Monday, December 03, 2012

Movie theater 3.0

One of the things that I love doing is designing and installing home theaters. Seriously, nothing makes me happier. I'm weird that way. And unfortunately, without doing it as a profession, it's rare that I get to indulge.

Five years ago on Thanksgiving weekend, I bought a Panasonic HD projector and installed it in my existing home theater at my New Jersey apartment. The layout of the apartment was ideally suited to installing the pull-down screen so that it covered my flatscreen and books behind it ("My new theater" - Nov. 25, 2007). The projector was simply set up on the kitchen counter behind the sofa, so it was a bit exposed but convenient to adjust manually.

When I moved out of that apartment into my Manhattan apartment, I found that I couldn't install the screen or projector because 1) the ceiling is very high and 2) I don't have wood studs in my walls. So instead I installed the projector at Puck's house in Staten Island, along with a new Blu Ray player, Onkyo receiver and speakers ("Staten Island home theater" - Nov. 8, 2010). Their home had the same protruding beam on the ceiling that made the screen convenient to use.

Unfortunately, all that equipment got washed away with Sandy, but the projector survived since it was mounted on the ceiling. So I've figured out a way to install it in my apartment now without using any mounting hardware - by using a pop-up portable screen and a new bookshelf behind my new couch.

To go along with this installation, I'm also upgrading my old Harman Kardon receiver to a new Denon that switches HDMI and decodes the latest surround sound formats on Blu Ray (Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD). Strictly speaking it's not a necessary upgrade, but the HDMI switching will make it a lot easier to operate my theater because switching video inputs on my monitor will no longer be required. An HDMI splitter will send the video signal to both my Philips LCD display and the Panasonic projector.

I'm expecting the Denon to be delivered tonight, and then the only thing left will be the bookshelf, which will hold the projector and serve as a display and end table behind the couch. So hopefully I'll have the whole thing up and running by next week in time for my Wednesday showing of A Beautiful Mind.

I started a group on Facebook called Times Square Movie Club (TSMC, which could also stand for "The Secret Movie Club") and started posting events and organizing viewings of movies and TV shows. I didn't include out-of-town friends (in case any of my distant friends were wondering) since it's intended to be a casual thing for people who can drop by on short notice. I invited about 30 people to join the group, and they are mostly people who have either already visited my apartment or I have visited theirs. Other than that guideline, it also includes people I'd like to get to know better.

So I'm definitely going to have a Dark Knight viewing but I haven't decided if I want to do the full marathon or just show the third movie. I'm also doing a Miyazaki marathon in January. I'm showing Moonrise Kingdom on Tuesday and then Piper comes on Thursday for our private marathon of Stanley Kubrick movies, continuing with Lolita. So I guess for now, this is what I'm putting my focus on now that I'm no longer president of Open Love NY.