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Big Red theater build 21' x 27'

post #1 of 542
Thread Starter 
Index to this thread

- Installing a new window well with large windows in the basement
- Building a mount for a heavy projector into the framing before drywall goes up
- Installing a new steel I beam and moving a support post to widen the theater
- Drywall complete and theater renders
- Building 2 8 foot long DIY subs with 2 x 15" drivers each
- Stage and risors framed. subwoofer is behind stage on the concrete so no sand.
- Equipment room (man cave) completed
- My plan for DIY speakers for the LCR
- Cherry wood soffits ready for stain
- DIY speaker pics and first test of the sub
- DIY CH Masking system
- The Home Office Project that got in the way of the theater
- Cherry Columns
- Lighted Marquee over Entrance
- Furring and Treatments
- Wood Stained pictures: No GOM yet
- Stained and GOM up
- Carpet Installed
- 3rd row lighted counter
- Berkline 12000 seats installed
- Some things i have learned doing this project
- The Office Part II
- NEW 5/1/10 - Room Tuning

The Boring backstory

i did a nice 17' x 17' theater in my old house. a couple years ago we had a significant medical crisis in the family and that really got us thinking about our priorities in life. after that we decided to sell the house we had built and buy something more modest. we call the house big red because it is covered in tacky red vinyl. we are thrilled to be here and feel blessed to have our kids in such a great neighborhood full of families with kids.

when we the made the decision described above i made sure my wife understood that doing this move would involve "a few consumer electronics purchases" . now it is time to do the theater and i am excited.

The widening the span in the basement

we have a typical midwestern basement with 9' ceilings and a steel column every 15'. after looking at a few of the larger theaters here (i really like the feel of art's) i decided that we would first increase the span of the theater by moving one of our steel columns. i have another thread on that but we had an engineer and our contractor work together and plan to add a 22' 8" x 31lb steel beam along side of the one that runs down the center of the house and with proper footer and posts we can have a 21' span between posts.

the other change we plan to make is to add a 15' x 8' window well to bring daylight into the basement. big cheap vinyl houses aren't typically walkouts like our old house was we plan to use this new window opening to load the new steel beam into the basement.

The Theater Plan

The theater will 21' x 27' inside. the front of the theater height will be set by the underside of the steel beam which is 8'. the back half of the room will be at 9'. i plan to do a starfield ceiling using the technique that sandman used. other facts:

- 3 rows of seating
- 3rd row will be a counter set at 28" table height with 4 conference room chairs and gooseneck lights on the countertop.
- plan to do a 12 1/2' wide CH screen
- i have a infocus 777 (333) that will be driven by a lumagen hdq and a panamorph.
- i plan to use an outlaw audio preamp.
- i am undecided on speakers but klipsh is a candidate.
- i am undecided on seating but am beginning the investigation.
- there will be a dedicated 15' x 6' projection booth behind the theater. i plan to have a glass window looking in from the hall and now that i see how cool this 777 looks i think i might throw an accent light on it.

the contractors started today. i am having them do the steelwork, mechanicals, framing, basic electrical and drywall. i will do trim and paint. to finsih the basement, add the steel beam, excavate and add the windows, framing, drywall and electrical the contractor we chose will charge use about $35000 (1800 sqft of finished space).

enough for now. thanks to all who have helped me along the way. i will try to keep this thread current with pictures.

I pic near completion

post #2 of 542
Thread Starter 
the contractor has begun the dig for the windows to let light into the basement. we wil put a 15' x 8' window well build from landscape timbers and tiered up and two 4' x 5' windows into the basement (one on either side of the fireplace). this is a requirement to get my wife to enter "the creepy basement" and enjoy the theater. it will also allow us to put the steel beam and all the lumber into the basement.



post #3 of 542
Big hole in your yard, sounds very familiar. Didn't you guys get hit with snow at all? (it skipped western wisconsin).

enjoy the project!

post #4 of 542
Thread Starter 
hi curt. the snow missed us here in indy but it got COLD. we are hustling to get the outside work done before things get worse. i have been watching your thread. looks like a very cool theater. i would love to have the ceiling height you have. i keep meaning to post to your thread to ask how they support a garage floor above a theater. i didn't even know that was possible. is there steel in it?

tues they cut my windows and weds they lug the steel beam into the basement through the window. i told the contractor i would have a lawn chair and a beer to watch that one. i will post pictures.

post #5 of 542
Snow caught us today, I sent it your way.

