Sophisticated visual gadgetry and crystal-clear acoustics will count for nothing if you do not have the right lighting Lighting is every bit as important as any other aspect of a home theatre set-up. Imagine: you turn on your projector, the screen comes down, your AV equipment breathes into life and then you have to get up from your comfortable couch and turn the lights off. The scene gets more disruptive if a guest suddenly arrives, or your kids decide to ask for your attention just when you are looking forward to a date with your favourite film - you need to get up and turn on the lights. This example may sound simplistic, but lighting is one area where home theatre enthusiasts often tend to overlook and underpay. Without the right lighting creating the right ambience, the home theatre experience is nothing but a trip to the nearest RadioShack. Turning the lights on and off by remote control is not going to create the ultimate home theatre experience. You need to control it - dim it enough for the perfect experience. Lighting needs differ - hence the need for intelligent or programmed dimming. Do not expect the same darkened experience of watching three hours of Lord of the Rings, as you would four hours of Oscar awards, or a group session watching soccer with beer and pizza. The experiences are different and the lighting needs are equally dissimilar. Controlling the lighting is absolutely crucial to recreating the perfect home theatre experience. Comfort and health are other reasons why lighting controls are important. Looking at the screen in a totally dark environment for a few hours, such as watching the Oscars, would cause eye fatigue. With a lighting control system in place, selecting the appropriate lighting scene on the remote control could also switch the projector to a pre-defined set of colour, contrast and brightness presets most appropriate to that lighting scene. The evolution of lighting has been slow. Comparatively, AV equipment has evolved beyond recognition in the past 10 years. Lighting, however, has changed very little over the past 100 years. Certainly, as a consumer, it is hard to think of any standout innovations, beyond the move towards energy-efficient lighting over the past decade or so. Behind the scenes, however, some subtle but important changes have been taking place. Electronic transformers were a novelty a decade ago. Now they are ubiquitous, commonly used to drive low-voltage spotlights, not just in home theatre environments but in all sorts of residential and commercial lighting setups. Dimming this type of light, crucial to the home theatre experience, is not as straightforward as it may seem. A key Lutron initiative taking place is the evolution of Grafik Eye into Grafik Integrale. The Grafik 3000 Series, which is available in Hong Kong, has all the bells and whistles of the high-end lighting system Grafik Eye. It includes set up and recall functions that create lighting scenes for common activities, allows smooth and timed transitions between lighting scenes, integrates with touchscreens and AV equipment, allows one-touch control from any location, and has the built-in Real Time Illumination Stability System. This is a technology design enhancement that filters out line noise to dimmers to ensure consistent, high-quality, dimming performance. Grafik 3000 also includes the new Grafik Integrale, which allows the system to control just about any light source connected to it, controlling forward- and reverse-phase dimming transformers from one box. It also makes the Grafik 3000 more reliable as the control is able to withstand electrical anomalies. Each button on the Grafik 3000 does not switch individual lighting circuits on and off. It switches all lights connected to the system to a level of lighting that you have decided for that particular scene or mood. For those in the know, this is a great leap forward for lighting controls. It means that one model provides control of all modern light sources - except energy-saving lights - as well as adjust the lighting in a room according to pre-defined scenarios or needs. This is why many homes in Hong Kong have been fitting and retro-fitting their homes with Lutron products. Lutron does not sell directly to customers. Rather it sells through indirect channels. Bang & Olufsen is one of the company's main channels in Hong Kong and there is now a B&O series of Grafik Eye units.