Movies Under the Stars

What makes a home theater unique depends on the personality and vision of the homeowner. In this Tiburon, CA home, the client, who is a playwright, wanted a comfortable space that was also dramatic and transitional where she could relax for hours watching independent films, invite friends in for deep conversations, or be enveloped in creative thought.

"What really makes this theater stand out from our other designs is the custom made barrel starlight ceiling, the deep colors that simulate a nighttime setting, and the complete absence of visible electronics," said Gene Quisisem, the principal designer at SoundVison, an electronics contractor from Novato (Marin County) in Northern California.

Every aspect of the design contributed to both the ambiance and function of the room. For instance, deep shades of blue sets the room's mood while complimenting video performance. The fabric walls are decorative yet improve room acoustics and speech intelligibility.

The distinctive mood was created with a custom curved fiber optic starfield ceiling that was fabricated from fiberglass by Calletti Jungsten Construction. The space for the theater was near the bottom floor of the residence, and part of a detailed remodel of a 3800 square foot home. Prior to construction, the contractor called the space cavernous because it was so dark it swallowed up the light from his flashlight.

Since there was no access to the ceiling frame, it was necessary to build a barrel shaped soffited ceiling to incorporate the fiber-optic lighting that would generate the starfield. The ceiling was constructed on-site then raised to 24" below the ceiling joists. The fiber-optic lighting was installed one strand at a time in a pattern that had been penciled onto the black primed fiberglass structure.

Blue cove LED lighting fixtures complimented the transition from land to sky, along with “planet-like” pendants that hover gracefully, seeming to have no boundaries. From the remote controller, the movie lighting is activated with one touch, causing the pendants to slowly dim and turn-on the starfield ceiling.

SoundVision handled the installation of the components, speakers, projector and screen plus the lighting control, which included the starfield. All the electronic components, and speakers are completely absent from view, except the JVC projector that is installed in the soffit at the back of the room. Ultra-high performance B & W in-wall speakers (left, center, right) were recessed into 4" deep stud bays and concealed by a perforated 103" Vutec screen. The rest of the AV hardware is installed in an equipment closet and controlled via a Crestron MC2W control system and ML-600 handheld remote.

Fitting with SoundVision's own mission statement, this theater integrates lifestyle-enhancing technology with a focus on aesthetic impact, intuitive operation, and trouble-free system performance. "We always aim to exceed the customers expectations," concludes Quisisem. "Not only did we exceed hers, but our own. This is one terrific looking theater, it sounds incredible, and is simple to operate from a single programmed remote."

Gene Quisisem, Principal Designer
415 456 7000