I thought I was the only 'creative' (rather, crazy) individual to set up a movie theater outside! But I found this website and now realize I'm NOT so crazy after all.
It started after our vacation to Key West where we watched King Kong outdoors at a bar. Once home, we planned to watch the video footage I shot the following weekend with friends. I noted how neat it would be to view it outdoors in our humid climate to imitate the visit. And the idea snowballed from there! I only had one week to pull the whole thing together though.
--As another member posted, my idea did NOT have my better half's approval!--
I researched on-line to find movie screen cloth, and how to build an outdoor screen. I wanted ours to be no smaller than 18 feet long. I found some good suggestions, but not many affordable options. (I had not yet found this website.) Next, I visited a craft store with a limited fabric section. A sales associate recommended I use curtain lining. But their largest width was 54" and there would be three seams in my screen. We don't own a sewing machine, so back to the drawing board.
Next, I contacted a HUGE cloth store in our area www.maryjos.com
and spoke with the most helpful associate ever! She snubbed curtain lining for the screen, and recommended "Mummy's Cloth" instead. The smallest width she had was 114". This was perfect -there would be no seams! Cost with tax for six yards - $46.80
I'm fortunate to already have posts mounted to support the screen -they're called pine trees! Ours and both adjoining neighbors' property is a hill with three rows of them. Behind that is all woods. Two pine trees are exactly parallel, 18 feet apart, with two pines in the middle of them. These four chosen trees are directly opposite our covered patio (my sanctuary). We already had outdoor speakers installed.
I purchased two 10-foot, 2-inch PVC pipes for the top, and two 1-inch PVC pipes for the bottom (weight). I mounted heavy curtain hanger rods to the end trees. (Temporarily) I'm using bungee cords in the two middle trees for the middle support. Originally I secured the cloth on the pipes with duct tape. (BAD IDEA!)
In the early evening of our premiere, a bad thunderstorm came up. Only this thunderstorm didn’t blow over in a few minutes, it parked itself over our residence! Eventually it rained itself to a sprinkle, but not before postponing our cookout AND soaking the movie screen! Our friend had brought his projector. He adjusted the picture to fit the screen while we were getting our drinks ready. Suddenly, the screen fell because of the extreme weight of the soaked material. This is why duct tape is a BAD idea!
If I hadn’t seen that chapter selection image projected so huge just moments earlier, I would have called the whole thing off. Everything had gone wrong!
After my distressful meltdown, I proceeded to re-hang the now muddy, water-laden bulk of material! Four other friends jumped in to help. Our only recourse was to pin it up with the only thing we could find –four small safety pins. I was certain they wouldn’t support the weight and it would rip and fall. But it didn’t! Aside from three huge wrinkles down the screen, and having to cram everyone on the patio because of the sprinkles, everyone raved over the idea and how much fun they had!
During the next week, I washed the muddy cloth back to its original condition. That weekend, my mother-in-law and her sister came to visit. Since the premiere didn’t go like planned, I hoped the second attempt would work better. This time I safety-pinned the screen to the pipes; twelve on top and eight on the bottom. Again, we invited our friend with the projector. Except for some sound issues (later found as the “wide surround” setting on my DVD player), that night was perfect! Grace and Dorothy both commented to us and their husbands how much they enjoyed the event. Additionally, my neighbors and their kids think the “big screen” is the coolest thing they’ve ever seen.
Since it was proven our outdoor theater was a hit, it was time to consider getting our own projector. Our first two showings were a bit dim. But I attributed that to the distance we were projecting (about 45 feet). I called my friend to get the specs of his projector. It was then I learned he brought his older Epson unit (model 45N?) with ONLY 800 LUMENS, and already past the bulb life! We’ve seen movies (in their home) with his Optoma EP 719 unit and were amazed. Since I had seen what the Epson did in our back yard, ANYTHING had to be better! The timing was also fortunate –it was July 4th weekend, and Circuit City was having a sale. I purchased an Optoma EP 716 for $599 (web special).
My better half and I have had two movie nights since. The picture is phenomenal, especially using the component video jacks! I’m SOOOO hooked! Now I’m debating 5.1 surround on the patio.... Honey?