DIY Cinema

By Adam Clarke
Illustration by Tara Fleming.

In theory, going to the movies should be an escape, allowing you to get lost in the story unfolding on the massive screen.

In theory.

Oooh, let’s check back in with grim reality, shall we?

Check out a film on the weekend and there’s going to be plenty of bawling children running around.

Opening night will leave you awash in the blinding glow of cell phones as of mouth-breathers text around you.

Make the mistake of going to the early evening show and you’re sitting with sexagenarians unwittingly speaking in “outdoor voices” during a movie.

I’ll never forget the stewed-prune receptacles sitting behind me at No Country For Old Men dribbling on about their semi-functional prostates.

With so many reasons to avoid the cinemas, why not build your own? It’s easier and cheaper than you think.

When his eldest son moved out of the house, David Hammond, a Mount Pearl musician and sound engineer, transformed the boy’s basement bedroom into the perfect home theatre. Hammond’s got a seven-foot screen, two rows of seats, an LCD projector and a 5.1 sound system for only $500 total. How much you want to spend is up to you, but first you’ll need…

• A room that’s at least 12 x 16 ft
• A DVD player, VCR, computer or whatever you play movies on.
• An LCD projector with bulb
• Speakers with active subwoofer
• Amplifier
•A king-size white bed sheet
• Dark-coloured bedsheets
• Window valances
• Seats

Don’t worry, LCDs are relatively common items on eBay now. Once you’ve hooked up the yellow video cable that came with your DVD/VCR to the projector, you can just project your movies onto any ol’ king-size white sheet.

Found items will keep your budget low. Staple window valances to create a border around your screen. Your seats don’t have to be fancy, either. Grab a couch from the curb and place it 10-12 feet away from your screen. Create elevated seating by using a wide bed frame and bracing it with plywood. Put some chairs, car seats or a loveseat on it and you’ve got an elevated row behind you, just like the real cinemas.

And if All Else Fails, Go To Piper’s
Cheap materials aren’t impossible to find in this city, what with Piper’s, Zeller’s and second-hand stores around. XS Cargo is another good bet for discount sheets, or you might even find a decent sound system up there.

Sure, you might be leery of budget-priced speakers, but you don’t need too go crazy and buy a state-of-the-art Bose sound system if you don’t have the money for it.

For 5.1 surround sound, you’ll want five speakers, an amplifier and an active subwoofer. Once you get your set, take the fibreoptic cable that came with your DVD player and hook it directly to the amp. DVD players have a decoder which sends the audio signal thru the optical cable output, while the amp’s fibreoptic output will decode the sound and send it to the different speakers.

Your sound is taken care of as easy as that.

Baffling!
Once assembled, you need to consider sound baffling. If you’re surrounded by pink insulating foam, you may be okay. Otherwise, you’ll need to muffle the sound. This, can be done by stapling bed sheets where sound could travel outside the room. The layers of bed sheets you’ll need will vary with how well-insulated the room is. Use dark material as baffling so the glow of the projector doesn’t bounce off the walls and ceiling.

So, it’s true. With a little time and effort, you can build your own state-of-the-art home theatre, ideal for watching videos, sporting events or even playing video games. (Most video players, consoles and computers can be hooked up to a projector with ease.)

Plus, you can build these things pretty easily if you coax friends to help you with the promise of having regular movie nights. With a few beers, the right equipment and the right friends, you could make this dream project happen almost overnight.

3 comments

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  1. joan scott · January 3, 2012

    Loved the illustration by Tara Fleming. Disturbed that The Scope would publish anti-senior material. j

  2. Marilyn Beaton, Chair of the Seniors Resource Centre Volunteer Board of Directors · January 3, 2012

    I appreciate a joke or humourous article as much as most folk but I object when senior citizens are particularly cited as the brunt of such writings. Noisy children were mentioned and one other undefined group but for seniors two long ‘jokes’ were described. I venture to say that you would be surprised at how many people of sixty to seventy years of age that would take offense at your “outdoor voices” remark and how many men with prostrate troubles would not find your second remark the least bit funny. Both items are total inaccuracies.
    I will just note that the people you are making fun of are the people who created the world in which you live. You owe them a lot. One of those days you will be among them.
    Marilyn Beaton

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