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This November 8th is Election Night, not only for the President but for numerous governors, U.S. Senators and Representatives and other public officials. It’s a big night — so have you thought about putting it on the big screen and inviting guests?

You’re not likely to have any trouble finding election coverage on TV from the major networks, CNN, MSNBC and other stations. You can either stick with one station for a consistent view of the entire election or switch back and forth to get alternate viewpoints of the action as it unfolds.

Obviously you’ll need to make some careful considerations before you can be reasonably sure of a successful, or at least non-hostile, election night viewing party. Your safest bet is to invite like-minded guests who are all voting along the same party line as you are. Chances are that you already know this much about your friends and family members. Yes, if you really want a lively event, you can invite an equal number of voters from each party — just don’t serve beverages in breakable glasses or any kind of desserts that require knives and forks.

Another consideration to keep in mind? The clock. Late results seem to be a feature of every major election, and while this might not matter for an indoor viewing party, you may have to break down your outdoor theater system after a certain hour, results or no results, to avoid the wrath of the neighborhood. We recommend that you set a specific time that corresponds with municipal noise regulations, inform your neighbors of that projected ending time, and then put away your theater system promptly and quietly when you’re done.

Oh, and one more thing — don’t forget to vote! As the saying goes, if you don’t vote, you can’t complain….

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So you’ve just received your portable outdoor theater package from Backyard Theater Systems. Congratulations! You open the case and start pulling out the various components, included the screen frame and the folded-up QuickScreen material. You follow all the basic steps to set up your outdoor theater, excited at the prospect of your very first movie screening on the system. You unfold the screen, attach it to the frame, set the frame upright and tie it down. The result is big, imposing, and — wait a minute! Are those wrinkles?

The short answer is, yes, those are wrinkles on your screen — but don’t panic. A wrinkled screen doesn’t mean you got a defective product, nor will they spoil your backyard moviegoing experience in any way. Those wrinkles are a normal side effect of folding the screen — in fact, it’s pretty much impossible not to put a few wrinkles into it in the course of normal storage. During the day, with the unfurled screen standing in full daylight, the wrinkles appear obvious, so it’s understandable that you might think your viewing enjoyment might be impaired. But you’d be wrong. Your movie will look fine.

How is this possible? It has to do with the brightness of the projector lamp versus the darkness of your surroundings. When you play a movie on our system at night (which is pretty much the only time you’d want to — in a competition between a projector and the sun, the sun will always win), there’s no overhead sunlight to create shadows off of the wrinkles. All you have is the full-bore direct light from the projector hitting your highly-reflective screen, washing out surface details such as folds or wrinkles to display nothing but pristine visuals.

Try it and see. “Wrinkles? What wrinkles?”

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You may love to enhance your home video gaming experience by hooking your console or computer up to a big-screen home theater system. So obviously the next big “level up” is to take your gaming outdoors on the really big screen. Imagine saving the universe or leading your armies into battle on your SilverScreen Backyard Theater as a real breeze ruffles your clothes and real stars shine overhead! As fantastic as this may sound, however, you should be aware that the outdoor environment offers some potential obstacles that you may need to consider. These include:

The weather. Sure, it’s kind of a bummer when you’re watching a movie outdoors and rain starts to fall, especially if you have guests over. You have to stop the film, take down the QuikScreen (which admittedly only takes a moment), and move your setup into the garage, or perhaps even indoors if you have enough room. But it’s especially annoying to have to stop and save your game when you’re in the middle of a decisive battle or solving a difficult puzzle.

Audio positioning. You have to be able to hear that creaking floorboard behind you or footsteps far off to the right to know exactly where the enemy is hiding, for instance. But your outdoor theater setup is designed more to create a large-scale movie house experience, not to delineate every tiny little sound in microscopic detail. The audio track will also be competing against chirping crickets, distant cars, et cetera. Plug a good pair of headphones into your console or computer, and this problem goes away.

As long as you’re prepared for the extra variables the outside world brings to the gaming world, you’ll still have an amazing time gaming with your outdoor theater. So let the games begin!