As for the garage/theater - I forget the technical word, Spancrete is a brand name of it, but basically big concrete spans put on like lincoln logs over the roof. Pretty cool and took them like minutes to put on! We see it a lot more on newer houses around here - good way to utilize more space (because houses just aren't big enough nowadays).
post #6 of 542
Thread Starter 
i will post pictures when the sun comes out.

- they finished the windows into the basement and all i can say is wow. i am so glad i did that it was $8500 and the contractor commented that he was a couple thousand low. it was a huge job but they put in a 15' x 9' x 6' deep windowbox outside the basement and cut 2 5' x 3.4' windows into it. i have a southern exposure and sunlight pours in. the basement no longer feels like a hole so my wife will go down there. the window is nowhere near the theater but it will light up the lobby, rec room, etc.

- workers got the 22' x 8" 700 lbs steel beam into the basement through the new window opening. it is ready to go up. they cut out the floor and poured a proper concrete footer for the new steel post with heavy rebar throughout.

- most of the walls are framed and i can see the size of the room. i sit for hours in my "les nesman theater". i love the dimensions and am really glad i am moving the steel column.

- we decided how to do the lobby. outside the theater entrance i will have a 10' long countertop with a soffit over it to create the look that it is carved out of the wall. behind the counter we are framing a new wall in front of the existing wall so that we can sink three one sheet frames into it. my dad is in the theater business and grabbed 4 actual lighted one sheet frames from a theater that was closing. for xmas i asked for cool one sheets.

- i have a fridge that we moved from upstairs when we redid the kitchen and planned to use it in the lobby but it is a white side by side. i decided it looks too much like a kitchen so we created a small room behind the theater for the fridge and microwave. i will post updated floorplans.

- i have arrived at a cool design for the columns. i need to do a test but i think it is very unique. sandman inspired me i will post more soon.

- we decided to do a large industrial pocket door coming into the theater. it solves a lot of problems and also lets me create a really unique entry since it does not have to swing either way.

contractors are off for a couple weeks. they are planning to be done with drywall at the end of jan.

post #7 of 542
"les nesman theater" haha! do you make your family enter through a non-existent door?

sounds like you are ready to start the fun stuff soon. good luck!
post #8 of 542
Looks very cool and thanks for the vote ! No question the width does give a grander open feel. It looks and sounds like you are planning such that upgrades won't be painful...smart.

Have you determined screen size ?

post #9 of 542
Thread Starter 
i looked at your theater a lot when i was planning this one. it just feels like a good proportion.

i set the pj up and played a little with screen size. i think i am settling on about 62 x 146 CH. that gives me a 62 x 115 16:9. i don't remember yours but this felt pretty good in the room.

post #10 of 542
Thread Starter 
here is the updated floor plan.

i want the room to remain rectangular for acoustic reasons, etc but i like the look of angled walls so i plan to do framed walls with GOM on them inside of the real walls as shown. i am also thinking of putting my L and R speakers outside of the columns on stage so that they are actuall coming through the angled walls.

the pocket door solves some problems and presents a cool opportunity. the problem is that my wife likes a big door. she feels less claustiphobic if she can see the real world. she wanted a double door for size and because it looked cool. problem is the door would have nothing to swing against. the 48" pocket door will solve that. it will be a single 1 3/4" commercial wood door that will slide into the wall behind it. in addition since it does not have to swing anywhere i can do some unique trim around it. i will draw that up and post later.

finally, my software cant draw a curved countertop but the 29" high counter in the back of the room will curve to match the riser.

post #11 of 542
Thread Starter 
here is a rough render of the lobby.

i am thinking of putting a wine fridge under the counter and we are framing a wall in front of the wall behind the counter to sink the lighted one sheet frames into. my dad pulled them out of a theater he was closing. my wife says i have sickness for counters and i think she is right. i really like the look of a long, uncluttered counter. this one is nice because it looks like it is sunk into the wall under the lowered soffit with can lights in it. i kind of thought about putting a glass candy counter into this one

i am thinking to put a box office to the left of the double door into tde theater and some type of marquee above. that is the other look i picked up from art (i hope you don't mind - imitation is the sincerest form of...).

