Looking to setup first outdoor movie night - lots of questions - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 08-30-2013, 12:32 PM - Thread Starter
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It will be obvious soon enough, but let me start by saying I don't know much about this stuff so looking for any help I can get smile.gif

I'm trying to figure out everything I'll need for an outdoor movie night setup. I asked about which projection would be best in the "Digital Projectors - Under $3,000" forum, linked HERE, but from the first response, I realized I better start with the basic questions first and then decide on what products will work best for my space and setup.

First, here is a picture of the backyard 9with some dimensions listed):



This backyard is unique in that I have a large hill that will be used for viewing. most people will be sitting/laying on the hill to watch the movie. The hill starts about 15 back from where the screen will be, then 35 feet of hill, then a flat area again on top of about 15 feet. Most viewing will be from people sitting/laying on the hill, but I would also like people to be able to view from the top of the hill which would be about 50-60 feet away from the screen (doesn't need to be optimal viewing from here...just able to see it).

It's yard to tell from the picture, but the flat area at the top of the hill is about even with the balcony floor. If the top of the screen is about at the bottom of the balcony, the people at the top of the yard will be looking very slightly down at the screen, which I assume will be okay.


Screen Size:
I was originally thinking of going with 2.35:1 aspect ratio in case I ever wanted to watch true movie theater aspect ratio. I figured even though I would be watching 16:9 almost all the time, it would work fine and just not use all the width of the screen. in the other thread, the reply I got was that this wouldn't be the way to go at all. So I am now back to a screen at 16:9.

1.) I'm thinking of going with 9 feet wide by 16 feet high. Would you suggest larger, smaller, or would this be a good size for this space?
2.) Will 9x16 be big enough for people sitting 50-60 feet away (again, doesn't need to be optimal, just watchable)


Screen Material
I was looking at a couple products from Carl's Place. The most common I've heard people in the DIY forums talk about is Black out Cloth ($195 for 9x16 with finished edges). The other one I was looking at was the FlexiWhite ($265 for 9x16 with finished edges).

3.) Would the FlexiWhite be noticeably better quality quality for an outdoor projector screen than the basic Black Out Cloth.
4.) Would one of these be better if we ever wanted to watch something during daylight hours, or at least start the movie just after sunset?


Projector:
This is where I really don't know what I need. I'm looking for the most budget friendly projector that will work with my set up. I'm assuming the best place to place the projector will be even with the bottom of the screen. if this is the case, it will sit about 30 feet back from the screen (on the first landing area on the stairs). This will be used outdoors on a 9x16 foot screen ( (220 inches diagonal screen).

I've heard good things about both the the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 8350 (can get a refurbished one for $899!!) and the BenQ W1070 (On Amazon for $890).

4.) Would either of this projector work with my setup, or would I need to go with a higher quality projector?
5.) If you would suggest a different projector, which one would you go with?


Sound:
I have two good quality outdoor speakers on my balcony (marked in the picture) that work fine for music playing outside, in the yard. Obviously this wouldn't produce movie theater sound, but might work okay enough. The only issue would be getting the audio to those speakers. I currently have them wired to a Denon A/V receiver upstairs and use an Apple TV to stream music to the speakers. I'm assuming I would need to run wire from the source of the movie all the way to the Denon receiver upstairs. I'm not sure if I should go that route or just get some separate speakers that would only be used when i setup movie night.

6.) Would the sound quality be much better buying basic speakers to use exclusively for movie night?
7.) What type of price range should I expect for basic speakers to use for this?


Addition Equipment:

8.) What else will I need to play movies in the yard? An audio/video Receiver? Or can I somehow use the Denon AVR1910 I already have?



ANY input at all is appreciated!!!
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post #2 of 13 Old 09-03-2013, 10:55 AM
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OK. Take a deep breath. Check out backyardtheater.com.

First of all, people don't go to outdoor moives for the picture or sound quality; they go to have a good time. The rest is all you.

What do YOU want from an outoddor movie? There's nothing wrong with going for a 2:35 screen. The main thing to look at in a projector for the size yard you have is the throw distance. Most projectors are going to have a much smaller throw distance.

If I were you, I would hang the screen from the balcony so that it falls halfway between the two stories. Then you can put the projector closer to the screen and aim up and then it won't be in the way of people in the back and people won't be walking in front of it.

Now, I would buy the highest watts per channel recever you can afford, and outdoor speakers. Personally, I have a smaller space and bought the cheapest Home Theater in a Box (HTiB) I could find and just use those speakers for my portable system, For my deck, I mounted outdoor speakers, And yes, I went full 5.1. You will be amazed at the sound quality.

