or Connect
AVS › AVS Forum › Home Entertainment & Theater Builder › Outdoor Theaters › Movies Under the Stars—Outdoor Theaters
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Movies Under the Stars—Outdoor Theaters

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 

Well, summer has finally arrived, and if you live in the Northern hemisphere and have had enough of the cold, you can understand my excitement for the upcoming warm months. Although I have spent a substantial amount of money and time in my dedicated theater, I don't always want to be cooped up in my bat-cave. I really enjoy being outdoors, but I also have an obsession with watching movies. So a couple of years ago, I started thinking about bringing the theater experience outdoors. I can tell you it isn't easy, especially when the wife only budgeted for the basement theater. But I can also tell you anything is possible.

Every year, I try to find new and better ways of making the outdoor theater a plausible solution for anyone on any type of budget. Because I live in the suburbs away from the city lights, I was able to choose a projector with a lower light output. I also opted for a smaller screen (70 inches) to make it nice and discreet. I use a pico projector (small form factor) along with an AppleTV. This creates an ultra-portable solution that offers pretty much any type of media at my finger tips. It also is very easy and quick to set up.

So what do you need to get started?

In general, you will need five things: a projector, a screen, a source, speakers, and people. People are the easy part—build it and they will come.




Projector—Your target audience and how large an image you want will determine how bright the projector needs to be. If you're always inviting the whole block, a larger screen may be needed, and therefore a brighter projector. If that is the case, you might need a larger, more conventional projector since little pico or portable projectors put out a lot less light. You will need to decide if you're accommodating a small number of people or the entire neighborhood.



Screen—Depending on your geographical location and your backyard layout, you can choose a portable solution or go with a fixed installation. A fixed screen, usually installed where it is shielded from rain and cold weather, removes the hassle of setting up the screen each and every time you watch a movie outdoors. A portable screen is made to set up just for that particular event and take down afterward. Inflatable or tensioned screens can be found online, while others can be DIY'd using white sheets and some pull cord.



Source—There are many solutions for sources. Whether it is a Blu-ray player or an old DVD player, anything will work. My favorite is a media player. There are many available; I use the AppleTV. It's small in size, wireless, and allows me to access my entire movie collection from my server as well as movies from Netflix. Today's media players are pretty much all small in size with many brands to choose from.



Speakers—This is a tough one as it requires you to pass some wiring. Some use powered pro-audio type speakers, while others take their AVR and hook it up outside with two speakers. For this, you will need to determine how often you'll be watching movies outdoors. If it's a monthly event, maybe lugging around larger speakers won't be a real issue, but if it becomes a weekly thing, it might be easier to work with two powered portable speakers. Others may choose the fixed-install route, where you have two speakers permanently installed under a soffit of some sort.

There are many different ways to bring the theater experience outside; it's a matter of imagination. The most important thing to remember is that it's supposed to be fun. If the whole setup is complicated, time consuming, and a pain in the butt, you might get discouraged every time and not enjoy yourself as much. Doing research is key, and what better place to start but right here on AVS?

For those of you already into the outdoor-theater scene, please share your setup with us. If you have any tips or tricks to share with anyone starting out or upgrading, please post your thoughts.


Happy outdoor viewing!


post #2 of 38
My family's modest little efforts at the outdoor theater are quite simple...
Laptop with Blu-Ray disc player, inexpensive USB stereo speaker set, and a sheet on the side of the garage. Only one problem with our set up (and a word of warning for those who might give this a go), the garage wall used for the screen is on the west side! The time of sunset can be alittle late to start a movie, and it's too bright to see anything very clearly before then. Otherwise, it's great... and fresh hot smores are a treat not usually available in movie theaters (commercial or in the home!) Enjoy!
post #3 of 38
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AVTrauma View Post

and fresh hot smores are a treat not usually available in movie theaters (commercial or in the home!) Enjoy!

I forgot to mention having the luxury of having camp-fire foods. Smores is a good one for sure biggrin.gif
Edited by VinnyS - 5/30/13 at 5:19am
post #4 of 38
We started watching movies outside a few weeks ago.

I wanted to keep the whole operation on the cheap side, so I started with the Optoma PT110, which turned out to be a big disappointment... We watched about an hour of our first movie before the projector stopped recognizing the HDMI input.

