Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Doors in Progress

The top photo is of the new door for the AV equipment closet. It is a plain solid-core door to which has been added a layer of 1/2" MDF, cut out with the appropriate pattern. Cast resin rivet heads will be glued to the door. The door knob will be replaced with a custom made lever handle, but that's way down on the To-Do list!

The original design renderings show this as a trapazoid shaped door with a step over threshold, accurate to the doors in the film. I decided to make it rectangular to match the other doors, both for simplicity of construction and unity of design.

The bottom photo is the entry door from the living room. Here you get an idea what the surrounding door frames are going to look like. The oak door will get covered with a cut out layer of MDF to look like the closet door.

More Rivets!

Moving along with the installation of the trim boards and rivets. The lower, unpainted, portion of the walls will be covered with acoustic absorbing insulation which will then be covered with a blue-gray fabric.

Above, the ducts have all been painted and permanently installed.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Designs for Prop Dressing

In addition to the physical themed structure of the room, it will be decorated with recreations of many of the props and set dressing pieces from the movie. Here are a couple of renderings showing some of this.

The first shows an ocean chart, above it are the latitude and longitude gauges from Captain Nemo's cabin. Against the wall is a partial version of the specimen display case from the Salon in which there will be shells and other artifacts of the deep. On the stage below the screen will be a large scale model of the Nautilus.

The second rendering shows the iris control arm. Since the iris doesn't actually open (and no doubt visitors to the theater will throw the switch) I plan to have it trigger a sound effect of deep grinding gears and clanking. Then I can say that the iris mechanism is currently broken and cannot be opened!

THX Plaque

As a diversion from the bigger construction aspects of the screening room, I sat down at my workbench and built this themed THX plaque. It will hang on the wall right outside the entrance door to the theater.

It was built up of of MDF (medium density fiberboard) with glued on cast resin rivet heads. I primed the finished piece with latex drywall primer, then stippled on two heavy base coats of a non-metallic copper colored latex paint which gave it the cast texture. Once dry, it was stippled with a top coat of a bronze metallic latex paint.

Iris Fabrication - Part Two

(Originally published July 11, 2008)

The finished iris blades were attached to the back wall with screws and spray contact adhesive. Here is where the thicker laminate material would have been nice. It would have lay flatter and might not have required the adhesive to keep it from bowing out in the center. The screws around the outside will be hidden under a rivet ring and the ones under each overlap also act as little spacers creating a small gap and a shadow line between the blades.

I added a metallic highlight to the exposed edge of each blade with a silver paint pen. It makes the overlap pop a bit more. Overall, I'm pretty happy with how it came out. The thicker laminate would stay flatter but then again, it's done, and 'done' is my favorite color!

Iris Fabrication - Part One

(Originally published July 11, 2008)

I decided to make the iris blades for the viewport out of plastic laminate, the kind that is usually used for countertops. It would be flat, smooth, relatively easy to cut and require not painting as it would be pre-colored. I found a Wilsonart laminate called Alumite that was a sort of mottled aluminum color with a very subtle metallic sparkle. There are some laminates made from real aluminum but they were all too flashy. The laminate was available in two types, a thicker version for countertops and a thinner one for vertical (wall) applications. I chose the thinner one thinking it would close to form a smaller opening in the center. in hindsight, I wished I'd used the thicker one. The thin was just too flimsy and brittle.

First, I printed out a full size paper pattern and spray glued it down to a sheet of 1/2" MDF (medium density fiberboard). This was cut out to the finished shape for use as a routing template. The laminate was rough cut into 8 pieces with a utility knife. I was able to get all 8 blades out of two 4x8 sheets of material.

All 8 sheets were stuck together with double faced paper tape and the template then stuck down to the top of the stack. A flush cutting router bit (also called a laminate trimming bit) was sued in the router table to trim the stack of material to shape. While the blades where still stuck together a row of screw holes was drilled along the outer and overlap edges.

