Cheapskate Theater Build #2 - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 31 Old 12-30-2010, 10:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Current state of basement theater:

 

 

Well it's time for round 2.

About a year and a half ago I made my first go at a dedicated theater room above my garage. Everything turned out very well considering the circumstances, but I'd always planned to build a better theater downstairs. Well, it's time to start. Here's some pictures of my current theater for reference.





Here's some screenshots of a layout my wife and I came up with in Visio so far. The theater will be about 15' wide by 21' long with an extra 2' in the back behind the false wall (15' x 23' total).

Blank


Finished


Some caveats:
1 - My basement is below my septic tank so I have to use a special toilet with an attached pump and maceration. So that means anything that requires a drain has to be on the same wall as the toilet.
2 - In the pics you can see the landing at the bottom of the stairs has a single step going to the ground floor on either side of it. Well, I'm actually only going to drop half the distance for the kitchen, then the last step will drop at the entrance to the game room area. This allows the bar stools to be higher at the back of the theater.
3 - My wife and I don't care about sound isolation (obviously because we want the large window at the back for overflow seating).

Now here's some pictures of the basement in its current state:
Down the stairs

Looking to the left

Looking further to the left

Looking to the right from the landing

Looking further to the right

View from screenwall


The walls in this basement are insulated forms. There are plastic studs every 8" just behind the foam. So I plan to use furring strips on any exterior wall before drywall. The ceiling is nominal 9' (it's actually a little less from concrete to bottom of joists. I plan to put in a soffit around the entire perimeter of the theater to hide the beam and ductwork on the one side. Also, not drawn in the Visio screenshots is a riser and a stage. Nothing too fancy. The riser will probably be about 12" high and the stage about the same, each with an intermediate step. I also would like to put in the small columns throughout the room to hide the surrounds. The columns will probably only stick out about 4". Lastly (for now), my wife really likes the starred ceiling in the center so we'll be doing that, so I need some ideas.

Now here's some pictures of other theaters I've seen on this board from which we borrowed ideas:

Rear Window and Stage

Ceiling

Columns

Screenwall w/ Curtains


Equipment List:
Epson 8100 projector (for now)
Denon AVR 790
JVC XV-BP1
HTPC
Polk Monitor 70 II's for front left and front right
Polk CS20 center channel
Bookshelf speakers for the surrounds (sides and rears) by TSC

Need to buy/build:
Subwoofers (thinking about dual 12", possibly as an IB)
DIY 12' wide AT screen (2.40:1)

Some questions I can think of already:
1 - Should I even consider an IB sub in this configuration with no sound isolation?
2 - Should I even bother with base traps in this configuration?
3 - I don't have any experience with amps, but I'm assuming I'll need some. Can anyone recommend me something or at least educate me a little? I'm thinking about separate amps for the front LCR's, then letting the Denon power the surrounds. Does this sound reasonable..... or even possible?


So let's hear your thoughts. I'm sure I left out a lot, but I can't stand typing anymore.

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post #2 of 31 Old 12-30-2010, 10:42 AM
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good luck with the build....I'll be watching
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post #3 of 31 Old 12-30-2010, 12:19 PM
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You could build a IB subwoofer in your utility room, venting into the front of the theater. IMO, go with 15" drivers at least. Since the theater is open at the bar in the back, you won't get a lot of cabin gain.
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post #4 of 31 Old 01-03-2011, 03:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Update:
I was able to build one wall yesterday, which is good considering how miserable I've been after this college bowl season (I'm a Michigan Alum). So far so good, but while I was up on the ladder I felt a nice draft of cold air leaking into the basement. I always thought about sealing it up and insulating the sill plate better, but this just confirms it for me. I'm going to probably spray foam the entire perimeter of the basement before drywall.

Also, I just received some incredible news that my wife is 3 weeks pregnant with our first. Not the best news with regard to the theater though. I hope progress doesn't slow too much, and now we may reconsider the sound proofing.
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post #5 of 31 Old 01-03-2011, 05:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crash11 View Post

Update:
I was able to build one wall yesterday, which is good considering how miserable I've been after this college bowl season (I'm a Michigan Alum). So far so good, but while I was up on the ladder I felt a nice draft of cold air leaking into the basement. I always thought about sealing it up and insulating the sill plate better, but this just confirms it for me. I'm going to probably spray foam the entire perimeter of the basement before drywall.

