TECHNOLOGY PROFILE – VIDEO
A Million Dollar View
Home entertainment has reached an apex moment with Sony’s Crystal direct-view LED display technology.
By Steve Panosian
SOME OF THE MOST PANORAMIC VIEWS AND MAJESTIC PLACES I’ve seen across the world — the Glacial Lakes in Canada’s first national park, the Machu Picchu Incan citadel set in the Andes Mountains, the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove in Japan – are immersive experiences. And that sense of being there is now being realized in select home cinemas across the country thanks to the latest in video display technologies and surround sound formats. Enjoying your favorite sporting events and concerts in breathtaking clarity has now reached an apex moment with the release of Sony’s Crystal direct-view LED display technology.
I call it the million dollar view.
I recently caught up with technology designer Yasin Chaudhry of Palm Desert-based AVIR Inc., a lifestyle technology solutions provider, to talk about one such recent installation that required significant engineering and a balance between the original room design and the design team’s vision. AVIR has been a part of the Coachella Valley community for more than 30 years and caters to a customer base that are among the most discerning technology enthusiasts, as this project will illustrate.
Yasin shared that it all started back in 2019 when one of AVIR’s long-time clients asked, “What’s new?” and was introduced to C-LED technology after a visit to a Sony showroom in the LA area. It was decided to completely remodel an existing home cinema that had become dated – and not only the technology, but the décor as well.
The original theater was built around a 100-inch Sony TV display custom-mounted into the wall space that limited any consideration for upgrading to a larger display size. This is the challenge in many constructions where the design of the room also dictates the dimensional limit on the size of the display. Also visible were the front speakers and center channel cabinetry. Although the TV and speakers were built into a custom-built wall, by today’s interior design standards this room’s décor was simply dominated with too much visible tech.
The centerpiece of the new cinema design was Sony’s new Crystal direct-view LED display technology that delivers perhaps the best picture characteristics and performance over any other display technology available on the market outside of massive projectors. Installing a display that fills 676 square feet of space with jaw-dropping visuals was just one of the challenges Yasin and his team faced. Once the design of the room was decided upon, the transformation which took eight months to complete required totally gutting the room down to its foundation.
The room had to be designed for accommodating the massive 174-inch diagonal display with a visual area dimension of roughly 13 feet wide by six feet in height. This height dimension alone delivers a life-sized experience for enjoying sports, movies or entertainment programming. There are 14 theater seats and the front row is roughly 12 feet from the screen. Contributing to diminishing the “tech-look” to “visually tech transparent” are 11 hidden speakers plus two sub-woofers that deliver the system’s Dolby Atmos 3D surround audio experience. The honeycomb ceiling compliments the dimension of the room and where the four ceiling speakers are hidden. Also hidden in the room is the entire audio-video componentry, including a Kaleidescape movie player, DirecTV, Roku, Apple TV and Sony 4K Blu-ray player.
The only HVAC design enhancement was in keeping the 174-inch Sony C-LED display panel cool. The general contractor and engineers designed a solution for maintaining the display’s temperature by placing cooling fans and a local AC system where the hot air is drawn from the back of the display panel and routed into an adjacent room’s air return ductwork.
Among the room’s décor challenges beyond hiding the technology was how to best address the placement of the theater seating. Working closely with the client, the decision was made to open up the right side of the room’s walkway and close the doorways to the home’s outdoor pool area. With the expanded seating area solved, the next design objective was matching the niche archway illusionary views that were built into the wall on the right side of the room. This involved Lathrop Development carefully designing two matching niche archways for the left side of the room. They had to be constructed to not only close off the existing doorways to the pool area, but also fill the archway spaces with static images that would create an illusion of the background valley view seen beyond the pool area. To accomplish this, the idea was to fill all five archways with high-resolution static images comprised of carefully photographed visuals of the landscape. Each of the five static images had to be carefully cut so the resulting panoramic view of that side of the home looked real. The images were laser printed using a special process to fully saturate the synthetic high-density translucent fabric so that illuminating the static prints with LED backlighting resulted in vivid detail. The LED backlights are powered by Lutron Lighting with dimming adjustments programmed onto a Crestron controller.
This system install involved many experts because it was the first residential installation of a Sony Crystal direct-view LED display. This technology is what you will be watching in years to come, as direct-view LED displays are rapidly becoming the go-to technology for large screen formats. The combined team that made this installation possible included Mike Oster, Gordon Spielberg owners, AVIR; Yasin Chaudhry, sales and design at AVIR; Chris Bowden, lead engineer and installation, AVIR; Tom Lathrop, Lathrop Development, Inc., general contractor; Sony team: Neal Manowitz, Jeff Goldstein, Jason Metcalfe, Jayson Savage, John Garmendi, and Steve Banaszek; AVIR/Sony Area sales rep. Darren Kolotyluk with Morris Tait; Jose Vasquez-Vintage Cabinets for the custom display surround.
The primary benefit of the new generation of direct-view LED displays is their brightness and contrast levels. They stand up to ambient room light and can be calibrated accordingly. Whether they are placed in rooms with walls of windows designed for sunlight views or a dark room cinema setting, the experience is demonstrably the best you can buy today. Colors jump off of the screen and create an illusionary immersive experience that outpaces today’s finest commercial theaters. You simply have to experience this new technology for yourself to become an advocate and to get excited as this display technology begins to replace today’s traditional LED TVs.
The luxury of having almost 700 square feet of space in a comfortable setting for enjoying movies, concerts and sports and having it completed well ahead of the 2020 holidays was the culmination of lots of effort from the entire design and installation team. In the end, the client is one of the fortunate few with a million dollar view.