I quickly replaced the Optoma with a Viewsonic PJD5134, which has worked out extremely well. It's not HD, but PQ was never the goal for us. It has a bright, vivid picture, and an HDMI input.

I bought a Camp Chef screen (OS92). A great screen. Fold down to a small bag that I can easily store in the basement.

I have two TIC GS5 in ground speakers that flank where the screen hangs (we installed them last year when we were landscaping the backyard) that are powered by a cheap Pyle receiver.

So for about $650 (pj, screen, speakers, receiver) I've got a great home theater in my backyard!

p.s. We've made s'mores every movie night so far... smile.gif
post #5 of 38
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by csbrennan View Post

We started watching movies outside a few weeks ago.

I wanted to keep the whole operation on the cheap side, so I started with the Optoma PT110, which turned out to be a big disappointment... We watched about an hour of our first movie before the projector stopped recognizing the HDMI input.

I quickly replaced the Optoma with a Viewsonic PJD5134, which has worked out extremely well. It's not HD, but PQ was never the goal for us. It has a bright, vivid picture, and an HDMI input.

I bought a Camp Chef screen (OS92). A great screen. Fold down to a small bag that I can easily store in the basement.

I have two TIC GS5 in ground speakers that flank where the screen hangs (we installed them last year when we were landscaping the backyard) that are powered by a cheap Pyle receiver.

So for about $650 (pj, screen, speakers, receiver) I've got a great home theater in my backyard!

p.s. We've made s'mores every movie night so far... smile.gif


I like your idea of choice of speakers - in ground is a great option when landscaping.
post #6 of 38
Nice intro to the hobby (or obsession depending on your passion).

Try www.backyardtheater.com for TONS of additional info on outdoor movies.
post #7 of 38
Great Article!

Me and my wife have been talking about an outdoor theater for a few months now for several reasons....seating is much less of a concern, We probably will never have a dedicated home theater in our house, and the family time you can have with it is amazing.

I imagine having large family/friend BBQ and swim parties with a movie playing in the background or as the main even with smores and other campfire goods.

I cant afford to do it now but it would be a really fun thing to have in the future.
post #8 of 38
the gear and install seems like the easy part. what I want to know is what do you do about the neighbours? anybody have any complaints?

I recently bought a new screen, and i'm most likely going to buy a new projector. thinking i'll set up the old stuff outside for a couple parties. can't think of a better way to relax than to watch some movies floating around in the pool...

i'll hook it up to a laptop and stream movies off my main HTPC, and already have audio set up outside for music.
post #9 of 38
Love watching movies in the backyard! Use the same receiver for indoors and out... press a few buttons and I've got surround sound in the back yard (5 rock speakers in the flower beds). Currently using a fixed screen I got for cheap on craigslist (comes in and out of the garage and I leave the cleats on the fence for easy hanging), a longer throw 1080P DLP PJ mounted under the eave on the house (up and out of the way so the kids can still run around in the back yard prior to showtime)... still need to run HDMI and power up to the PJ each time (another item on the to-do list). It is nice to have things out of the way if you have kids, so they can burn off some energy prior to show time. A popcorn cart to please the kiddies, some cold beers for the neighbors, reasonable volume and no complaints smile.gif
post #10 of 38
Seems like an outdoor set up would be good for night MLB games. There is always something about watching sports played outdoors while inside a building that is a little weird. Then there are always marathons of Lost to consider also.
post #11 of 38
I have a variation of this in my backyard. I recently installed a 46" outdoor TV that's hard wire connected to a cable box and bluray player in one of our bedrooms and so we have access to a wide variety of content -- it does netflix too. I originally thought I would use the tv only for sporting events when friends were over, but I'm outside practically every day with my daughter watching something. We've got an outdoor kitchen so it's like another living room. Love it.
post #12 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by csbrennan View Post

We started watching movies outside a few weeks ago.

I wanted to keep the whole operation on the cheap side, so I started with the Optoma PT110, which turned out to be a big disappointment... We watched about an hour of our first movie before the projector stopped recognizing the HDMI input.

I quickly replaced the Optoma with a Viewsonic PJD5134, which has worked out extremely well. It's not HD, but PQ was never the goal for us. It has a bright, vivid picture, and an HDMI input.

