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outdoor movie night: what you’ll need

When was the last time you watched a movie in your backyard? There’s something so awesome about firing up a projector, tossing some pillows on the grass, and catching a flick outdoors on a summer night. It used to be quite a production to get all of the necessary equipment, but things are becoming a little more streamlined, so an outdoor movie night doesn’t have to be so hard after all. Here’s a little checklist of all the gadgets and goodies you might need to host your own screening.

Projector. Obviously one of the most important pieces, these bad boys used to be big and cumbersome. Now they have “pocket sizes” and they’re just plug-and-go. Be sure to look for one with a sufficient number of lumens (there’s a great guideline in this article) so that it’s bright enough to see. The larger your screen, the higher number of lumens you’ll need. Other important features are HDMI inputs, and compatibility with Apple or PC depending on your preference. They don’t have to break the bank, though—a model like this one has lots of features, good reviews, and is mid-range on price.

Speakers. A common backyard movie mistake is considering the video but not the audio! Even if your projector has built-in speakers, it’s wise to look at other options. Sound gets lost outdoors and supplemental speakers can be key. There are a couple of ways to go—if you have an old stereo receiver and surround sound speakers, set those up and arrange the speakers around the seating area. High quality computer speakers are also an option; just be sure that they’ve got a subwoofer. Something like this could work for a smaller crowd on movie night.

Media Source. Nowadays you can stream a movie right from your smartphone! Crazy, huh? (We live in the future.) Another often-used option is hooking up a laptop directly to the projector, which works like a charm. If you’re a stickler for film quality, try playing a Blu-ray disc; you’ll find that the resolution is much higher and the projected images will be better quality.

Screen. Depending on your backyard, your best option for a screen may be a plain wall! If you don’t have that, you can build yourself a simple screen by stretching thick white cotton sheets over a wooden frame (there’s a great tutorial here!).

The Good Stuff. Now that you’re all set up, don’t forget the bells and whistles! Bring extra pillows and blankets outside to get comfy. Have popcorn and snacks on hand. And if it’s a tearjerker, don’t forget the Kleenex!

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