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post #1 of 3 Old 01-15-2013, 10:41 AM - Thread Starter
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First off, thanks to anyone who takes the time to offer their advice. I've often gotten good advice from many of you.

We've recently moved into a new home in a small, newly developed neighborhood (60 homes) in Southern California. What little room we have in our yard is going to be taken up by a pool for our daughters; however, there is a small grassy area right next to our house that would be perfect for an outdoor theater. It's neighborhood owned, of course, but I've spoken with other homeowners and they love the idea of setting up a community movie night once a week. The area is roughlly 75-100 feet deep and 150 feet wide and is on a slight hill, so it would be a great location for people to sit on blankets and see the screen at the bottom of the slope. It's at the end of the cup-de-sac with nothing behind it, so it is always quiet with very little external noise and no traffic.

I would like to do this an inexpensively as possible, but I want to make sure I get something that people won't be straining their eyes to see and something that will last. Does anyone have any suggestions on equipment or any set-up tips? I assume an inflatable screen would be the way to go as it needs to be set up and taken down after every use. Any help with the audio and/or video would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks again.
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post #2 of 3 Old 01-15-2013, 02:43 PM
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An inflatable screen is a good place to start, easy up, easy down. You should be able to find a 12ft diagonal screen for around $200. As for a projector, there are a ton of choices. My wife and are are fans of the "all in one" units - dvd player and projector in one unit. It makes it very easy for her to set up on "girl's night" (my screen is a permanent installation). You can find these on craigslist, but if you are looking for some thing that you can be "sure of", Epson sells refurbished units with a new bulb and a 2 year warranty on their website. The MovieMate 60 is a good, solid unit and it sells for $349.00 (refurbished) with free 2nd day shipping. If you want separate pieces, they have a number of refurbished projectors starting at $149 and going up. You can find dvd players anywhere for $30 -$40, and blu rays for under $100. No matter what you use, you will need some type of sound system. An old stereo receiver and a couple of speakers can be found for under $100. That is the basics of what you need. From there, you are only limited by your imagination (and in my case, budget). I started with an old Radio Shack Cinego projector shooting on a block wall. It wasn't great, but it was fun. The projector was replaced by a MovieMate 60 for the brighter picture and the block wall was replaced by a permanent black out cloth screen. Keep an eye open for when Backyardtheater.com is up and running again. There is a wealth of information there and the people are more than willing to help. Good luck, have fun!
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post #3 of 3 Old 01-17-2013, 11:19 AM
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it sounds like you moved into backyard theater heaven!

walmart consitently sells that 12' wide inflatable screen for around $200 (sometimes at $175) here:

the projector would be the main "not-squinting" piece of equipment. look for any projector with at least 2000 lumens at a minimum. the higher the better but higher rated projectors can start to get costly. refurbs are great to start off with. as jwh mentions, refurbs from manufacturers are better as you'd get a small warranty and a better refurb job.

as jwh also mentions, byt is a great resource. i believe all setups are fantastic. from the "lets throw this thing together" setups to the "I'M RICH!!" setups. you'll have fun no matter how you put movies on outside!
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