A director of St Albans, UK-based bespoke integrator FAB Audio Visual, Phillip Warris (pictured) recently made custom integration history by becoming one of the first people to achieve CEDIA Home Cinema Design Specialists certification. But that is by no means his only cause for celebration as FAB won all three Home Cinema categories at the 2010 CEDIA Awards.
Warris spoke to IE Residential about that historic night at London's UnderGlobe and the need to support CEDIA as it develops CI standards.
Q: The Home Cinema Design course and examination is not to be undertaken lightly, encompassing as it does a series of advanced sessions and a two-day, 12-hour examination. What prompted you to take the course?
A: CEDIA is trying to deliver a benchmark within the industry and I feel it is important to support them. I am a CEDIA-certified designer, so the only way to go forward to the next step was to get the Home Cinema Design Specialists qualification. By achieving that - which is in itself quite a hard task - we also [demonstrate FAB's professional credentials]. If there is a certification programme out there we will go for it because it shows that we know what we are talking about!
Q: What did you personally find to be the most challenging aspect of the course?
A: The fact that I can't do CAD. I was in a room with all these screens and monitors, but I was sat there with a sheet of A4 paper doing it 'old school'! But I wasn't the only person doing it that way and, at the end of the day, I passed. Whether you are doing it on computer or paper, the basic issue is that you need to have a command of your subject, and that all comes down to knowing your trigonometry and how to work out RTs [reverberation times], etc.
Q: Has this certification had a tangible commercial benefit for FAB?
A: Not at the moment, but it's coming. If you want a reference level room - in other words, to be able to enjoy a film in the way that the director wanted it to be seen and heard - you need to come to a proper installer who can provide the right equipment for the size of room and then calibrate the kit to get the best out of it. Basically, this qualification means that you are getting the best person capable of doing that job for you.
[At present] there are still a lot of people out there who don't know what CEDIA does. People in the industry do, but if you spoke to someone in the street and said 'I am a CEDIA installer', they would look at you with a blank expression. I think the organisation would like the kind of name recognition that, for example, CORGI has, but it's a slow process as CI is quite small compared to the gas installation business. However, I am sure they will get there eventually.
Q: How is FAB faring in 2010 so far?
A: We are busy enough at the moment - we have quite a lot [of projects] being quoted and we have plenty of work through the summer. Also, now that we have won the three CEDIA Awards, the publicity is starting to get out there and we are expecting great things from that.
Q: To win one award would be reason for celebration, so presumably you and the FAB team must have been absolutely euphoric about collecting three CEDIA Awards?
A: The phrase 'over the moon' isn't really good enough! We sort of had an idea that we might win one when we came in as our table was down towards the front, but to receive three awards... The third time was just unbelievable! A great night.
With these awards, we have proven that we can build cinemas for all price points - from under 40K to over 100K - and the fact that I have this certification puts us in the best place possible as top cinema designers. If we really want to blow our own trumpet and take it to the ultimate extent, this was a European awards event with 10 countries, so it positions us as the best cinema installer in Europe. That's a great place to be.
Phillip Warris was speaking to David Davies.