Punkass creates Charles Lewis Jr. 'Mask' Theater

by Tom LeBlanc | source: cepro.com

Punkass is how Mixed Martial Arts fans know him. He’s also known as Dan Caldwell, co-founder and CEO of TapouT, a company embedded in the MMA industry.

Caldwell set out to have an elaborate theater built at TapouT’s Grand Terrace, Calif., headquarters and enlisted San Bernardino, Calif.-based Audio Video Evolution (AVE) to install the electronics.

Why does a corporation need an elaborate theater? Well, TapouT — which manufactures a countercultural clothing line and produces a raucous reality show — isn’t a typical corporation.

A Little Background

“Movies have always played a big influence in Charles’ and my lives,” Caldwell says. “Movies can be escapism and have helped influence creativity. When everyone else was out partying and hanging out, me, Charles and Skrape would be watching the newest flicks at the theaters.”

When Marc Kreiner came on board as TapouT’s president, Caldwell says he and Lewis marveled at his home theater. “After seeing that, we said we were going to build a movie theater in our office one day.

“TapouT has always been on the forefront of Mixed Martial Arts and with that comes the responsibility of educating the consumer. Visual media is a big part of what TapouT does.

“We produce commercials, short documentaries and films — all used to help promote the sport. So building a movie theater seemed like a good fit.”

The project began just before Lewis passed away on March 11, 2009. “I know he would have loved to have seen how it came out,” Caldwell says. “When I sit in the theater it definitely makes me think about him and how he inspired people. We want to use the movie theater to continue to inspire everyone.”

As such, it’s called the Charles Lewis Jr. “Mask” Theater.

The 93-seat theater allows TapouT to easily get its 150-plus employees in there in two shifts and keep them up to date. “It is a great place to show our new commercials and films, also to conduct meetings to keep our employees excited about what we do here,” Caldwell says.

Much of what the TapouT team watches in the theater relates to fighting, which influenced the audio and video choices. “I wanted the person to feel like they were actually there at the fight,” Caldwell says. “Because we needed so many seats in the theater, I wanted every seat to have the same experience. So the speakers needed to be clear and able to perform at high levels.

In terms of technology, AVE and TapouT chose:
TruAudio speakers, most of which had to be custom-created
A 197-inch masking Stewart Filmscreen (76.5-by-180-inch for 2.35; 76.5-by-136-inch for 16:9 aspect ratio)
Pprojectiondesign Avielo Optix projector
B&K Reference 70 receiver
B&K Reference 200.7 and 200.5 amps

Building to Clients’ Order

TapouT’s custom speakers were not easy to provide. “The biggest challenge was that the front speaker, which was 15 feet wide, had the front, left and right channels built into it and we had to mask the cabinet to match the screen,” Howard says.

“Getting drivers to fit on a curve was challenging, but we were able to pull it off.” Designing that 15-foot-wide speaker took the bulk of the time, Howard says.

Payne says Howard personally delivered the BTO solution within four weeks, even though the drivers had to be imported from Denmark.

The BTO project was successful, Howard says, because AVE provided TruAudio with all the necessary information. “They got us the exact shape of the Stewart [Filmscreen] and even what it’s made of so we could wrap the speaker in that same material.”

For AVE’s part, the TapouT project was its first commercial theater. “It wasn’t much different than a home theater,” Payne says. “Just bigger everything.”

His client is pleased with the result. “We were absolutely blown away the first time we sat down in the theater and watched a movie,” Caldwell says.

“It’s not like sitting in a regular movie theater, because we can turn it up loader than most theaters. So it makes you feel like you are there. It’s insane.”

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