I was unaware of mural painting as an option...
I had been intrigued by the idea of a starry ceiling for my home theater for some time. Recently, I made the decision to pursue this concept and started researching the fiber optic solution through descriptions and images. Fortunately, a friend who shares my enthusiasm for home theaters had just finished installing a similar display as part of his own theater build. Seeing his finished installation inspired me to develop my own plans.
During my preparations, I came across the Night Sky Mural website. Up until that point, I was unaware of mural painting as an option and initially mistook the website for another competing fiber optic solution that I had encountered in my research on the star field concept.
Like many others who have posted on this thread, I became increasingly interested in the glow-in-the-dark painting method. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that a night sky mural would be a better option for creating a star field display on the ceiling of my particular theater room. Several reasons led me to this decision:
- In order to fit a fiber optic star field in the desired area, I would need to completely remove the center ceiling light in my room.
- The location of the A/C vents on the ceiling would severely limit the size of the "sky window" I envisioned above the seating area. The maximum length of the fiber optic panel could be no more than about 8 feet, and the other dimension of the window would also need to be limited to about 4 feet. This was because the ceiling begins to slope downward just behind the seats and because I did not want to remove a decorative ceiling canopy that my wife and I had created and installed between the seating and screen. In short, while the window on the stars could accommodate a fiber optic panel of approximately 4' x 8', it was not as large as I had hoped.
- I was motivated to find a way to cover more of the ceiling with stars and achieve something larger than a window-sized display.
After considering various options, I realized that a night sky mural would allow me to have a full ceiling display in my room without having to make any modifications to the ceiling itself. What surprised me was that the mural could be painted on a variety of surfaces including popcorn ceiling texture, fabric canopy material, wall paper, light fixtures, and A/C vents. As a result, I didn't have to remove the center light fixture or limit the size of the star field due to other constraints. This allowed me to expand beyond my original plan of having a smaller "sky window" approach, and now have a grander view of the stars that encompassed the entire ceiling area, including the front fabric-covered ceiling canopy and the sloped, wall-papered ceiling in the rear.
At this point, I was excited about the mural approach, so I contacted Jeff, the owner/operator of Night Sky Murals, via email and phone. We corresponded for a couple of weeks with questions and answers before I made my decision. The whole process was very positive, and my wife and I love the mural. To us, it's a beautiful work of art that's inspiring and remarkably realistic in its depiction of the night sky under minimal light pollution conditions. It's also been great getting to know the artist, who is a very nice guy and easy to work with. Although he's reluctant to accept the title of "artist," I believe his painting requires a great deal of skill in terms of detail and perspective. He's also put a lot of effort over the years into finding the best paint mixture that creates a twinkling "atmospheric effect" that's uncannily similar to the actual night sky. So, I've told him personally that "If art can be defined as a creative representation of reality, then a night sky mural is a work of art, and you are an artist."
I wanted to share my experience with the sky mural concept and how it seemed like the perfect fit for our home theater. As Jeff mentioned, there are pros and cons to both painted murals and fiber optics. So, take the time to carefully consider your plan before making a decision. Regardless of which option you choose, I'm sure you'll enjoy a new perspective on the cosmos and perhaps be inspired in ways you hadn't anticipated.
Happy home theater-ing!
Tom - NC