A technologically advanced home theatre system in an opulent 1930s themed room secured a prestigious award for Imagine This. The Kent-based integrator achieved first place in the Best Home Cinema over £100,000 category at the CEDIA Awards 2013 for a project which was singled out for praise by the judges for creating "a flawless home cinema which is technically perfect". To view the decadent theatre in all its glory, check out this video tour, click here.

Imagine This was engaged to design and build a screening room within the subterranean basement of a substantial private home. The client, who works in the film industry, stipulated a highly engineered solution which would be on a par with professional facilities. With a very practical understanding of cinematic processes, he wanted manual control of all technical elements. Conversely, he also specified intuitive and automated control for when the system was in use by family or friends. To match the exacting technical demands of the project, the room aesthetics also had to display supreme levels of luxury and comfort.

The screening room was originally to be located in the attic of the property. However, after evaluating the integrator's preliminary ideas, the owner decided to construct a purpose built space. This allowed Imagine This to optimise all the elements of the design including acoustics, electrics, cabling, lighting and room layout. Scalability and 'future-proofing' were also taken into account to ensure emerging technologies could be integrated at a later date.

Imagine This undertook a rigorous audio evaluation at the outset, using professional audio response software. Based on the results, a comprehensive range of treatments have been used, including green glue and absorption, reflection, diffusion and bass management materials. This has greatly improved modal response and ensured pressure is more evenly distributed; achieving a better overall sound. Calculations were made to determine the optimum size and placement of the projection screen, seating distances and the rake of the flooring.

To maximise the available space, a 260" projection screen was commissioned. The immense screen is made from an ISF and THX approved acoustically transparent fabric, featuring a 2.40:1 aspect ratio and vertical motorised masking. To complement the screen, the integrator chose an incredible 12,000 lumens projector. Using the intelligent lens system and digital crop files on the projector, a variety of presets have been created, so that the client can enjoy content in a variety of aspects, 2.40, 1.78:1 and 1.33:1. Thinking ahead, the projector has the ability to be upgraded via an IMB module.

Despite the considerable size of the room, THX Reference level sound has been achieved. The rear sound array consists of six passive speakers while, at the front, balanced active bi-amplified loudspeakers have been mounted in a baffle wall, specially constructed to enhance their output. In order to deal with MSV (mean spatial variants), wave collisions, standing waves and nulls, two high output subwoofers have also been installed in the wall. Impressively, the integrator has reproduced full DTS-HD sound. 

The video sources include a networked movie server to manage the owner’s extensive film collection, an Apple TV with network attached storage, two Blu-ray players, a Sky TV; Xbox and the ability to stream content direct from the client’s iPad.

Imagine This has provided an easy to operate control system which consolidates and automates all the functions in the room. Access in the screening room is provided through an RF touch panel and an iPad, running a customisable app, while a rack-mounted hard-wired touch panel, located in the equipment room, manages the maintenance functions. Imagine This designed a graphical user interface (GUI) for the control system, incorporating visual elements from the room design, to ensure simplicity of operation for all users. A dual control approach to the programming of the GUI means the client has manual access to settings, such as the projector and lens modes and audio codec selection, while less technical members of the family and the client’s visitors enjoy an automated experience.

The equipment is housed in two racks in a separate air conditioned room to maintain the optimum operating temperature for functioning and longevity. To ensure the installation is serviceable, accessible and maintainable, a patch system has been used for connection. This means that either of the racks can be independently removed for maintenance or additions, or redesigned, if required in the future.

Considerable thought was given to the robustness of the electronic systems to avoid the inconvenience of system downtime. Specialist hardware has been used such as power conditioning on all electronic items, both in the equipment rack and the active loudspeakers and reset equipment for the Sky decoder which is prone to locking. Redundancy has also been built in by separating the AV and the lighting control processors.

To create a robust local data network, the installer chose fibre and copper cabling to link the new screening room with an existing system in the main residence. Furthermore, this will enable the client to stream video content to the new facility in the future. In order to efficiently and correctly deliver the cabling throughout the screening room and foyer, a containment system has been designed to provide the appropriate location and segregation of the various high and low voltage cables.

The client aspired to create a 1930s style interior which would convey a classical elegance and comfort through the use of authentic materials and architecture. Imagine This sourced a quantity of reclaimed oak panelling, which became a pivotal part of the design. A fully modelled 3D plan was built including wireframe images, photographic render and a full motion video. Once approved, the installer worked with experts from many disciplines such as artisan cabinetmakers, decorative plasterwork specialists, theatrical curtain makers, recliner seating and bespoke carpet manufacturers, to bring all of the elements together.

Once the equipment had been fully installed and the room furnishings were in place, a final audio room correction process was completed along with HAA (Home Acoustics Alliance), THX and ISF calibrations.

The process took two years to complete; beginning with the initial client contact through to the final handover of the project. During this time, Imagine This worked at a very detailed level, from the vital technical elements of the audio and video to evaluating the acoustic properties of the interior design fabric. The discerning client is delighted with the screening room, which matches his business needs and has become a popular space in his home for welcoming visitors. The integrator has produced a solution that delivers an outstanding experience both for today and into the future.

Imagine This, UK CEDIA Member

0845 680 6856 - www.imaginethis.uk.com

For video tour of this stunning project, click here.