While not all clients are easy to impress or especially grateful for the work integrators do, this wasn't at all the case when Together For Cinema donated a $45,000 home theater to Christopher’s Children’s Hospice.
Together For Cinema works with UK charity Together For Short Lives to bring home theater to children's hospices in the UK. This is Together For Cinema's 16th theater install. The organization is on track to meet its goal of installing 25 theaters by 2020.
CE Pro's sister publication across the pond, CE Pro Europe, attended the opening event and spoke to Ian Morrish, founder of Together For Cinema.
Morrish met with children's hospice charity Shooting Star Chase and chose Christopher's as the recipient of his next theater install. All that was left was to find an installer.
“I spoke to Gary Lewis at [UK integrator] Cornflake, as he had already mentioned that he was keen to get involved,” says Morrish. “As a former CEDIA Chairman and living locally to Christopher’s, it seemed to be the perfect match, and it certainly proved to be.”
The Kit List Comes Together
Christopher’s, Together For Cinema, and Cornflake's Gary Lewis and John Fitzpatrick all collaborated early on in the project. The plan incorporated a theater as well as a distinctive lighting plan and automated blinds.
With seven Velux windows installed in an unreachable ceiling and several large side windows, achieving the desired results would no doubt be challenging, as the cost was significant and expertise required was very specific.
As is true with most of its installations, Together For Cinema created a fairly ambitious kit list (see below).
“With this being [our 16th installation], we are very fortunate that industry support is now at a level where many brands have asked me what we need and where it needs to be sent. This was certainly the case for the installation at Christopher’s,” says Morrish.
“Some old favorites such as Crestron, Middle Atlantic (via RGB Communications), Monitor Audio, NAD, Projector Point and Wyrestorm all donated again and Habitech very kindly donated several other items that were required,” adds Morrish. “Due to the complexity of the installation a short throw projector was required, and Cornflake very kindly donated a suitable Panasonic product that they had available.”
Cornflake, the integrator on the project, had a contact at Philips Lighting in Guildford and also at lighting designer Future Light Design. The team was able to secure a Philips Hue Lighting system with wireless control.
“Lighting can transform an installation, but particularly for the children who find lighting and color variances so stimulating,” says Morrish.
Due to the high ceiling it was important to use automated blinds for this project. The existing blinds hadn’t even been opened for months, and the team needed a 10-foot pole to open them.
Morrish contacted an old friend, a divisional director at Velux, to enquire about Velux Windows.
“Not having spoken to him for a few years, I wasn’t too optimistic,” Morrish admits. “How wrong could I be? The end result is all windows have been serviced and upgraded to fully motorized blinds with a control panel by the entrance door.”
Installation Joys and Challenges
“One of the joys of the AV industry is that we tend to gather at various trade shows in both Europe and the States. It was at a hotel bar in Dallas that I bumped into Ian Claxton of QMotion UK and mentioned this installation to him,” says Morrish. “Within about four seconds the product had been secured and I was buying him a drink, sparkling water of course, at the bar.”
As Cornflake had already approached ACE Contracts to help with the installation, the project was ready to go: all products and services were sourced, supplied and installed free of any charge.
The approximate total cost of the install, including consultation, installation, products and any other associated costs would normally have been in the region of £42,000 (a little over $45,000) for an end user price. Cornflake also donated several items at its own cost such as iPads, switches and cables, and committed to be available for any servicing and technical queries post install.
“I knew about the work [Morrish] does and I said I’d love to be involved,” says Gary Lewis, Cornflake director. “Once you walk in and see the kids, you’d give them anything at all. I was so pleased he asked.”
Of course, the project was not without its challenges.
“It was obvious from our first visit that there were numerous challenges with the room chosen for the installation; namely where could we hang a projector with such a vaulted ceiling,” says Lewis. “Unfortunately we didn’t quite have the same luxury as some of our projects where the solution comes first and the cost comes second. The solution that was opted for was a short throw projector on an arm mounted above the electric drop-down screen. It was also apparent that the room would be in use throughout the day, which posed another challenge. It was a must that automated blinds be installed to ensure easy operation of the system.”
