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A home cinema room on the International Space Station!

Even astronauts have their own home cinema room

Did you know that astronauts on the International Space Station now have their own home cinema room? Well they probably don’t call it that but that’s essentially what it is.  Last month they were able to enjoy the film ‘Gravity’ on a big projector screen – whilst orbiting earth themselves! We think this is pretty cool. Those clever rocket scientists at NASA came up with the idea to install a multi-purpose large screen on the International Space Station not only for the enjoyment of watching movies but also to provide the astronauts with a way to connect to their loved ones – vitally important when you’re so far from home for such a long time. It was carefully engineered by Screen Innovations. You can read their full story here – http://www.screeninnovations.com/news/si-news/iss-viewscreen-the-first-screen-in-space.

Of course, Screen Innovations and NASA had to meticulously plan, test and innovate to create a projector screen that would work in zero-gravity. However, many of their considerations are not dis-similar to planning, designing and installing a home cinema room down here on earth:

What to consider when planning a home cinema room

  1. Lighting. The lights are always on in the International Space Station and of course they had no natural lighting. Planning a home cinema in a basement has a similar consideration. It’s essential to consider lighting at the same time as installing your Home Cinema room. Screen Innovation use Black Diamond technology which rejects ambient light reflected from the sun, lights and white walls and surfaces – allowing you to view the image in much greater detail.
  2. Fixed or concealed screen. Here on Earth, many of our clients prefer a fixed screen as more and more home cinemas are being installed in dedicated entertainment rooms, but a motorised screen really comes into its own if you want everything hidden away. Everyone loves that magic moment when you press the ‘Movie’ button on the home automation remote and all the gizmos come to life:  The screen comes out of the ceiling, the blinds lower, the projector and amplifier turn on and the lights dim.  All of these features are there for your convenience, allowing you to ‘escape’ into the story being told, at least until the popcorn runs out! On the International Space Station, a fixed screen was not an option and a drop-down was ruled out because it requires gravity, so they designed a screen that could be unrolled and ready for viewing in just a few seconds.
  3. Size of screen. On the International Space Station the screen had to be rolled up and stored in as little space as possible. Getting the size of screen right is one of the most essential considerations when designing your home cinema. We always recommend creating a simple CAD design when planning the layout of the room, so that we can calculate the distances from the screen to the main seating and ensure that the viewing angle for each seat is as close to perfect as can be.

Screen Innovations and NASA also had to take in to consideration how easy the screen was to clean -in case the screen came in to contact with various floating food and liquid particles – probably not something you at home need to worry about! (However those with young children may disagree!)

Furthermore, a dedicated home cinema room doesn’t just have to be for viewing movies. For maximum efficiency and enjoyment it can also become a media or entertainment room that connects to the rest of the property so, for example, you could play your favourite xbox game whilst viewing an access control screen to find out who’s just arrived at your front door; or maybe you need to adjust the temperature whilst challenging your friends to a game of full sized simulated golf.

Home Cinema Room West HampsteadTake this basement home cinema room in West Hampstead, for example, where we used Screen Innovations Black Diamond 108″ fixed projection screen. The brief was to create a multi-function entertainment room. So now the home owners can not only experience cinema style quality viewing and sound in their basement, but they can also use the projector system in full light whilst still playing table tennis or playing on the drum kit!

So whether you’re planning a home cinema room on an International Space Station or a home entertainment room in your basement, you can apply the same principles – ensuring that not only do you get the ultimate viewing experience that’s perfect for its environment, but can also access the rest of your home (or space station!) technology without leaving the room.

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