istock
istock

7 Movies and Albums to Showcase Your Entertainment System

istock
istock

Once you’ve built the perfect home entertainment system, you’ll want to have your friends over to take it for a test drive. Take one of these movies or albums for a spin, and you’ll be able to fully appreciate what you’ve put together. 

1. Lawrence of Arabia

Director David Lean’s 1962 epic is a gigantic movie, and at 227 minutes long you’ll have more than enough time to impress everyone with how spectacular it looks on your TV. While it may be over five decades old, Lawrence has stayed in good shape. The film’s 2012 revamp began in 2009 and came in the form of a meticulous 4k restoration personally overseen by Sony’s executive vice president for asset management and film restoration, Grover Crisp—so you know it’s a big deal. The new version of the film boasts over 8 million pixels to showcase Peter O’Toole’s piercing blue eyes and ghostly white robes in the film’s sweeping desert sequences. More than 320,000 frames were scanned and restored one by one over the course of three years, and it shows. 

2. Inception

While not as classically epic as Lawrence of Arabia, director Christopher Nolan’s 2010 mind-bender Inception is epic nonetheless. For the film’s ridiculously awesome zero-gravity hallway sequences featuring actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, which look gorgeous on Blu-ray, Nolan went analog. Instead of using elaborate computer generated effects, Nolan’s 500-member crew built an entire hotel corridor in a WWI-era plane hangar outside of London. One aspect of the set turned 360 degrees on a gimbal to portray the scene’s disorienting gravity, while another was built vertically in order to drop the actors who wore wired harnesses that were eventually erased in post-production. The single sequence took three full weeks to complete. 

3. Dark Side of the Moon

When you’ve got the visuals down, it’s time to show off your speakers, and what better way to do it than by throwing on Pink Floyd’s moody prog-rock classic Dark Side of the Moon! When listening you may think you’re going a little confused, especially because voices constantly pop in and out throughout each track. Don’t worry. Those voices are actually employees and random people who happened to be at Abbey Road Studios while the band was recording the album. Band members Roger Waters and David Gilmour would stop people and randomly pose questions like “When was the last time you were violent and were you in the right?” to people at the studio and record their responses. In fact, Paul McCartney himself was among the people informally interviewed, but his voice didn’t make it onto the album. 

4. Avatar

Avatar’s groundbreaking special effects look almost too good. Instead of waiting around for technology to catch up with his vision, director James Cameron invented new 3D technology so the effects and the world of his film would look as real as possible. His specially-made stereoscopic cameras are basically two cameras strapped together, but the basic rig is used to shoot 3D images that mimic the way the human eye sees those images, giving it a depth and a reality that was 15 years in the making for Cameron. All that tinkering literally paid off for the filmmaker—Avatar holds the title for the highest grossing movie of all time. 

5. Bohemian Rhapsody

Let’s face it, everybody has tried to sing along to Queen’s indelible 1975 song “Bohemian Rhapsody” at some point in their life and spectacularly failed. It’s a complicated song, and one that will give your speakers the best workout possible. The song was recorded in six separate studios over a four month period in 1975, and the operatic layers of voices needed in the song featured an unheard-of 160 separate analog tracks of vocals dubbed together. You can’t say they didn’t try.

6. Planet Earth

Technically it’s a TV series, but the BBC’s groundbreaking nature documentary Planet Earth is a sight to behold on any TV screen let alone a movie screen. Filmed over a five year period and entirely in high-definition, the filmmakers went to great lengths to bring audiences astounding views of the planet we call home. In fact, one scene alone took a whole year to shoot. Crews took two separate eight-week-long trips to the Indian region of Ladakh in order to get footage of the extremely elusive snow leopard, which yielded only 10 seconds of usable footage of the camera-shy creature. The crew next attempted to capture the leopard on camera in Pakistan but were denied entry because of the ongoing war in the region. They finally received permission to visit nearly a year later and included the unprecedented footage in the final film. 

7. 2001: A Space Odyssey

If you’re all done showing off Earth, then why not show off the stars? Stanley Kubrick’s immensely influential 1968 film excites just as much as it confuses, and a lot of that excitement comes from the gorgeous effects-work of legendary special effects artist Douglas Trumbull, who worked as the effects supervisor on the film. To get all of the special effects shots required by Kubrick—a notoriously strict director—Trumbull’s team used six cameras shooting simultaneously on 24-hour shifts. For the film’s spectacular “Stargate” finale sequence, Trumbull took a large image scanner primarily used in scientific and industrial photography and shot in long exposure to produce seemingly endless images of lights and shapes. The other effects in the sequence were made using small chemical reactions filmed with microphotography.

Advertisement

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Clemens Bilan, AFP/Getty Images
arrow
technology
Purchased a PlayStation 3 Between 2006 and 2010? You May Be Entitled to $65
Clemens Bilan, AFP/Getty Images
Clemens Bilan, AFP/Getty Images

All that time you spent playing video games in the late aughts could finally pay off: According to Polygon, if you purchased an original-style "fat" PlayStation 3 between November 1, 2006 and April 1, 2010, you're eligible to receive a $65 check. You have until April 15 to file your claim.

