Home cinema install: Movies on demand!

This cinema room packs a real surprise courtesy of some high-tech engineering

You know what it's like. Movie night arrives and you realise that you haven't got enough seats for all the friends you invited over for that Lord of the Rings marathon. Garden chairs, poufs and bean bags can all be deployed, but it's not quite what you had in mind when you planned your cinema den.

This high-end basement-conversion home theatre doesn't have that problem, courtesy of an ingenious engineering solution that sees extra seating appear out of thin air. Well, out of the floor, actually. It's a setup fit for a Bond villain.

The room, which took fully 24 months to complete after contact was first made with UK south coast installer New Land Solutions, at first looks like any other (admittedly very lush) entertainment space, with a large, horseshoe-shaped sofa, and coffee table, taking up much of the floor space. But at the touch of a button on a touchscreen controller something cool starts to happen.

First, the coffee table disappears into the floor, allowing the sofa to slide forward into the vacated space. And then, from behind the sofa, a quintet of Fortress cinema chairs rises out of the floor, taking residence at the back of the room and providing a second tier of seating from which to kick back with a bag of popcorn. Meanwhile, a 150in projector screen descends from the ceiling, the rear wall moves to reveal a projector, and automated blinds glide into action. The entire process takes around 100 seconds, and the new arrivals don't upset the room's carefully chosen orange and grey décor.

Achieving this transformative magic trick was, understandably, no easy task. Firstly, they had to dig deep, something only allowed because the property had existing planning permission for an underground pool. The sofa, also from cinema brand Fortress, had to be a custom design to house the relevant mechanisms, while the other motorized system had to be strong enough to lift five cinema chairs. There was also a raft of health and safety measures to overcome. 'We had to install pressure sensors in the carpets, seats and sofa that automatically stopped movement if pressure was detected,' reveals installer Luke Newland.

The specified kit is from the upper echelons of AV. The room employs a Procella speaker array, using P10 and P8 models, driven by five rack-mounted power amps. An optimum configuration was not achievable due to the room layout, so a heavyweight Datasat RS20i processor, and its state-of-the-art room correction system, was utilised to fettle the multichannel sonics in addition to acoustic treatments in the ceiling, walls and curtains.

With the owner wanting to use the room in both blackout and daylight conditions, a high brightness Runco projector was installed.

The entire room is driven by a Savant smart control solution. This too was a challenge as a user-friendly interface had to be programmed that would take into account the setup's 32 motors, as well as the numerous amplifiers, video sources (which include a Kaleidescape server, Sky+HD and Apple TV) and room layouts. To make matters simple for the owner, three one-button preset scenes were created – Full Cinema, Daytime Viewing and Family Room.

Eye-catching outcome

The end result is a fine example of technology working hard behind the scenes to achieve a specific dream – namely a bespoke solution that provides both a usable family space and home cinema getaway. All the hardware is invisible when not required, and the design flourishes, including the ceiling lighting effect and wood panelling, are eye-catching too. It's the sort of setup we'd love to have – but we're scared to ask how much it cost!

Installer info

New Land Solutions
0845 130 4289

Kit list

Screen research: 150in masking projector screen
Runco: Full HD projector with CinemaScope lens and processor
Kaleidescape: Cinema One disc server/player 
Datasat: RS20i processor
Procella: 5 x DA-2800 amplifiers; 5 x P8 speakers; 3 x P10 speakers; P15 and P18 subwoofers
Savant: Control solution and bespoke programming of touchscreen controllers
Sky: Sky+HD
Oppo: Blu-ray player
Apple: Apple TV
Fortress: Cinema seats; custom sofa
Ocean Air: Fabric wall panels, roof blinds and blackout blinds
Future automation: Custom sofa slider; seat and projector 'reveals'
Middle Atlantic: Kit racking