“Some of the equipment that we sourced was slightly different from our usual product lines, much to the enjoyment of our Crestron programmer at 6:00 p.m. on a Saturday,” Lewis adds. “However, a couple of long days later and the system was fully installed and functional, barring the automated blinds. Although there was a slight delay due to holidays and business commitments, the blinds were installed by ACE in time for the system to be enjoyed over the festive break.
“We knew we could do something nice with the lighting; it can be changed and adapted for many scenarios,” says Lewis. “Before this, this was a playroom and it was a little bit under-used. They were holding children’s parties in here too but there was no music, but now there is! It’s nice giving something back. Nothing really impresses anyone now. But here, they’re so grateful for everything that they have; it’s our pleasure to have been involved.”
Morrish admits that he was initially sceptical about the results that could be achieved in the room.
“I walked into this room initially and thought ‘oh my word, what are we going to do with this space? How are we going to do this?'” says Morrish. “But [Cornflake's] John and Gary very quickly worked out solutions.”
Morrish is proud that the AV industry can give something back to those in need.
“I have been staggered by the endless generosity involved in these projects,” says Morrish. “This has turned into a very comprehensive kit list indeed, and as it turned out, it is our most expensive installation so far. However, with the right contacts, a lot of generosity and goodwill and some perseverance, we were able to secure all the products required. A big thank you to all that have helped to create a very special cinema room that will be used and enjoyed by the kids and their families for many years to come.”
Christopher’s Gives the Thumbs Up
“From the moment the Garden Cinema Room officially launched, the children immediately began using it,” says Geraldine Sheedy, head of care at Christopher’s. “A group of little girls sat in awe watching Elf and later in the evening one boy had a private viewing of his favorite Harry Potter movie. He chose the soft red lighting effect for the room.
“The Garden Room has always had many uses but with the addition of the multi-colored remote blackout blinds, impressive surround sound and the stunning Hue Lighting means that the sensory effects we are now able to create will add a whole new dimension to the important experiences we can give the children and young people.”
“Our Teenage Youth Group can’t wait for their first movie night and the Tweenies Group is looking forward to using our Magic Carpet equipment in a much larger and darker space where they can all join in the fun,” says Jane Magowan, estates manager, Christopher’s.
“We are also planning to hold a monthly movie night for the staff,” adds Magowan. “The team here at Christopher’s are very excited to learn all about our wonderful new cinema and lighting system which will bring many hours, days and years of enjoyment creating many special, long lasting memories for the children, young people and families who visit Christopher’s.”
As a token of their appreciation, Morrish was presented with a thank you card from the children at Christopher’s during the cinema unveiling.
Donated Kit List
Crestron (Control): 3-Series Control Processor and an IRP2 IR emitter
Projector Point (Screen): Screen International Compact HC Electric Screen, 200cm x 112cm
Habitech: Several items as required, but too many to list them all!
Middle Atlantic, donated by RGB Communications (Racking): MA-5-29-26 29U Slim5 Rack
Monitor Audio (Speakers): 4 x Soundframe 1’s and 1 x Soundframe 2, plus Grilles
Monitor Audio (Sub-Woofer): 1 x 12” Silver Series 500w
NAD (Blu-Ray Player): T567 BT Blu-Ray Player
Panasonic, donated directly by Cornflake (Projector): Short Throw Projector
Philips Lighting (Lighting): Philips Hue wireless system
QMotion (Automated Blinds): Battery Powered and Integrated with Crestron Control
Velux (Ceiling Blinds): Full service and installation of Remote Control Black Out Blinds
Wyrestorm (Baluns): 4K HDBaseT Lite HDMI balun pair (70m)
Many other products and accessories donated by Cornflake.
Ian Morrish, founder of Together For Cinema
Gary Lewis, John Fitzpatrick and team, Cornflake (project management and installation)
Mark Kavanaugh and team, Future Light Design (lighting design and installation)
Andy Glibbery and team, ACE Contracts (blind installation)
Could you help donate time or products to the next Together For Cinema project? Contact Morrish at www.togetherforcinema.com or firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can help.