Home Theater of the Month: Waldo Theater & Flynn’s Arcade

Jameson Shaw is a huge fan of the Tron movie series. So much so that he teamed up with Shawn Byrne of Quest Acoustical Interiors to build both a home theater and an arcade modeled after the movie’s look and feel, with rustic touches taken from the surrounding town of Evergreen, CO. Alongside Adam Pelz of Bespoke Cinema and Steve Kujala of Heartwood Custom Interior Finishes, Byrne took Shaw’s retro-meets-modern dreams and made them a reality.

Shaw’s theater and arcade are modeled after Flynn’s Arcade, the in-movie arcade location owned and operated by TRON creator Kevin Flynn. While Flynn’s Arcade is a multi-story establishment in the films, Shaw’s own theater-meets-arcade is just as impressive, and perhaps a little more fun.

Outside the theater is Fynn’s Arcade.

We had the idea of trying to give the whole thing a bit of a ‘Flynn’s Arcade’ retro feel,” said Byrne. “The other request was to have a secret door to the entertainment area. The door weighs about 2 tons with a full sized 1982 Tron arcade game attached to it that would open approximately 160 degrees. This proved to be quite a challenge for us and the custom door company, The Hidden Door Store out of Gilbert, AZ, but it worked out great!

In an interview, Byrne details the work that went into the theater, the challenges and planning the process entailed, and of course how fantastic the final product ended up being.

AVS Forum: What were your primary design goals for this theater?

SB: Our goal was to create a high-performance Dolby Atmos theater in the space provided. Sound isolation was a primary concern, as Matt did not want his girlfriend to be able to hear the theater or game room if he decided to use the space during the evening or late night hours. We placed a 7.1.4 channel system in the theater room. An additional 4 channels were placed in the gaming space for background music. Matt wanted the space to have a look and feel of Tron, so we tried to employ that in the game room along with an 80’s feel to the room, while preserving the rustic aspect of the mountain surroundings.

We also tried to separate the theater from the game room by giving a bit of a “street” scene with and exterior marquee for the theater. The movie “posters” are professional displays fed by a PC which scrolls through various movie posters, and also plays the trailers for the film on the screens. We used chaser lights to create the old theater bill effect. The screen is a 16:9 aspect ratio, 120″ wide and 5′ 7″ tall. We planned for 7 seats in the theater. Acoustical design and treatment were provided by Quest Acoustical Interiors.

AVS Forum: What are some unique aspects or features of your home theater?

SB: The most unique ​feature is a secret door. This was a custom made door from Creative Home Engineering out of Gilbert, AZ. The requirements were to be able to allow attachment of a fully operational, full size 1982 Bally Tron arcade game onto a door. When a quarter is placed in the game slot, and player one is pressed, the door would open approximately 160-degrees. You can imagine the torque required to allow the game and door to float 1/4″ above the floor to that angle. The door was massive and weighed well over one ton.

Other obstacles we had to overcome were a series of hot water pipes that fed the heated flooring upstairs through the theater room. We also created a custom fiber optic star ceiling using a CNC machine to cut the channels and actual star patterns observed in the night sky. One of the aspects that helps to make our design company innovative is having access to that CNC machine. We can create virtually limitless patterns.

AVS Forum: How long was the planning phase?

​SB: Planning phase was about 6 months.

AVS Forum: How long was the building phase?

SB: ​Building phase was about 3 months.

AVS Forum: What construction materials and techniques did you use?

​SB: We used several proprietary techniques to accomplish the sound isolation around many obstacles in the basement, as well as standard isolation clips and channels. One of the more interesting elements we decided to use was brick in the theater. Generally speaking, this is not recommended for acoustical reasons, but strategically placed acoustic modeling, we can anticipate where such materials will have the least amount of impact on the overall sound quality.

AVS Forum: What was the total cost?

SB: ​This was a very large project tackling the adjacent hallway, the arcade room, theater room, and secret door. Total cost for all three areas plus equipment approached $450,000.

AVS Forum: How much was true DIY and how much was contracted out?

SB:​ No DIY. This was all contracted work.

AVS Forum: If you contracted some of the work out, who or what company was the designer, installer, etc.? Who did the acoustic design, audio/video calibration?

  • SB: ​Designer and Acoustical Engineering Company: Quest Acoustical Interiors. Principle Designer: Shawn Byrne (AVS Forum Handle: SierraMikeBravo)
  • General Contracting Company: Heartwood Custom Interior Finishes. Principle Contractor: Steve Kujala (AVS Forum Handle: Stevekujala)
  • Calibration, Gear, and Integration: Bespoke Cinemas Principle: Adam Pelz (AVS Forum Handle: appelz)
  • Door Engineering: Creative Home Engineering
  • Client: Matt Shaw (AVS Forum Handle: Waldo11)

AVS Forum: What were your biggest challenges? How did you meet them?

SB: Some of the biggest challenges were incorporating the secret door into the design, and designing our first arcade room. It’s a bit out of our wheelhouse, but I think we were able to pull that off to the client’s satisfaction. Of course, audio and video quality were also of paramount issue to the client, and isolating around the numerous hot water pipes provided a unique challenge.

AVS Forum: What were the greatest moments in the process?

SB: ​Best moments of the process was seeing it all come together. Our builder kept us updated with numerous photos along the way, and it was really fun to see a complex project come to light in the way it had been envisioned. Cindy Morgan, who played Yori in the original film Tron, also appreciated the theater and gave it a big thumbs up on Facebook!

AVS Forum: Does your theater have a name? If so, what is it, and why did you choose that name?

SB: ​The arcade is referred to as Flynn’s Arcade, and the theater is named “Waldo” which was the call sign of the client during his service as an F-16 fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force.​

AVS Forum: What is the URL for your build thread?

SB: ​No build thread, unfortunately.

Gear List:

1. Stewart Firehawk Perforated Screen
2. Triad Inwall LCR Gold Speakers for all three up front.
3. Triad Silver Surround Speakers for side and rear channels.
4. Triad custom Silver Atmos speakers (4)
5. Seaton Sound Designer Series 18” subwoofers (2)
6. Barco Balder Projector
7. Marantz AV8805 Processor
8. (3) QSC DCA 1644 amplifiers
9. QSC Core 110f
10. Kaleidescape Strato
11. Lumagen RadiancePro Series UltraHD Video Processor
12. Middle Atlantic Isocenter Transformer
13. Triad Bronze inceiling speakers in arcade
14. Crestron Control System
15. Middle Atlantic UPS
16. Middle Atlantic Rack