As every installer will know, not all clients are easy to impress, least of all grateful for the work that integrators do. However this most definitely wasn’t the case for a recent project of a special nature for Christopher’s children’s hospice in Guildford, whose residents were gifted with a home cinema worth £42,000, completely free of charge.
Spearheading the project was Ian Morrish, founder of Together For Cinema (also sales manager, ISE), which works with UK charity Together For Short Lives to bring home cinemas to children’s hospices in the UK. In fact, this is Together For Cinema’s 16th theatre install of this nature, making the charitable organisation very much on track to meet its goal of installing 25 home cinema rooms by 2020.
CE Pro Eu was humbled to have been invited to the cinema’s opening event, where it was evident that this was as rewarding as projects get for all involved.
Shooting Star Chase supports families from diagnosis to end of life and throughout bereavement with a range of nursing, practical, emotional and medical care. After a meeting in November 2016, Together For Cinema agreed that Christopher’s would be the recipient of its next cinema install, quickly putting the wheels in motion to find the right installer for the job.
“Soon after my meeting I spoke to Gary Lewis at Cornflake as he had already mentioned that he was keen to get involved,” Ian reflects. “As a former CEDIA Chairman and living locally to Christopher’s it seemed to be the perfect match, and it certainly proved to be.”
A Plan Comes Together
A meeting was set up between Christopher’s, Together For Cinema, Gary and John Fitzpatrick from Cornflake, who all gave the project a green light. The plan not only incorporated a cinema, but also a distinctive lighting plan and automated blinds. With seven Velux windows installed in an unreachable ceiling and several large side windows, achieving the desired results would no doubt be challenging, as the cost was significant and expertise required was very specific.
As with any of the Together For Cinema installations, a fairly ambitious kit list was created.
“With this installation being the 16th cinema room installation from Together For Cinema we are very fortunate that the industry support is now at a level whereby many brands have asked me to let me know what we need and where it needs to be sent to, and this was certainly the case for the cinema installation at Christopher’s,” Ian explains.
“Some old favourites such as Crestron, Middle Atlantic (via RGB Communications), Monitor Audio, NAD, Projector Point and Wyrestorm all donated again and Habitech very kindly donated several other items that were required. Due to the complexity of the installation a short throw projector was required and Cornflake very kindly donated a suitable Panasonic product that they had available.”
With Cornflake having a contact at Philips Lighting in Guildford and also at lighting designer’s Future Light Design, the team was able to secure a Philips Hue Lighting system with wireless control. “Lighting can transform an installation, but particularly for the children who find lighting and colour variances so stimulating,” says Ian.
Due to the high ceiling it was important to use automated blinds for this project. In fact, the existing blinds hadn’t been opened for months, as they needed a 10-foot pole to open them. Fortunately, Ian contacted an old friend who is a divisional director at Velux to enquire about Velux Windows.
“Not having spoken to him for a few years I wasn’t optimistic of too much support,” Ian admits. “How wrong could I be? The end result is all windows have been serviced and upgraded to fully motorised blinds with a control panel by the entrance door.”
The Side Windows
“One of the joys of the AV industry is that we tend to gather at various trade shows in both Europe and the States and it was at a hotel bar in Dallas that I bumped into Ian Claxton of QMotion UK and mentioned this installation to him,” Ian reminisces. “Within about four seconds the product had been secured and I was buying him a drink (sparkling water of course) at the bar.”
With Cornflake having already approached ACE Contracts to help with the installation, the project was ready to go: all products and services were sourced, supplied and installed free of any charge. The approximate total cost of the install, including consultation, installation, products and any other associated costs would normally have been in the region of £42,000 for an end user price. Cornflake also donated several items at its own cost such as iPads, switches and cables, and have committed to be available for any servicing and technical queries post install.
“I knew about the work Ian does and I said I’d love to be involved,” Cornflake director, Gary Lewis told CE Pro Eu. “He invited me to come here to see it: once you walk in and see the kids, you’d give them anything at all. I was so pleased he asked.
“It was obvious from our first visit that there were numerous challenges with the room chosen for the installation; namely where could we hang a projector with such a vaulted ceiling! Unfortunately we didn’t quite have the same luxury as some of our projects where the solution comes first and the cost comes second. The solution that was opted for was a short throw projector on an arm mounted above the electric drop-down screen.
“It was also apparent that the room would be in use throughout the day which posed another challenge; both large and Velux windows. It was a must that automated blinds be installed to ensure easy operation of the system.
