The Buffalo Run Private Cinema - By Sam Cavitt
For its owners, the Buffalo Run Cinema represents a new chapter of their lives, as one component of a new home in an amazing locale, featuring buffalo, elk, wide open spaces, and a location far from urban centers. And what a home it is. “It’s one of a kind for hundreds of miles around,” the husband of the couple boasts. The residence is crafted with exquisite attention to detail and filled with all the things the couple has grown to love over the years. Their private cinema is one such item.
Chapter 1: The Mid-1990s
This early chapter in the homeowners’ story incorporates lessons learned almost 30 years ago. In this prior dwelling, the property included a blank canvas for the new home-theater enthusiast. “I knew I wanted to build a theater, and I was looking for a place to do it in,” reminisces the husband, who focused his attention on an unused room adjacent to the attic that he saw as “ideal for retrofit work.” The homeowners employed a technical consultant and current tech, which included a CRT projector, rudimentarily calibrated audio gear, and precisely placed speakers, producing an admirable result for its time.
The couple lived in their home and enjoyed this private theater for three or four years. He remembers they “really used that theater,” boasting that it was “awesome” and “a key feature when we sold the house.”
Chapter 2: The Early 2000s
After leaving their 1990s home with its retrofitted cinema, the couple lived abroad for several years. When it was time to return to the U.S. and find a new abode, they chose one that already had a dedicated theater, but it was merely a jumping-off point for the husband, who, by then, had become something of a cinema connoisseur after his first home theater experience.
The couple applied what they had learned to their new cinema project. “I wanted a screen that would go wall to wall!” laughs the husband. As for the theater’s complement of hardware, he confesses, “we replaced all the [existing] speakers and electronics.” The homeowners also had some ideas of their own. “There was this kind of a signature thing that we did by accident in the first theater,” he relates. “We liked to put in two rows of seats that had a vertical step. Behind the second row, we put in a bar. What we discovered with the first theater is that my wife and I liked to go up there and watch movies, but we also used it for entertaining and sports events.”
Lessons were learned about cinema sound as well. “When you’re a rookie at this, you focus more on the video side, but over time, you get more and more focused on the sound side,” he explains.
Chapter 3: A Private Cinema Dream Team
For the Buffalo Run Cinema, the owners’ interests were well-served by a team of professionals ultimately led by Paradise Theater. The general contractor, Aaron Taylor Construction, and project architect, James Rothwell RA, NCARB, already had a strong working relationship. Axxis Audio, referred by Taylor, was another trusted partner in the venture. Axxis Audio owner Dan Berghoff had the wisdom to further expand that team to assure fulfillment of his clients’ cinema satisfaction. Berghoff flew to Southern California with the homeowner to visit the PRO Audio Technology Experience Center for what PRO founder L. Paul Hales describes as “a visceral and emotional demonstration that words alone cannot convey.” Hales recognized that the homeowner “wanted a more fully engineered system, with a room designed for the acoustics. Hales advised the owner to engage Paradise Theater for the cinema design and engineering needed to assure him the experience he was looking for.
Chapter 4: The Third Time’s the Charm
“This is my third [private cinema],” the homeowner told Ryan Brown, President of Paradise Theater, “but it’s the first one I’m building from scratch.”
With Paradise Theater coordinating the rest of the team, theater design development and construction proceeded as a collaborative effort. Drawings for the theater chassis, including all changes resulting from performance engineering, were produced by Paradise Theater and distributed to the project’s contractors.
As important as the functional and behind-the-scenes elements are to the performance quality of the cinema, attention to detail adds up to a truly remarkable cinema interior. From the owner flying out to Southern California to test-drive theater seating, to the careful selection and acoustic testing of wall and column fabrics, coordination with millwork finishes, authentic film reel door pulls and real buffalo nickel wall upholstery brads, the phrase “design is in the details” is especially apt for this private cinema.
“Paradise Theater brought a team approach that was effective; the theater is a success,” reports Axxis Audio’s Berghoff. “The acoustics are great, the room sounds phenomenal, the video is amazing, the customer turns it on, and it works every single time.” This particular cinema story has given Berghoff new insights that he now shares with others, explaining, “[The homeowners’] private cinema is their ultimate electronic amenity. They use it, love it and fully enjoy it. It’s a phenomenal addition to their lives that’s definitely worth the effort and investment.”
The owners couldn’t agree more, stating, “This was our third and best theater space. We’re very pleased with the result, and the room is highly utilized by us. We typically use the room three to four nights per week, not including when we have guests over. We’re fortunate to have a place like this available to us for daily use, and it’s become one of the more enjoyable ways for us to spend our leisure time.”