How to Create an Outdoor Cinema at Home – Handy Tips

Outdoor Cinema At Home

In this fast-paced world, we often seek the comfort of our homes and the joy of simple pleasures. There’s something uniquely captivating about the idea of an outdoor cinema, the merging of the natural world with technology that offers a perfect balance of nostalgia and innovation. So, why not bring the magic of the silver screen into your own backyard? In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the process of creating your own outdoor cinema, providing you with a roadmap for a summer filled with movie nights under the stars.

1. Choosing Your Space

Choosing your space for outdoor cinema

Before you dive into the nitty-gritty of setting up your outdoor cinema, it’s crucial to choose an appropriate location. Ideally, you want a space that is easily accessible, spacious enough to accommodate your viewers, and, most importantly, an area with minimal light pollution.

Size and Accessibility

The first thing you’ll want to consider is the size and accessibility of your chosen location. For an outdoor cinema, you’ll need a space big enough to accommodate not only the screen and the projector but also the viewers. It should also be easily accessible, so carrying equipment and refreshments won’t be a problem.

When thinking about the size of your space, remember to take into account not only the seating area but also the distance from the screen for the projector. The larger your screen, the farther away your projector will need to be.

Lighting Conditions

Another important consideration is lighting. Ideally, you want to choose an area with minimal light pollution. The darker the area, the clearer the projection will be. If your chosen spot has streetlights or other bright lights nearby, consider investing in some thick curtains or portable screens to block the light.

As for your own lighting, consider adding some soft, indirect light, like fairy lights or lanterns. These won’t interfere with the screen and will help your guests navigate the space.

2. Selecting Your Equipment

Selecting your equipement for outdoor cinema

Once you’ve selected the perfect space, the next step is to gather your equipment. This will primarily include a projector, a screen, and a sound system, although additional elements like seating and snacks will also play a crucial role.

Choosing the Right Projector

The heart of your outdoor cinema is your projector. When selecting a projector, look at the resolution, brightness, and throw distance.

  • Resolution: The higher the resolution, the sharper your image will be. For most uses, a projector with a resolution of 1080p should be more than adequate.
  • Brightness: Measured in lumens, this indicates how much light a projector emits. For outdoor use, a projector with a minimum of 2000 lumens is recommended.
  • Throw Distance: This is the distance between the projector and the screen. If you have a smaller space, look for a short-throw projector.

Selecting the Screen

Your screen can be as simple as a white wall or a piece of cloth or as fancy as a professional-grade, inflatable outdoor movie screen.

Whichever you choose, keep in mind that the surface should be flat and white to ensure the best image quality. If you’re using fabric, make sure it’s taut to avoid wrinkles. If you’re using a wall, ensure it’s smooth and clean.

3. Arranging the Sound System

arranging the sound system for outdoor cinema

A movie without sound is like popcorn without butter. It’s okay, but it’s not what you’re looking for. Thus, having a quality sound system in place is essential.

Choosing the Right Speakers

The size of your space will determine the type of speakers you need. For smaller areas, a set of good quality powered speakers should suffice. If you’re dealing with a larger space or want a more immersive experience, you may need multiple speakers or even a surround sound system.

Ensure your speakers can connect to the device you’re playing the movie from (usually your projector or a laptop). Many modern speakers use Bluetooth but always double-check the compatibility.

Optimizing Sound Quality

The positioning of your speakers can drastically impact the quality of your sound. Ideally, your speakers should be positioned at the front of your viewing area, near the screen, facing the audience.

Remember, the goal is to make sure everyone can hear the audio clearly, so be prepared to experiment with different configurations until you find what works best for your specific setup.

4. Comfort and Ambiance

Comfort and Ambiance of outdoor cinema

Now that we have all the technical aspects sorted let’s talk about comfort and ambiance. After all, a movie night is only as good as its popcorn!

Arranging Seating

Whether you’re using patio furniture, blankets, pillows, or even inflatable loungers, make sure there’s enough seating for everyone and it’s comfortable for a few hours of movie-watching. Arrange the seating in a way that everyone has a good view of the screen.

Creating the Atmosphere

Setting the right mood is all about the little touches. Add some fairy lights or lanterns for a soft, magical glow that won’t interfere with the movie. A fire pit can also add a cozy touch on cooler nights.

5. Enjoying the Show

Enjoying the Show of outdoor cinema

The stage is set, the popcorn is ready, and all that’s left is to enjoy the show.

Movie Selection

Whether it’s a family-friendly animation, a thrilling action film, or a timeless classic, the right movie can make or break your outdoor cinema experience. Consider your audience and choose a movie that suits the occasion.


Last but not least, relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor. There’s nothing quite like watching your favorite movie under a starry sky with your favorite people. It’s more than just a movie night, it’s an event that creates cherished memories.


What equipment do I need to set up an outdoor cinema at home?

You will need a projector, a screen (or a large white sheet), a media player (like a DVD player or a streaming device), and a sound system. Depending on your setup, you might also need extension cords and a Wi-Fi extender.

What kind of projector should I use for an outdoor cinema?

Modern home theater projectors offer excellent picture quality and brightness suitable for outdoor viewing. The BenQ HT2060 and BenQ HT2150ST are recommended for their light output, accurate color, and built-in speaker. For a more portable option, consider the BenQ GS50.

Can I use a wall or a sheet as a screen for my outdoor cinema?

While you can use a wall or a sheet, it’s recommended to use an actual outdoor screen for the best image quality. The Elite Screens Yard Master Plus and the Gemmy Airblown Inflatable Deluxe screen are good options.

What can I use as a media player for my outdoor cinema?

Streaming sticks like Roku or Amazon Fire TV are convenient options. They connect directly to the HDMI input on the projector and use your home’s Wi-Fi to stream movies. Some projectors, like the BenQ GS50, have built-in streaming apps.

What kind of sound system should I use for my outdoor cinema?

While you can use the projector’s built-in speaker for a larger audience or a more immersive experience, it’s recommended to use an external speaker system. You can connect a speaker to the projector’s analog audio output or use Bluetooth for a wireless connection.

How far should the projector be from the screen?

The distance depends on the projector. For instance, the BenQ HT2060 needs at least 10 feet of space to create a 100-inch image. However, the BenQ HT2150ST, with its short-throw lens, can create a 100-inch image from as close as 4.9 feet away.

Can I watch movies during the day at my outdoor cinema?

While modern projectors are quite bright, they may not be bright enough for daytime viewing outdoors. They are best suited for movie nights under the stars.

Can I leave my outdoor cinema setup outside?

It’s not recommended to leave your electronics outside if they aren’t designed for it. Weather conditions can damage your equipment.

What if my Wi-Fi signal isn’t strong enough for streaming in my backyard?

If your home’s Wi-Fi network isn’t reaching your backyard effectively, you may need a Wi-Fi extender to boost the signal.

What can I do to improve the audio quality of my outdoor cinema?

To improve audio quality, consider using a soundbar or a high-quality portable Bluetooth speaker. The Polk MagniFi Mini AX and the UE Wonderboom 3 are good options.

Final Words

Creating an outdoor cinema at home requires careful planning and preparation, from choosing the right location to selecting the best equipment, arranging seating, and setting the right atmosphere. But once everything is in place, it provides a unique and unforgettable experience that brings the magic of the cinema right to your doorstep.