Another trick is the "garden hose snake." You can use regular low voltage garden lighting wire (the heavier guage) for speaker wire. It's fairly cheap and easy to find at the big box stores. Then you pull it through a garden hose. I used two,.. one for FR, .FL, Center and SUB and the other for the rears. This makes it easy to lay out and pick up the speaker wiring.

I made a "stand" for all the gear out of two shelves across a 6 foot step ladder. The lower one holds the reciever and DVD player, the upper across the "paint tray" and it holds the projector.

I used the blackout material for my screens. It will be fine. Don't know about the other material, never tried it.

Good luck!
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post #3 of 13 Old 09-04-2013, 12:22 PM
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Yeah, quality takes a back seat. Your statement about dynamic range (Above) is spot on. Making the movie loud enough so you can hear the vocals will make other sounds very loud. I've watched two movies outside now, and both times when I got the volume loud enough to hear the voices, the rest of the movie was LOUD. The sound really carried.

I too went 16x9 from Carl's place. (FlexiWhite) which is a great product!

I purchased an Optoma TH1060P from Projector people when it was on sale. It cost more like $1200, but it was made for large venues, so it has the lumens to back up that screen size.

As far as it being completely dark, you are pretty much stuck there. Nothing can compete with the sun... nothing. It's an amazing test in my indoor theater to see the perfect picture with the lights off, and slowly tick up the soffit lights on the dimmer and see how quickly the picture starts to get washed out. If your house blocks the sun you might be able to play movies at sunset/dusk but in my back yard, it had to be night-time to watch anything out in the open, even with the 4000 lumen projector. I could project an image in a shaded area (under my deck) when the sun was still out, but my setup won't work that way, and it was only a test. If your back yard is in the sun, just give up on the notion of watching an afternoon football game out there!

I personally would not bother with a scope formatted screen outside. I have a scope screen inside and I love it, but outside I didn't even consider it.

Logan, nice call on the hose snake! Interesting idea. All of my stuff is temporary at the moment until my patio gets finished.

BTW ffrllc, your backyard venue is excellent for an outdoor theater. The hill is a big bonus and you have an ideal mounting spot for the screen. I'd make sure wherever you want to put your projector (to fit the screen) is exactly where one of your stair "landings" are. So measure it all properly!
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post #4 of 13 Old 09-04-2013, 07:31 PM
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The screen aspect ratio
I personally don't mind the 16x9 ratio for watching movies and I'm immune to the black bars. Doesn't bother me. If you'll be watching tv (Super Bowl , World Series) it's all in 16x9 (USA) and so is Netflix for that matter.
Like damelon was saying. Mounting your projector on the hill might be perfect but you. I'd add that you'll need to make the projector the same height as the top of the screen. You'll also be mounting it upside down. If you could keep the bottom of the screen 6' off the ground people could still walk through below it and most won't get blinded walking past/through. Not sure if you want to go that high. You have to find the right balance of how easy it is to walk around and how the screen looks. I'd personally rather look up higher and not blind folks and distract people. The torches will need to go.
You also need to figure out a lighting setup. You can't have complete darkness with 50 people (kids, the old). Anything pointing down is good. Fires and torches are out too between the smoke and bright light. Backlighting the screen can look cool and provide some usable light. And i dont mean leaving your bedroom light on. Led smd 5050 waterproof lights pointed away from the screen work well too.
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If your buying a new projector, buy more lumens than you will use. Running it in "Eco Mode" makes your bulb last 20-40% longer and reduces noise and heat.
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post #5 of 13 Old 09-05-2013, 03:25 AM
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First, welcome to outdoor movies, you've got a great home and backyard for it.

You've got some great info from those that posted, I'll share my experience:
I've got a 16' wide x 9' high from Carls, love the screen, this is my 5th season with it.
My projector is mounted 30' back from the screen.

We've had 55 people here no problem, all within a 12'-35' deep sitting zone.
Point is you want people next to each other, not spread out too much.

Most people want to be immersed into the picture, and I've found 35' away seems max for my screen size, so consider that in your planning.
Honestly, 50-60 feet away is too far.

Like Tom L said, you will be amazed at the sound quality outside, so if you can go 5.1 do it.
Also I'd have the speakers by the screen to anchor the sound to the image, those up high outdoor ones I'd be worried about using IMO.

Unless you are tying in movie night to another event, I usually get people to gather 30 minutes prior to start of movie.
It's still too light at sunset, usually 25-30 minute after sunset is the point the screen is viewable decent enough to start, called end of civil twilight.
I'm in Michigan about 42deg latitude, if you are lower in latitude it may get darker quicker, use this to plan, http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/RS_OneDay.php
Quote:
Sun and Moon Data for One Day
The following information is provided for Howell, Livingston County, Michigan (longitude W83.9, latitude N42.6):
Thursday
5 September 2013 Eastern Daylight Time
SUN
Begin civil twilight 6:36 a.m.
Sunrise 7:05 a.m.
Sun transit 1:34 p.m.
Sunset 8:03 p.m.
End civil twilight 8:31 p.m.

