Torsten Steinbrecher, founder and chairman of Qualtron, looks at the challenges – and the opportunities – that lie ahead for outdoor cinemas on yachts...

Outdoor cinema is often overlooked when it comes to on-board entertainment on today’s superyachts. Yet advances in the world of audio-visual technology could well see them steal the show. These outdoor movie theatres offer guests the perfect opportunity to enjoy their favourite films, while luxuriating in the serene comforts of life at sea.

Home cinemas are by no means a novelty on board superyachts, with American and Russian owners leading the way. We have seen increased demand for outdoor cinemas as advancements in technology have created more opportunities to install stunning movie theatres in challenging environments. Owners don’t want to hide inside their yachts; they want to enjoy the outdoor areas too. It’s not just new builds either. We’ve also seen an increase in demand from the refit sector, with yachts between 65 and 130m now entering the market for an outdoor cinema. After some minor remodelling of an exterior area, outdoor entertainment zones are becoming more viable.

Owners don’t want to hide inside their yachts; they want to enjoy the outdoor areas too. It’s not just new builds either. We’ve also seen an increase in demand from the refit sector, with yachts between 65 and 130m now entering the market for an outdoor cinema.

Of course, it’s not just as simple as mounting a flat screen and arranging a pair of speakers. These areas are also used as multipurpose entertainment zones and are vulnerable to every imaginable ocean condition – not to mention the antics of a hose-happy junior crewmember. Therefore, no small amount of waterproofing is worked into the development of these systems. There are real challenges to creating the optimum environment on deck when compared to an indoor home cinema. The layout is different because it is not a dedicated cinema room; you have to get involved in much more detailed planning.

While most people would happily settle for the romance of viewing their favourite films under a star-filled sky, today’s superyacht owner demands more. So what is on the horizon for the modern ocean-going cinephile? We see a trend in laser projection with quite incredible lumen output. The new high-end models can be used during daylight hours too. These projectors operate independently and can even display images on the sail of a sailing yacht such as Maltese Falcon.

In addition to these high-end projectors, there are improvements in screen materials such as high-contrast projection surfaces, also known as Ambient Light Rejecting material or ALR. This is a truly reference grey screen material that represents excellent off-axis performance, coupled with ambient light resistance. Crucially, there is no sacrifice in true colour off-axis performance. The incorporation of this material into the exterior of the yacht makes these areas blend seamlessly into the design.

I’m optimistic about the future of outdoor cinema on yachts as technology advances. Research and development yield ever-more high-performance solutions and expand our ideas of what is possible. Can we really deliver the same Hollywood experience during daylight hours? Well, it all comes down to planning at an early stage in the design process to ensure exterior spaces are fit for purpose.

Then there are significant advances in LED technology, with companies such as C SEED leading the field. When you first see these sleek, magnificent pillars emerge to their full height, followed by the silent unfolding of the massive LED screen, it can literally take your breath away. The screen offers performance to rival any projector and blurs the distinction between television and movie screens. They are designed to offer the very best audio-visual performance in outdoor areas. Moreover, the concept lends itself to on-board applications because the system is designed to sink below deck at the touch of a button, leaving the space free for other forms of entertainment. For a multipurpose space, it could be your best all-round solution.

Then there are significant advances in LED technology, with companies such as C SEED leading the field. When you first see these sleek, magnificent pillars emerge to their full height, followed by the silent unfolding of the massive LED screen, it can literally take your breath away.

As long as the demand for more and improved on-board entertainment persists, the industry will strive for even greater technological advances. I think it is a mistake to look for a one-size-fits-all answer to these challenges. No two superyachts are the same and no two owners are alike. Despite all the excitement at each new development, it is most important to keep the owner’s vision at the heart of all your planning.

Each project deserves your full focus from start to finish, so you can’t rush in with fixed ideas. We work closely with shipyards, designers and owners to provide the best possible solution to each individual project, be it a new superyacht or a refit. At the end of the day, it’s the owner who is really the star of the show.

 

 


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