OK, so I'm finally back here posting some photos. Wasn't entirely pleased with how most of my photos turned out (using an original Canon EOS Digital Rebel and the 18-55mm lens), but they'll at least give you an idea. Changes since my last post:
1) Old off-white carpet replaced with a brownish-gray loop carpet. We're happy with this. Entire living area (and hallways and stairwells) painted in Benjamin Moore Golden Lab (178) flat paint
. My wife and I had a tough time deciding/agreeing on the color, and neither one of us was entirely thrilled with it when the job was done, but we've decided to live with it for a while and hopefully come to love it. In certain lighting conditions, I think it looks great, while in other lighting conditions it looks a bit "lemony". I think part of the problem is how it looks up against the wood trim. I'm trying to convince my wife to let me paint the wood trim a not-super-bright white. For the movie watching experience, it's definitely lighter than I'd like, but because we have an open floor plan we decided to stick with the same color throughout, and we were worried about the home feeling *too* deep/dark in other areas. My other concern (which I haven't mentioned to my wife, and she hasn't said anything to this effect) is that sometimes when I look at the walls with the curtains, the yellow/red combo looks a bit clown-like. So I may decide to experiment with other curtain colors. That's easy, so I'm not worried about that. Anyways, enough about the wall color.
2) Fireplace painted black (satin finish, I think). We're both happy about how this turned out. If money was no object, I'd probably have the entire fireplace wall redone in fieldstone.
3) Light control is still a big problem for daytime viewing. I'll need to add some window treatments in the raised bandstand area, and may add some light-blocking backs to my curtains. The bigger problem are skylights in the loft area (not pictured). I need to find a creative solution for blocking those but also being able to un-block them when we want more light. The front door (also not pictured) also has a big oval glass window which is troublesome. Eventually I'd like to replace that door altogether.
4) The new projector screen is in place. Upgraded from a Da-Lite Model B 92" diagonal 16:9 (45" x 80") High Power (original formula) to a Model C custom made into a 49.5" x 116" (that's 2.34:1) with extra black drop above/below the screen. It's basically a stock 133" diagonal 16:9 (65" x 116") screen, where they cut some of the height and replace it with extra black drop. They don't charge a lot for this. So, when watching a scope movie, it's essentially like I had a 133" diagonal 16:9 screen. I use the ghetto-style manual zoom/shift approach with my Epson 8350. When watching 16:9 content, I zoom in and it's like I have a 49.5" x 88" (101" diagonal) 16:9 screen, so it's also an upgrade in size for 16:9 content, compared to my old 92" diagonal (just not as *much* of an upgrade). I also switched to a black case, compared to my old screen's white case. I have mixed feelings about whether I made the right decision going with this screen, but overall I'm happy when watching scope content with the significant size upgrade. My biggest regret is that if I knew then what I know now, I would have had them make it more like a 2.40:1 format, as I find that most of the scope movies I watch seem to be closer to that ratio, and I have to overspill it onto the black area (left and right) by a good 4" total in order to have it completely fill the white area's height (otherwise if I fit it to the width, I'll be left with tiny gray bars above/below the movie). Another complaint is that Da-Lite's black drop does a poor job absorbing light. Part of the reason I got the extra black drop (instead of just having them cut me a scope-format screen with normal black borders) was so that when I manually zoomed out my 8350 to watch a scope movie, the light leakage above/below the scope area would get absorbed by the screen's black drop. That works fine most of the time, but when I watched the latest Batman movie which switches between scope and IMAX-sourced 16:9 mode, the 16:9 scenes have real picture data displaying very noticeably in those black areas. I mainly blame the Batman director for this, though. Rant over. Even though light control is poor, and I wait until the evening to watch movies, the setup actually does a great job of displaying a perfectly watchable/enjoyable 16:9 image for sports or TV shows (most scenes in a Pixar movie would also look good). I just set the 8350 to "Living Room" mode to boost brightness then. At night, I use Natural mode. At some point I need to do some basic calibration, but the out-of-the-box settings on the 8350 are really quite good.
5) Projector is mounted permanently. I had the mount there before the painters painted, so it's permanent now.
Because of the retroreflective (I think I got that right) nature of the Da-Lite High Power material, I wanted to get the projector mounted as close to eye level as possible. Unfortunately, this results in the fan noise being too noticeable. Part of this is my own fault as I recently started setting the 8350 to "high altitude" mode based on a theory by some people that getting the fan to run full-bore all the time (which "high altitude" mode does) could prolong the bulb life (the 8350's bulb has a record of lasting not nearly as long as they claim). But I'll probably switch that off to quiet it down. Note that the 8350 has got a remarkably quiet fan - I just have it way too close to my ears. I may also scoot the movie seats forward by a foot.
6) Speakers are in place, but I still have yet to do a basic calibration on that. Most of the time, everything sounds good, so I haven't bothered with it yet. I'm a bit worried that the surround speakers are too big and are making the ledge they're sitting on look cluttered. I may end up replacing them with some small/discrete surround speakers. There doesn't seem to be a good option from KEF for matching the sound of my fronts perfectly, but I'm more of a videophile than an audiophile and could probably live with less-than-perfectly-matched surround sound.
7) Cables are still a mess. The 720p Panasonic plasma mounted above the fireplace is one big problem. Not exactly sure what I'll do to improve that wiring situation (ideally I wanted to try cutting some holes to see if I could run it through a cavity somewhere without risking running into the fireplace flue - but I wasn't able to get that done before the painters came). The wires for the surround speakers are the other big eyesore. And there's wires running down from the projector, but those will be the easiest to run through the wall and down to the baseboard (and, for now, they're the least noticeable anyway).
I think that about covers everything for now. Other finishing touches will include replacing some light switch covers, and eventually replacing the ceiling fan (not shown) with a big chandelier/light of some sort. Here are some photos...View from the kitchen - Screen down / curtains closed (bandstand on left):View from the kitchen - Screen retracted / curtains opened:Closer view:View from the bandstand (looking left/center - retracted screen in view on left):View from the bandstand (looking right):Edited by srauly - 1/19/13 at 7:05am