Come home to the movies

Bring the magic of the movies home with your own home theatre space. Create the perfect cinema watching experience with these tips, writes Ruth Dsouza Prabhu.

It’s movie time! Sit back as the lights dim, smell the fresh butter sizzling on your popcorn, settle down on your comfortable bean bag and take in the surround sound of a state-of-the-art audio system.

While this could very well be at the theatre, sans the bean bag, we are talking about watching a movie in the comfort of your home, but, with the experience of a theatre. While going to the movies has its own charm, a well-designed home theatre space can provide you with a whole new experience.

Magic is in the numbers

Planning a home theatre system involves several aspects, each of which has to be systematically planned. You begin with the right kind of space. With a large number of homes today being apartments, the living room is often converted into a home theatre and contrary to popular belief, it can be done.

“For apartments, the ideal size of the room should be 10ft (width) X 12ft (length), which would make for the perfect 4-seater”, explains Alex Lewis, who designs home theatre set-ups professionally in the city. A dedicated room, whether in an apartment or an independent home, with two-row seating would have to be 12ft x 12ft in terms of dimension, he adds.

Once you know your space and have it ready, the next aspect you look into is the acoustics.

“Most of us are under the impression that soundproofing is the main concern, when sound absorption is what we must be looking at,” says Alex.

Soundproofing is generally done for closed rooms or, in other words, when you have an entire room dedicated to your home theatre.

Considering Indian homes are made with plaster and brick, sound leakage is a rarity. Attention only has to be paid to doors and windows. Sound absorption, on the other hand, is more important especially when the home theatre is being set up in an open living room. This can be done on a case-to-case basis.

Lights...

Lighting is a very important aspect to get the best possible experience. Alex explains that lighting may be divided into zones — done exclusively for the screen, the seating area, projector area, etc. Three to four zone-based lighting is generally looked into.

Ambient lighting is intrinsic to setting up a home theatre system and it has to be complementary to your screen and seating arrangements. Diffused lighting helps to a large extent.

You may also consider rope styled lighting for the edges of the walls. Many home owners also opt for mood lighting that is remote controlled.

With the basics in place, we now move on to the actual screen. “One of the latest trends, and a more feasible one in terms of comfort of viewing and budget,” says Alex, “is the installation of a 32” TV screen, over which a project screen is placed.” While everyday viewing of soaps may be done on the TV screen, feature films may be viewed on the projector screen. This is a good option especially when your set up is in your living room.
Camera...

For an independent home theatre room, the average size of the projector screen is 8ft, which is 108 inches diagonally. This would require an ideal viewing distance of 14ft.
The general rule of thumb for viewing distance is 1.5 times the screen width.

This prevents any strain on the eyes. When you are watching a wide screen for a long period of time, your eyes tend to be stationary, reducing blood flow. This is what leads to eye strain and headaches.

Alex says that technology, however, has improved in home theatre systems, especially with projector screens such as short throw and ultra-short throw screens. These kinds of screens balance out large images in a tight space.

Action!

While all the action may be going on, on the screen, a home theatre is all about creating the right atmosphere. Once you have the audio visual part taken care of, you could look into doing up the space some more. Sudhakar B, a city-based visualiser, says, “Every movie has an intermission and to simulate a theatre experience, you may think of having a food and drink kiosk worked into your home theatre space.” The size of this kiosk may be proportionate to how much you can comfortably allocate.

Besides this, you may also think of hanging movie memorabilia on the walls – right from posters of famous films to knick knacks — with each piece beautifully highlighted with a spotlight that also lights up your space.

Seating arrangements may range from simple cushioned sofas to bean bags to Lazy Boys and even futons that open out into beds to stretch out on.

What is important for people to remember is that a home theatre system is not only about a single component. It involves considering the following aspects: size of screen, acoustics, lighting and décor. It is basically an ideal balance of audio-visual output, says Alex.

What is also important is to use the right sources. Many people tend to buy fancy audio output but plug it into a PS3. This doesn’t give you the ideal output and many folks are disappointed with what they get.

The right kind of planning and professional attention is what will make your movie viewing a true-blue cinematic experience you can look forward to right at home.

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