I'm finally starting the process of designing a projector-based theater in a mixed use family room over the garage. Right now, the kids do some gaming there, we play table tennis, and general romping. It's a large space: 26.5' x 23.5', heavily gabled with 12' ceilings at the peak. We watch TV there now, almost exclusively movies at night.
I've come up with a rough design with a screen at the far end of length of the room, and am looking for input. This short 3D fly around offers an overview:
This is a mixed use space and will stay that way, but I am committed to achieving good quality within a reasonable budget and the constraints of the room. Here's the 3D view from the door entering the room:
The screen will come down to cover two windows on the back wall, which you can see in this "X-Ray" view:
Some of the basic components I've had in mind:
- A Motorized Tab-tensioned 2.35:1 screen for a constant-image-height setup. See below for screen configuration and my arguments for a cinescope screen. The only 2.35 I can find that seems to fit is the Elite Cinetension2 138". Would be very glad to have other suggestions.
- Some curtains made by my lovely wife to mask side-bars when viewing 16:9 content.
- A 4K-capable projector. Leaning heavily towards Epson 5040UB.
- A 5.1 surround system. I've included in the model the larger KEF Q series Q300 bookshelves and matching center. I'm open to a couple of in-ceiling ATMOS speakers, but given the strange layout of the gables, not sure how they could be situated.
- I'm inclined to go with 2 sub-woofers for a space this large. Very open to input on brands, sizes, etc.
- Some kind of AV receiver that can hide in the closet (near where the guy is standing).
- A UHD Blu-Ray player.
- A 4K AppleTV.
I have a few categories of issues I'd love help with:
Screen and light
The screen must cover the window frames when it is deployed. The windows it covers face West, but are under heavy tree cover. Some late afternoon light gets in, despite good window shades. So a screen that "leaks" light from behind is less desirable than one that blocks it. The big bank of windows faces South, and gets lots of daytime sun. I have screens on all but the high semi-circle. Thinking about adding a motorized screen to that too. Skylights face North, and have motorized blinds.
Here's my argument for a 2.35:1 screen: the gables in the "bumpout" area where the screen lives come in steeply, so there's less room above for a taller aspect screen. Probably I could fit a 16:9 of similar width or slightly smaller. Movie watching occurs almost exclusively at night, so a less bright image is OK. (ProjectorCentral estimates ~38fL when mounted at 15' throw, nearly as close as possible for a 10'7" wide image). 16:9 use is mostly during the day (games, etc.), so a smaller effective screen (~110" diagonal here) is ideal, as it increases the brightness to ~56fL, which makes it possible to play games without closing blinds (I'm hoping). Here’s a view in 16:9 mode with the curtains deployed to simulate a 110” diaganol:
Here you can see the full projected image areas (black bars and all) marked as black rectangles in both the 2.35 (larger rectangle) and 16:9 (smaller rectangle) zoomed settings:
Notice that in wide screen 2.35 mode the black bars spill above and below, but that the bar below falls off the screen matting. The wall behind is moderately dark, but this isn't ideal. It also brings up another real issue:
Even maxing out its very generous 98% vertical shift, the Epson needs to be mounted an uncomfortable 2' 6" down from the ceiling. I'd far prefer less, in part because of how vulnerable it looks hanging there in free space (think nerf gun wars). It's still a good 8'9" up, so no danger of slapping it, but still. What would be ideal
would be to have a screen with another ~6-8“ or so of black below
the screen area, which would capture the lower black bar overhang in 2.35 content, meet the WAF by overlapping the windows frames completely when deployed, and also allow me to shift the screen and projector up by that amount. Never seen such an option.
Mounting on the rear wall in a shelf is another possibility. But it compromises image brightness somewhat and would be a >40' run for the HDMI cable. It's also sadly impossible with the 54" constant image height shown here. You can't make the image that small — room too big. I'd need to switch to a 16:9 ~125" diagonal and zoom all the way in (+tolerate black bars top and bottom, and a brightness drop to a constant 36fL). But far more secure I admit. And another advantage of a rear shelf mount is it may allow the use of a higher gain or ALR screen material than a ceiling mounting (3rd scene in the movie above is from the projector's perspective: screen is way down there!). So that might cancel out some of the brightness losses.
Is it worth trying to find some in ceiling positions for Atmos speakers? Other (perhaps smaller) satellite surround ideas? Is 4 bookshelves all the way around reasonable? Placement issues given the unusual ceiling? Thoughts on sub placement and sound tuning systems? Other placement ideas? Here's a view standing near the screen looking back towards the door, showing the high rear surrounds:
So that’s where I am. Apologies for the long post. Input on any part of the project is very much appreciated.