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The Best Outdoor Movie Night – at Home
Lucy Sherman
The Best Outdoor Movie Night – at Home

Don’t we all just love those movie scenes in which everyone is gathering around a big projector screen in the backyard, enjoying some popcorn while cuddling under a cosy blanket?

Fortunately, unlike other movie-like events, this one you can easily make it happen in your OWN backyard, following these simple ideas.

To put together a backyard/outdoor home theater setup, you will need:

  • A portable video projector/screen (recommended : 14ft)
  • An audio system and speakers
  • A content source device x Cables/wires
  • Content (Movies, TV series)
  • Food and drinks

So let’s get started!

Step 1: Finding the perfect place

This step is one of the most important ones.

Whether you’re setting up your outdoor cinema in the back of the garden or on a balcony or roof terrace, make sure you have a piece of ground that’s dry and sheltered from the wind. You could use fairy lights to decorate the space, but make sure you turn them off before you start the movie so they don’t affect the picture. Also try to avoid pitching up in a spot where streetlights or bright indoor lights might reflect against the screen.

Make sure to know your surroundings, take into consideration anything that might influence the picture image, the audio quality or your safety. Also make sure to check the weather.

Step 2: Setting up the screen

The 14ft outdoors projector screen is portable, easy to set up and has a great projection quality, offering a clear image and a great contrast, making the colors come alive. This screen can easily be placed in front of the seating area, in a good distance from the projector, taking into consideration your own preferences regarding image size. This means that the further you keep the portable projector from the screen, the smaller the image will be.

Tips: The inflatable outdoors portable screen needs a a level ground surface, or platform for the optimal set up.

Step 3: Setting up the projector and image quality

The portable projector comes as a great way of projecting your image in an outdoors environment, giving its size and facility of use.

After setting up the screen, the next step is plugging in the projector into a source ( example – laptop) where you can chose your favorite movies and TV shows.

Also, it is important to take into consideration the fact that portable video projectors only work on full capacity when dark outside, so it is best to wait until sunset, and then you can access the settings regarding contrast, light and sharpness.

In terms of adjusting the projector distance to the screen, experiment to see what looks best under the environmental circumstances. Twenty feet between the screen and seating area should be enough to find a good projector distance.

You will also need a table or a high chair to support your projector and source.

Step 4: Audio considerations

You need to provide the sound for your outdoor home theater, unless you are planning on watching old mute films. Although there are a small number of video projectors that have a built-in amplifier and speaker, the output volume is adjusted for small room environments, such as classrooms and offices, but will not do well outdoors, so you might need to take into consideration getting a bigger audio speaker, preferably portable and with a high output volume.

You can start off with basic portable standing speakers, or maybe you can recycle some old speakers. In either case, this is a good starting point. You can also choose to purchase wall mounted or outdoor speakers that blend in better with your backyard decor and that are made for better sound outdoors.

The speakers should be placed either at the top corners of the screen or midway between the top and bottom of either side of the screen (if wall mounted or in-wall). In addition, if the speakers are floor standing or wall-mounted they should be angled in slightly towards the center to better direct the sound towards the sitting area.

In order for everything to work, you will need a long heavy-duty extension cord and a three or four outlets, that can be places near the projection area.

Also you have to connect all your components together. You may need a S-Video, component video, or HDMI cables going from the DVD or Blu-ray disc player to the video projector and two analog RCA L/R cables (or digital optical cable if only that option is available) going from the DVD or Blu-ray disc player to your amplifier or receiver.

Step 5: Make sure your guests are comfy

If the best spot is in the backyard, on the lawn, lay a groundsheet to protect our guests against any moisture, rocks or stones, then use blankets, cushions and beanbags to increase the comfort factor. You could make your pop-up outdoor cinema more sophisticated by throwing down a few rugs, and setting out chairs, benches or even hammocks to relax on. Also you can get creative and use all kinds of lights, and other decorations, while keeping in mind the safety measures.

You can also choose to fire up an outdoor barbecue, while your guests enjoy the movie, food and drinks, but make sure you have enough space and you leave a distance between the outdoors setup cinema and the fire.

Step 6: Have fun!