Top 5 Home Tech Trends for 2021: Home Theater Is Hotter Than Ever
The custom integration channel has better tools and technology than ever to deliver reference-type home theaters and help customers get the most out of today’s entertainment wealth.
Home Theater as a Top Tech Opportunity for Custom Integrators? Isn’t that a pretty broad and not really bold statement, you say?
Indeed, if anything, the editors at CE Pro might call it an understatement. Home theater – and the various elements it encompasses – may be the hottest ticket in residential integration these days. A perfect storm of influences provides CE professionals with more than enough ammunition to benefit existing and new customers.
“I think we’ve seen a big shift from theater to home entertainment,” said Cheena Srinivasan, founder of Kaleidescape, who spoke extensively with CE Pro about everything that goes into that equation ahead of CEDIA Expo Virtual last fall.
Important changes will cause the home theater market to boom in 2020
The main changes in 2020 included:
# 1: COVID-19 has forced more consumers to upgrade their home entertainment systems and has moved more money to the category. Some of that money simply came from consumers redistributing savings that normally went into vacation travel expenses that fell by the wayside in 2020. Covering only a portion of last year, the Digital Entertainment Group (DEG) reported that consumers spent more than $ 1.5 billion on digital entertainment transactions through electronic sales (EST) and video-on-demand (VOD) in the second quarter 2020 – this corresponds to an increase of 54% compared to the same period of the previous year.
# 2: Even before the pandemic broke out, there was a shortened window between a film’s theatrical release and its home entertainment release. That window was shortened from 90 to just 17 days with a deal announced by AMC Theaters and Universal Entertainment in August, which was topped last month by news that Warner Bros. will be releasing all of its 2021 film releases not just in theaters but at the same time would streaming service HBO max.
# 3: The cost of building and creating a great home theater setup has dropped dramatically. What used to take hundreds of thousands of dollars to build can now be built for a fraction of that amount. At the same time, however, integrators have more tools and technology than ever before to attract luxury customers with six- and seven-digit theater spaces.
# 4: The quality of the source material has improved. With the advent of the first DVD, then the Bluray Disc, and now the UltraHD Blu-ray, the improvements have been exponential, even with the advent of lower quality streaming video. But streaming video, too, now offers consumers tons of options that offer 4K High Dynamic Range and Dolby Atmos support across certain platforms.
# 5: Immersive audio such as Dolby Atmos and DTS: X provide a high quality audio experience for watching movies at home and the ability to install and calibrate larger surround sound systems. On the video side, 4K HDR projection has become the norm, and now 8K is popping up in displays and products like ultra-short throw projectors that add even greater flexibility to installing 4K systems.
# 6: The cinema 4K format is reserved for the custom installation industry. “Most films and increasingly streaming content are produced in 2.4: 1 cinema format,” comments Shawn Kelly, founder of Panamorph. “Every high-end 4K projector now has anamorphic modes for use with an anamorphic conversion lens, delivering full 4K display performance in this cinematic format and allowing instant changes for 16: 9 content. With a 16: 9 display, you simply cannot get this kind of performance and experience in theatrical format. And with today’s direct attach lenses, available exclusively through the CI channel, selling and installing are as easy as the message. “
Of course, it’s up to the integrators to capitalize on this potential golden age of home theater.
“When it comes to delivering a rich experience, we use the analogy that if you invest in a racing car, it’s better to pump good rocket fuel for it,” says Srinivasan. “Otherwise you won’t get the full swing.”
He points out that source material is usually the weakest link, but as noted, streaming and downloaded content are maturing and integrators can refresh many areas in their portfolios as home theater covers a range of systems.
“Home entertainment is king, and more and more content will appear in home entertainment to give consumers access to great content,” he says. “This is an emotional sale, and emotional selling needs to have that emotional relevance component.”
Architecture cinema sets standards
Harnessing those emotions with strong home theater demonstrations is something John Bishop has been doing on the CEDIA channel for decades, and he too conveyed how opportunistic retailers should be for this category during CEDIA Expo Virtual.
“New cinema technology offers retailers a dramatic opportunity, the best opportunity we’ve had in 20 years.”
John Bishop, President, b / a / s Bishop Architectural Entertainment Services
“New motion picture technology offers retailers a dramatic opportunity, the best opportunity we’ve had in 20 years,” commented Bishop, President of b / a / s bishop Architectural Entertainment Services, during his Architectural Cinema: Deliver Premier Results for projects End ”at the virtual fair.
Citing IMAX theaters and Dolby Vision as examples of what he calls HDR Cinema Sound & Image (HDR CSI), Bishop says, “This reference experience can now be brought home via a specific design protocol and the use of premium lasers DLP projection and loudspeaker systems with a very high crest factor. ”
His “Mavericks Architectural Cinema” design focuses on three factors in order to deliver a cinema experience: sound (fidelity, dynamics, localization); Image (fidelity, brightness, color dynamics); and space (viewing geometry, lighting design).
For example, for best results, consider using a cinema-quality dynamic sound mapping system (one they use by CEDIA exhibitor madVR) for the best HDR results and automated screen masking as differentiators that integrators can provide. Bishop actually takes nine different aspect ratios into account. Note that even providers like Netflix and Amazon offer a lot of content in an aspect ratio of 2.0: 1.
“There are differences between masking and not masking – video is a lot sharper and a lot cooler when masked properly,” he enthused. “Art is important to our well-heeled customers. Movies are one of the important art forms of modern civilization – make it important!
“Do real cinema at home, just us [integrators] can do it right, ”he notes, adding that today’s technologies make it possible to create amazing spaces in shorter periods of time. “You can make a six-figure sale in a two to three week project – it doesn’t always have to be two to three year projects. You are giving your customer something they have never seen before. “