How They Did It: Electric Dreams

Ed Wenck | Jan 07, 2021


The Digital Picture proved with this particular project that the discovery process is really, really key. In this instance, the homeowner had a general vibe about what they wanted: the sound and image of a truly great movie experience. They just don’t know how to “get there.”

The Digital Picture explains:

“Our client had some knowledge from having a home cinema in a previous residence and when we were first introduced to them, the idea of a cinema of this performance level had not crossed their mind. After two in-depth meetings and having discussed the industry standards relating to audio and picture quality and the associated costs involved, we were asked to come up with something exceptional.”

That they did, delivering a 9.1.4 Dolby Atmos system that delivers reference-quality sound while being completely hidden from view. A BenQ 4K projector delivers a brilliant image to a 158-inch Cinemascope screen, and a custom user interface, careful power management and the dark, elegant aesthetic are also part of this winner.


The Cinemascope Issue

That screen created its own challenge, according to the firm. “One concern from the client about Cinemascope was the inability to watch 16:9 HDTV content on the screen at full width, so we introduced them to the Lumagen Radiance Pro video processor which can take care of this via its intuitive NLS (non-linear stretch) feature, allowing regular TV and sports to be viewed at the full Cinemascope screen width. This entire discussion led us to decide that a high output 4K laser projector and Lumagen processor was the only way to fufilll the requirements of the design, offering both NLS and aspect ratio control, but also conversion of HDR content to SDR with colorspace control suitable for the laser projector’s capabilities.”

Another key to the room’s success: Sound isolation. A windowed wall was covered up (although an illusion of “shuttered windows” remains on the home’s exterior), and the nearby bedrooms are completely cut off from any sound this cinema produces. A custom door helps here, too.

Careful work on the HVAC system and some custom touches to the seating (including motorized headrests) make this theater “a clear winner,” according to CEDIA’s judges.


Award-Winning Racks, Too

The rack for this theater was a top perfomer in its own right, drawing quite a few complements from CEDIA’s judges, along with the wining trophy in that category. The biggest challenge here? Space. Terrific design allows for service and upgrades with minimal struggle in close quarters.

The Digital Picture describes the challenges with this gear:

“Our client has young children and did not want them having access to the expensive AV equipment, but at the same time no additional space was given to us to install the equipment in a rack outside of the cinema in a locked cabinet. This presented two problems, where to hide the equipment (as it must not be seen), plus, how does one allow access to the Blu-ray player and game consoles?

“It was decided that the room design would include two small pull-out racks at the front of the room under the screen but behind a fabric covered panel so that the equipment was not seen or easily accessible. Then a small basic cabinet was made to sit beside the back row of seats which would house the Blu-ray player and Xbox console.” Power and signal cabling then had to be run properly to the various components.

The Digital Picture had a great 2020, despite the pandemic. In addition to this theater’s wins for Best Home Cinema (Level II) and Best Dressed Racks in the Asia Pacific region, the firm notched a third trophy for a project called “The Bunker,” which picked up Best Media Room, Level I.

For a complete equipment list on the “Electric Dreams” project, check out the entry at the CEDIA Awards website. (The Best Dressed Racks entry can be found