post #12 of 542
Thread Starter 
when i was a kid my dad renovated an old downtown movie palace and ran it. one of the things he did was to open up a window from the lobby into the projection booth because people were always trying to look in when the door opened. people would stand and look in the glass at the platter spinning around. i wanted to put the projector in a room behind the theater so as not to ruin the look of the room but when i saw my infocus 777 i decided it looked too cool not to display. i am going to do a window into my pj booth. from the little room behind the theater that has the fridge and microwave i have a window and a windowed door looking into a 5' x 11' pj booth. i have a long counter (there i go again) where i can sit some of the interesting equipment in a neat row rather than have it all hidden in a rack. at the end of the room i have blocked out 4' (the room is actually 15' long) that remains unfinished so i can get to the back of the rack that i will build into that wall. there will be access to it by climbing under the counter at the end of that room. hanging overhead in the center of the room is the infocus. i am actually considering putting a little bit of light on it (yes i am a geek).

post #13 of 542
Thread Starter 
here is the thought on the pocket door. in a perfect geek world there would be one little door leading to the theater that sealed when closed and let no light in when open. i don't live in a perfect geek world so my theater will have a large inviting opening that gives my claustphobic wife the option to see the outside world when in the theater. because of the location of this door there is no wall for a double door to swing against. the solution is to do a large pocket door. then it occured to me that i can do some interesting trim around it since there is no hinge or door to work around. when it is open it is like a cased opening.

this leads to my thoughts on a column. i am a woodworker and have really been looking for an interesting look for a column. i liked the round columns that sandman did but i want to do something different. i have always liked the look of a round column sitting on top of a square pedestal. recently i saw this look in an old house where the round column was marble and the pedestal was cherry. i think i can do that look and make the top acoustically transparent.

on either side of the door, i will be able to do a raised panel pedestal with a round column on top of it and it can wrap around the end of the door frame as the drawing below shows.

there would just be a slot on the inside of the door frame for the pocket door to go into. i think larryep is doing a similar pocket door in the laranberg theater but i can't tell yet.

as i said earlier i need to do some testing

post #14 of 542
Just a thought before you get too far. Depending on how much subwoofer power you intend to have, pockets doors are notoriously difficult to work with as the will move a lot.

post #15 of 542
Indy, just curious what side of Indy you are on. We live just south of downtown but we are in the process of buying a home in Beech Grove , which is also where I work.

Looks like the new HT is going to be something pretty nice. Our new home has a room that I am making just for home theater, well, that and my wife's guitar practice. It's not going to be anything as spiffy as yours but it will at least get it out of the living room.

Good luck and congrats.
post #16 of 542
Thread Starter 
art - good point about the rattling doors. i will look it over closely before sheet rock goes up and decide if i need to add any felt, etc. i am a bit undecided on subs right now. i live in indy and have agreement with the folks from klipsch to do a demo of the ultra thx system at headquarters. i suspect i may really like the lcr since i used to do pro audio and like that live, horn loaded sound. i am kind of torn between that or doing some type of line array but i noticed that sandman was a martin logan fan and still chose the klipsch.

chad - thanks. i am up in fishers. this is my second theater (4th if you count living rooms/rec rooms). i predict that in a few years you will be back for the next level of "spiffyness".

post #17 of 542
Thread Starter 
as promised here are some pics of the window well we put in. this was SOOOOO worth it.




post #18 of 542
Thread Starter 
is cleaning out the basement.


AFTER (notice the steel beam ready to be put up)

and here is where it went. 3 trips to the dump and i spent a day building shelves!
post #19 of 542
Thread Starter 
in order to widen the space needed for the theater we had to move the HVAC, Water heater and water softener. originally they were right next to the steel post we are removing.


AFTER - notice floor at right has been cut and new footer poured for the new column. also the trunk ducts on the ceiling were pulled up flush to the joists so that we get an extra couple inches headroom in the front of the theater.
post #20 of 542
Can I have your shelf design? Love it!
post #21 of 542
Thread Starter 
i have been building this design shelf for several houses now. i use clean 1x4 pine (costs a little more but good stuff is worth it). i use an 18 awg finish nailer with 2" nails to build an 8' x 2' frame. my son gets on one end and i on the other. we shoot a little glue on the end of the 1' 10 1/2" 1x4, sit the 8' one on top and shoot two nails then we flip the U shaped assembly over and shoot the other 8' peice in place. then we lay it down, run a bead of glue around the top and lay a 2' x 8' piece of 1/2" mdf on top. i then use my brad nailer to nail down the top until the glue sets. the finished shelf looks like this from underneath.

the 1x4 is plenty strong enough for the 8' span and i have loaded these things.

once i have build a bunch of these shelves i run 2 vertical 1x4's floor to ceiling on the back wall for each shelf stack. i put them at about 2' and 6' so they help support the middle of the shelves. anchor them to the wall with cement screws.

now the fun part. i set a stop on my compount mitre saw and chop 14" long pieces of 1x4. starting at the bottom, shoot one 14" piece to the bottom of each vertical support and do the same for 2 more legs that go at the front of the shelves. then you sit a shelf on top of them and shoot it in place. then 4 more 14" pieces and another shelf and so on. when you are done the supports look like this.

i wood glue everything as i go so the nails are just for holding until the glue sets. these are VERY strong.

post #22 of 542
Looking good, this is just my personal thoughts but I had had bad experiences with pocket doors. Not only do they move allot like Art stated, but they also can stick do to temp and mositure changes. We had some in our first house and they were an PINA....

