The Hollywood Times Official Guide To Watching Movies At Home

We at The Hollywood Times Today love taking you behind the scenes of what’s happening in Hollywood because we know you love movies. And since you love movies so much, maybe you want to know how to get the best picture and sound while watching movies at home. We reached out to our good friend Chris Rock at Haas Entertainment who created The Hollywood Times Official Guide To Watching Movies At Home.

Creating an enjoyable movie experience at home requires the following five things to be considered and optimized.

1, Picture

There are two roads you can travel for a great home movie experience; Video projector or television screen. Video projectors, if professionally installed, can provide a more cinematic and immersive experience by providing a much larger image but often at a much greater expense. There are also more factors to consider when implementing a projection cinema. i.e. you’ll need more space, better lighting control, projector noise mitigation, just to name a few. A TV on the other hand can provide incredible picture quality for a fraction of the price if you’re willing to sacrifice screen size. If you haven’t purchased a TV in the past 6 years, it may be time to upgrade. Consider at the very minimum a 65” 4K TV with HDR, preferably DolbyVision and OBC (Object Based Contrast). For movie lovers, 8K is available now. An 8K TV isn’t just 4 times higher resolution. It’s also brighter meaning it will provide a superior HDR image. You should also get the biggest size that fits comfortably on your wall. The biggest right now is 100 inches! Once you have the proper equipment you’ll need to optimize it. Here is a link to optimizing settings

2, Sound

The worst way to hear a movie’s soundtrack is by relying on the television’s speakers. As TVs become significantly slimmer, the built-in speakers are smaller and consequently, the sound is unbearably tinney and thin. At the very minimum consider a 3.1 sound system using external on-wall or in-wall speakers. That means you have separate speakers for left, right and center plus a subwoofer. You will need an AV receiver to decode the audio source. Make sure the quality of receiver you get matches the sonic quality of the speakers you are planning to use. Mid-range systems will also have a set of rear surrounds bringing you to something called 5.1 surround sound. 5.1 consists of speakers in the following placement, relative to the listener: Left Front, Center, Right Front, Rear Left, Rear Right, and a subwoofer. 5.1 is really where the movie experience begins. 

For those of you who take movie watching seriously there’s the latest high-bitrate audio formats up to 192kHz, 24-bit, in 7.1, and 32-channel uncompressed audio. There is also DTS-HD Master Audio™, DTS:X®, Dolby® TrueHD, and Dolby Atmos®. These formats require several speakers placed at various locations & heights providing movie theater quality sound in a living room for an immersive multi-dimensional experience and unparallelled audio detail and depth. Because these setups require precise calibration with a studio microphone, it’s best to hire a professional AV integrator.

3, Environment

When we say environment we mean, the lights, windows, seating, temperature, etc. You simply can’t enjoy a movie if you’re uncomfortable. Having easy access to the thermostat is more important than you would think. Regarding windows & lights, be aware of glare (screen reflections). Here is an easy way to check for glare: Start with the room lights on and the shades/drapes open… Turn your TV off, sit down and look at the black screen. Do you see reflections on the screen? If so, you will want to consider window blackouts, scalloped lighting or even articulating the TV until the reflections disappear. TV screens, being flat will bounce light back to you at the angle of incidence. The closer you sit to the perpendicular viewing angle, the less chance you will catch a reflection from lighting that is off to the side. Once the glare has been dealt with, make sure you are able to dim your lights. Watching a video projector should be done in complete darkness however watching TV should be done in a low light setting, not total darkness. Try to keep the equipment away from the screen so you don’t get distracted by the bright little LED lights on the front of the components.

Consider investing in theater seating or at least a really comfortable sofa & ottoman. You’ll want to stretch out your legs. One last note; make sure you have a surface to place your food & drinks. A coffee table is the bare minimum. We love recommending seating that has built-in cup holders & hide-away tables.

4, Control

Controlling your system needs to be easy. If you can’t easily turn on your system or change between a streaming box like AppleTV and a satellite service like Dish network, then you have a problem. There are two ways to fix this: The DIY way is to turn on HDMI CEC in each of your devices. That will allow basic functions like power & volume pass through the chain of devices. For example; an Apple TV remote control can turn your AV receiver and TV both on and off, as well as control the volume. The professional way is to purchase a custom programmed Universal Remote Control System like Crestron, URC, Elan, etc. These control systems start at around $1000 and go up from there but considering an AV system can have a half dozen or more electronic devices, it’s money well spent. Regardless of what you choose as a control system it’s important to learn your system. Learn the buttons, functions and features. Understand how the system gets its commands. Does it use infrared emitters? If so, know where to attach them in case you need to re-attach them. Know how to operate your system without a remote control. Learn basic troubleshooting techniques such as tracing how the signal flows from your source device (AppleTV, Dish STB, etc.) through the AVR’s HDMI in & out ports, all the way to your display. You never know when someone is going to unplug something without asking you first.

5, Content

Don’t skimp on good content. Oftentimes we spend a lot on the AV equipment and then just watch whatever’s on Netflix or basic cable. Don’t do it! A good movie is worth a few extra bucks. Your time on this planet is too short to be watching garbage content. Consider visiting a quality review site such as Rotten Tomatoes or find a professional film critic with similar taste to you and follow their blog. We recommend Wade Major. Find a quality film and bite the bullet. Buy or rent it. You’ll be glad you did.

You will need a content delivery device such as a BluRay player, AppleTV 4K HDR, Dish Network’s Hopper 3 or Kaleidescape. Any of the aforementioned devices will deliver quality content but there are pros & cons to each. Try to stay away from apps built into the TV (except Bravia Core), cable television or low bit-rate media players like Plex & VLC. Low bit rate translates to lower quality picture & sound.

Reminder: Unless you are using Kaleidescape, a BluRay player, or Dish Network, you will need a solid and fast internet connection. Higher speeds will provide more consistent 4K HDR streaming, especially if there are others in the house sharing the connection. Try to keep your AV system’s internet connection hardwired. A hardwired connection with IP address reservation activated in the router will usually outperform Wi-Fi. 

Lastly: Have an AV expert on speed dial.
Develop a relationship with a great audio/video integrator. The best AV integrators will have certification by the HTA. They will be licensed and insured. They will have expertise in a wide range of disciplines, from car audio to home theaters and more… Last but not least, find one that’s been in business for a very long time. Haas Entertainment has been in business for 43 years! Feel free to reach out to us for advice on your next project.