooms that provide a stunning performance. We will work through the design process with you, to ensure that we deliver the very best home cinema room, on budget and on time. Home cinemas are meant to be fun rooms, where families gather and the realities of life are put on hold for a time. We are experienced in delivering modest family cinema rooms and larger-scale screening rooms. We are experts at creating rooms that provide an emotional experience. Please do contact us for a demo.

Shows home cinema from side left, with comfortable cinema seating and large acoustically transparent movie screen.
A home cinema for the whole family to enjoy.

For further reading, here is our project for Sir Peter Jackson. Here is another home cinema project, this is an article about acoustic treatments and here is one about home cinema design. Alternatively, here is an article about finding your home cinema installer. For something different, how about an article on our Crestron work at Clipper Wharf?


If you would like a home cinema above your garage, please do talk to us! 0207 164 6856.

Alternatively, would you like to send your drawings and have us create a quick cost estimate for you?..

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