We’re pretty spoilt these days when it comes to our favourite media. It wasn’t so long ago that you had to go to a place called Blockbuster and rent a hard copy of your favourite film – and you only got to choose one film to watch out of every option there was (maybe two if your mum was feeling generous). Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?
Of course, these days, Blockbuster has effectively been eviscerated by the online streaming sites it once turned its nose up at, and Netflix and co now dominate the market, giving us access to thousands of top-drawer films, available at the mere touch of a button.
It’s quite an incredible transition really – we’ve all effectively got cinemas sat in our homes, just without the mega screen/surround sound bit. Even that is changing, though, with the home cinema experience now easier and cheaper to install than ever.
So, how can you make the most of all these wonderful media platforms you’ve got access to? Here are the basics of how to go about creating your very own home cinema.
There are three key aspects to think about technically with a home cinema – the screen, the sound, and the setup and control. There are a few things to know about all three:
- Screen: bigger isn’t always better when it comes to your screen. You might think a home cinema means a projection screen, and it can, but that might not be practical for the space you have. Of course, if you’re doing a big room with recliners and mega sofas job, you’ll want the larger projection surface. If you’re making a home cinema out of your small 2nd bedroom, though, a 4K TV will be more than fine – and the picture will often be better for it.
- Sound: probably the most important aspect of the home cinema, in truth. Immersive surround-sound is the key to creating that cinema-like experience, so even the smallest home theatre requires it. For smaller spaces, a 5.1 speaker system should suffice, but as you go bigger, you’ll want to consider 6.1 or even 7.1 systems. Think about your ambient sound, too – you’re not going to enjoy Black Panther as much if you can hear the dishwasher through the wall.
- Setup and control: all of the technical and aesthetic aspects can be individually superb pieces of kit but collectively useless if you don’t have a brain behind them. Today’s home cinemas are best wired up (or rather barely wired up at all) as smart systems. A smart audiovisual (AV) System is the perfect choice for your home project as it’ll allow you to connect everything together nicely. You can use tools like Amazon’s Alexa to help you link everything up, or even utilise cheap but versatile microcontrollers like Arduino if you’ve got a little programming nous about you. If you don’t, there are always tutorials to help get you up to speed.
A good home cinema should look the part as well as delivering the goods, and you want to create a space that you absolutely love being in. Another three things to consider in this regard:
- Lighting: often overlooked but a hugely important aspect, lighting is essential to the overall feel and ambience of your cinema. Smart, adjustable lighting is perfect to set the mood as you please, while softer floor lighting is the ideal cinema-like solution to install. You’ll also want to consider how you’re going to block out unwanted natural light, which means securing the room properly.
- Colours: if you invest in LED lighting then you can set the mood with any colour you want, but you also need to think about the colour of your walls, flooring and furniture. Ideally, a cinema room should be as dark as possible, so darker, neutral colours like greys and darker blues will help set the tone you want.
- Artwork: a home cinema is often a passion project that is effectively your escape from the norm. If you’re really invested in making your home cinema a space you want to spend time in, think about adding finishing touches like artwork from your favourite films. It’ll give your cinema space some artistic credibility and a decidedly authentic feel.
Building a home cinema used to be a matter of fantasy rather than reality, but these days, with amazing TVs, sound systems and smart tech all available at affordable prices, it’s never been easier to create that film room you’ve always dreamed of.
With everything as accessible as it is today, your biggest challenge might be getting the green light from your partner – we’ll leave that one to you.