Key Team Members
Dennis Erskine, President
Dennis Erskine is an accomplished, award-winning THX Certified Professional Theater Designer and Acoustical Engineer. With a degree in Physics, he is the “real brains behind the operation” and heads up the Design, Engineering, Product Development and Project Management Teams for CinemaForté. He has received numerous industry awards for his reference-level private cinemas and screening rooms and is on the Board of Directors for the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA).
Erskine brings unparalleled experience and expertise to the CinemaForté Team as a CEDIA Certified Home Theater Design Specialist, Subject Matter Expert and CEDIA Certified Instructor. Member of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), the Audio Engineering Society (AES), and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), Erskine has participated with CEDIA and CEA standards groups to develop the educational, testing and best practices criteria for the industry. He is both ISF and HAA Level III certified and has served as an instructor for the Home Acoustics Alliance.
Having studied classical piano since his early childhood, Dennis’ passion for music and sound reproduction ultimately led to his fascination with wanting to better understand what caused the differences in the listener experience based on variations in the acoustical environment and the effect of the room itself. This naturally led him to his in-depth exploration of the physics of sound and how acoustics influenced the perceived realism of musical reproduction in a given space.
Additionally, Dennis Erskine specializes in and is recognized industry-wide for his expertise in Sound Isolation, Quiet Rooms to NR20, Acoustics in the Built Space, Product Development and Project Management of turnkey high-end dedicated cinemas and multi-channel playback venues in private residences throughout the world. His home theater spaces are widely recognized for their remarkable acoustics and stunning visual presentations. Many of the techniques and methods developed by Dennis Erskine are often imitated and have been incorporated into other’s best practices.
After having spent many years in executive positions with several Fortune 1000 companies, Dennis’ entrepreneurial spirit along with his desire to have more control over the design, execution and the end results of his innovations caused him to walk away from a long and successful history in the corporate world in order to pursue greater excellence throughout the entire creation process and to be more directly connected to the customer experience.
When Dennis isn’t designing world-class private cinemas he enjoys flying and is an FAA certified single engine, multi-engine and instrument flight instructor with high performance and high altitude endorsements.
Shawn Byrne, Design and Calibration
Shawn began his audio-video industry career while working for an electronics retailer in 1990. Dolby Surround ProLogic had just hit the market and Shawn instantly fell in love with the pursuit of excellence in the AV reproduction experience. This was an exciting and evolutionary time in the history of residential AV systems, with fast-paced innovations and early standards for the home cinema environment that included the introduction of THX Certified Home products as well as major advances in digital sound field processor technology. It was then that Shawn began his relentless journey of exploration into an in-depth knowledge and understanding of these emerging technologies, products and his imminent mastery of AV system performance analysis methodologies by exploring the science behind superior audio reproduction and room acoustics, conducting experiments with variations in loudspeaker placement, listener positioning and acoustic treatment strategies.
Shawn has a BS in Atmospheric Science from the University of Kansas. He is a THX Certified Professional Video Calibrator and is a Home Acoustics Alliance (HAA) Level III Design Certified Audio Calibrator.
In 1995, after serving in the U.S. Air Force since 1991, Shawn was appointed as a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
In 2008, Shawn graduated from the University of Kansas. While enrolled in the university, Shawn undertook rigorous mathematics and physics courses, which lead to his understanding of the “why” behind his previous explorations while employed as an AV retailer. In 2009, Shawn established Sound Advice in Topeka, KS.
Despite his coursework in the physical sciences, he realized that he needed more advanced, specific training in the fields of audio and video engineering and performance analysis practices to gain a further understanding of small room acoustics and performance video systems. He attended the Home Acoustics Alliance training sessions and workshops and also achieved THX certification. His insatiable ambition to become one of the best custom AV system integrators in the business soon led to his introduction to Dennis Erskine of the Erskine Group.
Having always been interested in architectural design and engineering of high-end home theaters in particular, Shawn’s 3 years of formal training in architecture was instrumental in appointment as Master Home Cinema Design Engineer and AV Calibrator under the personal instruction of Dennis Erskine.
Steve Kujala, Construction and Manufacturing
Steve’s extensive knowledge of construction and his understanding of proper sound isolation has given him the ability to build several award-winning home cinemas worldwide and has been working closely with Dennis Erskine for the past 10+ years to refine every construction technique that influences every aspect of theater room performance – from the earliest design stages to final construction and completion in Steven’s relentless quest to achieve higher standards in state-of-the-art theater design and construction.
Working with his father, a master carpenter, Steven acquired an in-depth knowledge of “old school” methods and has used those early experiences to craft his trade. Over the past 20 years, he has developed his reputation as a master builder of high-end, luxury private cinema rooms as his specialty area of expertise. He has since become well-known in the private theater industry for having developed several proprietary processes for properly implementing THX-certifiable building practices and sound isolation techniques and has built several THX certified screening rooms including industry trade show exhibits.
With an in house millwork, finishes, and fabrication facility, Erskine Group has used that capability to produce the superior millwork and interior finishes characteristic of our home cinemas and media rooms. Due to this facility and Steve’s extensive experience in this specialized area of construction, we have been able to reduce our times on-site from a few months to a few weeks.