Also, I just received some incredible news that my wife is 3 weeks pregnant with our first. Not the best news with regard to the theater though. I hope progress doesn't slow too much, and now we may reconsider the sound proofing.

Congrats on the little one!

Mike
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post #6 of 31 Old 01-05-2011, 02:57 PM - Thread Starter
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2 walls are up now. Not very secured, but they're standing on their own. The back wall is going to be tricky because I can't build it the conventional way and stand it up (pole in the way). I think I'm going to build it in the middle of the room and slide it into place.







So does anyone have anymore advice for me regarding subwoofers? I'm pretty handy, so I'd be all for building an IB. I just don't know how. Nor do I know where to get good components.

Also, about the starred ceiling. What's the conventional way? I think I've seen people do it with drop-in ceiling tiles, but I'm worried that the gridlines holding up the tiles will show up as an obvious pattern in the sky. I don't want that. I want it to look like a homogenous sky. No lines. I thought about using some kind of smooth plywood or particle board, but I'm worried about how to attach it to the ceiling. If I just use black screws straight into the floor joists above, does that mean I have to avoid running the fiber optic cable between the plywood and the joists? If that's the case then I'm stuck with the same problem as a drop ceiling where I have very distinct lines that I can't put lights on, which I'm affraid will show up. Any ideas?
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post #7 of 31 Old 01-05-2011, 08:39 PM
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All you wanted to know about IB subs.

http://ibsubwoofers.proboards.com/index.cgi

Mike
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post #8 of 31 Old 01-09-2011, 03:58 PM - Thread Starter
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So far so good. All of the walls are up and about half the soffits.







I'm giving some serious thought towards building an IB. I made sure there was a stud cavity dead center on the back wall, and I opened it up a little wider than normal for better air flow. Also, it looks like I'd be able to do it for less money than just buying a couple 15" pre-made units.

Any thoughts on sound treatment inside the room? Will it be much of a benefit to incorporate bass traps and wall treatments if I'm not going to be doing the DDGG and isolation clips? Also, is there much need for sand in the stage if I build an IB?
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post #9 of 31 Old 01-09-2011, 04:21 PM
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What are you doing with those load bearing posts?

I've got one in the way and while I'm not thrilled about the particular placement I plan to wrap it in a square column
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post #10 of 31 Old 01-09-2011, 06:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry M View Post

What are you doing with those load bearing posts?

I've got one in the way and while I'm not thrilled about the particular placement I plan to wrap it in a square column

I remember seeing a build where someone had a post in the room and they just painted it the same color as the walls. That seemed to "hide" it the best. I'm not wrapping mine at all. It's just getting painted.

Maybe it wasn't clear at first, but only one of my posts will be in the room. The other one will be hidden in the false wall.
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post #11 of 31 Old 03-19-2013, 10:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Wow it's been awhile. I haven't updated this thread because I'm too lazy to put in the effort. My wife and I had a baby in September 2011 so progress slowed on the entire basement for a little while, but it picked back up this past winter. I've now finished pretty much everything in the basement other than the theater. We recently picked up everything and cleaned up all of the saw dust so I decided to take pictures:
Mudroom and Office

Kitchen

Gameroom

Theater Entrance

Left side of theater

Right side of theater

Unfinished ceiling (will someday be a starfield)

Stage (litter boxes won't be there when it's finished)

Riser and rear window


The last big things on my to-do list are the false wall, fiber optic ceiling, and carpet. There's still plenty of small odds and ends.
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post #12 of 31 Old 03-19-2013, 11:03 AM
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What did you do for the columns? How big is your HT?
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post #13 of 31 Old 03-19-2013, 11:57 AM - Thread Starter
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All I did was make rectangles out of 2x4's. Those columns stick out 3.5" from the wall, and they are about 13" wide.

The entire room is about 15' wide by 22' long, but 2' of that length will be lost to the false wall. In the center it's a couple inches shy of 9' tall. Riser is 14" tall. Stage is 12" tall.
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post #14 of 31 Old 03-20-2013, 07:53 AM - Thread Starter
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What is the fabric of choice these days for false walls? GOM was popular, then I found out about DMD............I'm wondering if anyone likes something else? Cheap is the first priority.

