First off, thanks everyone! - I have been reading this and the other thread for a while and wanted to share my thoughts and comments from my recent movie nights.
I started watching outdoor movies this past spring [well February in Houston] and I think this last weekend was probably my last until Fall [well December in Houston
]. A cool front came through and it was absolutely beautiful Friday night (clear, clear skies and 68), then started warming up a bit Saturday. Friday night we had some kids over and watched Chicken Little - the kids went home and a couple of us watched Big Mamma's House 2 (mainly because I got it in that day from Netflix) -- not that good, but some really funny parts; especially the beach scene... I was in tears [I'm sure the Coronas helped
]. It was my daughter's birthday party Saturday - so we had about 15 kids over. That night we watched Hoodwinked. I had screened it earlier in the week and thought it was pretty funny, a good mix of humor. I don't have the elaborate set up like many of you do so I have never bothered to take any pictures - just admire yours. I basically hang my screen off the back roof soffit in front of the patio door and pop some pop corn, then sit in our patio swing with the wife. I am sure one day I will do-it-big, but for now this will suffice - granted we have not had any neighborhood parties, which might change things.
I am using a business-class projector (InFocus LP130). This is plenty bright and works very well. Native 4x3 but can change settings to enhanced widescreen which does the job. One thing that I don't like is that there is no ceiling mount option so it projects from just a couple feet off the ground. Of course this means no sitting directly in front, but you can get pretty close on the sides - for our family it works fine and even with the 15 kids plus five adults last weekend (which was our largest viewing) it worked out well.
We have two windows on each side of the patio door; I simply run wire to my living room speakers (from Sony system) and set them outside the window next to the screen. You can hear the sub rumblings coming from within in the house. We are happy with the near 2.1 sound but I would like to get the center channel out there. If I don't go with a larger screen (7'+ tall) I will probably make removable boxes that hang from the soffit to hold the L/C/R speakers. If we move the screen to the back-back yard I will move our old Pioneer 5.1 out of the bedroom.
I combined a few thoughts and ideas from your posts as well as some general knowledge I have gained over the years in the DIY screen section. I created a 2:35:1 CH screen using Wal-Mart $3/yd. budget BOC and a semi-collapsible wood frame from 1x4s. Similar to Steve S., I put hinges in the middle of the 4 vertical braces so it could basically be folded in half. I just hang this in the garage when not in use. I used Velcro on the frame back and BOC - and although not the best on the cloth - if careful removing, it works fine - I have not had any problems with it - now with about 15 movies watched (10 or so times putting up and taking down). I think over the summer I may be upgrading to something else however as I would like to get it a little bigger. Currently at 54x126, this works fine, but I would like to get it closer to 6.5-7' CH.
Side Note (or two):
This past week, I took a look at the painter's drop cloth (8x12) and using PVC to frame but about halfway into the project I scrapped the idea. I was just not confident in the way it was headed (stability, etc.) and I really did not like that large seam in the middle of the cloth. I have heard others mention it - but I did not realize it was THAT noticeable - maybe it is the type I am using. Do you all cut that excess flap off or just leave it as is? I am sure this goes away once the movie starts, but surely you have to be able to see that??
This WAS (and some day may still be) the way I was going to create it: I was going to use 1.25" PVC with crosses on each corner and in the middle of the top and bottom. Then I was going to put 2" black duck tape around the edges of the painter's cloth and either try grommets or just cut a small opening. Then, put some bungee balls (painted black [not default orange] through them and stretch over the cross connectors. I had cut some 2.0" PVC at angles and put reducers on them and WAS going to put these in the ground about 24" down for stability. After getting the frame built, I was moving it around and it seemed quite flimsy - I had not put the cloth on but since the birthday night was quickly approaching I decided to table the idea and save it for another day. Do any of you think I was headed in the right direction? If I do pursue this, I think I would need to go with the trapeze material or some wider BOC. I am not very picky, but that drop cloth just looked horrible to me. I was thinking about moving the screen location to the back of the yard - where at times it can get windy (more so than up near the house). I also don't think tensioning with bungee balls is the best solution - again, I was just trying to think quick and easy set up and take down, storage and portability.
Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, The Fifth Element, Shark Tale, Shrek I and II, Star Wars VI, Gladiator, LOTR I, II, III, Narnia, Chicken Little, Big Momma's House 2 and Hoodwinked
Thanks again for all your ideas and lessons learned; I will be paying attention to this thread over the summer and offering my advice and movie thoughts if warranted. SORRY for the long reply, but I guess I made up for a season's worth of posting in one.
Hopefully we'll get a blast from the north of some nice weather, but I am pretty confident the humid 90 degree nights and mosquitoes are going to be rolling in from here forward. YUCK!
WAF = 95% - she has actually mentioned upgrading to a 2:35 cinemascope screen in the house! Until we sat under the stars [watching Gladiator a month or two back] and I explained it to her - she had no idea (and was not interested) what a constant height screen was... it's amazing what that full moon and the bragging of neighborhood kids will do.