Acoustic Insulation

(Originally published July 8, 2008)

I've added 1 inch Linacoustic RC acoustic insulation to the screen wall as well as to the portin of the walls and ceiling that will be behind the screen and hidden from view by the curtains. This will improve the overall surround sound effect by reducing conflicting sound waves bouncing back from the same direction as the three front channel speakers.

The material is fairly easy to work with. It's semi-rigid and when unrolled stays pretty flat. It can be cut easily with a utility knife or a large pair of shears. I started out nailing it in place with long nails run through fender washers (painted black so they won't reflect light back through the screen) but about half way through I switched to glueing it in place with 3M #90 spray adhesive which was much more effective and easier. Linacoustic is usually used to line metal air ducts and adhesive is what is usually used to install it. Like any fiberglass insulation, it releases lots of little itchy fiberglass particles when you handle it.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Buckets O' Rivets!

(Originally published July 3, 2008)

One of the great things about living in the Los Angeles area is the proximity of the movie studios and their resources. I picked up cast resin rivet heads from the Warner Bros Staff Shop in 3/4", 1" and 1 1/2" diameters. They cost 30 cents a piece, which is not cheap, but saves me the cost and time of having to make molds and cast them up.

They also had some large size bolt heads which were glued in place on the viewport ring along with the rivet heads.

The larger sized rivet heads were glued to the back wall with construction adhesive.

Viewport Construction - Part Two

(Originally published June 27, 2008)

The router was used again to trim up the bottom layer flush with the top. I then used a 45 degree router bit to add the bevel to the triangular holes in the top layer.

The parts were then test fit in place on the back wall of the t heater. The bottom of the viewport where it hits the floor will be hidden behind the second row of seats, so I'm not worried that it's cut off.

Viewport Construction - Part One

(Originally published June 27, 2008)

I've decided to start in on building the Iris Viewport for the back wall of the theater. It's completely independent of other components so there is nothing else that has to be don before completed. Plus it will be nice to have something so iconic finished that people will recognize as they visit the theater construction in progress.

The first step was to print out full size patterns for the components. Then the paper pattern was spray glued down to some 1/4" MDF (medium density fiberboard). This was cut out with a jigsaw to create a routing template.

The template was temporarily fastened to a sheet of 3/4" thick Ultralite MDF (lots lighter than regular MDF!) which had been roughly cut out a little oversize with the jigsaw. Then a flush cutting router bit in a router table was used to trim the 3/4" material to the exact shape of the template. This could also have been done with the jigsaw, but the router is so much faster and cleaner, particularly when making multiples of the same piece.

The top layer was then glued and clamped to a second layer of MDF, this time 1" thick. (Happiness is having lots of clamps!)

Carpet and Upholstery

We've selected the carpet and fabric for the recliners. The carpet has just the right sort of Victorian Jules Verne opulence and will contrast wonderfully with the hard edged steam-punk rivet construction. The burgundy fabric for the recliners is a polyester 'micro fabric' which has the look and feel of plush velvet.

The grey fabric is acoustically transparent fabric from Guilford of Maine. it will cover acoustic absorbing panels on the lower portion of the walls.

Overhead Ducts

(Originally published June 18, 2008)

Today I test fit the tubes that will form the overhead ducts. These will also house the practical HVAC duscts for the heating and air conditioning. The ducts were cut from 24 inch diameter tubing that is typically used as casting forms for concrete columns.

Stage Construction

(Originally published June 7, 2008)

Just finished construction of the stage. It's really more for cosmetics than purposeful. As the screen will stand out from the wall by 18 inches, there won't be enough room to stand on the stage in front of the screen. It also forms a sort of psychological barriers to keep little ones from walking up and touching the screen with sticky fingers!

The stage was framed up just like the seating riser, 2 x 8s over 30lbs roofing paper. The whole thing was then filled with dry sand. This creates a dead mass under the sub-woofer(s) to prevent unwanted reverberations. Once filled, the stage was topped with 3/4 inch ply, glued and screwed down.

