Stunning Outdoor Theater Highlights Florida Home
A screen view to rival the ocean view
July 11, 2013 by Grant Clauser

The new owner of this luxurious 17,000 square-foot home in Naples FL wanted an audio/video system as impressive as his view of the Gulf of Mexico.

When CE Pro Gene Howarth of Seacoast Sound first toured the home, the home’s owner had his mind set on some outdoor TVs around the hot tub and pergola. He also asked Howarth to come up with something big. The owner likes to have parties. A particularly special gathering for a local wine festival was coming up, and the owner wanted his guests to be blown away.

The first idea, explains Howarth, was for a huge unfolding C Seed TV designed by Porche Design Studios, but that was going to prove impractical in this situation. He then noticed that the spaces between the columns around the patio were about the right size for a projection screen. A local rep for Stewart Filmscreen mentioned Stewart’s StarGlas material, and Howarth’s mental gears began to turn. An architect’s rendering of the project helped convince the homeowner that this would be the perfect solution.  (Here’s an indoor theater that uses Stewart StarGlas)

Eventually Howarth settled on an 80-inch, 16:9 piece of StarGlas for the screen medium and a Digital Projection Inc. HIGHlite Cine 1080p 660 3-chip DLP projector. The 1080p resolution projector uses two 330 watt lamps, making it more than bright enough for outdoor use. The StarGlas screen is a rigid surface, not like the fabric material used in most indoor home theaters. It’s extremely resistant to weather and abrasion, which makes it great for outdoor systems. It doesn’t need to be retracted into a soffit when not in use.

To make it all work, Howarth commissioned a large aluminum housing for both the projector and the screen. The housing is attached off the edge of the patio (the rear of the housing is out of sight). Inside is the DPI projector, the mirror which reflects the image onto the screen, cooling equipment and other electronics, plus room for two people to crouch inside and work. Howarth says it took six people and a mechanical lift to get the whole thing into place.

To blend the big aluminum box into the outside décor, Howarth used a material called Roman Rock and finished it to match the stone columns.

Audio for the deck is handled by a Crestron Sonnex Multiroom Audio System, which allowed Howarth to get music to 17 zones via CAT5 cable. Crestron outdoor speakers provide sound around the big StarGlas screen as well as for the covered cabana area, which includes a Samsung TV that rises on a lift from a marble counter, and a Sunbrite outdoor TV that rises on a lift by the outdoor hot tub.

Crestron is used to control everything inside the house and out. Mostly the homeowner uses iPads for the system interface—there are several placed around the residence—but a couple dedicated Crestron touchscreens are mounted indoors, and one waterproof Crestron remote is used outdoors near the hot tub.

While the homeowner prefers the outdoor AV experience on most days, sometimes it rains. For those moments the home also includes an indoor theater with a 100-inch retractable screen and another DPI projector, this one an M-Vision 400.

With a gorgeous view of the ocean, a cool breeze, and bright movie on the big screen, the patio has become the center of the house, or at least the center of attention. “They use it all the time,” says Howarth. The installation team had it done in time for the wine party, and all the guests were impressed. Mission accomplished.

Want to learn more about outdoor AV? See these stories:
Planning Your Outdoor Audio/Video System
Outdoor TV Rising Out of Custom Cabinet on Roof
Backyard Bellagio Includes Lights, Music and Fountain
Backyard is Outdoor Electronics Showpiece

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Grant Clauser - Technology and Web Editor, Electronic House
Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. His latest book is Necessary Myths. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.

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