PS3 owners first qualified to receive compensation from Sony following the settlement of a lawsuit in 2016. That case dealt with the "OtherOS" feature that came with the console when it debuted. With OtherOS, Sony promised a new PlayStation that would operate like a computer, allowing users to partition their hard drive and install third-party operating systems like the open-source Linux software.

OtherOS was included in the PlayStation 3 until April 2010, when Sony removed the feature due to security concerns. This angered enough PS3 owners to fuel a lawsuit, and Sony, facing accusations of false advertisement and breach of warranty, agreed to settle in October 2016.

PlayStation 3 owners were initially told they'd be receiving $55 each from the settlement, but that number has since grown to $65. To claim your piece of the $3.75 million settlement, you must first confirm that you're qualified to receive it. The PlayStation 3 you purchased needs to be a 20 GB, 40 GB, 60 GB or 80 GB model. If that checks out, visit this website and submit either your "fat" PS3 serial number or the PlayStation network sign-in ID or online ID associated with the console.

[h/t Polygon]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
istock
10 Tips for Setting Up Your Home Theater
istock
istock

It doesn't take much effort to turn a typical room into a home theater—just add a television. But considering how many movies and TV shows most of us actually watch at home, why not go the distance and create a domestic space that rivals the movie theater experience? Here are some simple (for the most part) steps for creating a home theater that's worthy of all the time you'll spend in it.

1. Find Your Visual Sweet Spot

Engineers and scientists have toiled long and hard to come up with the optimal viewing distance for watching HDTVs. The math is relatively simple—take the display's diagonal screen size and multiply it by 1.5 to 2.5. That's how far your couch, chairs, or other prime seating choices should be placed relative to the front of the television.

2. For Small Rooms, Try A Soundbar

Most modern HDTVs can pump out decent sound, but nothing delivers that cinematic experience quite like dedicated speakers. For small rooms, consider getting a soundbar, which packs multiple speakers into a single low-profile, horizontal package. Some of the sleeker models can fit right below the screen, while others act as a kind of reinforced base, with the TV sitting directly on top.

3. Clear Space For Wall-Shaking Bass

Another simple audio upgrade comes from a subwoofer, a bass-only class of speaker that's designed to literally vibrate the room. Don't mount these boxy behemoths in a cabinet (where their vibrations will generate more of an unsettling rattle than a satisfying rumble), but on the floor. The key here is to make sure there's enough space right against one of your home theater's walls, and preferably in a corner.

4. Stow Speakers In Bookshelves

One of the hallmarks of next-level home theater audio is separation—setting up speakers so that sound effects, dialogue, and other audio seem to come from different directions, such as left, right and center. Though you could pull this off with a pair of massive floor-standing speakers, the subtler approach (for non-cavernous spaces) is to place smaller speakers on bookshelves, positioned to the left and right of the TV. This stealthier setup also helps to hide obtrusive cables.

5. Mount Up For Surround Sound

The best, but most complex, audio setup is full surround sound, which usually entails six total audio channels, or speakers—one for the center, the right and the left, two for the rear, and one subwoofer. The biggest challenge, however, is generally rear-channel placement. Though you might stumble across the perfect pair of shelves or other furniture to set those speakers on, expect to go the distance and mount the rear channels in the wall (the upper back corners of most rooms work fine).

6. Sit Up Straight For 3D

If you plan on watching a lot of 3D content, get yourself a seat with a stiff back. Why? Because tilting your head to one side or the other can garble the 3D effect—meaning the sort of sprawling position typical to couch-based viewing is no good. So make sure your chair or couch faces forward, in a way that discourages slouching and lounging.

7. Check Your Angles

Some HDTVs can be viewed from relatively extreme angles (to the left, right, or even from above and below), while others require more of a dead-center position. Before you drill any holes or buy any new furniture, stick the TV roughly where it's going to go, turn it on, and make sure none of the room's seating options are getting completely short-changed.

8. Turn Away From Glare

While checking for bad angles, consider how much light is hitting the screen from your windows at various times of the day. The same goes for unnatural light (lamps, track lighting, etc.). Even the brightest image can't compete with intense glare, so try to position the TV in as much round-the-clock shadow as possible.

9. Kill Two Birds With One Curve

Those last two issues—bad angles and screen glare—can be largely dealt with by opting for a curved HDTV. The subtle bend in these displays actually increases the total viewing angle to either side of the TV, while also limiting total glare. Prioritizing this feature can take some of the fuss out of the overall home theater setup.

10. Put on Headphones, And Sit Wherever You Want

Until very recently, headphones and TVs were an awkward fit, requiring that you either sit uncomfortably close to the screen (since most earphone cords aren't more than a few feet long), or figure out where to put the bulky, interference-prone radio-frequency transmitters that work with wireless headphones. But a handful of newer products let you plug standard headphones directly into a remote control, giving you access to perfectly synced, perfectly private audio, from essentially any seat in the room. Only a handful of products currently offer this feature, the most recent of which is the PlayStation 4, which has an audio jack built into the game controller.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios