The Basics of Outdoor Cinema Setup: What Do I Need for Outdoor Movie Enjoyment?


Lots of people know having a projector in the backyard or any other outdoor location could be a wonderful thing, but many of us fret that it may involve a huge hassle of a process. Not so! It’s actually very simple as we’ll show. An outdoor portable projector can be yours in just a few steps, with very little to troubleshoot and pretty basic DIY that you’ll probably find rewarding.


All that applies more so if you take care to choose the right outdoor portable projector, like the BenQ GS2. Designed with easy setup in mind, the GS2 saves you time and frustration by working essentially out of the box. 

Backyard and Outdoor Cinema: Concept Into Practice

In a previous article we discussed backyard cinemas as a trend in summer 2020, due to obvious global events and circumstances. And if you decided to join in on the fun and get your own backyard, outdoorsy movie theater going with a fully-fledged portable projector, then let us be among the first to congratulate you. It’s a smart move. So what do you need to create your own amphitheater-esque, epic outdoor cinema?  

A family of three set up an outdoor cinema in the backyard on a portable projector

1. The Venue

While outdoors, remember not anything goes. Make sure you’re setting up where you’re allowed to and where it won’t disturb other people. As in people not invited to your outdoor cinema. So perhaps the front of your house isn’t ideal, but the backyard or back garden will work very well as long as you keep the volume reasonable and maintain considerate show times. A garage will be nice, but perhaps you may find that a tad stuffy. Also, public parks, campsites, and beaches work amazingly well because your viewing experience gets augmented by the majesty of nature. Just make sure you’re permitted to setup there.


Effectively, any place where it’s legal, allowed, and you feel safe works as a good location for an outdoor cinema slash viewing location, that’s how versatile modern portable projectors are. Of course, ensure the venue matches your audience. Twenty people in a tiny backyard or a small garage may be…awkward. 

2. The Projector

Arguably more the star of the show than the content, picking the right projector makes all the difference. Large, high end home projectors look and sound great, but they’re still too bulky for outdoors use because moving them around isn’t easy. They depend on a lot of wiring, which is fine for a static indoors setup, but not ideal at all if you’re outside. No, you definitely need a portable projector designed specifically for outdoors use. Those are compact, light, meant for movability, and increasingly use energy-efficient and cool-running LED projection technology.


By specifically, we mean long battery life, at least 500 lumens of projection power, plus a high degree of durability: water, dust, and shock resistance. The latter three are particularly important because a portable projector used outside will inevitably get bounced around a little and may have some rain come down on it, so better choose a reliable model. 

3. The Screen

Usually the biggest concern for people new to projectors, but actually not much to worry about. Good portable projectors have resolutions of at least 720p, which means nice image quality from outdoor viewing distances. Now, if you want to invest in a folding screen that you can bring with you and pack up when done, great. Those aren’t expensive these days and they certainly look wonderful. But if you don’t have a screen then the side of your house or van will do just fine. You can even hang up some linen and enjoy a cool screen that flows and changes with the wind for added effect. Outdoor cinemas are all about freedom, that’s why there aren’t any ushers. 

4. The Joy

Pick a theme and make a night of it. Stock up on snacks and drinks, gather your friends and family, and really get into the spirit of the session. This is a vital component of the setup process, and it’s all you. Just having a projector and a place isn’t enough, you need to come up with a reason to be there to make the experience all that more meaningful and memorable, which should be easy if it’s a starry night or you’re on the beach with the waves lapping nearby. 

Finally, Power Considerations

As you’re using a portable projector with an integrated battery, you may want to bring along a portable power source as well. Just in case your viewing marathon goes over three hours or so, which is the typical battery life of good portable projectors. With a power source like a portable generator you can keep enjoying your movies, TV, and gaming for long periods and recharge the portable projector for the next session. 


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