“Some of the equipment that was sourced was slightly different from our usual product lines (much to the enjoyment of our Crestron programmer at 18:00 on a Saturday),” he smiles. “However a couple of long days later and the system was fully installed and functional, barring the automated blinds. Although there was a slight delay due to holidays and business commitments, the blinds were installed by ACE in time for the system to be enjoyed over the festive break.
“We knew we could do something nice with the lighting; it can be changed and adapted for many scenarios,” Gary adds. “Before this, this was a playroom and it was a little bit under-used. They were holding children’s parties in here too but there was no music, but now there is!
“It’s nice giving something back,” he says. “Nothing really impresses anyone now. But here, they’re so grateful for everything that they have; it’s our pleasure to have been involved.”
Ian admits that he was initially sceptical about the results that could be achieved in the room. “I walked into this room initially and thought ‘oh my word, what are we going to do with this space?’ How are we going to do this?” he grins. “However John and Gary very quickly worked out solutions. We are delighted to be involved; these hospices are the most amazing places and they do such fantastic work, this is just a little something that the AV industry can give to them.
“I have been staggered by the endless generosity involved in these projects,” Ian continues, shaking his head. “This has turned into a very comprehensive kit list indeed, and as it turned out, it is our most expensive installation so far. However, with the right contacts, a lot of generosity and goodwill and some perseverance, we were able to secure all the products required. A big thank you to all that have helped to create a very special cinema room that will be used and enjoyed by the kids and their families for many years to come.
“Thanks must go to all involved, particularly Gary Lewis and John Fitzpatrick of Cornflake who gave a huge amount of time and donated several products to help make it happen,” he furthers. “Their efforts and the generosity of all concerned, will make a difference to all those that use the room for many years to come. Very simply, the cinema room at Christopher’s is another installation our industry can be very proud of.”
Christopher’s Gives The Thumbs Up
“From the moment the Garden Cinema Room was officially launched the children immediately began using it,” enthuses Geraldine Sheedy, head of care at Christopher’s.
“A group of little girls sat in awe watching Elf and later in the evening George had a private viewing of his favourite Harry Potter movie and he chose the soft red lighting effect for the room. The Garden Room has always had many uses but with the addition of the multi-coloured remote blackout blinds, impressive surround sound and the stunning Hue Lighting means that the sensory effects we are now able to create, will add a whole new dimension to the important experiences we can give the children and young people.”
“Our Teenage Youth Group can’t wait for their first Movie Night and the Tweenies Group is looking forward to using our Magic Carpet equipment in a much larger and darker space where they can all join in the fun,” adds Jane Magowan, estates manager, Christopher’s.
“We are also planning to hold a monthly movie night for the staff. The team here at Christopher’s are very excited to learn all about our wonderful new cinema and lighting system which will bring many hours, days and years of enjoyment creating many special, long lasting memories for the children, young people and families who visit Christopher’s. A huge thank you to Together for Cinema!”
As a token of their appreciation, Ian was presented with a thank you card from the children at Christopher’s during the cinema unveiling. CE Pro Eu happened to be sitting next to Ian’s parents (whom had never seen a Together For Cinema project before). Leaning forward slightly, Ian’s mum whispers, “I’m very proud”.
Donated Kit List
Crestron (Control): 3-Series Control Processor and an IRP2 IR emitter
Projector Point (Screen): Screen International Compact HC Electric Screen, 200cm x 112cm
Habitech: Several items as required, but too many to list them all!
Middle Atlantic, donated by RGB Communications (Racking): MA-5-29-26 29U Slim5 Rack
Monitor Audio (Speakers): 4 x Soundframe 1’s and 1 x Soundframe 2, plus Grilles
Monitor Audio (Sub-Woofer): 1 x 12” Silver Series 500w
NAD (Blu-Ray Player): T567 BT Blu-Ray Player
Panasonic, donated directly by Cornflake (Projector): Short Throw Projector
Philips Lighting (Lighting): Philips Hue wireless system
QMotion (Automated Blinds): Battery Powered and Integrated with Crestron Control
Velux (Ceiling Blinds): Full service and installation of Remote Control Black Out Blinds
Wyrestorm (Baluns): 4K HDBaseT Lite HDMI balun pair (70m)
On top of the list above many other products and accessories were generously donated by Cornflake.
Ian Morrish, Founder of Together For Cinema
Gary Lewis and John Fitzpatrick and team, Cornflake (project management and installation)
Mark Kavanaugh and team, Future Light Design (lighting design and installation)
Andy Glibbery and team, ACE Contracts (blind installation)
Could you help donate time or products to the next Together For Cinema project? Contact Ian at www.togetherforcinema.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or 07768 398007 to find out how you could help.