Stuart Burgess of Just Add Popcorn gives EI the full tour of this impressive home cinema, which went through some interesting changes as the concept developed through from planning to the final execution and was the first to employ Artcousitc Performance A6 speakers.
Stuart explains that the project came about after the client visited the Just Add Popcorn website, which he found via a Google search. The client reached out on the phone and Stuart arranged a home visit to discuss the requirements and vision for the project.
Stuart explains, “The client was very open to our suggestions and really left it down to us to come up with the ideas for the room. The client’s original brief was to create a 10-seater cinema in a slightly smaller room than the one we ended up with. Our biggest challenge with the original room was the fact the screen wall was 1m less in width than the area we needed to fit in the 10 seats (two rows of five).
“So the client could visualise the room, we drew up a render of the space to show them what the final room would look like and the finishes we wanted to use. On our second visit where we showed the clients what the space would look like, we were told that the plans had now changed and, rather than building the basement under the existing house, they were now going to excavate the back of the house and extend the basement and new kitchen (above the basement) into the garden.
“This now gave us a complete blank slate where we decided (within reason) how big the room needed to be. Something that very rarely happens! Upon showing our initial ideas to the client, it was also decided to expand the seating to 15 with the front row being a mixture of single seating and lounge style seating.”
So, armed with the new expanded plans and potential of the larger room, the team were able to revisit and revise.
Stuart explains, “After the second meeting, we revisited our render and redesigned the space once the plans for the room had been drawn up by the architect. Although we had the freedom to suggest the size of the room, the final space still had to fit in with the architectural specification of the build.
“This presented us with a small issue on the width of the room and didn’t give us the measurement needed to get both the 15 seats in and build the walls out to recess speakers into (being a basement the walls where solid concrete). This ended up working in our favour, however, as it meant our only real option for speakers was going to be Artcoustic as we could mount this on the wall and then surround them with the stretched fabric walls.”
Stuart adds, “We were also keen to use the new Artcousitc Performance A6 speakers since seeing them at ISE in Amsterdam in 2019. The A6’s gave us more control over the dispersion of sound from the LCR speakers, as they can be laser allied to cover the three rows of seats meaning that no matter where you sit in the room you do not end up in a ‘cheap seat’.
“For the room, we decided to install a 9.2.4 Dolby Atmos configuration. We felt this best fit the size of the room and by installing front wide channels, there would be no large gaps in the audio between the front and side channels. Initially, we had also thought about installing a 9.4.4 set up with two smaller subwoofers at the rear of the room to help with any bass or standing wave issues we might have.
“However, even though we pre-wired for these, the two Control 3 subwoofers behind the screen ended up doing such an amazing job that the clients and their guests can’t believe the bass is just coming from behind the screen and not all four corners. After calibration, the room easily hits Dolby’s recommend level to be considered a Reference Cinema.”
Adapt and deliver
One of the client’s biggest requirements was that when watching movies, they wanted the projected image to be larger and more immersive than standard TV content.
Stuart says, “To achieve this, we opted to install a 150in Lateral Masking Screen in a 2.35:1 ratio. This easily and automatically switches aspect ratio when the clients select the content to watch via his Control4 system. They also have an override function on the system, so whilst watching the same source they can change the aspect ratio i.e. going from Sky Sports to Sky Movies.”
Stuart reveals, “The main challenge with the room was space. Although we had a say on the size of the room, we still had to deal with challenges thrown at us by the architect and builder. The door into the room was one of our major issues. To get the speakers into the correct area behind the screen, we would normally build a false wall in front of the main wall and mount the speakers on the wall and sit the subwoofers in the corners of the space.
“However, the width we had to work with from the door frame to the room’s structural wall was only 400mm. This issue was overcome by opting to install two Artcoustic Control 3 Subwoofers which could be wall mounted between the A6’s, allowing us to keep the screen wall at a reduced depth.”
The client regularly holds events and parties at their house, so it was known from the off that the room would see lots of use and would need to show different sources of content. It was important the room delivered the wow factor when in the equipment was in use and when it wasn’t too.
Stuart says, “We planned the rooms décor to be minimal in colour by using grey stretched suede on the walls, with the main colours of the room coming from the eye-catching burgundy seats and the DMX controlled LED strips and starscape star ceiling.
“We have programmed scenes into the rooms control system, so the client gets a different experience when they are watching TV or film. We have even programmed an intermission scene, meaning when they pause the movie to pop to the wine room for a fill up, the step lighting glows slightly so they can see where they are walking without dazzling their guests.”
A really well executed project always throws up some favourite aspects of the finished cinema or the process – so what particularly stood out here?
Stuart enthuses, “If you look at the render in VR whilst standing in the room, the similarity between our initial designs and the finished space is exactly what we set out to achieve. In terms of wow factor, the sound and picture are amazing and truly stunning; but in terms of fun, it always makes us smile when you switch between content and the lateral masking screen kicks in and the Sony 4K Projector does its lens shifting magic.”
He concludes, “Overall, the client loves the entire room and proudly shows it off to visitors and enjoys spending their downtime watching movies and sports with their friends and family. In fact, we often look at the settings of the projector when we visit and chuckle when we see how many hours the projector has been on for – it’s certainly getting used.”
Essential Kit List
Sony VPL-VW760 Native 4K Projector
150in Lateral Masking Screen by Ultimate Screens
Denon AVC8500 13.2 Amplifier
6 x Artcoustic Performance A6
4 x Artcoustic SL 40-30 / 4-2
4 x SL Artcoustic Architect 4-2
2 x Artcoustic Control 3 Subwoofers
2 x Artcoustic PDA1000
Kaleidescape Strato S 4K Movie Player
Sony UBP-X1100ES Blu-Ray Player
Control 4 EA-5
Control Neeo Remote
Starscape Infinity Panel Starlight Ceiling
Philips Dynalite Intelligent Lighting