Beginning with some postcards depicting old european towns and villages, the homeowners of this “French cobble-stone town” wanted a themed area that would lead into their theater. Designed by JP Themed Theaters along with systems integrator Audio Advice, this basement theater whisks you away to an early 20th century French Quarter.
“The whole-street scene idea was taken to another level when the homeowners asked for a unique way to incorporate their private collections,” explained James Potter, owner of JP Themed Theaters. “So, it was decided to create actual shops that you can enter off the street to view these collections.”
Visitors can mosey through the “shops”, chat in the courtyard and loose themselves in this quaint setting. When showtime comes, they enter the theater through two large wooden doors into an ornate and spacious area that seats eighteen. The overall size of the street area is 21 x 43 feet with the actual theater measuring approximately 27 x 36 feet.
In an effort to make the visual experience in the street appear authentic, Potter used a number of techniques. The building exteriors were plastered, then several layers of paint were applied using 3-4 different colors, creating a feeling that decades worth of maintenance and change had taken place. Utilizing a technique of his own, Potter aged the surfaces to imitate the effects of natural weather conditions. Posters were painted to further create the illusion of a specific time period. For a sense of depth, buildings in the front were painted lighter than the buildings in the back. The final touch is five zones of lighting, with the street lighting capable of representing different times of the day.
Larry Lawyer, of Audio Advice, said, “James and I developed this ongoing partnership throughout the entire project to ensure the design of the street space and the theater meshed perfectly.”
Once seated in this grand theater, you’re treated to a no-compromise cinematic experience featuring high-end audio components and a 2.35:1 image. For reference quality 7.1 multichannel audio, all Classé Delta Series products were installed including the SSP-880 AV surround processor along with the CA-3200, CA-2200, and CA-2100 power amplifiers, which drive PSB CW383 reference in-wall speakers and CHS212 reference subwoofers.
On the video side, a Runco VX44D-CWAS 2:35:1 Cinewide 1080p projector was paired with a Stewart 165″ Cinecurve Firehawk cinemascope projection screen. The projector is capable of brightness levels several times that of most projectors and the curved screen rejects ambient light while reflecting the projected image evenly to all seats, providing exceptional corner focus compared to flat screens. Additionally, the curved screen, along with an anamorphic lens attached to the projector, displays movies in their original widescreen aspect ratio while utilizing the full resolution of the projector, ensuring optimum image quality.
To hide the Runco projector from view, a custom mounting system was fabricated to place the projector vertically behind a faux building facade. The image is reflected off of an observatory telescope grade mirror and then through a 5” x 12” aperture in the building door. A custom cooling enclosure ensures silent and cool projector operation.
The theater’s equipment rack was located outside in one of the themed rooms with other whole-house equipment placed in a different room. For simple control from any location, a Crestron’s DM “Digital Media” ADMS Media Server was installed, which shared all the video sources with the theater and the rest of the house. A Crestron TPS-6X wireless RF 5.7” touchpanel is used in the theater to access media as well as control the AV gear, lighting and climate. An auxiliary TPS-6L wall-mounted touchpanel was installed just outside the theater for whole-house control.
“What makes this theater so amazing is the pristine video reproduction coupled with the finely detailed sonic performance of the Classé/PSB gear. It’s about as near perfect as you could ask for in a home theater,” concludes Lawyer. “Plus the operations in this fully integrated, state-of-the art theater are as simple as turning on a light switch. To say the least, the homeowner’s expectations were far exceeded.”
Photography by Jill and William DiMartino