Terry Paullin, founder of Front Row Cinema in Livermore, CA, has built more than a thousand home theaters over a 30+-year span. He shares projector installation and calibration tips, comments on new projection and display advances, offers up suggestions on what you should be watching now on your rig, and generally goes off on whatever pleases or irks him about the current state of front projection.
Welcome...and Why Projection?
Welcome to Installer's Insight, a new periodic column at ProjectorCentral. My name is Terry Paullin, and I have been installing custom home theaters for more than 30 years now. Since 1988, when I established Front Row Cinema in Livermore, CA, I have done over 1,000 theaters—really.
About 15% to 20% of my installs involve front projection. Most are in dedicated theaters (what some might classify as "man caves") and the rest are in what I call "theater environments," less- than-ideal (for projection, anyway) living room-style spaces that do double duty for watching movies. I'm also very active with the Imaging Science Foundation as a senior instructor who teaches new and advanced calibrators the latest tricks for optimizing today's displays. I occasionally consult to industry on the topic of imaging science.
My industry colleague and ProjectorCentral's editor-in-chief Rob Sabin has invited me to offer an occasional insight into our collective hobby/passion and share observations from my catbird seat as an integrator and industry insider. Over time, I expect you'll get a little of this and a little of that from me: installation tips, calibration advice, general thoughts on new products I see at the trade shows or get to experience in client's homes, or even a few words about a particular UHD BD demo that I'm excited to recommend. Most of my columns will focus on projector/screen applications, but some will touch on related topics.
So let's get started. This time, let's examine...
Front Projection: Why?
As in... why do projection at home instead of a flat screen? I'll speculate the main reason is what I call "Movie Theater Drama"—done right, it replicates what we feel when we walk into a commercial theater: curtains, sconce lighting, and multiple seating arrangements. Home theater "drama" can include the same sconce lighting, art deco treatments, movie posters, in-room popcorn machines, pillows and blankets, and interesting little confectionery tables. You can even do "stadium seating" with a riser in the back of the room. I suppose you could do all that with a flat panel, but it just wouldn't be the same...and nobody does it.
Another reason, believe it or not, might be price. We saw a crop of new projector offerings at CES this year, bright enough for HDR and attractively priced compared to what will certainly be the serious premiums on 100-inch flat panels when they appear in Q4. Of course, those new projectors should be paired with appropriate screens...something I'll say more about in a future column.
One reason not to shy away from front projection is limited room size. My demo theater is simply a converted 13 x 17-foot bedroom. It has stadium seating, all the art deco accoutrements, an accessible equipment rack, and a wide front-speaker sound field placement. I even found some paisley "movie " carpeting.
Larger and larger (100-inch plus) flat panels may challenge projector/screen applications into the future, but always at a serious price premium to front projection and with, well, a lack of "drama."
Until next time...enjoy the movies!