I bought a Camp Chef screen (OS92). A great screen. Fold down to a small bag that I can easily store in the basement.

I have two TIC GS5 in ground speakers that flank where the screen hangs (we installed them last year when we were landscaping the backyard) that are powered by a cheap Pyle receiver.

So for about $650 (pj, screen, speakers, receiver) I've got a great home theater in my backyard!

p.s. We've made s'mores every movie night so far... smile.gif

So let's say I went with an entry level HD projector, with the other components you listed would there be a pretty decent image for the price? I know I won't get Panasonic ZT60 or even BenQ 1070 images but as long as it looks at least as good as my mother in laws 6 year old Vizio LCD I'm happy! Oh and how does it sound by the way?
post #13 of 38
Quote:
So let's say I went with an entry level HD projector, with the other components you listed would there be a pretty decent image for the price?

I'm not an expert on projectors (this is the first one I've ever used/seen aside from a movie theater), but the pj I have is only 800x600 (4:3) and I am very happy with the picture. Now, like I mentioned, I wasn't ooking for anything spectacular... I was looking for a fun experience on the cheap. I'm sure that if you buy a better projector you'll have a better picture.

To be honest, if I didn't know the specs on the projector, I would have assumed it was HD. Next time I'm set up, I'll take some pictures and post them.
post #14 of 38
If you're considering a HD projector, Epson has refurbished 705HDs on their website for $329 w/free 2 day shipping. New lamp, Standard Epson warranty - 90 days on lamp, 2 years on projector. Here is a link if you're interestred.

http://www.epson.com/cgi-bin/Store/jsp/Product.do?BV_UseBVCookie=yes&sku=V11H331020-N
post #15 of 38
My backyard was dirt 4 months ago, so I ran 1000 feet of conduit throughout the backyard and have 7.2 surround, with a dedicated outdoor receiver in my barbecue enclosure. I have a 16x9' carls screen that is mounted towards the back of the yard. The legs of the screen mount into 1.25" emt that is cemented 3 feet into the ground with 1 foot of the emt above ground. I have yet to have the screen up, as the backyard was just completed 2 days ago, but we're going to give it a go tonight!!! I have 2 baluns that convert hdmi to cat 6 then back to hdmi at the screen. From there I have a 20 foot redmere cable that goes to the projector which is put up only when in use. My projector is a Benq 710 ST as I needed a short throw projector otherwise the projector would have been in the pool!

I have 7 rock speakers evenly spaced around the yard to give true 7.2 surround. My subwoofers are 2 Polk atrium sub 10's, and I still need to get an amp for those. I was either going to use a crown xls 1000 or the behringer inuke1000. I also ran cat 6 to the bbq through the house wall to get it to the bbq through some conduit as well and I'm setting up a router out there for the outdoor network as well. We'll see how it all sorts out tonight. Hope this helps.
Edited by mharris2007 - 7/29/13 at 12:06pm
post #16 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by mharris2007 View Post

My backyard was dirt 4 months ago, so I ran 1000 feet of conduit throughout the backyard and have 7.2 surround, with a dedicated outdoor receiver in my barbecue enclosure. I have a 16x9' carls screen that is mounted towards the back of the yard. The legs of the screen mount into 1.25" emt that is cemented 3 feet into the ground with 1 foot of the emt above ground. I have yet to have the screen up, as the backyard was just completed 2 days ago, but we're going to give it a go tonight!!! I have 2 baluns that convert hdmi to cat 6 then back to hdmi at the screen. From there I have a 20 foot redmere cable that goes to the projector which is put up only when in use. My projector is a Benq 710 ST as I needed a short throw projector otherwise the projector would have been in the pool!

I have 7 rock speakers evenly spaced around the yard to give true 7.2 surround. My subwoofers are 2 Polk atrium sub 10's, and I still need to get an amp for those. I was either going to use a crown xls 1000 or the behringer inuke1000. I also ran cat 6 to the bbq through the house wall to get it to the bbq through some conduit as well and I'm setting up a router out there for the outdoor network as well. We'll see how it all sorts out tonight. Hope this helps.

Matt

I have a Benq 710 ST that I have been considering using outdoors as well. If you give it a go tonight, could you PM me and let me know how well it worked for you?

