At The Movies Theme Party
It wasn't long ago that no one had every heard of a home theater system. They knew about televisions, cable and even VCRs, but the idea of big screen televisions and high-fidelity stereo sound systems were foreign to them. When people thought about movies at home they probably envisioned watching a badly filmed home movie featuring a 1966 vacation being shot onto the living room wall with a whirring old projector. Times have, of course, changed. Home entertainment technology has changed right along with it, too.
Now that we do talk about home theaters, it is worth mentioning what a home theater really is. It's an effort to duplicate (at least some aspects) the movie experience usually reserved only for cinema attendees. People use home theater systems as a means of going to the movies without really going anywhere.
Understanding our collective love for the cinema is at the root of understanding how we got to our current point. We simply love movies. From indy dramas to summer big studio blockbusters, we love watching and marveling over the latest creative offerings. The big screen attracts our attention from the beginning and blows us away time after time.
Movie screen clarity in picture and sound allows us to observe every little detail as we watch the story unfold. We see actors in detail, and are able to watch them practice their craft as if they were only inches away.
It's not just visual, though. Every movie since Jolson opened his mouth and sang has been about sound, too. Can you imagine a spaghetti western without that theme song? How frightening would King Kong be without his belly-rattling roar?
The movie experience, it seems, is really beyond compare. That might be the case-movie going could be irreplaceable-if it wasn't for the theaters themselves. They house not only movies, but inconvenience, too. High prices are attached to everything from undersized boxes of Milk Duds to large sodas that might make it hard to pay the rent. Even aside from the cost, there is a host of convenience issues that all point to the very same conclusion: 'The movies would be great if I could just get them out of the theater.'
The first sense of a brewing home theater phenomenon was the advent of larger screens. People began to dump their small sets as they searched out bigger and bigger screens. The growth of the large screen television portended the advent of the home theater revolution. From twenty-inch traditional televisions to the new generation of flat screens all the way to the giant plasma televisions that make people stop on their tracks every time one is on display. There are even projection units designed to imitate the theater.
Early home theaters, even those including larger televisions still suffered from other technological inadequacies. Single head VCRs replayed the action, but certainly didn't bring it to life. Today's visual medium, including DVD players brings a crisp move theater image home to the living room.
Sound has improved, too. Today, no one but the most antiquated would rely on a small three-inch speaker embedded with the television. For some time, consumers were forced to live with bad audio, even if their television offered the ultimate in video. Few routed sound through their stereo and those who did often didn't really know what they were doing.
The movie going era is not yet over, but it may be in its final throes. Technology has advanced sufficiently to duplicate the movie-going experience in the home. When one looks at the numerous negative associated with the laborious process of going to the theater, it is hard to imagine that the multi-plexes will retain their popularity for much longer. What was once an impossibility is now a frequently realized reality. The home theater system brings the cinema experience right into the living room, and is becoming more affordable every single day