Home Cinema: Star Ceilings Made Easy

Furniture, fittings and fixtures all have to play a role in ensuring that the home cinema room is a special place – a refuge from the everyday world.

While the technology which goes into a home cinema room is clearly crucial to producing good audio and visual effects, styling and ambiance are also important. After all, the whole point of having a dedicated cinema room, rather than simply watching movies on the living room TV, is to create a sense of occasion. 

Creating a fibre optic star ceiling has long been one popular way of adding a bit of glamour to a home cinema room, but the fact is that if you're going to do one properly it involves a lot of work. Or at least it did until Starscape Star Ceilings in the UK developed its Infinity modular star ceiling system.

“One of the reasons we developed Infinity was that we realised that some home cinema professionals were reluctant to offer their clients star ceilings because of the sheer amount of time taken to create one,” explained Starscape's sales director Peter Fagan. “And there was also the issue of accurately predicting – and pricing – the time required to do the work. We heard from firms who had ended up out of pocket after underpricing the work.  They faced a dilemma – customers loved the finished look but the installation could be a real pain in the neck.

“So, we decided to come up with a system which meant that the bulk of the work was done offsite, by us. This not only made the installer's life much easier, but added value from our perspective, so it was a win-win solution.”

At the heart of the Infinity system is a lightweight panel of 1000 x 1000 x 10mm which has 100 optical fibre “stars” already fitted. It is faced in an intensely black flock, and with four different fibre diameters in use there is a real sense of depth to the “sky” above – hence the name Infinity.

The key feature of the system is the optical joint which connects the fibres of each panel to a longer “tail” of bundled fibres carrying the light from the LED light source(s).  The harness of tails can be put in place on the ceiling as part of the electrical first fix, if necessary, and this can also contribute to a smooth workflow on a larger project. Because the system is modular it is infinitely scalable, from a single panel to hundreds, although in home cinema rooms installations tend to range from six to 30 panels.

Infinity lends itself perfectly to retrofitting to existing home cinemas because installation is so quick and involves minimal disruption or mess.

This year has seen the introduction of a Mk II version of the panel. In essence the system is unchanged, says Peter Fagan, but a number of significant tweaks and refinements should make it even more user-friendly.

A customer who recently installed his first Infinity package reported that two men took three hours to install the 9-square-metre star ceiling, whereas the last time they'd attempted to build a star ceiling from scratch it had required 80 man-hours. Not surprisingly, they said they'd be using Infinity for any future projects.

The modular format allows for efficient packaging and shipping and the system has been installed in Nigeria, Ghana, Dubai, and many EU countries.


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