If you enjoy holding regular movie nights for your family, you might be looking for a way to make it more enjoyable. The right equipment would enable you to enjoy a family movie night outside without any difficulty.
If you invest in the right kind of outdoor screen that offers a flat projection surface, you’ll also need to invest in the right kind of outdoor projector.
When it comes to building your movie theater in your backyard, there are certain things you need to consider first.
The most important factor to consider is that to enjoy an excellent viewing experience, you need to select the best equipment possible. This guide will help you do just that.
Watching Movies Outdoors Differs From Watching Indoors
Your in-home projector-screen setup probably won’t work outside. Keep in mind that when you watch movies on a screen indoors, the room you are sitting in is entirely dark. You have total control over how much ambient light is allowed into that room.
When you choose to watch a movie outside, though, your surroundings will never be completely dark.
The projector you have in your house is now going to compete with light pollution from street, house and car lights. Along, of course, with light produced by the moon or stars in a clear night sky. If you use the same equipment you use indoors, you'll find the image quality isn't what you would hope for.
When setting up a movie theater in your backyard, it is essential that you use screens and projectors that won't be affected by other light sources.
What To Consider When Buying An Outdoor Screen And Projector
Buying a screen for watching movies outdoors may seem pretty straightforward, but there are several things you need to keep in mind before you make your purchase.
Let's look at what these are:
Are you only ever intending to watch movies in your backyard? If you are, it might be worth considering buying a larger model that comes with a built-in frame or that you mount onto a flat surface.
On the other hand, if you want to use yours when you go on a trip in your RV, you may want to opt for one of the smaller, lighter models. You may find investing in an inflatable screen is a good idea. Also, you may want to consider buying a screen that includes a lightweight frame and a detachable screen.
To get the best viewing experience, you must choose a screen that comes with a black backing. This will help ensure that the image on the screen is crisp and the colors are bright, even with surrounding light pollution.
This particular backing is critical to the viewing experience since it will prevent ambient light from penetrating through the screen.
Additionally, for the best image quality, you need to ensure that the screen you are using is compatible with your projector's specifications. If your projector is 4K Ultra HD compatible, you need to pair your screen with this.
For a truly fantastic viewing experience, make sure you choose a screen with a 16:9 standard aspect ratio.
When it comes to investing in either a 100-inch screen or a 120-inch screen, choose one that will be able to cope with windy conditions.
Most screens you can use outdoors are made from lightweight materials and are pretty large in size. This means that when conditions are windy, these screens can tend to fall over.
If you intend to watch movies outdoors on a regular basis, be sure to choose a screen that comes with anchoring equipment. You may even want to add extra weight around the base. Avoid installing your screen in a windy area if possible.
A tensioned screen is crucial when using a movie screen outdoors. If the screen doesn't come with a tensioned surface, it will make watching anything on it less enjoyable. This is because you'll notice the fold line or any wrinkles in the material.
This will also prove to be vital when you are watching something on your projector in windier conditions.
It is best to go for the biggest one you can afford when it comes to screen size. Also, it should be of a size that fits neatly into the space where you intend to set it up.
To decide what size screen is best for your backyard, you need to measure the space where you intend to put it. Be sure to take into consideration how close viewers will be sitting to the screen.
The easiest way to decide what size outdoor movie screen to buy is to buy 12 inches of screen width for every 10 inches away the viewers will be sitting. For example, if you invest in a 120-screen, you can plan to have seating 100 inches away from it.
Spending time calculating where you will sit and how much space your screen needs will help you determine the actual size of the projector screen you can use. This means that you won't end up wasting money on a screen that is too small or large for the space.
Types Of Outdoor Projector Screens
There are several types of projectors to choose from when setting up your outdoor home theater. You will find that each of them is great to use in different outdoor locations.
• Retractable Outdoor Screen
This type of screen is installed permanently in your yard on a wall or other secure surface. You can either choose a model where the screen rolls down manually or automatically.
The great thing about these types of projectors is that they can stay outside throughout the year. Once rolled up, the housing protects them against the weather and insects. Each outdoor screen comes with cable guides or weights to provide additional stability and tension to the screen's surface.
• Inflatable Projector Screen
Inflatable projector screens can often be blown up to a reasonable size using a powerful air pump and are ready to use in a matter of minutes. Not only do these inflatable movie screens offer excellent quality images, but they are made from materials that can handle harsh elements.
Once blown up using a powerful air pump, these projector screens are self-supporting; however, you must make sure that you place it somewhere away from heavy winds. Simple weights can help to anchor this type of projector screen to the ground.
It is best to spend a little more on these screens since quality screens will be made from more durable materials. This will make them much less likely to be punctured. Well-made inflatable screens also cope better in windy conditions.
• Foldable Screens
If you only intend to occasionally use your screen in the yard, foldable screens are most likely your best option. They are easy to set up and easy to take down.
Most of these screens are made from lightweight metal such as aluminum. They also come with an ambient light-blocking blackout screen that is easy to attach to the frame.
These screens also come with either a bag or case in which you can store them when not in use. Foldable screens are also portable, so they can be used when you go away on a camping trip.
• Tripod Screens
These are similar to foldable movie screens and are ideal if you are shopping on a budget. Instructions for installation are straightforward and easy to follow. You simply unfold the legs to make a tripod and then pull down the screen.
These are also very portable, like foldable models, so you can take them with you when you go camping. Such screens are ideal if space in your backyard is limited.
Other Screen Attributes
• Standard Aspect Ratio
If you are going to be using your screen to watch movies outdoors, choose either a Cinemascope screen or a 16:9 HDTV one. You may find that opting for a screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio is best since this is what most streaming services such as Amazon Fire TV use.
• Color Of Screen
Best to go for screens that have a white surface rather than a black or grey one. This is because white screens will provide you with the brightest picture quality, which is crucial for big-game viewing outdoors.
• How Easy Is The Screen To Clean
Ideally, choose a screen that can be cleaned with just a damp cloth. Most modern screens are made from polyester, PVC, or a mixture of both. These materials not only make them easier to clean, but also more durable.