Dolby has been doing business in entertainment and media for a very long time. Not only do they make great pro audio tools but they also make great consumer audio products as well. So what better source to share some tips on how to make the ultimate outdoor movie night the best it can be.
The team at Dolby sent over some of the best ways you can make your outdoor movie night an experience to remember. Read on and discover what it takes to throw the ultimate backyard, driveway, or side lawn outdoor movie night!
Outdoor Movie Night
Whether you’re looking to up your “date night” or introduce a fun way to bring the family together – these tips and tricks will make sure your outdoor movie watching game is next level!
Get a projector
The most important item on your outdoor movie magic checklist is a projector. Moving your TV outside can be a temporary fix, but you’ll miss out on the full experience (and could throw out your back in the process).
If you are thinking about buying a projector, you’ll want to check out its lumen output – or how much light it will produce and display against a surface. As a general rule, the darker the viewing conditions, the fewer lumens needed. However, if you plan to use the projector before sunset or live in an area with a lot of outdoor lighting, you’ll want to up that lumen count.
- Picture Too Dark? Move the projector closer to the screen. Brightness levels will increase the closer it gets but be aware that it will reduce your image size.
Once you figured out your M.V.P. (Most Valuable Projector), you’ll need to find a “screen” to watch everything on.
The goal here is to find a white surface – which will create the best viewing experience. This is because the projector will reflect light off of your “screen” to display the content. Darker surfaces reflect less light, which will make your picture harder to see.
To help save on costs, you can test out your DIY skills by using a large white bedsheet or even painting a wall or large flat surface (like plywood – which you can grab at your local hardware store). If you end up going with a slightly off-white surface, no problem, but make sure to avoid using anything with a pattern (i.e. no cheetah print or polka dots please and thank you)
- Test it Out: To make sure you are ready for your “opening night,” do a practice run – if you can see sufficient detail in the content, particularly darker or night scenes, you’re ready to go. Also, keep in mind, if you test things out during the daytime, the experience will only improve after sunset.
Choosing Your Spot
Just like in real estate, location matters. Picking the best spot for your outdoor set-up is important – and might be somewhere unexpected:
- How Much Space Do You Have? Depending on how many people will be watching, you’ll want to ensure your seating area can accommodate everyone without physical obstructions (i.e. trees, outdoor dining sets, etc). To determine the ideal viewing distance between you and the screen, follow these simple tests:
- If you are having trouble reading text on the screen, you might be too far away.
- If you find yourself constantly moving your head from left to right when watching the screen, you are probably too close.
- WiFi Working? If you’re planning to stream content, check if your WiFi signal works in your proposed area. Below are some simple tips:
- If you have a dual-band router, make sure you are on the 2.4 GHz signal, which has a longer range compared to the 5 GHz band.
- If you can, move your router closer.
- If all else fails, consider purchasing a WiFi extender or use your smartphone as a hotspot.
- Another option is to check if your provider offers an offline download option and save the movie on your playback device before you start the screening.
- Power: Outdoor power sources are not always an option, but don’t let that limit your movie set-up; consider using an extension cord to make almost any area work
- No Backyard, No Problem: If you don’t have a backyard or have limited space, consider using your front yard area – especially if you have a garage – just make sure to consider any outdoor lightning or street lamps and street noise.
Turn Off the Lights
Unwanted light can be distracting when watching a movie. Before you get the party started, follow these tips (and maybe grab a flashlight J)
- Turn off the lights in your house, any outdoor lights, and pathway lights. Not only will this free your field of vision from unwanted distractions, it will also prevent unwanted light from reflecting on the screen.
- Make sure your motion detection lights are off – especially knowing people will be going back and forth from inside the house.
- If your sprinkler system has a control panel that uses LED lights, make sure it’s hidden or covered. You’ll thank us later, especially if you’re watching scary movies.
- Speaking of sprinklers, if they’re on a timer, remember to turn them off so your movie night doesn’t turn into a game of Slip and Slide
Minimizing Sound Shenanigans
You’ll want your movie to sound as good as it looks, so while many projectors include built-in speakers, you can upgrade your experience by pairing it with an external audio device like a portable Bluetooth speaker or sound bar.
Regardless of what you’re using, keep these tricks in mind:
- Be a Good Neighbor: Avoid receiving a noise compliant (or awkward conversations about not getting an invite!) by pointing the speakers away from your neighbors. Connecting Bluetooth headphones are another great solution if too much noise is an issue.
- Center Stage: Make sure the speaker is centered with the screen. Putting the speaker too far to the left, right, or away from the screen will inadvertently cause dialogue to appear out of sync.
- Open Floor Plan: Make sure nothing is in front of the speaker, which may block the sound from projecting to people sitting farther away.
- If you are considering purchasing a soundbar for outdoor movie nights, look for one that uses advanced audio technology like the Sony HT-X9000F (US$399) or Anker’s Infini Pro 2.1 soundbar (US$199), which both support Dolby Atmos, that will replicate the feeling of speakers being all around you. Some audio devices rely on surfaces to bounce sounds throughout a room, which isn’t always possible outdoors – this is a great solution for addressing this problem.
Outdoor movie night can be one of the most enjoyable experiences you can have with family and friends. These tips are not by any means an exhaustive list of what you can do to make outdoor movie night great but they can get you on your way. Be creative and think of other things to make your experience all that it can be. You might also think about Samsung’s latest TV offering, The Terrace. This is an outdoor TV that can be used instead of a projector.