Also, I need some black fabric for the ceiling panels. This doesn't have to be acoustically transparent, but to save on shipping I was considering using the DMD stuff throughout the theater (aside from the screen).
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post #15 of 31 Old 03-20-2013, 07:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crash11 View Post

What is the fabric of choice these days for false walls? GOM was popular, then I found out about DMD............I'm wondering if anyone likes something else? Cheap is the first priority.

Also, I need some black fabric for the ceiling panels. This doesn't have to be acoustically transparent, but to save on shipping I was considering using the DMD stuff throughout the theater (aside from the screen).


there is post floating around that BigmouthinVA has when he went to a larger screen i think he went with a black velvet type material from Joann Fabrics


http://www.avsforum.com/t/837848/minimalist-approach-to-screen-wall/120
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post #16 of 31 Old 06-30-2013, 08:36 AM - Thread Starter
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Well I haven't posted in 3 months, but I've managed steady progress. Believe it or not, this is the most documentation I've put into a project ever, and it still sucks. I took a bunch of pictures last night of the theater at about 97% complete. The only thing I have to do construction-wise is build little frames to put in front of the surrounds.

Here's sort of a panoramic shot of everything:







Here's a shot from the kitchen where we plan to place some bar stools:


At some point we plan on buying another 4 chairs and making 2 rows of 4. I hate leather. So the chairs in the photos will be relegated to the back row, and we'll get rid of the 5th one that has the wrong fabric on it. It's hard to tell, but the front row left side chair came with the wrong fabric. The seller didn't want to pay the return shipping, so he sent me another one for free. So right now I have 5, but only intended to have 4. Also, the new front row seating will have a loveseat in the center because I'm a little tight on space between the rise steps and pole.

I also have some pictures and documentation on how I did my screen and screen trim which I'll detail in a follow up post.
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post #17 of 31 Old 06-30-2013, 08:54 AM - Thread Starter
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Screen photos:
I made the frame out of 1x4 poplar. Biscuit joined at the corners with l-brackets. 2 vertical supports in the middle which I used to hang it.



I attached 1/4-round shoe molding to the front to keep the screen material from touching anything behind it. This is a shot of the side of the screen. You can kinda see the curvature of the molding:


rather than buy t-brackets, I made these cleats that help along with the biscuits to make the center of the screen nice and rigid:


Mating cleat attached to the false wall:


Bottom spacer block to keep the screen plumb:


Here's some shots of the false wall showing the center supports from which the screen hangs. Man my center channel looks tiny.



Now here's where I started feeling really clever. I was trying to think of a way to make everything removable including the screen fabric. This meant I couldn't attach the trim to the screen frame itself. So I had to attach the screen trim to the false wall in some way. However, if I did that then I can't see how I'd be able to take the screen down. So I came up with this method of making the screen trim into a picture frame. I basically left a gap around the entire perimeter of the screen separating it from the false wall by about 3/4". Then I built a frame out of 1x3 poplar that squeezed into that gap. Then with that frame squished into the gap, I attached my trim pieces to the poplar frame. So now I have 3 elements, false wall, screen, and trim. The false wall is fixed permanent, but the other two are removable. Here's a couple shots of my screen trim:


The 1x3 poplar wasn't quite skinny enough to slip into the opening with no obstructions. I had to cut notches into it for the two vertical supports that hold up the screen. I wanted at least 1x3 though to keep the trim frame rigid. So you can see how the trim actually overhangs the poplar frame on both sides. This actually helps to conceal the shoe molding on the screen and some screw heads that show in the cabinet frame on the bottom.

I have one more post I'll create with some photos of other things I did. More to follow.
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post #18 of 31 Old 06-30-2013, 09:10 AM - Thread Starter
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The last few things I took photos of were lighting and hvac.

Steps lights:

These came out even better than I had hoped. I found some low voltage lights on ebay and a low power transformer that actually dimmed the lights when I dimmed the 110v going into it. These step lights are on their own zone, and since I used the spacer system (requires a minimum of 60w on a zone) I had to run an extra line to duct fan in my supply duct just to create enough resistance for the dimmer to work.

