Whenever you start thinking of an outdoor projector screen, whether to host a family gathering, a bar-b-q party for the Superbowl or a fun pajama party for the kids on a starry night in June with a Disney movie thrown in for good measure, there is no doubt that having the right outdoor projection screen can make or break your gig.
You might have the best LCD projector on hand, but if the projection screen does not live up to standards, you might as well have a grainy 18-inch TV placed in the middle of the yard.
In this post, we look at options for getting the best outside projection screen so you can enjoy great movies on a clear canvas without having to spend too much.
But before you even consider buying an outdoor projection screen…
Before you start assessing which options are ideal for your outdoor projection setup, it is important to understand the most critical considerations and specifications for projection screens.
What do you need to be mindful of? How do you distinguish one good screen from another? What can push your projection screen from being just any screen to one that you can be proud of? Allow us to count the ways.
Outdoor Projection Screen Material
When it comes to outdoor projection screens, there are plenty of materials to choose from. The material influences the reflectivity, smoothness and texture of the screen among others, hence changing the way it behaves depending on the incident light.
Some of the basic options, according to projection experts, include basic tarps, billboard tarps, Tyvek, spandex trapeze fabric, and even blackout cloth.
Depending on the screen material, the contrast options for the display can also be suitably changed. This, in turn, depends on the intended use as indicated by the viewing environment. If you want to watch files under the nighttime sky, low-contrast materials are suitable.
(above) Elite screens manual pull down interior projection screen
However, for afternoon events like a Superbowl party, no doubt you need high contrast materials in order to combat the effects of glare.
This influences the sharpness of the image on when rendered. The best projection screens should have a gain between 1.0 and 1.2 and this is something you can outright ask from the manufacturer. If you want a versatile material that is suitable for most viewing conditions, pick screens with a rated gain from 0.7 to 1.4.
Outdoor Screen Image Quality
There are projection screens rated for HDTV formats and if you want this to be a specific goal, be sure to be open and upfront with the supplier lest this is something that you might forget during the purchase.
Standard video format and letterbox options are also available. If you want to be able to cover all these essentials, make sure to take these into consideration before selecting the screen that you need.
Click here to see the Epson Duet – the first ultra portable projection screen that offers both standard (4:3) and widescreen (16:9) formats in one screen.
The Various Options for Getting a Projection Screen
There are various options through which you can get the projection screen you need.
Projection Screen Rental
If you are looking for short-term use with little no zero likelihood of repetitive usage, rentals are the best solution to your projection screen dilemma.
With rentals, you typically wouldn’t worry about the quality of the screen as a service representative will (hopefully!) help you through every step of the selection process such that you can enumerate all your considerations upfront and get the kind of screen you want.
This is also the most painless option for getting your projection screen as there’s no need to worry about maintenance after usage.
Purchase A Projection Screen
If you are eyeing long-term repetitive use for a projection screen, then investing in one is definitely not a bad idea. The same considerations already mentioned apply to screens bought straight from the supplier with the added caveat that in this case, you will need to start thinking about other considerations like storage, cleaning and maintenance.
Do It Yourself (DIY) Projection Screens
How to make your own outdoor projector screen
If you want to have full control of the specifications that you get out of your projection screen, you can purchase DIY materials that allow you to bring it all together.
Do-it-yourself screens are just as popular as purchased ones and those with a knack for putting things together can certainly benefit from a well-thought-of projection material with all the things that you would want in a screen.
Footnote: there are some comprehensive make your own projection screen videos on Youtube that show you how to do it if you prefer to build your own.
Likewise, DIY projects give you better control over the cost, allowing you to trim non-essential components from the project so you only get the bare minimum of what you need without compromising on the quality of the final product.
Where to Buy Your Projection Screen
Amazon is a good candidate when looking for a place to purchase complete or DIY projection screens but others merit a second look too. For example, companies who specialize in selling projectors such as Epson, Panasonic, InFocus (etc) also sell complete screen sets.
However, with DIY projection screens, only Amazon gives you a wide selection of the products that you will value in the purchase. From the type of material – tarp, Tyvek, or spandex – to the gain, contrast and texture considerations, Amazon gives you an unrivaled selection in projection screen technology so you are guaranteed to find what you need.
With all of these in mind, it’s a god idea to remember that projection screens are excellent investments but only if the selection is done in the right way. Make sure to spend time planning for and installing your projector screen in order to give it everything necessary to put it over the top, making it an outdoor projection screen that you can be truly proud of.
Other Outdoor Projection Screen Ideas
Vienna 3D Building Projection in London (Video)
Let your imagination fly away with this 3D building projection video – Just to give you an idea of how creative you can get with an outdoor projection screen or venue. You can always go bigger than the outdoor movie projection screens we’ve covered on this page. Much bigger!
What sort of outdoor screen do you currently use? Or are you considering buying one?