How to Create a Killer "Movie on the Garage" Setup

We LOVE to be social in our neighborhood. About 10 years ago, we thought it would be fun to kick off the first day of Summer (on the last day of school) by showing a movie on our garage door for our family and a few of their friends. We had so much fun with it, that we did it again... and again... and again! By the end of that Summer, we had shown about 5 or 6 movies on our garage for our family, friends and neighbors. We loved it, and they loved it. We loved it so much, in fact, that we decided to make it an annual Summer-time Allgaier tradition.

Fast forward 10 years, and while the technicalities and treats have changed (drastically), the concept is still the same. Each year, on the last day of school, we kick off the Summer by showing a movie on the garage. We show other movies about every 2 - 3 weeks throughout the Summer, until school starts again. We have officially called it "Movie on the Garage" (super creative name, right?). I've had so many people ask me what gear I use now. Interest has been so high, that I thought it would be fun to write a post about it.

First of all (and like I said earlier), my setup has changed quite bit over the last 10 years. I actually wrote a post about this (outlining some of my older gear) in May of 2013. You can read the original post here. Since then, I have changed my projector, sound and added a few more things.

Before I get into the specific gear that I use, I wanted to explain the setup. We use two folding tables. One (directly in front of the garage door, about 20 feet back) holds the A/V gear, and the other (off to the side) is for drinks, snacks, treats, etc. I operate the A/V table while my wife operates the snack table.

So that you have an easier time understanding the technical setup, I created a diagram for you:

As you can see, it's pretty straight forward. In my case, I play the movies (and music) from my iPad Air. The audio and video is fed to the projector via the HDMI cable. The video is displayed on the garage door using the projector while the audio is then sent to a mixer board (via a "Y" audio cable). With the audio split between left and right channels (thanks to the "Y" audio cable), we can now send each channel from the mixer to their respective speaker next to the screen.

Why a mixer board? For two reasons... 1) so that I can split out the channels and 2) because I use the mixer board for other things as well. For example, I use a gooseneck microphone to make general announcements ("The movie is about to start" and "Don't forget to throw away your trash"). The mixer board allows me to connect more than one audio input at a time. It's also great for designating a separate channel for audio-only (I like to play music before the movie to get everyone excited).

As for the source device, I personally use an iPad Air. You can do the same thing from a laptop, desktop (yikes!) or even an iPhone (which I have also done before many times). You are free to be creative with this part.

Here is a complete list of the gear that I use, along with pricing to give you an idea of what a setup like this would cost you:

  • iPad Air ($500)
  • Optoma EH500 Projector ($1,300)
  • Behringer XENYX 1204FX Mixer ($180)
  • Behringer Eurolive VP1520D Speaker ($300/ea)
  • Speaker Tripods ($50/ea)
  • Gooseneck Microphone ($100)
  • Various HDMI and XLR Cables (about $100)

Total investment: about $2,900.

This, of course, assumes that you will be using your garage door as the screen (if so, you will want to make sure it's white for obvious reasons). If not, you will need to add a large screen. They can get pretty expensive. For safety, I also have a red flashing light (similar to an old-fashioned police car light that rotates around). I place this on the street so that cars are aware that we have something going on. It's a Safety feature.

If the price tag seems a bit much, remember two things: 1) it has taken me 10 years to get to this point and 2) you don't HAVE to use the same speakers, projector or mixer board. Feel free to mix it up a bit and go cheaper where you need to. I didn't add the "big sound" to my setup until just a couple years ago. Prior to that, we made do with a smaller speaker.

So there you have it! This should be all the information you need to create your own "Movie on the Garage" setup. Enjoy summer!

Posted on June 2, 2015 and filed under Design, How To, Opinion, iPad.