Recent Movies that Really Excite?

Time to shake things up a little bit here on the blog. I know most of my blog postings are all gear related, but “home theater” goes well beyond gear. Without the movies themselves the whole thing just becomes kind of a hollow pursuit. So today I kinda wanted to talk about current trends in movies and possibly get some feedback from friends.

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So in the great words of Peter Griffin “You know what really grinds my gears… movies today”. I’m looking on IMDB right now at a list of upcoming releases for something that excites me. Something that I may actually buy on disc, or even crazier yet, get me to spend money on a ticket to watch it in the theater. Not much! Has my taste in film just become more narrow? I used to watch anything when I was younger. Now I bet I watch maybe 10 new releases a year… at best.

So I’ll ask, what recent releases or upcoming releases excite you?

I’ll just throw out a few recent releases as well as some upcoming ones that have me excited.

Fury – in summary, Brad Pitt, Sherman tank, WWII. Have yet to see this one, looks really cool.

Interstellar – Cristopher Nolan directs film that is about first attempt at interstellar travel through warping space. Comes out in a few months and I have no idea what to expect, sure to be gorgeous and very cool.

The Grand Budapest Hotel – I still haven’t seen the latest installment from Wes Anderson. Very high on my current “watch list”.

Snowpiercer – What you need to know is that the last remnants of society on a plane that circles the Earth on a train in a perpetual winter, the the folks stuck in the back get ticked. Just watched this, and was very pleased with what I think is a welcome departure from the typical Hollywood comic book action movie.

The Monuments Men – Yet to see this one. A bunch of Museum guys get together at the end of WWII to gather up artwork stolen by Nazis.

Godzilla – Yeaah, as a lover of old campy “B movies” and old sci-fi I really need to at least sit down and give it a shot. I thought the last one was aweful, so the bar is low.

Unfortunately, I’m starting to think my taste in movie continues to narrow as I age. For instance I’m really lukewarm on comic book movies as of late. I love original ideas in that regard. I’m also not a big horror guy, at least not modern horror. I have a list of serious movies I need to watch as well; but I find myself just not making time for it. One example would be “12 Years A Slave.” I know it has excellent, and moving content based in history, that should be given my time. I just find it takes emotional effort to fire it up, effort that I just don’t always want to muster.

So, I’m curious what your excited for? Do you think made for television mini series and shows like Game of Thrones, or the Walking Dead pulls you away from the time you would have gave to watching traditional film? How about independent cinema? I think digital film-making and distribution could easily upset the traditional Hollywood model when it comes to anything that isn’t a major blockbuster. Have you seen any great independent movies that received very little marketing?

 

 

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Real Progress on my Theater!

Finally, an update on my quest in to the depth of the darkest of man-caves on a journey to build my own home theater. We made some real progress on Sunday running wire for roughly 80% of the necessary speakers and gear. I know a lot more about good home theater design than I do about physically getting cable from point A to point B, but I did have help, and in the end I learned a lot.

In a nutshell we managed to pull cable from the rack location to the front of the room near the screen location for left, center, right, sub1 and sub2. From there, we managed to get power and cable to two rear speaker locations as well as the projector. You may wonder about “Dolby height speakers” or some ceiling speakers for the new Dolby Atmos format. The reality is that I want to run cable to all of my rear speakers and look at how much bulk cable I have left before I commit to any height channels up front. Additional, ceiling speakers in the recommended Dolby Atmos locations would be exceedingly difficult to get wire to. Doable, but a whole days project.

Ok, pics.. and more details than you care for….

Here is almost all of the wiring coming in to the location where the rack will sit.

Here is almost all of the wiring coming in to the location where the rack will sit.

Finding a route to the front of the room was a real trick as the stair case is in the way. At first we thought we would follow an HVAC duct on the opposite side of the closet and stair, however that turned out to be a dead end. We ended up going over the top of the HVAC duct to the bathroom taking a left and going over the top of the ceiling of the laundry room. Figuring that out was literally an hour and a half of head scratching, putting holes in things I probably didn’t need to, and playing with a glow rod. By the way, if you want to run cable buy a glow rod (a tool now on my “wishlist”).

Once we had the route figured out, we then sent a line of coax that came pre-marked for length in terms of footage out of the box back to the rack. With a length of roughly 75 feet, we measured out a bunch of cable lengths for each speaker location to run and then taped it all together to the other end of the rod to make the run back out to the rack in one shot.

Here we are measuring out the lengths of each cable needed to go to the front of the room.

Here we are measuring out the lengths of each cable needed to go to the front of the room.

Finally made it to the front of the room. The four gang box will be on the wall behind and to the side of the screen itself. The screen sits in front of an exterior wall and it wasn’t worth the hassle of pulling the cabling in to that wall space. This essentially will be in an alcove behind the screen you’ll never see any of the cabling that comes out from this location.

Wall connection box for Left,Center, Right, Sub1 and Sub2.

Wall connection box for Left,Center, Right, Sub1 and Sub2.

 

The back side of the same box for anyone curious.

The back side of the same box for anyone curious.

The rear speakers offered up a different challenge. For the left surround, we had to cut a small hole near the top of the wall to run the glow rod through back to the rack, above the ceiling sheetrock, as well as to feed cable downward past the wall header to where the two gang box would sit in the wall. So, as as you can see I have some drywall repair to do, otherwise I could just cover it up with a blank wall plate.

This box should sit mainly behind the rear left speaker on the wall. Unusual in home theaters, it contains both electrical power and a choice of two types of audio connections (balanced XLR, and regular speaker cable). The unused audio connection will just stay wrapped up in the box and can be switched out with a different faceplate at later time if wanted.

This box should sit mainly behind the rear left speaker on the wall. Unusual in home theaters, it contains both electrical power and a choice of two types of audio connections (balanced XLR, and regular speaker cable). The unused audio connection will just stay wrapped up in the box and can be switched out with a different faceplate at later time if wanted.

After the rear speakers boxes were wired, we focused on getting power and HDMI to the projector location. We also hung the projector to double check the geometry and see how much play we had with the zoom for that location. You can really see how low the ceiling is in this picture. You will definitely will make a shadow if you stand up a couple feet in front of the main seating position. I wish I had a taller ceiling, but it is what it is.

Just testing on the wall for now. In the future a screen will sit roughly where the black taped line is.

Just testing on the wall for now. In the future a screen will sit roughly where the black taped line is.

Anyway, I still have a lot of work left. Unlike most home theaters, my wall plates use XLR connections typically found in musician/pro audio applications and they all need to be soldered to complete the connection. The terminated XLR cable ends at the rack location need to be soldered too. Guess I’m going to have to get better at soldering! I really need to get the rear surrounds in, and have a pro figure out how to get the outlets at the rack location on a separate breaker. The system is close to usable now, but only then can I call the wiring “complete”.

More to follow, hopefully updates come a bit quicker now.