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It’s time for you to stock up on snacks and get ready to cheer (or curse) your way through another season of college and/or professional football. But if you can’t get season tickets on the 50-yard line, you’ve got something even better — a big-screen backyard theater system. Our SilverScreen setup will make your home the next best thing to a VIP press box overlooking the real thing.

If you’ve watched enough football on your HDTV, you’ve probably noticed the difference between standard-definition and high-definition broadcasts. Even with your TV’s upscaling capability, high-def is a clear winner in terms of detail and sharpness — and that makes a big difference when you’re displaying the action on a large projection screen. Fortunately, HD is firmly established for sports presentations these days. All you have to do is purchase an extra-long cable and run it from your satellite or cable box to the outdoor theater’s projector (We don’t sell such cables ourselves, but we can direct you toward places that do.)

Are you limited to evening broadcasts for your outdoor viewing enjoyment? Well, “limited” isn’t really the word, because there are plenty of college and pro night games to choose from. Sunday, Monday (of course) and Thursday nights are all NFL nights now, leaving Saturday nights for college games. ESPN and dedicated channels such as NFL Network pretty much guarantee you a heaping helping of football for your viewing parties under the stars.

We’ll check back in on football season when it comes time to make sense of all the college bowl games — and we might even offer some fun tips and ideas for that SuperBowl party we know you’re planning. Until then, enjoy scoring major points with your friends by offering them a big-time sports experience!

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Boo! That’s not a noise of disapproval — it’s your signal to get ready for Halloween. Imagine what a colossal effect a good old-fashioned scary (or if you prefer, amusingly creepy) movie can make on a gigantic screen at night. Here a few different options to help you turn your Halloween party into a night at the movies:

The Haunting – This black-and-white film has a reputation as the scariest haunted-house film ever made. Julie Harris stars as a young woman trying to hang onto her sanity in a place where the dead don’t stay quiet.

Ghostbusters – They’re ready to believe you! Bill Murray and company will have you screaming with laughter as they go into the ghost exterminating business.

The Pit and the Pendulum – You won’t mind the “black bars” at the top and bottom of your screen as you are mesmerized by this colorful widescreen Edgar Allen Poe adaptation starring Vincent Price.

Beetlejuice – For a pure farcical comedy set in the world of ghosts and hauntings, you can’t miss with this vehicle for Michael Keaton as a wacky ghoul who interferes with the lives — or afterlives — of Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis and Winona Ryder.

A Nightmare on Elm Street – The first film in the series is a genuinely frightening splatter-fest. The iconic Freddie Krueger preys on teenagers who make the terrible mistake of falling asleep and dreaming.

Creepshow – This George A. Romero-Stephen King collaboration manages to flip back and forth between scary, gross and hilarious. Four short stories, done in the style of the old “Tales of Terror” comics, with an all-star cast including King himself.

Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein – This kid-friendly romp provides a lot of old-school monster value, pitting the classic comedy duo against Dracula, the Frankenstein monster and the Wolf Man.

Happy Halloween!

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Shared storytelling experiences have served to unite communities ever since the first prehistoric tribes shared legendary tales around the fire. Even today, organizations such as the ITVS Community Cinema program bring eyeopening films to communities across the U.S. And if you have a SilverScreen Showcase system, you can do the same to unite and enlighten your own community — by screening movies, documentaries and other presentations at your local community centers.

As long as you’re willing to get the necessary permissions and pay the associated licensing fees, you can find a wide range of practical applications for community center film screenings. You can even use your movie screening to raise money for a worthy local cause. For example, a documentary about plight of lost pets could be a tremendous fundraising tool for your local animal shelter. Many public service and special interest organizations are more than happy to make public exhibition rights available for a modest sum. Check their websites to see if they have a powerful film or two that could help you help your community.

On the other end of the scale, sometimes a community can benefit from simply getting together and having fun, and there’s no better way to make that happen that with a community film festival. Again, you’ll have to obtain the public exhibition rights to show films in this manner legally, but your city government or local organizations might be happy to pay some or all of the cost. Just make sure the facility has the necessary capacity, seating, electrical outlets and so on, and make sure that you and the community center operators are on the same page regarding showtimes (and ending times), number of screenings, building security, and any other rules that must be followed. The rest is up to you — and your community!