I look forward to seeing your progress over the next few months.
post #23 of 542
Thread Starter 
don and art - i am curious if the pocket doors where in an older house? in my last house i put one in and it worked flawlessly. the builder told me there was a big difference between older pocket doors and the well built ones we used. ours had a box track with multiple rollers inside so they could not come off the track. they also had steel on the sides of the frame to keep them from moving over time the way wood does with moisture.

maybe i just got lucky in my last house.

post #24 of 542
Hey Indy dude,
This is where I got my hardware from to make my pocket doors for my theater. The doors glide smoothly on these I-beam tracks and I am very impressed with the build quality. Not the cheap &%$# you find at the box stores.

I used solid core doors and they're pretty stout. However, like others have said, it can be a real PINA to contain noise. If you're looking to really keep it down, you may want to consider something else. I'm doing a complex diy gasketing system, and won't know how effective it will be until it's all done.

post #25 of 542
Thread Starter 
hey craigo. i wonder if you could share a little more about your gasketing idea?

post #26 of 542
Thread Starter 
i am considering a very different approach for surround speakers and columns and i wanted to get some thoughts on this. in a movie theater the spec calls for a surround speaker every n feet so that the entire room is covered and the sound cannot be localized. as we know speaker manufacturers had to come up with a more user friendly design so they started doing dipoles. the problem is that most of our home theaters have multiple rows so we have to optimize for a sweet spot. i am thinking of doing an array of speakers every few feet like a movie theater for surround. this will also permit me to use a flatter speaker that will fit behind the GOM and not have to be hidden in a column. this way my columns could be actual columns made of wood without big speaker grills in them. i REALLY like that idea.

the idea is that i will build a version of the modula MT speaker that is popular with DIY speaker builders and put 4 in each side wall and 4 in the rear. the modula has a 1" dome and a 7" midwoof. i would put them in cabinets that are 5 1/2" deep so they would fit in my walls behind the GOM. in the center of each of the three walls i would put 4 10" speakers in a larger cabinet that extends through the wall into the unfinished space behind it. the whole thing would be actively crossed over using behringer processors and a couple outlaw 7 channel amps.

this would allow me to do a room that looks kind of like this:

post #27 of 542
For what it is worth, THX specs for home theaters have dipoles at each row, you just need to change the phase on every other one (so you don't have two - or two + pointing at each other).

That is the approach I am using with in-wall dipole surrounds behind GOM. Ok, because of a door I am cheating and using two sets for 3 rows, but the people at the bar are busy drinking anyway.

post #28 of 542
Thread Starter 
i did not see that in the thx spec. i will see if i can find that one.

post #29 of 542
I don't think it is on their website, for what it is worth it is in my training manual. I can see if I can figure out a scanner and post it (assuming that is allowed, I can check in the morning).

(THX Certified Technician, woohoo)
post #30 of 542
Thread Starter 
framing is done and i mounted my pj today to get the mounting hardware in place and test the sightlines before drywall makes it a LOT harder to change things. thought i would share a bit of how i did the mount.

First i framed in a couple extra 2x4's turned on their sides for blocking like this.

then i cut a sheet of birch plywood and mounted my pj on it using metric bolts specified by infocus

then i held the sheet of wood (without the pj) up to the ceiling where the pj should be mounted and drilled 4 holes though the 2x4 blocking. i put T nuts on the backs of the blocks and pulled them down into the wood

then to make sure the tnuts would not come out of the holes after the drywall is up (they tend to weasel their way out and in this case i would not be able to get behind it to put them back) i mounted a block of wood behind them

and screwed it in from underneath

then i just threaded 4 bolts in to hold the mounting board and pj in place.

i will of course dismount it for drywall. i plan to thread 4 bolts into the holes and leave them hanging down for the drywallers to work around then later i will just mount the pj up to the ceiling.

and yes, i did fire up the pj and sit in my les nesman theater for a while

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