Seating Riser Construction

(Originally published June 3, 2008)

Construction has recommenced! This past week I finished the seating riser for the second row of seats. It's framed up from 2x8s on 12 inch spacing. Between the riser framing and the floor is a layer of 30lbs roofing paper to eliminate creeks and help mitigate sound transfer through the floor.

The cavities in the riser were filled with R-30 fiberglass insulation to prevent it from resonating the deep bass frequencies from the sub-woofer. The riser will also form a sort of bass trap to absorb extra low frequencies in the room.

The decking is two layers of 3/4 inch plywood, glued and screwed down to the riser joists. In between the two layers of ply is a product called Green Glue which reduces sound transfer through the floor.

1/4 inch wide by 26 inch long slots were routed all t he wall through the decking, one slot for each insulation filled cavity. This turns the riser into a bass trap to absorb some of the unwanted low frequency sound waves.

A New Design

(Originally published May 23, 2008)

Having been away from working on the theater for more than a year I've reassessed the design. I had been planning on a fairly traditional Craftsman style interior. But as I looked at it with fresh eyes, I found it a bit boring. I also considered Art Deco (think old movie house) and Frank Lloyd Wright styles but neither of those excited me very much. I have always liked the WOW factor of themed hometheaters. There are some terrific home theaters that have been done in Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, and Batman themes, to name a few.

So the new design for the theater is going to be themed after the Nautilus from Disney's classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea! I've always loved this film and the look of the submarine and interior sets as designed by Harper Goff is just spectacular.

Rather than recreate any one room from the Nautilus, details have been taken from several of the sets and incorporated into the theater. The overall layout is unchanged, just the aesthetics of the interior.

Another change has been to the projection screen. It has been increased in size from 100 inches to 120 inches wide. (Size matters!) Now with the wider screen, all three of the front speakers will be located behind the acoustically transparent screen, just like in a commercial cinema. Moving the front left and reight speakers behind the screen also freed up a lot of the visual clutter around the screen. The screen will also now be curved, which will reduce the pin-cushion distortion inherent in wide-screen projection and help create a more even focus from the center to the corners of the screen.

On t he back wall will be the iconic viewport from the Salon on the Nautilus. In the film, the iris would open to reveal the wonders of the deep. Unfortunatly, in my theater, the only thing behind the iris will be drywall, so it will have to remain shut!

On the door is a recreation of the Disneyland attraction poster from the late 50's. Walt Disney had the sets from the movie installed as a walk-through attraction at the park from 1955 through 1964. It was one of the most popular attractions at Disneyland.

13 months of inactivity

(Originally published May, 2008)

Funny how life comes along and gets in the way of projects! Once the room was drywalled, I had to move on to working on some of the other rooms in my remodel. In addition to the theater, the remodel includes a new master bedroom suite, a new second bath and a new home office. Plus I went away on location to shoot a mini-series in Australia for 6 months.

But now it's time to get back to work on the theater...


(Originally published March 2007)

The drywall is up. My contractor's crew did that job, too much for me! There are two layers of drywall, 1/2 inch over 5/8 inch. Each thickness absorbs different frequencies of sound, again reducing the transfer of sound from the theater to the surrounding rooms. In between the two layers is an adhesive product called Green Glue. It form's another layer of acoustic isolation.

I don't have any pictures to post of the drywall installation but it was pretty much as in any other room, except for the two layers.

Ceiling Isolation

(Originally published February 22, 2007)

In order to acoustically isolate the new theater ceiling from the existing structure, they dry wall is going to be hung on hat channel suspended from RSIC isolation clips. The clips have little rubber discs that eliminate most ofthe transfer of sound energy through the solid parts of the structure.

I installed the RSIC clips and hat channel today. It was pretty straight forward. It took more time to lay out the clip locations as the actual installation, having to make sure that they stayed parallel and 16" on center. Furthur complicated since about 2/3 of the clips are going over and existing ceiling and the remainder directly on the new ceiling joists. One thin I'll say about the RSIC-1s, they may be expensive but man are they well thought out and engineered. It was a pleasure to work with something that is so easy to use! Just screw them up and snap in t he the hat channel. Really easy for one person to do, even on top of a ladder.


