Going to the movies is one of life’s great pleasures. The comfy seats, the surround sound, the crystal clear images. But with rolling lockdowns still affecting much of the country, it’s less easy to enjoy the big screen experience.
The solution? If you have a living space that doesn’t see a lot of use, consider turning it into a home theatre. In fact, today’s technology makes it easier than ever to recreate the experience of the big screen from the comfort of your own home.
Here’s what you’ll need:
There’s nothing like that magic moment when the lights go down and the entertainment is about to start. For your home cinema, avoid bright or overhead lights. Instead, install indirect lighting that can be adjusted. Floor lamps or spotlight, gentle wall lights and dimmer switches allow you to lighten or darken the room as needed.
Consider painting the room a darker colour to really amp up the drama. If it’s a multi-use room, you might not want it to be completely black, but a charcoal or deep blue feature wall will make a huge difference. And if you’re planning to watch movies during the day, make sure you have some good quality black-out blinds.
You don’t need a custom built set of theatre seats to make your home cinema comfortable, but you do want something that invites you to sink down and relax. If your cinema is doing double duty as a lounge room, you’ll also want to make sure it’s adaptable to guests.
Try a modular sofa system that can be configured for optimal viewing. Recliners offer that ‘in-theatre’ experience, and many have drink holders in the arm. In fact, modern furniture has a surprising amount of technology built in, from charging stations, accessory docks to reading lights in the arms.
A good sound system is at the heart of the cinema-going experience. Movie theatres use surround sound and multiple speakers to distribute layers of sound around the room and create an immersive experience.
Recreate the experience at home with 5.1 channel surround. Three speakers go at the front of the set up, to the left, right and front of the screen. Another two (left and right surround) sit slightly behind the viewer. Add a subwoofer nearby to project low-pitched frequencies.
To avoid tripping over cords, look at wireless sound systems such as Sonos, and a cordless play bar to control the technology.
Improve the acoustics of the space and style the room at the same time with soft furnishings. A plush rug, velvety throws and cushions will all help absorb sound, as well as decorating your new space.
It’s not a true big screen experience without a big screen! Your first decision is whether to choose a flat screen TV or go all out with a projector.
If it’s a dedicated home theatre space, you might want to consider the projector option. The sizes available go far beyond that of a normal TV, with pictures up to 150 inches (380 cm) across.
• A full HD model for a crisp image.
• At least 2000 lumens of brightness, so it can hold its own even when there is sunlight creeping in at the curtains.
• A model designed for home cinema rather than business. Avoid options with a multitude of VGA, audio and video ports; all you need is a few HDMI inputs.
For a part-time cinema, stick with a smart TV. You’ll be able to stream a huge range of movies and TV shows for relatively little money.
Today’s smart TVs are LED backlit rather than plasma, and far superior to earlier models. Look for a 200Hz panel for the best resolution. If you want to push the boat out, an OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) TV will give you the best image quality at a reduced power consumption.
The set up is complete, but there’s one thing missing: the snack bar. Never fear: you can have all the same snacks at home. There are a range of popcorn makers on the market from reputable brands including Sunbeam and Breville. They’ll make enough fresh hot buttered popcorn for everyone to have a large bucket with some left over.
Even better, in 2020, Bulla responded to the closure of cinemas by making its iconic Choc Tops available for purchase in major supermarkets.
Add some drinks, and you’re good to go!