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What is Cinema?

A cinema aims to immerse you within the film, to experience the film as if you were part of the story.

We love films and television and documentaries. We love to learn and experience, to think or feel with the characters. A cinema moves you to the centre of the action, wrapping the film around you.

A public cinema can give you a great experience with its popcorn, huge screen and 3D glasses. The sound and the picture are often big and impressive but due to its size and public nature it can focus neither the quality nor nuances of a film with the intensity or subtlety of a carefully crafted home theatre.

The Basics of Home Cinema are:

  • A place for the cinema to be - sometimes a dedicated room, sometimes a multi-purpose space, like a bath or living room.
  • A comfortable place to watch the film from; For you and your friends or family. This might be a jacuzzi, a sofa, a bed or specialist theatre seats.
  • A method of viewing the film; A projector, plasma or LCD screen.
  • A film, and the means of playing it. Increasingly there are 4 options here:
    • A Blu-ray player (which can also play DVDs)
    • A media server which can play a film stored on hard disc.
    • A streaming player which plays media provided by internet services such as Netflix or You Tube. e.g. Apple TV or built in iPlayer
    • A satellite or Freeview receiver.
  • A sound reproduction system and a suitable acoustic space.

How to Make a Great Home Cinema.

Sound

Most of the emotional impact, the story and drama which carries us with great cinema, comes from the voice, the music and the audio effects of the film. Images are vital but the audio carries us into and with the film. This is often overlooked since, as the name suggests, the experience is about visual reproduction but the quality of the audio within a space is the most essential element to get right if you are to create a cinematic experience which surpasses the ordinary.

Modern films include surround sound audio which can generate a rich audio landscape around the viewer. The key to excellence here is how each audio element works with the next. There is an art to selecting the right speakers with the right receiver and amplifiers for any given space.

The Bad

A lower end audio system will bombard the viewers with high energy audio, full of base and rumble but fail to deliver subtle voice or music within the film. High quality audio systems will be able to deliver a sound reproduction which can deliver a rich high adrenaline impact but also is capable of subtly evoking the world the characters inhabit.

The Space

The space's acoustics need to be managed, often through placement but sometimes requires acoustic panelling or other interventions to change the properties of the viewing/listening area. This is a difficult art and requires either a lot of trial and error or someone with a lot of experience, training and acoustic measuring equipment.

The Picture

The lights dim, a heavy curtain closes, a screen rolls from the ceiling. We focus on the glowing screen; our normal reality recedes and the world of the film gains dominance. How do we maximize the visual experience?

The important factor is the sense of reality of the images. It is the accuracy of picture and detail of colour that creates the magic of immersion within a directors vision, the story of a game or nuances of a tense TV interview.

The technology needs to fade from your perception as the film plays. A display which poses the least obstruction between you and the director's edit of the film should be chosen.The main problems are poor picture reproduction or artefacts (digital distortion). Poor picture is usually due to low resolution or colour reproduction within the room's conditions while artefacts such as digitisation or ghosting are often due to poor processing of a compressed signal.

Screen resolution, the amount of points of colour in a given space, has been gradually increasing over all displays from phones to projectors since the development of digital video. The current leap is from HD to 4K; approximately 4 times the resolution. It brings with it a dramatic improvement - that all important sense of the images being "real". The technology for 4K reproduction is advancing and finding its way into the top tier of displays and projectors. In particular these projectors are the best of their kind and offer the best visual experience available today.