Good lighting can make all the difference between a good movie viewing experience and a great one.  Here’s how.

9 Smart Ways to Light Your Home Theater -

No matter what you happen to be watching on the TV in your media room—a movie, sitcom, ballgame, even the news—the picture always looks brighter and clearer when the room lights are off. This is one of the main reasons Crisp Audio & Video always suggest incorporating some form of lighting control into a media room or home theater. You can tap a button on your smartphone, a keypad on the wall, or a handheld remote to instruct the lights to turn off. This is the most basic form of lighting control and costs a couple hundred dollars to add. If you have a significantly larger budget, you can buy a more sophisticated sort of lighting control system and get a lot fancier with the way the lights in your media room function to make the entertainment experience even more engaging. Here are 9 great recommendations:

1. Red Carpet Treatment

Roll out the red carpet for you and your theater going guests by having your lighting system highlight movie posters and memorabilia, activate a colorful marque, and illuminate the steps and aisles people can find their way to their seats.

2. Fade to Black

As the previews begin, the lights can fade to a predetermined level—all the way off if that’s what you like, or leaving a couple of lights on at a very dim level.

9 Smart Ways to Light Your Home Theater -

Step lights help theatergoers find their seats and the powder room during bathroom breaks. Design and installation by Admit One Home Cinema, Edina, Minn.

3. Bathroom Break

When you pause the movie, a lighting system can strike a pathway to the nearest powder room (this setup will definitely require the handiwork of a professional home systems integrator).

4. Snack Attack

Similar to the Bathroom Break arrangement, you can touch a button on a remote control, smartphone, or tablet to instruct the lights to illuminate a candy counter at the back of the theater; if you don’t have one of those, the command can instead light the way to the kitchen.

5. Date Night

Hold your own private date night in your own private theater with lights that are set at a soft level; some of those lights could even emit a hint of red.

6. See in the Dark

Whether you’re plowing through a bowl of popcorn or poking at the buttons on a remote, it helps to have some light so you can see what you’re doing. For times when you don’t want the room completely dark, have your lighting system activate—at just the right brightness level–one or several lights above the seats.

7. Set the Mood

It’s likely that you’ll watch more than just movies in your home theater—and you’ll probably want the lights set differently for viewing sports, concerts, video games, the news … whatever.

9 Smart Ways to Light Your Home Theater -

A home theater doesn’t need to be completely dark. Lighting can add to the ambiance and help you see the buttons on your remote control. Design and installation by Home Theater of Long Island, Manhasset, N.Y.

8. Drive-In Movie

Recreate the effect of watching movies under the stars with ceiling-mounted fiber optic lighting that twinkles like the Milky Way. A lighting control system can turn on the star power, dim and brighten the lights, vary the rate by which they twinkle, even set a shooting star in motion.

9. Clean-up Crew

After the movie, hit the “all on” button on your smartphone, remote, or a keypad on the wall to bring up the lights to full intensity so you can see every popcorn kernel wrapper and candy wrapper that needs to be cleaned up.