Home Cinema Lighting Design
How to Design the Perfect Home Cinema Lighting
Home Cinema lighting design is crucial to creating an enjoyable home cinema room. Lighting levels should be just right to create the perfect environment – bright enough to navigate round the room and dim enough to truly enjoy the picture from a projector. We even take in to account the reflection of bulbs when designing the room as an unwanted reflection can be distracting when on a film watching marathon! It is also important to consider lighting levels for things like cleaning – too many cinema’s are only capable of being dark spaces, task lighting is important!
Different Types of Cinema Lights
Home Cinema lighting tends to have specific requirements and a number of different lighting styles suit cinema rooms perfectly. Whilst not a complete list we always take the below lamp types in to consideration when designing a cinema room.
- Star Light Ceilings
- Cove Lighting
- Stair Lighting
- Table Lamps
- LED Downlights
Star light ceilings are hugely popular in our installs – the lighting can stay on during films and provides a magical sky effect which really adds a sense of drama to any room. We can even lay out the fiber optics to reflect the sky at a certain point in time for example a birthday or a wedding day. This is hugely time consuming but can add a real personal touch to any room. We are in good company with these ceilings – even Rolls Royce offer “Under the Stars” on their vehicles!
LED Strip around the cove or top edge of the room can give a room a great indirect light source whilst giving a room the impression of height. Fitting an LED strip is straight forward when we construct the room and we build an actual diffuser in to the fabric of the wall, ensuring the lighting looks fully integrated. Fitting dimmable strip with one of our lighting control systems allow clients complete control.
Our usual approach for rooms with rows of cinema seating is to install a raised platform to elevate the viewers above the row in front – similar to your local commercial cinema. It is important to install lighting on the steps to prevent people tripping – we achieve this either with LED strip in the actual riser of the stair or with spot lights sunk in to the wall. Either approach looks good and provides the essential pathway lighting.
Table lamps are the obvious addition to a home cinema – we often install tables between the seats to allow an easy place for drinks and snacks. A table lamp installed on these tables can gently illuminate the area. We like to install old fashioned filament bulbs and plug them in to a 5A socket which is part of the lighting control system, dimming a filament lamp gives a lovely warm glow and a pocket of light. As part of our Cineak Home Cinema Seating we also install Onyx tables which themselves are lit up – a premium solution with a premium price tag but the effect is absolutely stunning!
The above lighting will give a fantastic looking room for viewing films and they will provide enough light to navigate the room but if the home cinema also contains a bar or games area you need more light. Even a dedicated home cinema should have more light to allow for cleaning. Our rooms with fabric walls and carpets in darker shades absorb light (as they are designed to do to prevent distracting reflections and glare) so they can need a lot of lights. LED downlighters run through a lighting control system allow clients to either fully switch them off or dim them to 1% which provides a warm glow with little usable light during film watching sessions. A nice technique can be to use a downlight with a narrow focus above each set – creating a puddle of light and naturally drawing the eye to the seating.
Installing a Lighting Control System in a Home Cinema Room
Lighting control systems are absolutely essential in a home cinema – they enable you to enter the room, get comfortable and then dim the lights through the same interface you use to start the film (remote control or iPad). It is even possible to sit in your favourite chair and adjust light levels around the room before saving them down as the default – creating the perfect environment every time. Our Kaleidescape Movie servers even report back when a film is playing or not so we can adjust lighting automatically – pause the film and the lights raise, play and they dim again!