Outdoor Movie Theater Projector Guide
Are you ready to level up your backyard theater?
Nothing beats the rush of watching a movie on a big screen with your loved ones, except maybe finding a forgotten $20 bill in your pocket. Luckily, you can now build your very own private cinema in your backyard, complete with a VIP guest list (aka your friends and family). Below are my helpful recommendations and must-have feature tips, you'll be able to screen your favorite movies outdoor like a pro.
The first thing that comes to mind before going over the basic features of the outdoor projector setup is the screen.
Simulation of outdoor projection over time
Is it necessary to have a projector screen for outdoors?
Although the easiest way to watch an outdoor movie would be to project the image onto a wall, it does not work well all the time. Even if the projector is bright, the surface and texture of the wall will be visible, resulting in the colored and illuminated view of materials such as wood shingles and stucco. The film's colors may also shift with those of the wall. While this option is free and uncomplicated, there are better options available for a superior viewing experience.
How about White sheet? Yes, it works. Affordable, and it's like a blank canvas for your movie masterpiece. Just make sure to iron out any wrinkles unless you want your screen to be a 4D experience with added bumps and ridges. Keep in mind, even a light breeze can cause the screen to shift, so for a non-distracting experience, it is best to stretch the material as tightly as possible while attaching it to either a wall or a custom-made frame.
Best option? Get an actual outdoor projector screen! Gives a polished look. Not only will it elevate your movie/game to the next level, but some models come with stakes that even Thor would approve of, so your screen won't fly away during those wild and windy summer nights. From cinema-grade material to freestanding screens that can be set up in minutes. Manufacturers have recently come out with a slew of affordable outdoor screens. There is sure to be an outdoor screen that fits your needs and budget!
Recommended Screens for Outdoor Theater Use:
Also check out the All-in-one backyard movie theatre packages that include everything you need for a night of cinema under the stars!
2. SCREEN SIZE
What is a good size for an outdoor projector screen?
Wondering about the ideal projector screen size, and what considerations should be made? It is rare to hear people say this,” I wish I had a smaller screen!” So why not opt for the larger screen size possible within the constraints of your budget and available space?
It is suggested that measure your backyard and figure out what the maximum size screen you can fit with would be. There is no hard and fast rule for appropriate viewing distance. Anyway, here’s the formula that might work – for every 12 inches of screen width, you aim to sit approximately 10 inches away from the screen. By determining your intended viewing location and space restrictions, you will have a general understanding of the appropriate screen size for an outdoor movie screening.
How bright should my outdoor projector be?
Depends on the amount of sun it will be competing with, and the projector screen size.
When planning to use a projector during the daytime, it is necessary to have a higher number of lumens to produce a visible image that is not too dim or washed out. So go for a larger number of lumens of projector that has sun at all times of day, lesser lumens for partly shaded area, and even less lumens for fully shaded one. (Keep in mind that it's practically impossible to watch it in direct sunlight, no matter how many lumens it's packing..)
- Few hundred lumens of brightness works in a dark room or theater indoor. 1,000 lumens or above works best in a home entertainment room with curtains or blinds drawn.
- For outdoor at night, 2500 lumens is a good place to start.
- 3000 Lumens and above works for smaller/medium sized screen during the daytime . Also this works to project at a large area with large audience.
- 4000 Lumens and above for the larger screen size and daytime outdoor use (Ex: 20 X 11 ft screen)
- For daytime viewing, just make sure to avoid projecting under direct sunlight. Use some type of shading, angle adjustment, or tarp to prevent sunlight from interfering with your projection.
- For optimal viewing experience, consider a movie night under the stars! Wait until the sun has set, preferably behind the screen, reduce the ambient light(from inside your house and enjoy!)
Recommended Projectors for Outdoor use:
What is a good resolution for a projector?
Just like TVs, resolution is measured in pixels. The more pixels, the better the image quality will be on a Projector. When you see the resolution specs on the projector, the common ones are:
- 720p: Assuming you have a viewing distance exceeding 10 feet and a display screen with a 50-inch or smaller diagonal measurement, 720p should work on screen granting your configuration is adequate.
- Full HD (1920 x 1080p): Produces a crisp and sharp image that rivals the quality of high-definition television, budget friendly. Sufficient for outdoor film screening.
- 4K (3840x2160p): Which is approximately 4,000 pixels, offers stunning image quality that is four times superior to 1080p. A better choice!
5. LIGHT SOURCE
Lamp vs Led vs Laser Projector
Well, one of the things that defines the projectors is the type of light source they use. A small peek inside and see what's lighting it up!
- Lamp Projector: Most commonly used, offers more brightness, gives 4000 lumens of brightness compared to average LEDs. Requires warm up and cool down times. Typically lasts for fewer than 10,000 hours of lifespan which needs lamp replacements and their costs.
- LED Projector: Lamp free projector, relies on individual lights, lasers to produce each primary, so they able to provide more saturated. However lesser brightness compared to Lamp ones. Has an average lifespan of 20,000 hours. As it does not require timely bulb replacement, it’s energy efficient.
- Laser Projector: Another Lamp free projector, gives more brightness, can hit over 10,000 lumens. Has an average lifespan of 20,000 hours as well. Instant on/off features and energy efficient.
