By Paul Fitzgerald
So here is the scenario. Darkness suddenly hits a huge silver screen. The audience sits silent with much excitement and plenty of anticipation. Then all of the sudden a bright full-colour-image appears on the big screen – of course it is accompanied by heart-pumping-theatrical-like-music. The audience, captivated in every sense, becomes immersed with the superb images and the incredible sound effects. The moment becomes live; real in more ways than one.
This experience is all part of inventiveness in storytelling through entertainment. That’s right, it’s show time.
You might assume that this scenario is one you would expect at your local mega-plex cinema. However, it’s not really: this is an experience you can now have in your own backyard.
According to Clinton Howell, the founder and owner of H2 Systems Inc. in Burlington, ON, backyard home theatre systems are now a new and emerging trend these days. From Burlington to Hamilton, and from Oakville to Mississauga, homeowners are turning to the outdoor home theatre experience as a means of entertaining family, friends and the neighbours.
And, believe it or not, having an outdoor home theatre system is easy to set up and take down, and more importantly you don’t have to break the bank in order to have one. Still, some investment is involved with time and money, but it’s worth it in the end. Even better, having a backyard home theatre is great for family bonding time during the spring and summer months.
“Homeowners these days seem to be staying local during the spring and summer months now as travel is becoming more and more expensive,” says Howell. “Still, while at home, they want to entertain and they want to be entertained, and backyard home theatres are popular because it’s a fun experience, less costly than traveling with a family and it’s a new way of enjoying cinema at its best.”
When most people think of the home theatre experience, they think of a home theatre room or a multi-purpose room inside. Taking it outdoors takes the movie experience to a whole new level, almost like the days when drive-ins became popular.
H2 Systems Inc., popular for its excellence in offering the best in home theatre systems, home automation, home integration, built-in-multi-zones and video solutions, flat-screen TVs, home networking, home theatre design and construction and décor for its clients, is now part of the backyard home theatre trend. While spring has just arrived, Howell and his team are out helping homeowners discover how they have they ultimate outdoor home theatre experience.
Howell reiterates to customers of the importance of watching movies in the dark.
“Watching movies outdoors in the dark provides the best entertainment experience in terms of picture quality,” he says. “Projected images have much better black levels and contrast when the projector of the main source of light. Going to war with the sun is a never-winning battle. The only way you could watch movies outside in light is by purchasing highly expensive outdoor screens or high-end flat-screen TVs. The good news is that there are options, but in all watching movies under the stars is a terrific experience.”
In planning the location of your screen, a large wall on the back of the house or attached to your fence is a perfect option. And if you are short on space, then take advantage of well-placed trees for hanging an inflatable or portable screen between them.
“While the location of the screen is important, keep in mind that you have your power supply in close proximity,” says Howell. “Aside from the projector, you will need to power your Blu-ray player or set-top box and speakers.”
Your choice of what type of screen to have is also important, explains Howell.
“The cost of quality weather-proof screens is more than affordable nowadays,” he says. “Inflatable screens are also popular but are more expensive.”
As well there are all a variety of all-weather-outdoor TVs and the bigger ones can be expensive if one prefers this approach.
Selecting the right projector is also important. “Having a separate projector for your outdoor home theatre is important,” he says. “You can buy relatively inexpensive projectors so you don’t need to worry about them getting damaged.”
“There are a variety of projectors with lumen ratings over 2,000 available and now 3D projectors are in and are coming down in price. If 3D is your fancy then grab some affordable glasses and enjoy your backyard movie experience in style.”
Howell suggests that before purchasing a projector it is important to know its actual distance to the screen. The right distance from the projector to the screen will mean a better viewing experience for you and your audience.
And keep in mind that the right sound is also important in having the right outdoor home theatre experience.
“There are all-weather speakers that are available and they are ‘sound’ for your evening entertainment,” says Howell. “In all, there are a variety of choices with outdoor sound systems – which you can have on stands, or hang from the side of your house or even on the trees. The options for speakers are endless – go with what works and have fun.”
Once your outdoor home theatre is all set up, then it’s time to fire up the grills to serve some good eats, along with some popcorn too of course.
For those who are not sure where to start or need direction with setting up an outdoor home theatre system, Howell suggests hiring a home theatre expert to guide and do the work for you.
“A home theatre expert will provide a variety of options and will work within your budget,” says Howell. “Home theatre experts know all about the right screens, projectors, flat screen TVs, audio, power sourcing and ensuring you have a memorable outdoor home theatre experience.”
He adds, “The warmer temps will soon be here and now is the time to plan for your new outdoor home theatre in your very own backyard.”