With summer in full swing, we are always looking for ways to take advantage of the warm weather. While long days at the pool or beach are wonderful, the options become slightly more limited once the sun goes down.
Have you considered throwing a movie night in your backyard? What may feel like an extravagance at first is actually a fun and accessible way to get the most out of the warm nights of summer.
Here's everything you need to know to set up your own backyard cinema experience:
The heart of your outdoor cinema is the projector. A high-quality machine such as the Epson EF-100 is the difference between a user-friendly plug-and-play experience with a crisp, visible image and a frustrating device that delivers a dim picture.
Look for a projector that will work with the space you have available. Some can project images up to 150 inches for a full cinema experience in the comfort of your home. If you are using a streaming device like Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast, or Roku, EF-100 projectors feature a built-in port so you can simply plug in your device and hit play to start your viewing experience.
With the right projector, your cinema experience doesn't need to be limited to the hours after the sun goes down. You can enjoy a film during the day with the bright and vibrant picture provided by the EF-100.
With the right projector, you can even enjoy a film during the day!
The best part about modern projectors is their size. While early models could take up an entire closet for storage, you can now find quality projectors that are small enough to sit on your bookshelf. That means they're also the perfect size to bring along on your next adventure!
This is the part of your outdoor cinema where you can be the most creative. Depending on what you're looking for in the final project, you can spend a few hundred dollars on a theatre-quality screen, build your own for less than $100, or skip the screen altogether.
If there is a space available on the side of your home or garage, you can simply set up the device to project the movie against the wall. While you might not get a perfect image, since it's likely there will be imperfections and changes in the color and texture of the wall, it's a great option for those who want the flexibility to watch movies wherever they are.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are a few portable movie screens that can be set up in your yard to provide you with the best image possible. The reflective surface and even texture will provide you an image as clear as in any movie theatre.
Before picking out what screen you're going to use, make sure you consider what the setup will look like. Imagine where most people will be seated, where you can put the projector in relation to the screen, and how much space you'll have.
Ideally, if the space permits, a rear projection is the best choice. The projector is placed behind the screen, which means there are no shadows if someone gets up and walks in front of the screen during the movie. You also don't lose out on any seating, as you don't need a spot in the audience for the projector, plus a clear path from the machine to the screen.
However, this requires a good amount of space, so it may not be realistic in everyone's yard. A front-projected screen will serve your outdoor cinema just fine in most cases.
Whichever way you decide to project your movie, here are a few options when it comes to your movie screen:
It may seem too simple to work, but a large white bed sheet is a great option for a movie screen that's easy to set up, keep clean, and store. It's also the least expensive option - in fact you might have one in your home right now!
The key to getting the best image off of a relatively inexpensive piece of cloth is to iron it first. The fewer wrinkles on your sheet, the better the movie will look.
The most basic way to hang a bed sheet for use as a screen is to string a clothesline, cord, or rope across your yard, drape the sheet over it, and secure it with clothespins. It takes only minutes to set up, and disassembles just as quickly. However, if there's anything more than a light breeze in your yard, the sheet will flutter, which can be distracting for viewers. To help this, try attaching a broom handle or any kind of weight to the bottom.
The next step up is to secure all four corners and apply tension to keep the screen still. Pick a spot between two sturdy structures and secure twine or rope at each corner and stretch out the sheet. Consider using a wall of your home, a tree, a play set, or a tall fence.
While using a bed sheet may not look as professional as a real screen, your guests won't mind once it's dark and the movie is playing.
If you're ready to spend a bit more money, visit your local fabric store and picking up some blackout cloth. Normally used in bedrooms to keep as much light out as possible, if you pin or stitch this to the back of your sheet, you'll see a better quality picture.
Framed outdoor screen
When you've decided it's time to make a bit more of an investment in your outdoor cinema, it's time to step up your screen game. For a few hundred dollars, you can pick up a fixed-frame screen. They are generally made of steel or composite and, like the name implies, frames the screen with even tension all around. It will require a good deal more set-up time than a sheet over a line, as you'll need to use guy lines and tie-down stakes to make sure the screen stays in place and doesn't tip over, but the picture quality will be much higher.
Inflatable outdoor screen
The top-of-the-line option for outdoor movies is the inflatable screen. While this is on the high end, when it comes to cost, you'll get a strong return on your investment. Some models exceed 16 feet across, and even the smaller versions will come in at 10 to 12 feet long.
Because inflatable screens are exactly what they sound like, they are mostly made out of fabric which makes them relatively easy to transport. Plus, they set up very quickly.
The main drawback to an inflatable screen is that they require electricity to power the blowers that keep the screen inflated. Not only could this lead to a noticeable increase in your summer power bills, but some find the noise of the blowers to be a distraction from the movie.
Customise your movie night
Having a backyard movie night doesn't have to break the bank. In fact, once you've selected a quality projector, you may find that you'll save money because your family would rather watch a summer blockbuster in the comfort of their own backyard instead of the time and expense of hauling over to the local theater.
Curl up under a blanket, lounge in the pool, and have whatever snacks you'd like, because you're going to have a full cinema experience without leaving home.
Epson is known throughout Australia and New Zealand for producing some of the country's best projectors for home theatre use. We have a wide range of devices to suit different budgets and quality needs, from 1080p to stunning 4K, and from simple cable setups to real-time HD streaming.
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