The final touch to the theater and hallway were the lighted posters. In addition to standard backlit posters, I wanted to build a marquee poster box as well, to go at the end of the hall.
For the standard boxes, I wanted to use fluorescent lighting again, similar to the boxes from my last theater. Fluorescent lighting provides a nice color and diffuses easily. This time around I used snap frames from Spotlight Displays and attached them to some DIY boxes. This makes changing out the posters so much easier than my last set.
For the marquee box, I started with the basics of a standard box, but then built a secondary box to hold the string lights. Using standard xmas light sockets, I strung the lights around the box and connected them to a chase controller.
Despite having the projector and chairs since the end of December, the theater was essentially useless since we didn’t have a screen. Due to the holidays and other delays, my custom made screen from Jamestown Screens didn’t arrive until February. 🙁
The free time, however, allowed me to work on building the screen wall supports which are just 2x4s screwed and glued and setup like goal posts. In the pictures they’re painted white, but later I repainted them black as they were reflecting light and could be seen through the screen.
Once the screen arrived, construction went quickly. The material is the Seymour AV Center Stage XD. It’s an acoustically transparent screen that allows for the speakers directly behind the screen with very little attenuation. This time around I wanted to go with a Scope sized screen or 2.37:1 aspect ratio. It’s 130″ wide and 54″ tall which equates to a 141″ diagonal screen for Scope format movies. For standard HDTV or 1.78:1 movies it’s approximately 110″ diagonal. The surrounding panels were cut to size and wrapped with black-out velvet.
You may recall two large cutouts in one of the the hallway walls. These are where the shelving units will be located. To build the units, I used pre-made shelves, MDF and backer board. All the pieces were painted prior to construction and then the completed units were slid into place and secured. As a final touch, trim was installed around the edges.
In order to tame reflections and make sure the proper frequencies are transmitted to the listeners’ ears, acoustical treatments were installed on the walls. OC703 rigid fiberglass boards were secured to the walls up to ear level and standard cotton batting was used above. Behind where the screen will go, the entire surfaces were treated. Next, GOM (Guilford of Maine) acoustical fabric was then installed over the treatments to polish off the look.
When my wife and I had originally toured the home nearly a year ago, we knew that when we built the theater we wanted to try to match the carpet that was already used throughout the basement. It was a dark color and had the perfect pattern. When we asked the previous owner about it, he couldn’t remember the brand, the name of the pattern or the store that they bought it from. We were discouraged, but didn’t give up. In a stroke of total luck, while surfing carpet manufacturers’ websites, the pattern flashed on the home page and I was relieved to know it was still available. The installers did a great job getting it installed on the stage and riser.
Before any carpeting was to be installed, I wanted to get the theater ceiling and hallway painted, this way I didn’t have to worry about covering the floor. Per a recommendation from AVS, I used a grey primer for the ceiling and tinted primer for the hallway. The final ceiling color is Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black and the hallway used Beach House to match the rest of our basement. In hindsight, the grey primer was a bit thicker than I anticipated and I believe led to some of the brush strokes that can be seen in direct light. The strokes aren’t too bad and are nearly invisible when watching a movie.
Never having done soffits before, I did a lot of research on AVS. The purpose of the soffits in this theater was multi-fold; hide the HVAC supply ducts, act as an HVAC return duct, and provide a light tray for upward rope lighting. Using 2x2s and MDF, I installed the soffit around 3 sides of the room, installing the flex duct toward the front of the room and the return in the rear. Instead of painting, I wanted to wrap the soffits in fabric and this allowed me to build the tray portion at the same time. With the fabric stapled to a border piece, installation continues and the fabric gets stretched to the wall.
The riser and stage are two components that really start to bring character to the room. To get enough height for the 2nd row of seats, the riser was built out of 2x12s and the stage used 2x10s. Once framed, the stage was filled with sand to help dampen the front speakers and subwoofer while the riser was filled with insulation. A couple layers of plywood and roofing felt finished off the tops and they would be ready for carpet.
