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Home Theaters Need Every Inch

Updated: Apr 17, 2020

Home theater designers know how critical space can be. The challenge of hiding hundreds of electronic components, wiring and lighting is met with the task of maximizing comfort for the viewing audience. Since the "audience" is families (with age ranges from the terrible twos to the elderly), home theater design comes with a long list of considerations.

One of our clients here in Boca Raton, Florida builds high-end custom home theaters and wanted this one to comfortably seat nine people in front of a 12-foot wide screen. The room was only 280 square feet so this was no small task. Oversized couches, reclining chairs with cup holders and meal tables all require a resourceful interior designer to find and maximize every available square inch.

3d Scanned Home Theater
The vacant 280-sqft room (prior to 3d scan) with electrical/hvac fixtures and riser for eventual home theater.

If you measure by hand (or relied on plans that were drawn before the property was built), chances are you'll be working with inaccurate measurements. Builder's plans are usually drawn by an architect prior to permitting and breaking ground. So, those measurements could change during construction or years later after renovations. Our client tasked us with finding every square inch in that small room and 3D/360° laser scanning is the only way to do it.

Our 3d architectural scanners measured this one room in minuscule detail from ceiling height, room width and square footage to the current positioning of high hats, electrical outlets, switches, air ducts and smoke alarms. The result was a 3d point cloud with billions of captured data points. No handheld laser or tape measure could possibly match the accuracy and density of our scans.

Home Theater Being 3D Scanned
The room as seen by our 3d scanner capturing 360,000 measurements per second.

Using the scans, we created a digital 3D model called a BIM (Building Information Model). The most useful feature of our BIMs is the ability to get accurate measurements of anything. So, if at any point during the project you realize you need to know the distance between a wall outlet and a switch, the thickness of a baseboard or height of a molding, you can do that from your phone or computer. Subcontractors can also use the BIM to estimate time and materials, reducing trips or meetings at the job site.

From an interior design standpoint, having a BIM allowed us to experiment with different sized seats, column widths, light positions and most importantly, adjust the viewing screen and optimal viewing distances. The cost of drafting a BIM can vary depending on how much detail you need.

BIM 3d Model of Home Theater
A 3D BIM model was created with all elements and measurements accurate to within 1/8" of the actual room.

Prior to 3D scanning and BIM modeling, the task of space planning was more of a guessing game with the results dependent on some old floor plans, a few new cell phone pics and an installer's problem solving skills. You could make your best judgements on paper and then hope for the best with the results. Now, all experimentation is done in advance with the final results determined, tested and approved before any hammer hits a nail.

It was now time for us to provide an accurate rendering of the finished theater. Most renderings are loose conceptual ideas to help visualize a space. They're never fully accurate and therefore, never used as a reference beyond the concept. However, since we had the actual measurements of the space down to 1/8" accuracy, we were able to produce something very special...a highly accurate 3D rendering so our client could really get a feel for the finished space.

3d Rendering of Home Theater
The final 3D rendering based on actual measurements.

With photo-realistic 3D renderings, the light shines brighter at the source and then falls off as it hits more distant surfaces (just like reality). The cloth material of the front couch reflects light differently than the leather of the rear chairs. There are even a few popcorn kernels that fell out of the medium-sized bucket onto the table. Now, 3D renderings allow us to create something much more closer to reality.

Home Theater with Cineak Seats
Cineak Nero inclining seats, large movie posters and a 12-foot screen.

We took the rendering a step further by creating a 360° virtual reality version. Wearing our Oculus VR headset, our client can not only see the room but actually feel what it's like to be inside it. The size of the room, the views from different angles, mood of the lighting and of course size of the screen can all be judged from inside the virtual home theater. The 360° rendering gives the homeowner a deeper view for decision making and gives our client a more solid approval prior to construction.

If you'd like us to stop by with our VR headset and give you a 360° virtual tour of this home theater, call 1.561.866.4407. To find out more about 3d scanning, scan-to-BIM, scan-to-CAD or our other services, please visit


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