Movies can take us into new worlds. They can teach us empathy, expand our horizons, and simply be flat-out entertaining. The perfect home theater setup can make all of these things more accessible than ever. But to perfect that setup, you’ll need the ideal picture on your TV or projector. In this post, we’re going to discuss picture quality so that your home theater wows just like the ones you have to drive to.
Home Theater Picture Optimizations
Choosing a Projector or TV?
If you’re building a home theater from the ground up, you’ll have to decide between classic televisions and projectors. Movie theaters that you go to obviously utilize projectors to get the huge picture size and quality. Projectors are the tried and true classic technology that gets your movie up for less money. However, smart TVs make it easy to stream tons of different movies. The connections are simple, and you’ll spend less time optimizing the picture. If you’re a purist and don’t mind a bit more hassle–go with a projector. If ease of use is important to you, you can’t go wrong with a TV.
Many home theaters will utilize a projector for an easy projector setup. For the best picture on a projector you’ll need to set it up each time that you’re going to watch a film in the home theater. Things can move around, adjust, and get out of place between uses. Always start by cleaning the lens on the projector. You can get special solutions that make this really easy.
Next, you’ll want to adjust the focus on the projector to make it really sharp on the wall. Then, choose the right resolution on your output device (probably a laptop or even a phone) so that the output resolution is the same as the projector.
If things are a little bit fuzzy, most projectors also have ways to make the picture size a little bit smaller. By making the projected image a little bit smaller, you’ll be able to zero in on a better picture.
Some home theaters utilize a projector, but others will simply have a TV. When you first get the television, stay away from the different picture settings. There’s a tendency to just buy a new TV and play around with the picture modes. Usually, this means that you’ll choose the brightest picture mode. Modes with names like dynamic and vivid are generally really bright and are full of flowery contrast. But this can really destroy the mood for more subtle colors and scenes. Keep the factory settings and only play around with the TV later on. For most home theaters, a movie or cinema setting is going to be far better than the brighter options. It allows the colors to really show through.
Most home theater experiences these days are going to rely on a fast internet connection. It’s unlikely that you’re going to have a bunch of DVDs laying around–you’ll probably be streaming and renting movies online. This means that getting a fast, quality internet connection is part of the experience. The last thing you want to do is have a movie interrupted by multiple pauses for buffering! Keeping things running clean and smooth by investing in a quality internet connection. Also keep in mind that if you’re hosting movie nights, there will be people connecting to your internet with your phones, so you’ll need plenty of bandwidth to handle all the network activity at once.
Other Picture and Experience Considerations
As every great theater knows, your experience of the move depends on a lot more than simply the raw quality of the picture. Sounds, light levels, and even the smell of the room is going to have a huge impact on the experience of viewers.
You don’t want your favorite movie to compete for attention with tacky posters and bad paintings. Keep the wall where the TV is mounted relatively clean to keep it free from distractions. Of course, if you have a projector, you’ll need a blank wall or sheet to keep things clean. When you’re in a movie theater, part of the experience is the stage and the building. One thing that can make your home theater picture better is curtains framing the picture. They don’t need to be tacky red or maroon curtains! Any darker curtain, like blue or even green, can keep the room feeling clean and fresh. Basically, don’t make the movie compete with other images in the room.
There are a lot of lighting considerations for a home theater. When you go to a movie theater, the light is carefully curated for an optimal movie experience. The lights will be at a dim level until the movie starts, at which point they dim even further, gently walking you into the movie-watching experience.
To recreate this at home, it’s helpful to have some smart home automation technology that can gently cruise into the movie-watching experience. Lighting is going to be crucial to having a great experience but it also improves picture quality. Especially if you have a projector, you’ll need to carefully control the light levels in the room.
Automatic shades are a great way to control natural light. Most automatic shades come with smartphone connectivity that will allow you to control exterior light with the touch of a button on your phone. This is really helpful especially if you want to get an afternoon movie in.