How Home Theaters Lost Their Wow Factor

There was a time when mentioning a home theater use to conjure up images of grand homes with posh movie rooms that only an exclusive few friends got a chance to experience. Now with the advent of inexpensive large screen televisions, Bluetooth speakers and expanded home theater furniture, many find that their home theater’s lure has vanished. Home theaters use to have a special appeal but now that the main components of that appeal have become more affordable to the average homeowner who has decked out their empty nests into a personal cinema using Ikea kits, many find that old special appeal no longer brings friends together to enjoy a movie night?

Here are three ways to bring back the Wow in Home Theaters

Translucent Claro Screen
In 2013, CLARO introduced one of the first light immersive transparent glass screens that allow images to be projected from either the front or back of the screen. Unfortunately, it was limited to a certain projector angle and the size was too small for home theaters.

Translucent screens have been around for a couple of years now but most home theater installers and consultants don’t know how to utilize the wow factor of such a screen. When they do implement them, most use pre-built translucent screens that are too small for large format viewing.  Also, many lack the imagination to recognize that you can do more than just project a movie seemingly out of thin air, you can change the theme of your whole home theater room instantly with multiple or wide translucent screens that are specially built for a true in-depth field of view similar to holograms. When a translucent screen is built to be displayed on the wall, a specialty paint can be applied to a floating wall frame behind it, it will create a fall in effect. This effect is enriched if you are using a 4k projector. Since the projected image on the translucent screen seems to be floating a few inches away from the wall it can create an illusion that you can grab an object or “fall into” the screen.

Moving stars and clouds can be projected unto ceilings, walls or objects

Themed ceiling projections are another source that can make a room look and feel amazing. Imagine a large moon slowly rising on the ceiling above your guest while a movie is playing. Your guest will be immersed in the full experience because the projected theme can change with different scenes in the movie. Luis Magana from Inodime is working to create a simple system for clients that can pick up sound and light cues from movies and videos that automatically blend them with themed projections on ceilings, walls and even objects. Luis explains that these projections are not programmed for individual movies but will pick up the subtle light and sound cues projected from any video or film and project that onto the ceiling or wall. A night scene within a movie can magically change the ceiling to dusk with shooting stars. Planes in a dogfight on the screen can trigger a show of light blue sky with interrupted cirrus clouds in motion creating the next level of full immersion and extend the experience beyond the screen. This can be accomplished with more affordable projectors to create multiple views.

Old is new again when you add technology that was first introduced into large theaters decades ago but was too expensive to implement in multi-screen theaters that were created in the 80’s and 90’s. Rumble chairs and bass shakers are perfect for immersing oneself in a movie or even a video game.  Specially designed rumble chairs are the best of the two technologies because they implement a mixture of tactile transducers and bass but can be very expensive.

Nuanced low frequency feel for your home theater seating
Nuanced low-frequency base for your home theater seating

An expense I believe is better spent on other immersive experiences in a home theater but a bass shaker placed underneath or attached to a chair can give you that same rush you feel in a rumble chair when a movie with a dinosaur walking just off screen and moving closer to you within a Jurassic Park movie or when a depth charge is dropped from an anti-submarine ship explodes deep in the water. Bass shakers don’t rely on loud bass sounds but the low frequency that are created in movie studio editing to allow you feel the sound as if you were there. Expensive bass speakers can help you feel the experience but not in the same way a bass shaker can. A $900 bass will never trump the close feel of danger rumbling underneath you. Bass shakers can be found on audiophile websites and Amazon but remember, bass shakers need amplification and should be properly installed by a professional who knows what type of amp will help create that immersive experience.

Home Theater created by Inodime with inset speakers and LED screen light that changes with screen picture
A home theater created by Inodime with inset speakers and LED screen light that changes with the picture on the screen

Finally, let me leave you with these few thoughts on home theaters. When you create an immersive experience for your guest, think about other experiences they can enjoy in your theater room. Video games, sporting events, themed YouTube nights and special concerts can all be enjoyed in your immersive entertainment room. Your room reflects how you feel about entertaining guest. Allowing your home theater to easily change themes and allowing your guest to completely become immersed in what they see on the screen makes them ache to come back for more.

Featured image courtesy of Houzz.com

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About Armand Lucas 83 Articles
I've installed security cameras and home automation systems for over 15 years. Now as a consultant, I Investigate and write about new technology as they emerge to help all of us to become more secure, independent and productive in our homes, businesses and vehicles.