Screen mounting - with you having 3 sides by brick I'd consider similiar mounting as I did into my wood siding.
Here is link to my build thread on that, http://backyardtheater.com/forums/index.php/topic,4331.0.html
Screw eyelet and cable.
IMG_3790.JPG .. IMG_3791.JPG

side view: ........................................................................................................Rear view
_MG_1165.jpg .. Pre%2520show%2520set-up.jpg

Night view:
_MG_2845.jpg ... Side%2520shot%2520shows%2520screen%2520%2526%2520people%2520%252B%2520Jedi.jpg
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post #6 of 13 Old 09-05-2013, 10:00 AM
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I'm jealous of your FLAT area, not to mention a nice wall you can mount your screen on!... even the smallest of hills is a pain for projector setup smile.gif
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post #7 of 13 Old 09-05-2013, 03:57 PM
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I got this:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-12-ft-Inflatable-Diagonal-Widescreen-Airblown-Deluxe-Movie-Screen-39127-32-/121164145359?_trksid=p3284.m263&_trkparms=algo%3DSIC%26its%3DI%26itu%3DUCI%252BIA%252BUA%252BFICS%252BUFI%26otn%3D21%26pmod%3D150801022510%26ps%3D54

for $99 around this time of year two years ago (end of season). If you have the means to mount it another way I would do that. Its horrible in any wind. The problem is I set up at other people's houses more than my own. I got a cheap 2.1 receiver with some power and a pair of decent pair of ugly speakers for a pittance at the area pawn shop. Everyone loves it and it makes for a great family activity. I might try to figure out a way to build a frame out of PVC that I can break down and sell the screen next year.
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post #8 of 13 Old 09-06-2013, 01:04 AM
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Great night photos by the way. I took some the other night and everyone was on rocking chairs plus I couldn't get a bright scene to save my life. I could of used some "ice road truckers" right about then.

If your buying a new projector, buy more lumens than you will use. Running it in "Eco Mode" makes your bulb last 20-40% longer and reduces noise and heat.
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post #9 of 13 Old 09-06-2013, 01:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coolhand View Post

I got this:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-12-ft-Inflatable-Diagonal-Widescreen-Airblown-Deluxe-Movie-Screen-39127-32-/121164145359?_trksid=p3284.m263&_trkparms=algo%3DSIC%26its%3DI%26itu%3DUCI%252BIA%252BUA%252BFICS%252BUFI%26otn%3D21%26pmod%3D150801022510%26ps%3D54

for $99 around this time of year two years ago (end of season). If you have the means to mount it another way I would do that. Its horrible in any wind. The problem is I set up at other people's houses more than my own. I got a cheap 2.1 receiver with some power and a pair of decent pair of ugly speakers for a pittance at the area pawn shop. Everyone loves it and it makes for a great family activity. I might try to figure out a way to build a frame out of PVC that I can break down and sell the screen next year.

I'd like to get one of the blow up versions but I couldn't take the blower noise. I'd have to run an Alaskan pipeline to get it far enough away from me.

If your buying a new projector, buy more lumens than you will use. Running it in "Eco Mode" makes your bulb last 20-40% longer and reduces noise and heat.
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post #10 of 13 Old 09-06-2013, 07:47 AM
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Quote:
I might try to figure out a way to build a frame out of PVC that I can break down and sell the screen next year.

Here's what I did that might save you some time trying to figure it out....

http://backyardtheater.com/forums/index.php/topic,219.0.html

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post #11 of 13 Old 09-06-2013, 03:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DtommyD View Post

I'd like to get one of the blow up versions but I couldn't take the blower noise. I'd have to run an Alaskan pipeline to get it far enough away from me.

It doesn't even bother me. I live in the city and at least a few times during each movie sounds from the town get loud enough to annoy.
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post #12 of 13 Old 09-13-2013, 09:32 AM
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ffrllc - it's been 2 weeks and you've not responded to any of the posts here................so I'm curious what did you end up doing or still in planning step?
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post #13 of 13 Old 09-13-2013, 10:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Just taking it all in still smile.gif

Haven't completely decided which way I'm going with the projector, and audio. I'm pretty sure I'm going with the 9x16 foot Carl's FlexiWhite screen. As far as the projector goes, it looks like the Optoma EH501 is the front runner at this point. It doesn't come out until the end of this month so I still have a little time.

You mentioned you are using a Carl's 9x16 foot scree and your projector sits about 30 feet back from the screen. What projector are you using? How do you like it with a 16x9 screen 30 feet away from the pj?

(GREAT setup you got there by the way!!)
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