One of the best moves I made during this project was the hiring of a contractor to install the drywall and to mud and tape the seams. For soundproofing, 5/8″ drywall was used in two layers, with Green Glue sandwiched in between. It was amazing to watch only two guys put everything in place and only one piece in the entire job had to be recut. The really amazing part was how good the arches in the hallway came out. These guys did an amazing job. One thing you might also notice, the double doors that were once in the front of the room were removed and “walled” over. You would never even know it was once there.
With framing completed, it was time to run electrical for the lights, posters, equipment, etc. and the low voltage cables for video, audio and networking. As part of the soundproofing efforts, I built backer boxes for any can lights and wrapped puddy pads around the electrical boxes. Most of this was probably overkill, but once drywall is up, it’s hard to go back and do it if needed.
While cruising the forums at AVS, I came across a Theater done by DJMarceau. (here) DJMarceau had done some curved arches in his lobby that he was using to display his Lord of the Rings collectables. I thought the arches would be perfect for the lighted posters I planned so I decided to duplicate his work. Having previously modeled my hallway in Google SketchUp, I was able to get the exact diameter of the arch and rudimentarily transferred that to some plywood with an RCA cable I had laying around. 🙂 Once traced out, I cut out two identical pieces used 2×4 pieces as spacers. As you’ll see, the drywallers performed the magic to make them look awesome.
With most of the joist soundproofing and the HVAC out of the way, it was time to start framing. As suspected, the short wall of the little room was load bearing, so I needed to have the wall replaced with an engineered beam. Surprisingly, that job went quickly and over the course of a few weeks I put up the new walls in both the main room and hallway and started a new ceiling in the hallway, hiding the mess of HVAC ducts. I also rebuilt all of the soffits to save on space and framed out the opening for the equipment closet.
As summer progressed here in Hotlanta, we had the unfortunate circumstance of a 15 year old AC unit finally dying. However, I was able to turn those lemons into lemonade and put together a new zoned system for the theater and basement. Down south the ducts are just a spaghetti of flex duct and with the routing for upstairs, the main basement and the theater, it was quite a mess.
Now that the room had been stripped down, it was time to start rebuilding, and that meant thinking about soundproofing from the rest of the house. What you can’t see from the plans or pictures is that this room is directly below our kitchen, which has hardwood floors and so every footfall from my wife and dogs can be heard clear as day. After researching soundproofing techniques for walls and ceilings and hearing first hand from some folks on AVS, I determined that I was going to need to use double drywall and a sound damping material called Green Glue. This would need to go in between each joist. What you see in the following pics are the strips of drywall and the Green Glue used. I could immediately tell the difference once I got the first layer completed, and knew it was only going to get better as the Green Glue cured over the next 30-60 days. It was a pain in the butt to install, but it made a world of difference in the amount of noise that can be heard in either room.
Wanting to see what was inside the walls and soffit, I began to punch holes and tear down some of the existing drywall to take a peek. What I found was a lot of wasted space, so my plan was to bring it all down and rebuild it more efficiently. After a few weeks off to move in and get settled, the real fun began. Piece by piece I tore down old drywall and 2x4s and basically took the room to bare walls. There were a couple places where I left the existing framing in tact, but most of it came down.
Here is the old workshop that will one day become Home Theater 2.0. There appears to be some rather large soffits and wall cavities that I can probably pare down to gain a few more inches and that room in the corner will have to go to make room for the hallway. Unfortuanely, I beleive the short wall is actually load bearing, so I’ll have to figure a way to remove that and still provide support.
In 2011 my wife and I relocated to Atlanta. While searching for homes, space for a Home Theater was high on the priority list. After only a couple months of searching, we found a beautiful home that had a perfect space for a home theater. The previous owner had used the space as a workshop, but that was going to change. I immediately started planning for Theater 2.0, even before we closed and moved in! After several iterations of drawings, we finalized on a plan. Below are the before and after.