Airstream Central - Info for Airstream Owners -
Outdoor Movie - Fun For Everyone!
Janet H
Janet lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family and one neurotic Border Collie. 
By Janet H
Published on 08/23/2007
Host a movie night at your next rally or get together.  Outdoor movies are fun for all ages and surprisingly easy to set up.

Show an outdoor movie at your next rally!
Recently there has been a trend toward showing outdoor movies in back yards, camping and at rallies. The price and availability for equipment to do this has improved dramatically and now this once high tech habit is accessible to many.

You will need some equipment including an LCD or DLP projector, a screen, a way to play a DVD and some way to make the sound loud enough to hear.

Projector: Available for rent or to borrow, this is the high ticket part of this package. Projectors range in price from $600.00 up to several thousand. A good quality, all purpose projector can be purchased for well under a thousand dollars. Projectors come in several types and the newer DLP rendering gives a better image that older LCD technology. Things to consider when buying:

Lumens - the lumen rating gives info about how bright a projector is. Brighter is better and you will need at least 1200 lumens.

- how crisp and clear the image is matters. A 1280x720 WXGA or high resolution XGA 1024x768 projector would be best and again - higher resolution is better.

Bulb life and projector reliability
- projector bulbs are expensive and some projectors can be delicate. A bulb can run into several hundred dollars and they have a finite life span, usually 1500 hours or more.

Price - weighing these options above and finding the best cost vs. options balance is the buyers dilemma. Projectors are available in many retail locations, but the best prices can be found on-line. 

Screen - The new high tech screen is an inflatable outdoor screen that is held up with an electric blower. However, there are several suitable do-it-yourself options when camping. A little ingenuity will save you big bucks and can be a good campsite activity. Your screen needs to be white or light grey, flat, have no wrinkles and be somewhat reflective. It also needs to be easy to put up and take-down. It needs to be storable - especially if you are on the road. Some suggestions:

  • A canopy side, the white ones that Velcro onto the side of an EZ-UP canopy works well.
  • A painters drop cloth.
  • A white vinyl or fabric shower curtain
  • The side of a smooth-sided "white box" trailer
  • A white tarp
  • A white bed sheet - a polyester blend that is slightly shiny is better than a flat white sheet.

Suspend your screen so that it’s flat and has no wrinkles. Hanging it from the upper roller of a partially open awning works well.

DVD player: You can use your laptop or a portable DVD player or purchase an inexpensive player for just a few dollars.

You will need to amplify sound. Most projectors either don’t have speakers, or they have very small ones similar to laptop speakers. You will need more decibels outside! You can bring along some PC speakers if using your laptop.

make sure you leave home with all the cables you need to wire up the system. Most projectors come with some cables, but you may need specific ones that are not included. A trip to your office supply store of electronics store may be in order. Have a test night at home to be certain you know how to run your equipment and have all the component parts.

Other considerations:

- You need electricity!
- Be aware of the limitations on public viewing of movies.
- Be considerate of others camping nearby.
- Don’t forget the popcorn.