December 8, 2019

When to Bring a Theater Designer on Board

When designing a private home theater room, all too often we find a big misconception about when the theater designer should be brought in on the project.  We’ve found it commonly (and incorrectly) perceived that the theater designer doesn’t need to be involved until the room is designed and framed and “ready for the equipment”.  For a private theater room to achieve its high performance potential, it is essential that the theater designer become involved at a project’s earliest stages.

Should Your Theater be a ‘Paradise Theater’?

The Paradise Theater Experience: At Paradise Theater we are focused on designing world class private home theaters.   Our holistic design process incorporates every element of your private theater experience, leaving no detail of your experience to chance.  Each paradise theater is engineered to deliver precise levels of performance as a result of our detailed process, providing you with a magical experience.

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Defining ‘Home Theater’

So, what does the term “home theater” really mean? This is not a trivial question. One of the challenges we find is the ambiguous nature of the term ‘Home Theater’.  When a client says they want a home theater it is very important to understand what exactly their expectation is for a home theater.  It is our job as the professional theater designer to help our clients understand the possibilities that a private theater experience can provide.

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A Room With Many Views

Keys To Designing A Non-Dedicated Home Theater

I have never really liked the term, “dedicated theater,” because it does not really project the image of an entertaining environment. I love the term ‘private theater’ as it gives more credence to the special experience such a room delivers.  Similarly, the term “dedicated theater” is often intended to infer the highest and best standard of home theater, but that’s not always the only purpose the room will provide!

If we take a look, historically, at commercial theaters we find that many of the great classic rooms have been re-purposed and survive because of mixed use. In fact, if we look into it, the best surviving classic theaters have been re-purposed for live performances followed by live theater. Why? Simply put, theaters that were designed and built well enough can support these activities, too. The distinguishing characteristics of these rooms are good acoustics, good seating positions and sight lines, and good architecture and design. [Read more…]

Working Closer Together

One of the greatest missed opportunities of home theater design is the potential for collaboration. Private theaters are joint efforts. Architecturally, a private theater is a room that has potential to impact the other living spaces within the structure of the home. Aesthetically the theater setting is part of a larger environment designed for a desired look and feel. Structurally, theater rooms embody all the subsystems (hopefully with the exception of plumbing) found in any residential construction project. Operationally the system must be equipped to suit the room. Functionally the environment has to be engineered to deliver performance. Most importantly, experientially, the result must thrill the client and prove to be worth the effort.

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Home Theater Design Essentials

Industry Partner Outreach
The Home Theater Design Essentials (HTDE) workshops are an industry outreach effort led by Paradise Theater.  The objective of the initiative is to educate our industry partners on the critical elements of a custom, luxury, high performance private theater and to facilitate a higher level of collaboration on future private theater projects. We want to build closer working relationships with our industry partners through a better understanding of the collaborative process undertaken when planning, designing, engineering and building a high performance private theater. 

One of the challenges we find is the ambiguous nature of the term ‘Home Theater’.  The projects we’re involved with represent the pinnacle of the private theater experience.  This cannot be achieved by simply building a room with speakers, projector, screen, curtains and theater seating that looks pretty.  It can only be achieved with a careful design and engineering process with explicit attention to detail from the planning stages to final room calibration.  Effective collaboration with our industry partners makes these types of rooms possible.

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The New Home Theater Aesthetic

For a private theater to deliver a truly sensational experience, both form and function must be embraced in its design.  Much has been said about the “home theater experience,” and many profess the ability to deliver it. A manufacturer will claim that their product is the answer, while an engineer will point to his ability to provide performance, and a designer will emphasize the importance of the décor.  Though systems and engineering are key components and cannot be dismissed, without equal attention to form we cannot have an unparalleled private theater experience.

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The Home Theater’s Engine

A great private theater is no accident. Theater designers cannot merely show up with the latest top of the line equipment, hang it in the proffered space, and knock out extraordinary results.

In a previous post, I compared the room itself to the chassis of a high-performance machine— purpose engineered for specified results and able to sustain the power and performance that we plan to equip it with. Because we have carefully engineered that chassis, we must follow through with specification, design, and engineering of the engine that will drive it.

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Balancing Form and Function

A private theater is experiential in nature, and there are fundamental elements and attributes required to deliver that experience. Just like a high-performance sports car, it is not enough to look fast; it must have the engineering, build quality, and design to deliver.

Many home theater designers are striving for the wrong goals or have positioned these objectives out of order. One example of this is a home theater designed primarily as a reflection of a theme or style without consideration of the design’s impact on performance. Even when attempts are made to properly design a home theater, if specific knowledge, experience, and skill are not applied, the results will be less than ideal.

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How We Do Windows

Controlling Light and Acoustics in Theaters Containing Glass

Large reflective surfaces in a home theater
require acoustical consideration, and windows
are particularly difficult to treat. If
the window is also a door, such as sliding
doors or decorative single light doors, the
positioning and access/egress issues come
into play, as well.

Large reflective surfaces in a home theater require acoustical consideration, and windows are particularly difficult to treat. If the window is also a door, such as sliding doors or decorative single light doors, the positioning and access/egress issues come into play, as well.

Try as we might, windows will “happen,” due to local building code requirements, architectural standards for a community, aesthetic sensibilities, and client preference. There are, however, exceptions for home theaters in the Uniform Building Code (UBC), and when that doesn’t work, automated shades usually offer your best alternative.

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