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The Next Generation of Drive-In Theaters

By | Drive-in Audio | No Comments

Did you know that drive-in theaters have been around for more than 100 years? The first drive-ins are thought to have started as early as the 1910s; however, the first official patented drive-in theater was established by Richard Hollingshead in New Jersey on June 6th,1933. 

After testing the concept in his driveway from small crowds, Hollingshead’s drive-in theater location allowed for 400 cars and advertised with the slogan: “The whole family is welcome, regardless of how noisy the children are.” (Thankfully, we’re all a bit more polite these days!)

For the most part, the core elements of the drive-in have remained intact all these years–movies are projected to a large outdoor screen from a projection booth, allowing customers to view the film from their vehicles and enjoy snacks from a concession stand. And while the central aspects and charm of drive-ins haven’t changed, the audio-visual technology that makes it possible has. 

Modern-Day Drive-In Theaters

Today, drive-in theaters are often more boutique in nature, typically only permitting 30 to 50 vehicles. Many are forgoing the “drive-in” part and instead of showing films in parks, fields, farms, backyards, warehouses, alleyways–anywhere viewers can pull up a chair or blanket and relax in front of the screen. 

Food trucks have replaced the concession stands and films are often selected based on their nostalgia or cult status. Because you often don’t actually drive to these theaters, the name is sometimes changed to “open-air cinema” or “outdoor theaters.”

New Technology for the New Drive-Ins

The audio-visual technology used to power drive-in theaters is the biggest change to the format. As the size of drive-in theaters has shrunk over the years, so has the A/V equipment required. 

Projectors are now smaller and more portable. This means that drive-ins don’t need to rely on a single, powerful projector. Instead, they can use any number of affordable and readily-available projectors that easily hook up to computers or DVD players.

The movie screen is also smaller and more portable. Many companies are manufacturing inflatable screens that can be raised and lowered in minutes to create an open-air cinema in any location. 

And last but not least, audio equipment is also smaller, more portable, and more affordable. The traditional drive-in speakers–those wired devices that are tethered to short poles throughout the parking area are no longer the only option. Now, drive-ins can use wireless audio streaming devices like our AudioFetch Signature or AudioFetch Express to broadcast sound to viewers’ smartphones. 

Leading the Resurgence of Modern Drive-Ins

One drive-in theater ahead of the curve is Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-In in Austin, Texas. Blue Starlite was the first mini urban drive-in theater in the world, and for the past 11 years has been leading the drive-in resurgence that is sweeping the nation and the world, especially the past two years. 

Today, Blue Starlite operates in three locations–the original in Austin, Texas, Round Rock, Texas, and Minturn, Colorado. Their unique take on the drive-in theater is that only 15-40 cars are permitted at any showing, giving viewers an intimate, personal, and one-of-a-kind experience. True to the essence of a drive-in theater, guests have the option to use the traditional drive-in speakers or use our AudioFetch audio over WiFi technology.

So if you ever find yourself in Austin, Round Rock, or Minturn, be sure to spend an evening with them for a turn experience on the modern drive-in. We guarantee you won’t regret it!

We are extremely proud to support Blue Starlite Drive-In and all the other drive-ins, open-air cinemas, outdoor theaters (or whatever you call them!) keeping this family-friendly entertainment experience alive after 110+ years! 

If you have an established drive-in theater or are looking to host an open-air cinema in any location, reach out! We’d love to provide a free consultation and quote to help your business grow and evolve. Contact us by dropping us a line, calling 844-HI-FETCH, or scheduling an appointment.

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3 Fun Ways to Enjoy the Summer!

By | Tour Guides, Churches, Education, General, Hearing Assistance, Music, streaming, Theater | No Comments

Summer is finally here, with its long days that stretch into evening, allowing more time to enjoy life outside, more fun with friends, more time for playing sports. Being outside has amazing benefits as well. Just being outside can lower blood pressure, fight depression and improve memory.  Natural sunlight helps mitigate pain and boost the immune system, plus being outdoors enhances creativity, improves vision, and there’s all that natural aromatherapy.  And it’s all natural. Here are 3 fun ways to be outside and spend time with loved ones (and maybe even learn something):

Outdoor Theater

Attending an outdoor theater production with a picnic is not only healthy for the body because you’re outdoors, but healthy for the mind and spirit too. “Theater is one of the higher cultural activities that mark us as imaginative, creative and truly human,” says Dr. Glenn D Wilson. If the performance includes comedy, all the better. The Mayo Clinic explains that laughter is great for relieving stress and stimulating organs. In the short term, giggling causes a boost in endorphins, the brain’s feel-good chemicals.

Of course, if you don’t arrive early enough to get a seat close to the stage, it may be difficult to hear the actors. Children playing, conversations nearby, traffic, or people walking around can distract from hearing the play. Look for outdoor theaters that offer audio over WiFi streaming so you can be sure to hear every word of the production or even listen to audio translated, if the venue offers live translation.

