I had originally planned to write about health and technology but that will have to wait for a future column as another idea has taken center stage for me. Let me take a minute to explain why I shifted gears.
As I mentioned previously, I am on the Board of Directors for the Alcazar Theatre and I also serve as the technical director. I recently volunteered to upgrade the theater sound system so the movies can be supported by full surround sound, the way they were meant to be experienced.
When Metropolitan Theaters vacated the space in 2010, they left 12 JBL Pro Surround sound speakers in place. Aside from a poorly executed attempt to get a few of them working from a consumer grade AV receiver a few years ago, they have not been in service.
From the first time I stepped into the Alcazar Theatre, I knew I had to do whatever was necessary to upgrade the technology of this gem of a theater. The upgrade has been going on for a couple of years now and it started with Control4 to provide a platform for automation and control. The first devices to be automated were the lights. I did the same thing for the Castro House and it is older than the Alcazar, having been built in 1902. The Alcazar was built in 1928.
Control4 is a very cool system that allows you to totally integrate the systems in your home or business, utilizing a unified network approach with diverse connectivity paths that enable you to connect both locally and remotely to all your systems. The systems you can manage and control are: lighting; security; entertainment; computer network; surveillance video; communications and HVAC.
Because a Control4 system is retrofittable it is a perfect candidate for older buildings without the need for a massive remodel or renovation. It is an upgrade that improves livability, useability and convenience – not to mention enhanced security. You can keep it simple or take it up as far as you want with touchscreen control interface, smart phone interface and even voice control.
Meanwhile, back at the Alcazar, we are presently doing limited lighting control and I will be adding additional functionality to control the Outlaw Mdl 990 surround sound processor/preamp, BluRay player, stage lights, movie screen and thermostats. The new surround sound upgrade will be ready soon. I am planning a free movie night so everyone can get a taste and discover an immersive experience as the movie makers intended.
Another new addition to the technology you will find at the Alcazar is an assisted listening system that will allow our guests with hearing aids to receive an audio channel designed specifically for them. This is a loop system like the ones you will find at larger venues.
There is a key component when it comes to movies: “the willing suspension of disbelief.” A good movie draws you in and provides a much-needed escape from the world you left when you entered the theater. Stay tuned and let me know what movie you want to see on our screen. If you contact me, the popcorn is on me. In the words of my dear friend Hal Price, “meet me at the Al.”
If you have a question about technology, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at (805) 684-3414. I love talking tek. I also want to apologize for the misprinted phone number in previous columns, somehow the area code was for Hawaii.