5 Tips for Backyard Movie Night

Dress Rehearsal
Test your projector and other equipment before your guests arrive! Even if you’ve used the same setup before, there’s always a chance that something could malfunction. ©iStockphoto/Thinkstock

It's the stuff of host anxiety dreams -- you settle into your seat with a plate of snacks only to find that the projector won't turn on, the audio won't work, or there's a rather intrusive seam running down the middle of the screen. A dress rehearsal will give you a chance to work out the kinks before your audience arrives.

Use your dress rehearsal to test your video projector, DVD player and speakers, as well as experiment with different screen materials and even screen size. A test run will quickly determine if your screen is a good viewing shape and angle, and if there are any other concerns that might detract from movie viewing. For example, try different areas of the yard, as some spots may seem perfect until, for instance, the street lights come on. And street lights -- any lights -- are a concern because movie night has to be dark. Your projected movie will look best when no other light source competes with the projector. The lighter color the screen, the better, too.

You only need four things to show your backyard movie: a DVD player (or your laptop), an LCD projector, speakers and a white screen. Outdoor movie setup costs range anywhere from a DIY budget to thousands of dollars for high-end equipment -- there are numerous configurations to suit any budget. For instance, keep costs down by renting a projector, and project your movie onto a white (or very light-colored) wall or DIY screen made from white blackout shade fabric, white butcher paper or a white vinyl shower curtain or sheet cut to your specific size needs.