(Originally published February 20, 2007)

Got the insulation all in this past weekend. I actually wasn't as miserable a task as I had been led to believe. A little itchy, but there was more discomfort from having to work in long sleeves (here in Southern California we're having an unseasonably warm spell) than from the fibers. I think it helped that I was using the type with the kraft paper facing.

My wall studs are actually 8'-4" so the batts came up a little short. Had to go back and fill in a little more at the bottom.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Framing and Rough Electrical

(Originally published February 14, 2007)

Just got the framing and rough electrical complete. The staggered studs were a bit of a challenge since I have several different wall conditions. Existing 2x3s (actual dimensions) new non-load bearing 2x4 wall, exterior 2x6 wall and interior 2x6 wall. If some places i was able to do pretty straight forward staggered 2x4 framing but where the existing 2x3 walls had fireblocks I turned the studs sideways and spaced them 1/4" away from the existing framing. Where ever the staggered studs crossed the fireblocks or diagonal bracing I placed a piece of 1/4" foam rubber just to make sure they didn't touch if the studs warped.

The electrical was fun and pretty straight forward. Convenience outlets where the columns will be, 4 wall sconces and two ceiling mounted "reading" lights over the front row. Plus a provision for either line voltage of low voltage step lights, all to be controlled by a Grafik Eye.

The top pic is of
the east wall. This is where the seating riser will go. The gap in the old oak flooring and ceiling is where the old living room wall was. The Theater is being built in an enlarged old bedroom.

The middle pic is the west wall. This will be the screen wall. To the right is the entry from the new office space.

The bottom pic is the ceiling. This is still to get RSIC clips and hat channel, then two layers of drywall with GG in between. The foreground is the existing bedroom cottage cheese over lathe and plaster ceiling. In the background is the new construction. The room was lengthened by about 7 feet. The Romex running accross the existing ceiling will be contained in the inch and a half gap between the old ceiling and the new drywall.

Screening Room Construction Begins

(Originally published January 29, 2007 )

After many years of planning and reading of posts on the AV forums, construction had finally begun on the Bungalow Films Screening Room. Dennis Erskine, a professional theater and acoustic designer, designed the theater for me a year and a half ago and it has taken a while to get the project going. The screening room is part of a larger addition to my house so there are (unfortunately) a lot of other concerns that often take precidence over the theater. The theater is being built in what once was a smaller bedroom measuring only 10 feet-8 inches by 13 feet-4 inches. Based on Dennis's acoustic calculations and recommendations the room was expanded to 13 feet by 21 feet, the extra width being taken out of the adjacient living room and the extra length being part of the all new add-on to the house. The existing bedroom had a closet which will be used for the AV equipment and DVD storage.

My intention is to use the theater, not only to watch movies, but as a screening room for my work as a visual effects supervisor. With this in mind, the screening room is adjacient to a new production office space and digital work being done on the computers there will be able to fed into the screening room for projection and evaluation.

My current equipment roster is as follows:

B&K AVR507 AV Receiver
B&K Reference 200.5 Amplifier
Arcam DV78 DVD Player
Cinea SV300 DVD Player
Front L&R Speakers = Thiel CS2.4
Center Speaker = Thiel MCS
Surrounds = Thiel PCS
Misubishi HS-U748 VCR
Tivo Series 2
Hughes DirecTV HD Satillite Receiver
Monster HTS 5100 Mk2 Power Center
Transparent Audio Speaker Cable

I am intending to add another B&K 2 Amplifier unit when I go to 7.1.

The Thiel PCS surround will be replaced with in-wall speakers, probably Triad Silvers and the Thiel PCSs moved into my office for listening to music.

The screen will be 100 inch horizontal, 1:2.35 CIH (Constant Image Height), probably home built.

I have not settled on a projector yet though I am seriously considering both the Runco 610 and the Dwin Transvision 4, plus probably the Panamorph anamorphic lens.