Walking Tours

Many cities, and even small towns, offer informative and fun walking tours that could help you learn more about the place you are visiting or even your hometown.  Or why not create your own walking tour and invite your friends and family?  Or have your children do it and get an entirely different perspective? They can visit the local history museum and ask the research librarian to help them, or better yet, visit a nursing home and get first-hand stories about locations around town. Intergenerational activity is a great way for parents to help their kids connect with older generations. The children will be so proud to inform everyone about the town and community.  

Of course, if you create your own local walking tour, you might get a crowd and you’ll want to make sure that they can all hear you. A wireless tour guide system is a simple solution to transmit your tour audio directly to your participants’ devices.

Movies Under the Stars

Drive-ins used to be common in cities and even small towns, but now there are only a handful left anywhere. However, with a wireless audio streaming solution that can be easily connected to a projector, it’s easy to make your own outdoor theater. The only other thing you’ll need is a blank white wall (or simply tack up a white sheet).  And, of course, a movie.

You can make it a private event, or if you screen your movie on the side of a building, your outdoor movie screening can become a fun community-building event. The best part is that with an audio streaming solution that transmits audio directly to users’ mobile devices, you’ll never have to worry about disturbing your neighbors!

No matter what you do this summer, we hope you will be sure to gain the benefits of being outdoors. Let us know if we can help make your summer even better by contacting us.

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How to Host an Outdoor Movie Screening This Halloween

By | Education, Business, Churches, General, streaming, Theater | No Comments

Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles, CA will be hosting a costume ball and outdoor screening of “Willy Wonka” this Halloween Eve.  It is a tradition at Halloween for the Cemetery to host outdoor movies, usually scary ones, as a means of raising funds for care of the cemetery. And hundreds of people show up.

Nowadays, an outdoor movie screening isn’t something you get to experience very often, but in just a few easy steps you can easily create an outdoor movie event of your own that brings your community together in a fun and unique way. Not only that, Halloween is the perfect time to host an outdoor movie because there are so many movies to choose from.

To start you’ll need is a white sheet or convenient wall (a white food truck would work, too), a projector, assistive hearing technology that can transmit the audio directly to your audiences smart phones (especially if you don’t want to monitor your area for noise pollution or obtain a sound permit), and a favorite movie! Guests can bring their own blankets and chairs–even their comfy pickup truck bed, if the venue permits! Consider selling or giving away popcorn as an added treat.

Practically any type of organization or business could benefit from an outdoor movie night. Here are some ideas for how you can host outdoor movies in your community this Halloween:

Church or Youth Groups

An outdoor movie screening is an especially fun event for children and can provide community outreach as well as fellowship and recreation for your members, regardless of their age. Select family-friendly movies that help to spread your organization’s message.

Live Theater Venues

Thank your patrons by bringing them out of the building and use it as an outreach method for the upcoming performance season. You could also pair an outdoor movie with a live music ensemble, dance troupe or vaudeville act!

Tour Groups

Begin or finish an ghost tour with a movie related to the location or just something fun and spooky to set the mood. It’s the perfect way to make your tour extra memorable!

Schools & Clubs

An outdoor movie night can be an excellent fundraising opportunity. Select a popular movie that appeals to a broad range of people, get sponsors to donate snacks and drinks, and ask for a small donation at the entrance.

Public Libraries

Cooler, cozier evenings are just around the corner, but that doesn’t mean an end to all outdoor fun. Outdoor movie events have become quite popular in the last few years and are an excellent way to bring the neighborhood together. With advances in projection and wifi audio streaming equipment, they are easier than ever to produce.

Parks and Recreation

Offer regular community gatherings at parks and outdoor spaces around your town. Start the evening with lawn games or frisbee golf, while you stoke up the barbecue.  When the food is ready, and it’s dark enough, start the movie. You can make the event free or charge a small fee to offset costs or act as a fundraiser for the park.

Professional Organizations

Use outdoor movie screenings as a way to enrich your local community, and bring together like-minded individuals to make connections with your clients, potential clients, and employees’ families.

Charities & Civic Organizations

Host a movie night to raise awareness for your cause and ask your volunteers to bring their friends. Select a film that is relevant to your organization, and bring in vendors and other entertainment. For example, if you’re screening a documentary related to your cause, invite the director for a post-screening Q&A.

Sports Teams

Another effective way to raise funds, this time for local community or school sports team. You could also simply have the screening  be an end-of-season celebration for players, parents and fans.

With the right set up and equipment you could host a series of outdoor movies all year long, just like they do at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. AudioFetch solutions allow you to stream the audio from the movie playing on the projector directly to the audience’s smartphones who can listen using earbuds or headphones. This keeps noise to a minimum and ensures that everyone can hear the movie no matter where they’re sitting.

Contact us today to learn more!