Rope lighting:

I know it's a terrible picture, and my rope needs some tweaking. I need to take some time and rotate it so all of the lights face the same direction. The one thing that bugs me is that I have a couple electrical boxes above the crown molding that I was hoping would be hidden, but they're not. You can see one on the left side of the photo. I guess I need bigger crown molding. These lights are wired in series with an extra outlet outside of the theater that I plan to use to power the star ceiling (if I ever get around to installing it). Right now the ceiling is just 4 panels wrapped in black fabric and velcro'd to the ceiling.

Here's the supply duct I mentioned that has a duct fan mounted inside of it:

This duct is behind the false wall. I didn't really need the duct fan, but I needed some electrical resistance, and I figured this at least serves some function rather than just putting extra light bulbs in my back utility room. So now the fan runs with the steps lights, which means it runs at about 30% duty cycle when movies are playing. Luckily we can't hear the fan at a duty cycle big enough to have adequate lighting on the steps.

Return duct in the ceiling in the back of the room:

I know a lot of people here are real big on hvac in a theater because of the heat load. I wasn't too worried about this because my basement has insulated forms and the huge window in the back. My wife and I watched "The Dark Knight Rises" one night and never felt any discomfort. This was in the summer, and we had a blanket over us. My basement stays at about 65 F year round.

So what do you guys think? If anyone wants anymore specific info or pictures let me know. I'm not great at documenting, but I can remember the specifics of pretty much anything I did in this project.
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post #19 of 31 Old 06-30-2013, 10:13 AM
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Have you come up with any ideas on what materal you want to use for your star ceiling ?
Would styrofoam work with low heat LEDS ?
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post #20 of 31 Old 06-30-2013, 10:37 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
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Have you come up with any ideas on what materal you want to use for your star ceiling ?
Would styrofoam work with low heat LEDS ?
I actually already built the ceiling panels. I used 1/4" birch plywood because it was on sale at Menards one day for dirt cheap. I re-enforced it with 3/4" pine boards ripped down to 1" wide on the backside. Then I transferred my starfield pattern onto the panels and driled all of the holes from the backside. Finally I wrapped the panels with the DMD fabric I used to created the false wall panels. So my starfield pattern is drilled and ready for fiber to be pushed through. I just didn't feel like taking that step as it's hugely time-consuming. So I stapled on my velcro and put them up on the ceiling temporarily.

For the starfield I plan to use 0.75mm fiber and hopefully just one Coolsky illuminator. I have a pattern that uses about 425 stars (about 25 of which are larger holes for brighter stars). The coolsky is nice and small, so I'm going to mount it right above the panel with the most stars and run an extension cord over to the outlet I placed in the ceiling above the adjacent game room.
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post #21 of 31 Old 07-01-2013, 01:49 AM
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I never did a project like this because I don't own my own home unless I win the lottery ? biggrin.gif Yeah ! biggrin.gif maybe some day.
Yes those lolly colume polls for anyone's home theater are a eye sore but what can anyone do got to have them.
I like your theater room but if it was me I would have done the entry door different.
Maybe it's just me but the black trim going over the door doesn't look right.
I would have painted the door a deep rich cherry red or walnut or gotten a wood door and stained it a deep cherry red or walnut.
Everything else there turned out great except the door.
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post #22 of 31 Old 07-03-2013, 07:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
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I like your theater room but if it was me I would have done the entry door different.
Maybe it's just me but the black trim going over the door doesn't look right.
I would have painted the door a deep rich cherry red or walnut or gotten a wood door and stained it a deep cherry red or walnut.
Everything else there turned out great except the door.
That door actually is a wood door. It's solid core pine. We primed and painted the theater side to match the walls because we saw a particular theater that did what you describe, and my wife and I both hated the look. The problem we had with it was that there was nothing else stained in the entire room, so the door stuck out like a sore thumb. That's just us though. Everyone likes things different.
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post #23 of 31 Old 07-04-2013, 10:23 PM
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What are the pro's and con's with this theater room compared to the one you had upstairs ?
I can only dream of ever having something like that and a home.
Hope you have a happy and safe 4th of July.
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post #24 of 31 Old 07-05-2013, 10:00 AM
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Hi Crash11, you've done a nice job with your theater, the whole basement really. I like the removeable frame idea for your screen. Where did you get the wall sconces? They look nice and bright for when that's needed.
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post #25 of 31 Old 07-08-2013, 07:45 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks guys. The biggest benefit to moving the theater downstairs is temperature. Having the room over my garage (even though it was fully insulated) was uncomfortable for several months out of the year. In the summer the room would get way too hot, and in winter it was way too cold. My basement is sunk 7 1/2' into the ground and has insulated forms. So the temperature fluctuates between 60-70 F. The garage bonus room fluctuated from about 45F to 85F. I also like the basement because the theater was the focal point. When I designed my basement layout the theater was the first room that was decided (size and location). Then we made rooms everywhere else that seemed useful. As a result I now have a room wide enough for 4 chairs (15'), and I don't have to deal with knee walls on the sides like the bonus room. Another thing I learned was how important the center channel is. In my bonus room I had the center channel below the screen angled upward. This only worked well for the front row, and it still wasn't even as good as having it behind an acoustically transparent screen.

