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CEDIA Boot Camps: Immersive, Hands-on Training

CEDIA is once again offering all three of its Boot Camps in July.

CEDIA is once again offering all three of its Boot Camps in July. The Camps include:

The Advanced Networking Boot Camp, July 19–21, is for those with some background in residential networks – and it’s become incredibly popular as home networks grow in size and complexity.

The Basic Residential Boot Camp, July 24–26 is our entry-level course for everyone and anyone at a technology integration firm. If you’d like all your employees to know the fundamentals, this is a great start.

The Home Theater Boot Camp, July 27–29, includes specialized info on everything from video calibration to proper speaker and seating placement.

CEDIA’s Content Marketing Manager (yours truly) attended the Home Theater Boot Camp — here’s a taste of what happens during one of these immersive, hands-on, three-day experiences.


8 a.m. — Instructor Ken Erdmann tells the group that proper calibration of even an inexpensive TV will set an integrator apart from his competitors, especially the “hangers and bangers.” Most displays are set up at the factory to look good in a big-box stores under screaming fluorescent lights.

9 a.m. — Understanding digital versus analog is key. We’re digging into sampling rates, and the concepts here are deceptively simple. More samples per second means a signal that comes ever closer to mimicking the curve of a sound wave.

10:15 a.m. — Amplifier power: it’s not as simple as the stats on the box. Good amps tell you about their RMS power per channel as opposed to one “big” number that powers everything.

11 a.m. — “Video signals can be divided into two categories:

Analog/NTSC — National Television Standards Committee

Digital/ATSC — Advanced Television Standards Committee

And NTSC also stands for ‘Never Twice the Same Color.’”

1:30 p.m. — The rack-building portion of our day is now in full swing. I’m paired up with Jeremy, a newly-minted integrator who hails from a small town in Georgia. (His firm’s called JATI Security.) We’re mapping where the dummy gear, blanks, and cabling will go.

4:00 p.m. — Our cables look decent — power on one side, signals on the other, bundled with Velcro straps (plastic ties can crush those cables) — but the guys from Above Grade Engineering, California? Their rack looks ready for entry in the CEDIA Awards.


9 a.m. – Add this one to the alphabet soup: HDR, or High Dynamic Range. Simply put, when a color once described by 8 bits is then described by 10 or even 12 bits, the available range of colors jumps from the millions to the multi-billions.

9:30 a.m. – Now we’re talking display types: LCD, LED, OLED, name it.

10:00 a.m. – On to projectors: DLP, DLP: TI, single-chip, three-chip, LCOS.

11:00 a.m. – Horror-story time: Metal studs? Snap toggles? Televisions that have pulled sections of sheetrock down with them because they weren’t attached to anything even remotely stable? Ken’s seen it all.

1 p.m. – After lunch, it’s time to hang the gear. We’re now in groups of three, and Jeremy and I are joined by Selena, who hails from the Lone Star state. After two hours or so, we’ve gotten images on both the display and the motorized screen that covers the TV when the projector’s in use. Everything looks properly centered (with a bit of image “overrun” on the screen to account for anomalies and slight movements), and we’re ready to calibrate.

3 p.m. – Video knowledge: Tint, brightness, grayscale, and other metrics will be addressed as we work, and the benefits aren’t all intuitive:

  • Proper calibration can reduce energy usage by roughly a quarter.
  • The drop in power consumption can help extend the life of the unit.
  • And the ability to properly adjust the look of an image? It’s expertise that can be marketed as an added value only an expert can provide.


8 a.m. – Jeff Gardner – musician, soundman, recording archivist, and current executive director of ESPA – is the guest speaker this Saturday morning. “If you want the commercial theater experience,” notes Gardner in his remarks, “bring in a crying baby and throw some gum on the floor.”

9:30 a.m. — 80 Hz is the magic number when it comes to subwoofer crossovers. Remember that.

11 a.m. – “In one double-blind study I read, both pros and regular folks preferred a set of $200 speakers over a pair valued at eight grand,” notes Gardner. Design is everything.

11:15 a.m. – We’re talking subwoofers: where to put them so they’re not cancelling one another out, and how and when to decouple them from a floor with a simple absorbent platform so all the energy isn’t transferred into the basement or crawl space.

2:30 p.m. – The tools of calibration are being set up – pro-model analyzers and SPL (dB) meters, along with the right mics to read a room. The best theaters have a low noise floor – since an 85 dB dynamic range is what we’re after, a span of 20 to 105 dB provides an upper end that’s not uncomfortable – or injurious.

3:00 p.m. – Pink noise is run through the system. Measurements are taken. The AVR we’re using is advanced enough to assist with the setup – it adds delay where needed. We’re moving the subwoofers about.

3:30 p.m. – Ladies and gentlemen, please enjoy the modern Star Trek reboot in 4K on an OLED display complete with 3D immersive sound. It’s … amazing.

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