Thanks,

Brad
post #17 of 38
One of these would be nice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PmwDbkaeJs. Very nice.

Who needs a drive-in with one of these?!
post #18 of 38
I had a rear projection 46" GE with great sound. I rolled it over to the open sliding glass door that overlooked the patio. Mariners and MNF were popular. HBO and Showtime were a fill in back then. Kids all grown now.
post #19 of 38
I love the whole idea of watching movies on a big screen in the backyard! However, I have yet to do it. I have a couple of questions for those who enjoy their outdoor theatre. Are mosquitoes an issue or do you spray or fog the area before your guests arrive? I live in a Boston suburb and those mosquitoes will start devouring you the minute you sit still. My other question is about moths and other bugs being drawn to the light from the projector. It seems they would cause some distracting shadows on the screen. Perhaps a fan set up near the projector could blow the annoying party-crashers away. Any thoughts or advice?
post #20 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheAstronaut View Post

I have a Benq 710 ST that I have been considering using outdoors as well. If you give it a go tonight, could you PM me and let me know how well it worked for you?

Thanks,

Brad

Hi Brad,

Indeed I did give it a go tonight, and it was quite amazing to say the least. Myself, my wife, my folks, and many of my neighbors had a grin ear to ear when it all worked out.

I was a little suspect of the monoprice balun but they worked like a charm. I run my blue ray into an onkyo txnr 616 then out to a 3 foot redmere cable to the balun, the over 100 feet of cat6, back to hdmi via the balun then another 20 feet of red mere cable to the projector. And it all worked!! The 7.2 surround was icing on the cake for the avengers. The picture quality with the benq 710st was fantastic. It's never going to approach my 65" Panasonic st50 but it is clearly hd and amazing. I had a few issues getting it perfectly square to the screen too which probably effected resolution a little but it still looked awesome. I attached a few iPhone pics for u to see. The screen is 16x9' Carl's screen with flexie white material.






This one is from the upstairs of my house.



Hope this helps.
Edited by mharris2007 - 7/29/13 at 12:05pm
post #21 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by BgScrnFn View Post

I love the whole idea of watching movies on a big screen in the backyard! However, I have yet to do it. I have a couple of questions for those who enjoy their outdoor theatre. Are mosquitoes an issue or do you spray or fog the area before your guests arrive? I live in a Boston suburb and those mosquitoes will start devouring you the minute you sit still. My other question is about moths and other bugs being drawn to the light from the projector. It seems they would cause some distracting shadows on the screen. Perhaps a fan set up near the projector could blow the annoying party-crashers away. Any thoughts or advice?

I spray Yard Guard about 1/2 an hour before we start the movie. We also have a few citronella lamps around the patio. The mosquitoes, so far, haven't been a problem. We've gotten a few bugs that land on the screen, but they don't stay long. They seem to keep away from the projector itself.
post #22 of 38
Drive-in Movies versus Stay-at Home Theaters -- check it out:

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/Interactives/drive-ins.htm
post #23 of 38
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mharris2007 View Post

Hi Brad,

Indeed I did give it a go tonight, and it was quite amazing to say the least. Myself, my wife, my folks, and many of my neighbors had a grin ear to ear when it all worked out.

I was a little suspect of the monoprice balun but they worked like a charm. I run my blue ray into an onkyo txnr 616 then out to a 3 foot redmere cable to the balun, the over 100 feet of cat6, back to hdmi via the balun then another 20 feet of red mere cable to the projector. And it all worked!! The 7.2 surround was icing on the cake for the avengers. The picture quality with the benq 710st was fantastic. It's never going to approach my 65" Panasonic st50 but it is clearly hd and amazing. I had a few issues getting it perfectly square to the screen too which probably effected resolution a little but it still looked awesome. I attached a few iPhone pics for u to see. The screen is 16x9' Carl's screen with flexie white material.


Hope this helps.

Matt

Wow, that is awesome. Thanks for sharing the pics Matt.
post #24 of 38
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by csbrennan View Post

I spray Yard Guard about 1/2 an hour before we start the movie. We also have a few citronella lamps around the patio. The mosquitoes, so far, haven't been a problem. We've gotten a few bugs that land on the screen, but they don't stay long. They seem to keep away from the projector itself.

