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March 30, 2011 6:58 PM   Subscribe

Asking for a friend: What should she look for in projection equipment for an outdoor movie screen?

A friend of mine has recently come into possession of a large projection screen, 26'x11'. Her plan is to put it outside in her (large, rural) yard for parties and such and show movies, etc. What type of projection equipment should she be looking for? Most of her searching has found machines for indoor projection onto smaller screens than this one. Brand/model recommendations are appreciated.
posted by Golfhaus to Technology (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
We've done ok with a 2500 lumen projector, a little epson. More brightness would be great, but the critical thing seems to actually be sound reinforcement- you need to figure out how to get a lot of sound out there, to overpower the fan from the projector, the noise from the highway a mile away, etc- definitely spend some time thinking through the sound end of things very carefully.
posted by jenkinsEar at 7:10 PM on March 30, 2011

Assuming you have the sound covered (you will need some sort of external sound system, the sound on projectors is next to worthless, and outside will not work well enough), the main thing you need to worry about is how bright it is going to be when you are going to project.

On a screen, when you watch something on a projector, the areas that appear black are the areas where the projector is not shining any light. The screen is still white, but what makes it appear black is the lack of light. So, if you are going to put this outside at night in an area with no lights whatsoever, you can get away with much more than if it is outside where there are lights around.

If you are thinking about doing this at any time other than the pure black of night time, than you will need to invest a TON of money into a bright projector. Even a 6000 lumen projector will not be nearly enough during the day, and would be struggling even during twilight.

Take a look at the company sites, such as sanyo, and see what they have. You are going to want to look at as high a lumen projector as you can afford. Don't worry about HD, you can't afford that in something bright enough to be worth using at that size.

Honestly, I don't think it will be worth it unless your friend is willing to plunk down a lot of money. If that is the case, call a local AV rental house which also does sales, and tell them your budget and application, and they will give you suggestions. They may even agree to come by to do a demo for you if it is an expensive enough projector and they have one in their rental stock.
posted by markblasco at 9:58 PM on March 30, 2011

The biggest things you'll be dealing with is figuring out

A) your maximum optimal throw distance. This will determine how far back your projector will have to be in order to get a picture the size you want and still have it in focus enough to be worth watching.

B) the lumens your lamp puts out - the brightness of the lamp has a big factor on how far back the projector can be, as well as how much ambient light can be tolerated and still allow for an acceptable image.

C) resolution, video inputs, etc etc.

I would recommend looking around This has been my #1 go-to resource for the last several projectors I've gotten, and it has a wealth of info and reviews across the board, as well as prices you can expect. Figure out about what you're looking for, and then prowl eBay for decent deals. It seems that many specific models are only on the market for 6-12 months or so, and the secondary market prices drop precipitously (50% or more, even NIB) after they're discontinued for the next model. Make special note of the Projection Calculator - you can plug in the model you're thinking about and get a load of stats about it, and a slider to balance your light levels with optimum throw distance and what kind of image size will result.

I've been all-projector for a while now, and it's fantastic to get something that throws a good 120" screen image in HD and costs less than 1/5th of a 50" tv. Never going back!
posted by FatherDagon at 1:41 PM on March 31, 2011

The other thing to consider with a screen that size is the frame setup. Unless you've got a barn wall to work with, you'll need a freestanding frame that will have to have some significant bracing and immobility - because you're basically erecting a giant sail. A strong breeze can wreak havoc on a poorly secured screen... There's tons of designs for putting together metal pipe frames online, just prowl around for whatever would suit your needs best.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:50 PM on March 31, 2011

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