These various performance-based benefits of projectors will help you to determine personal requirements for the space where the projector will be used. For smaller areas with minimal ambient light, LED projectors (particularly portable models) may be more appropriate due to their brightness capabilities. On the other hand, projector for conference room or home theater enthusiasts may benefit from brighter lamp projectors. Meanwhile, laser projectors, despite their high cost, are also recommended for those who are looking for bright, high-clarity images, and sharper contrasts over budgetary constraints.
6. VIEWING DISTANCE
What is the best distance for an outdoor projector?
Do you often come across "throw distance" lingo you keep seeing while shopping for projectors? It refers to the distance separating your projector and screen. Frequently, projectors are described as “Ultra short throw” or "short-throw" and "long-throw."
If you have a limited space, a short-throw projector can project large images from a close distance. This type of model can be set from 0.5 meters from the screen. So you can place it fairly close to the screen without interruptions, including any of your friends or kids who wander in front of projection.
In contrast, long-throw projectors are better suited for bigger areas, projecting larger images from a distance. These are best placed over 10 meters away.
7. VIDEO SOURCE
How do I stream video to my projector?
For the video source, there are several options available — If you're close enough to your wireless router, a Roku stick, Amazon Fire TV stick or Apple TV are good streaming video solutions.
If you do not have a streaming stick, it is worth noting that many laptops are designed to output a video signal via HDMI, or with an HDMI adapter. To connect your computer to the projector, you could either run an HDMI cable between the two devices, use a wireless HDMI transmitter, or look into additional options for wireless connectivity.
Or simply grab some really long cables and connect directly to your indoor home entertainment system.
8. AUDIO SOURCE
What can I use for sound on my projector?
You can technically use Projector’s built-in speakers. What if you got a big yard or any kind of background noise? It would be nice to have big sound to go with the big screen!
To enhance your audio experience, the most straightforward approach is to plug your computer to the projector HDMI port and run a 3.5 mm audio cable from the projector audio port to the input on your speaker.
Prefer a wireless setup? Go for Bluetooth. With the increasing number of projectors featuring a built-in Bluetooth connection, it has become much easier to transmit the audio wirelessly to a more advanced Bluetooth speaker.
However with this approach, there might be an lip-sync issue. To solve this, you can connect a Bluetooth speaker to a streaming stick if you are using one. How do you do that ? Connect a Roku app to your Roku stick, and a Bluetooth speaker to your phone or tablet, for streaming content audio. To achieve this, it is essential to ensure that all devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network, after which you can easily connect the Roku app to your Roku stick. Subsequently, the next step would be to connect the Bluetooth speaker to your phone or tablet. During playback of your streaming content, the audio will then be routed via your phone to the Bluetooth speaker.
For those using an Amazon Fire TV Stick, direct connectivity is possible by accessing the settings via the main menu.
If you do not have Roku, Amazon stick, or any other Bluetooth equipped device(such as laptop), an alternative wireless solution is to use a Bluetooth transmitter, which can be connected to either the projector or source device's audio output. Once connected, it will send the audio wirelessly to your Bluetooth speaker, similar to how the source would operate if it had built-in Bluetooth capabilities.
9. WIRELESS CONNECTIVITY
If you do not want wires and cables in the backyard, there are latest projectors on the market offering Wi-Fi Connectivity, so you can avoid the USB and HDMI cords to enjoy a wire-free experience. You know like those fancy DVD players that come with Wi-Fi? You can stream Netflix , Google Chromecast, and chill. Just don't forget to test your Wi-Fi strength first, otherwise your wireless party might turn into a buffering nightmare. Plus consider the price and budget.
10. HOW ABOUT PORTABLE PROJECTORS
They are convenient, durable, light-weight and flexible all-in-one solutions. They might only have some lumens when compared with traditional home cinema projectors in the thousands, but they have the features to make up for it like Bluetooth connectivity, decent built-in speaker systems, bright and clear image.
Check out the link for portable projectors! Comes with Bluetooth connectivity and built-in speakers -> https://www.projectorpeople.com/home-theater/portable.asp And do not forget:
- A power strip
- Garden Extension cable (if applicable)
- Tripod (in case your portable projectors does not have zoom lenses)
- Media Streamer like Amazon Fire TV stick or Google Chromecast (If your projector doesn’t have smart platforms)
- Entertaining movie
- External speakers (if required)
- Food and beverages (beverages and food should be kept away from all electronics)
Other useful tips:
- Invite your neighbors, or at least inform them that there will be life-size images in your backyard and maybe some extra noise.
- Do not charge admission without permission of the movie distributor. Though tempting, it is against the law. See your local regulations.
- Don't worry about mosquitoes ruining your evening - just schedule your movie night around the bug's bedtime, which is around dusk. They'll thank you for the early bedtime.
- Keep power cords out of the way as much as possible.
- Beware of inclement weather.
- Invest in comfortable seating: No one likes a sore bottom after an awesome movie marathon. Bring out some pillows, bean bags, or even invest in a few hammocks for the ultimate outdoor comfort.
- Keep snacks within reach: Don't make your audience get up and interrupt the movie for a snack.
- Dress appropriately: The weather can be unpredictable, so make sure to have some warm blankets and maybe even some bug spray on hand.
- Keep electronics away from pools, BBQs, your neighbor's dog and that annoying kid from the next block.
- Turn off your sprinkler system before setting it up.
- Consult your projector owner's manual for specifications on outdoor use.
I hope this has helped you to choose what type of projector to look for. If you need any advice or assistance to buy, Our Projector Experts are ready to assist you and to answer any questions you may have at 1-888-248-0675.