dale,

I found those sconces at Menards. They were on sale one day, but they didn't have any in stock (other than the display). So I checked the sku# online and found them. They matched the sale price in the store. I think I ended up getting them for $20 each. They're regular price is $25. Still really cheap. The quality is definitely cheap if you look close, but from a distance they were exactly what my wife wanted.

http://www.menards.com/main/lighting-fans/indoor-lights/wall-lights/benito-1-light-11-25-chrome-wall-sconce/p-1662152-c-6362.htm

They take a candelabra bulb.
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post #26 of 31 Old 12-29-2013, 08:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Latest pics after buying another row of seats and finishing the star field ceiling:















The front row seats were bought from 4seating.com I got the Seatcraft Catalinas in black/black. Comfort is pretty good, and I really love fabric over leather. Quality isn't the greatest, but there's not much selection in microfiber.

I couldn't get any good shots of the star ceiling because my camera isn't very good. I used the Coolsky LED illuminator and 0.75mm fiber runs. In the end my ceiling has about 400 stars (8' x 14' area), and it looks great. My wife couldn't be happier with how it turned out. In fact, 400 may be a few too many stars.

I only 2 things left on my to-do list for this room:

1 - Build a bi-fold door system to block out the back window when needed
2 - Build/Buy a proper subwoofer for this size room (currently only have a single cheap 10" sub)
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post #27 of 31 Old 12-30-2013, 07:37 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the praise David. You have a good eye. It is silver moleskin spandex from Spandex World. I bought a piece of white and a piece of silver, and I didn't even need to try the white. I much prefer deeper black levels, and when I fired up the projector for the first time on the silver I was plenty satisfied with the brightness. I knew I didn't need any more brightness a the expense of black levels.

The screen is 120" wide (2.38:1).

The nearest part of the post is 119" from the screen wall. Also, the nearest part of the post to the side wall is 25". The walkways on the sides are probably 6" skinnier than I'd like, but I really wanted to fit 4 seats wide in the front row.
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post #28 of 31 Old 12-31-2013, 05:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by DavidK442 View Post

Thanks for the response. I have experimented with the thinner milliskin spandex, silver and white in different configurations, and finally settled on white with black speaker cloth behind it. I loved the improvement in black level that the silver gave but found that bright scenes lost detail. I don't think my BenQ W1070 is as bright as your Epson.

Do you find when sitting in the front left seat that the support post is distracting in your peripheral vision? That is pretty much the exact configuration I would have if I go this route.
I had to go check, and no there is no distraction to my peripheral vision in any chair. When sitting in the front left chair my head is about 18" behind the pole, and the pole is literally rubbing the side of the chair.

I couldn't answer that question from memory because I've only ever sat front row center. My theater, my rules.
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post #29 of 31 Old 12-31-2013, 09:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Anyone know this scene?
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post #30 of 31 Old 01-02-2014, 04:53 PM
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Clueless.

(Not you, the movie)

I am curious about the discontinuity of color scheme that you curently have where the opening at the back of your HT looks into a room with a very different wall color. Do you like the look as it is, or do you think you may paint to match in the future?

I ask because I had to overcome significant objections by my wife in order to paint space adjoining our HT room (Phase I) to match the theater. I plan to fully enclose the HT as part of a more extensive HT remodel in the future, but that will have to wait for a significant influx of $$. Funny thing was that after repainting the adjoining space, my wife really liked the resulting look.
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