Every now and then, custom installers are lucky enough to work with what you might call a “dream client.” Technologically savvy, organized and boasting a significant budget, these clients are not only great for business, but they offer the opportunity to really push the proverbial envelope.
The team at Genesis Audio & Video Inc., a high-end custom installation firm based in Irvine, California, experienced this recently when a client approached them about constructing an extensive home theater based entirely on the science fiction thriller The Matrix, starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne and Carrie-Anne Moss. Genesis and longtime collaborator Lezlie Trujillo, an interior designer based in Trabuco Canyon, worked together to strike the perfect balance between form and function.
It obviously worked; in September, this project won CEDIA’s Electronic Lifestyles Award for Best Home Theater Level V: Over $900,000. Winning this award is no small affair, since custom installation firms entering the contest must impress perhaps the most difficult audience of them all: their peers, who, as CEDIA attendees, judge those nominated.
Founded in 1976, Genesis Audio & Video (949.727.3700, www.genesis-audio.com) initially began as a record store featuring a small, back-room audio department. In 1981, a home theater, featuring a 10-foot Stewart Filmscreen, was built into the store as a showcase of A/V equipment. The company officially opened a custom installation division in 1986, and has built a reputation for servicing an affluent clientele in search of sophisticated entertainment systems ever since.
Bill Anderson, the company’s president, places a strong emphasis on the relationship between aesthetics and technology. He claims that establishing a solid relationship with Trujillo early on in the game was probably one of the smartest things he has ever done, and that his company’s alliance with the designer is one of the reasons Genesis landed this project in the first place. Trujillo’s enthusiasm for incorporating technology into interior design makes the two firms a nice fit.
“I have been working with Genesis since 1988, and I operate under the theory that whatever they say goes first, and then I make it look good,” Trujillo said. “I approach it as function before beauty. It’s my job to make them look beautiful.”
Trujillo specializes in designing interiors for custom home theaters. “I like reinventing the wheel every time with a new look or a new theme-a very one-of-a-kind approach,” she said. “It’s wonderful to use your creative license and have a client back you up and understand that he is also taking a creative risk.”
This theater, which was built as an addition to the original home, is 33 feet deep, 19 inches wide and 11 inches high. To capture the concept, Trujillo studied The Matrix, making copious notes about the movie’s setting and visual theme. She settled on a color scheme primarily made up of greens and blacks to complement the technology that was installed, creating an industrial, futuristic effect. A videophile at heart, the client required optimum performance out of the home theater systems. “We conducted a serious analysis of video performance and decided that because it was a dedicated space and there were no windows, a three-gun projector from Runco made more sense than DLP technology,” Anderson explained.
The Genesis team-comprised of project manager Tom Liebich and programmers Frank Moctezuma and Kevin Dry-integrated a Runco DTV-1101 video projector that projects onto a 4-way screen by Stewart Filmscreen. A Faroudja DVP-5000 video processor and Escient Power Play DVD management system complete the video system highlights. “The client is a complete home theater enthusiast. He wanted the best home theater possible,” said Genesis project manager, Tom Liebich. “Very seldom do you get someone who is as knowledgeable as he is. He encouraged us to exceed his expectations.”
The audio system in this theater is comprised of a Revel surround sound speaker system powered by eight Linn Klimax mono-block power amplifiers. RPG acoustical products enable the systems to achieve optimum performance.
An AMX Phast system provides control for the entire home theater, which is integrated into the whole-house system.
“The client was looking for a very high level of performance,” Anderson said. “He asked us to push the envelope, and we did.” Trujillo acknowledged that large-scale home theater projects require extensive input from the client. In this case, she and the Genesis team had little trouble communicating with their customer. “Clients have to be willing to move forward through a project and make some decisions while it goes along,” she said. “Our client understood that technology changes, and he was right there if the projector changed and he had to approve a different model. He would never hold up the project. He was really incredible about moving forward.”
Carolyn Heinze ([email protected]) works from her office in Vancouver, Canada.