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Movie Night Lighting Tips

It's getting dark earlier, the weather is turning cooler, and staying home is more popular than ever. For many homeowners, the changing season means it's time for a media room update. The first step to creating the perfect space for sports viewing and family movie time is to provide proper lighting. According to the American Lighting Association (ALA), the key to media room

enjoyment is to eliminate screen glare.

No matter how tasty the snacks and comfortable the seats, glare can ruin the watching experience. Lighting experts from the ALA, recommend layering the room's lighting to produce indirect light. Instead of one single light in the center of the room, using multiple types of lighting that can be separately controlled with a central control system is the best way to achieve optimal viewing conditions.

"One very effective type of lighting is to use recessed downlights on the perimeter of the space, but not above the screen or seating areas," says Joe Rey-Barreau, education consultant for ALA, and associate professor for the University of Kentucky School of Interior Design. "Downlights can be installed with Alzak black trims that become almost invisible when turned on, yet still provide general lighting in the space."

Another glare-reducing layer can be achieved with wall sconces that have an opaque front to only allow light to exit at the top or bottom. If the screen or monitor is located on a wall with shelving, linear LED tape lighting installed in cabinets or bookshelves could be an effective third layer. In this instance, the LED tape can be concealed under the shelves to provide a soft glow without showing the source of the lighting.

"Dimming the tape light around the screen will create a soft glow of light that will eliminate extreme contrast between the screen and the surrounding area and prevent eye fatigue," says Rey-Barreau.

If the thought of installing dimmers and other high-tech or "smart" controls sounds complicated or expensive, think again. Lighting control technology is now very affordable, allowing for many options for modulating and controlling the light level in individual rooms. A master lighting control system can be programmed to create "scenes," which are pre-programmed lighting levels for different situations that can be controlled with wall controls, hand-held controls, and/or a cellular phone.

Controlling light is also critical in the daytime. One easy method to achieve that control is to install motorized shades that coordinate with the lighting control system. The shades can be pre-programmed to be part of the various pre-set lighting scenes. In this instance, the shades can be programmed to close when activating a scene intended to provide lighting for watching the screen.

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