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Backyard Theater - Outdoor Movies

Backyard Theater - Outdoor Movies  

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Author Topic: Inexpensive screen setup  (Read 6806 times)
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« on: September 10, 2005, 07:47:10 pm »


  I just found this website last week and it is great.  I am glad to see I am not alone it wanting to have a backyard theater.  I used to go to the drive in a lot when I was a kid and there aren't any around here anymore.  Anyway, my 23rd birthday is later this month and I am planning an outdoor 80's movie night.  We are all going to dress up as 80's characters, it should be a good time.  I have never had an outdoor show before and because we are all college students we are on a pretty tight budget. 

  My dad is letting me borrow a very nice DLP projector and the backyard for the night. I am going to run the movies and sound from my laptop and a set of 5.1 speakers.   I am thinking about using a white painter's canvas dropcloth for the screen.  It looks like some of you have had pretty good results using them.  Anything special to look for?  The main problem I am running into the placement of the screen.  I am worried about wind and if I did build an upright frame for it, I am not sure how I could temporarily set it up.  As of right now the plan is to hang it up on the house.  The only real flat space available is over the back deck and it is about 12x7.  I was hoping to get something a little taller to keep the 12x9 perspective, but to do that I will have to make it a free standing screen.  My parents have a pretty big backyard, so that is an option, I am just not too sure about how to go about it.  I put a couple of pictures up on the website below so you can get an idea of what I have to work with.  The back deck is a mess right now, but I plan on clearing everything off in the next few days. 

  I have seen some really neat setups here and I would really appreciate any suggestions you guys might have.  Thanks!!

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« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2005, 10:22:27 pm »

I used an $18 Home Depot canvas cloth and some PVC pipe to build my "Woods Theatre" and there is a thread about it floating around here. Total cost was about $50. It is the 9 x 12 dimension you desire.
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« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2005, 06:52:11 am »

  My dad is letting me borrow a very nice DLP projector and the backyard for the night. I am going to run the movies and sound from my laptop and a set of 5.1 speakers.   I am thinking about using a white painter's canvas dropcloth for the screen. 

Hi Hobbes, welcome to the forums!

I was in the local farm store yesterday and they were doing something in the middle of the store that they didn't want people to see.  Some sort of remodeling.  They had used the clothesline approach except they stretched 1/4" steel cable and hung tarps with zip ties from that cable.  It looked like a tarp wall.  Perfecty straight across the top and every tarp was hanging (near) perfecly flat.

What I'm getting at is a couple eyelets screwed into the house with a cable between them to suspent the tarp screen from.  There are right and wrong ways to do that, (and your dad my say something similar to; there is NO right way to do that on my house) so that may not be an option for you.

If not, then you'll need a stand and simply use the house as a windbreak.

Bottom line, if you put this together, you're going to want to do it again -- soon.  So do it by your dads rules, get him involved, and he may plaster the whole backside of the house with projection screen.


"Instead of cursing the darkness, light a candle for where we're going.  There's something ahead worth looking for." -- Neil Young

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« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2005, 08:16:47 am »

Hobbes -

Welcome! rfisk is right...once you do it, once will NOT be enough!

Be sure to check out my thread on "another portable screen." I think I gave pretty good directions for what I did. I used black out cloth for the screen, but there is no reason a cheaper painter's canvas can't be made to fit. I had my wife sew pockets, but grommets hammered into a canvas and tied to the frame would probably work just as well. I used about $50.00 worth of 1.25" PVC pipe which can EASILY be cut to length using a cheap cable saw made just for that.  And when I say cheap. I mean 3 or 4 dollars. I've had mine for years, so I don't know what they are going for now.  You just need to cut it close...a quarter or half inch isn't going to matter very much. Since  the PVC and connectors all dry fit together, you can compensate when putting it together.

You should be able to put something free-standing together for well under $100.00 and it would probably make your Dad a lot happier too! Not to mention that at 23, when you move away, you can take it with you. Unless your Dad gets hooked and keeps it! 

Good luck. Let us know what you ended doing and how it went!


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