Sometimes even the most trivial of things, like watching a TV show, can be turned into an exciting experience if you simply take it outside! Planning an outdoor movie night is fun for the whole family, and maybe the whole neighborhood. Explore all of our tips and tricks for making the most out of how to set up your projector outdoors for an evening of movies under the stars!
A surprising amount of planning goes into an outdoor movie night, so make sure the weather is clear and you’ve got all the popcorn ready. The many things to consider for your outdoor movie night include media players, screens, sound system, bugs, light pollution, and properly set up your projector.
The equipment you use for your nature-friendly movie night can make or break the evening. You’ll have to have one of the best short throw projectors out there, a simple yet practical media player, a powerful sound source, and all the right snacks. If you take the evening step by step, it’ll work out just fine!
Now, one can argue that you don’t necessarily need a projector to have an outdoor movie night. You can always get the entire family to take the 70” TV off the wall, carefully haul it outside, find a covered area two feet from an electrical socket, and be on your way. But where’s the nostalgia and charm in that?
The first thing to consider is the lumens in your projector. If you’re going to be outside, you’ll need a minimum of 2000 lumens just to fight the light pollution until it gets really dark outside. The BenQ W1080ST has a 2000 lumens rating, can fill a 120-inch screen from 6 feet away, and has ten different media ports. It would work wonders for your backyard “drive-in”.
Make sure there is a dedicated table for your projector. It should be sturdy, it should be able to be moved easily, and it should be set up within your projectors optimal throw distance (generally about 4-6 feet away). Understanding how your projector works, and what distance it needs to be from the screen for the best picture quality is important.
For outdoor movie nights, however, the best picture quality isn’t necessarily going to happen. Natural lighting and second-rate screens won’t be the IDEAL conditions. So keep that in mind while adjusting the picture settings in your menu screen.
It will be more important that the projection is BRIGHT and clear than it will be to have the highest resolution. Make sure to focus more on a crisp picture rather than aspect ratio or resolution. This is primarily because the “screen” may be a wrinkled old sheet or even the siding of your home… so the picture resolution isn’t going to be THAT great. But it will be a whole lot of fun!
Unless your projector comes equipped with a Blu-ray player, you’ll need an outside source for the media. This is where your many options for playing movies come to the rescue!
- Blu-ray players and DVD players will work perfectly. They will need to have HDMI connections or other connectivity options in order to work well with the projector. Be certain you have a few options for power sources, and that your aspect ratios match on both the player and the projector.
- Streaming wirelessly from your home network or using a dedicated media player like an Amazon Fire Stick are also viable options. More recent projectors are wireless compatible and have many connectivity ports. This would make running wires to power sources and across the yard an afterthought.
- Laptops are probably going to be the most useful media source. You can switch easily from your hard drive, to YouTube, to Netflix without having to unplug anything. It’s helpful to double check that your laptop CAN connect to your projector before deciding it is your media source. Don’t want to make the kids angry before Nemo even starts!
Sound, Screens, and Seating
Sound is really important for an outdoor movie night. Perhaps one of the most important elements of the whole event. Because the projector may not be focused 100%, but as long as everyone can hear the best jokes, or the heavy hitting punches, they will be happy. A portable, yet powerful speaker, preferably wireless will work wonders. It’s all about creating the magic of the outdoor theater.
Screens can vary in cost and ease of use. You can rock one of those giant inflatable movie screens you see in Sky Mall, you can go old school with a bed sheet, or you can simply use the side of your house. No matter what you decide, as long as the movie starts when it is DARK outside, you shouldn’t have a problem.
Seating can be functional and can be complete chaos. Whether you’re placing all of the chairs you own in neat rows in the grass, or carrying a mountain of blankets outside, seating is typically the easiest part. Make sure that all your wires and power sources aren’t being harmed, and make sure to stay warm once the sun sets!
Be Kind and Have Snacks
There are a lot of elements that come together to create a magical outdoor movie night. Making the best of your projector set up, knowing what media player you will use, and scoring the perfect screen and sound are all incredibly important factors. But if there aren’t red vines and a giant batch of popcorn, it isn’t a real movie night!
We hope your outdoor movie night is a success and that everyone has a memorable time. By using out tips to set up your projector outdoors, it should go off without a hitch! And who knows? Maybe your neighbors will see how great your set up is and join in on the fun!