Good call csbrennan, not looking forward to mosquitoes. I actually put on a movie on Sunday outside and I got bit by a few already.
post #25 of 38
I usually do the Yard Guard, too. If I don't, then I'M the one that keeps the mosquitos away from everyone else because they zero in on me like in the old PIC commercials (age check!).
post #26 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by mharris2007 View Post

Hi Brad,

Indeed I did give it a go tonight, and it was quite amazing to say the least. Myself, my wife, my folks, and many of my neighbors had a grin ear to ear when it all worked out.

I was a little suspect of the monoprice balun but they worked like a charm. I run my blue ray into an onkyo txnr 616 then out to a 3 foot redmere cable to the balun, the over 100 feet of cat6, back to hdmi via the balun then another 20 feet of red mere cable to the projector. And it all worked!! The 7.2 surround was icing on the cake for the avengers. The picture quality with the benq 710st was fantastic. It's never going to approach my 65" Panasonic st50 but it is clearly hd and amazing. I had a few issues getting it perfectly square to the screen too which probably effected resolution a little but it still looked awesome. I attached a few iPhone pics for u to see. The screen is 16x9' Carl's screen with flexie white material.


Hope this helps.

Matt

Thanks for the reply Matt. I feel like I should probably try mine outdoors now as well. Could you point me towards some more information on the screen you used?
post #27 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by VinnyS View Post

Wow, that is awesome. Thanks for sharing the pics Matt.

No problemo. I'll try to get some uploaded during the day when I get home before I take it down this afternoon.
post #28 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheAstronaut View Post

Thanks for the reply Matt. I feel like I should probably try mine outdoors now as well. Could you point me towards some more information on the screen you used?

Sure thing, I used screen from carlofet.com. The URL for the kit I used is http://www.carlofet.com/projector-screen-frame-parts-and-kits/wall-hanging-kits.html

I adapted the wall hanging kit to my yard where I actually poured a 3 foot concrete footer into the ground with 1.25" emt. Then the legs of the screen are 5 foot long 1" emt that fits into the concreted in 1.25" emt. I then used ratchet straps from the top of the screen in the middle to eye bolts I also cemented into the ground. The problem is that there is nothing that supports the screen in the forward/backwards direction. So what I'm going to try to formulate is some sort of brace that can attach to the wall and brace the frame of the emt in the a/p direction as the wind blows towards the screen from the direction of my house. We'll see how that works out.

Hope this helps.
Edited by mharris2007 - 7/29/13 at 12:04pm
post #29 of 38
We love "Movie Under The Stars" here in Michigan also!
I first did this back in Sept-2009.
Strongly encourage anyone that has space to do their own outdoor theater showing, so much fun.

Sep 2010 Outdoor movie weekend a few from that.
_MG_2845.jpg

Clear enough to get the Big Dipper !
_MG_2857.jpg

Side shot shows screen & people + Jedi (my dog); merged shot of 8 sec exposure and 1/4 sec for screen shot.
(People sit still for 8 seconds when they don't realize they are being taken picture of)
Side%20shot%20shows%20screen%20%26%20people%20%2B%20Jedi.jpg

Here is my screen design, used a Carl's 16' x 9' BOC pre-made screen.
People can do same on their stick frame garage siding by screwing the stainless eyelets into studs behind their siding, minimal stuff.
OutdoorScreen_c.jpg

Front view:
IMG_3790.JPG

Side view:
IMG_3791.JPG

Lower LH turnbuckle, and upper RH detail.
IMG_3798.JPG ...... IMG_3799.JPG

video clip of the screen attach

Prior I used the HT projector (Sony VPL-VW60) and my family room "older gear", ie, Onkyo 787 (2000) and AT Sys 350 speakers (1996).
Recently I've decided to use all the HT gear (Denon 4308CI, Paradigm speakers, etc)



Also have a full 6.1 surround sound, which sounds fantastic outdoors.
_MG_3337.jpg
Edited by mtbdudex - 6/5/13 at 5:40pm
post #30 of 38
Very nice! Looks like a beautiful house as well.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Outdoor Theaters
AVS › AVS Forum › Home Entertainment & Theater Builder › Outdoor Theaters › Movies Under the Stars—Outdoor Theaters