In 2016, most manufacturers stopped making 3D TVs. This was predominantly due to the lack of consumer appetite for this format at home. But what does that mean for outdoor movie fans who want to watch 3D outdoors or in the backyard at night?
Well thankfully you can still watch 3D movies in your backyard or outdoors, but you will need some special equipment in order to do so properly.
Whilst the TV manufacturers have stopped making 3D TVs, the brands that make projectors are still developing products with the 3D viewable format.
Not only that but there is still some great content being produced by studios for 3D fans who want to watch 3D movies at home or in their backyard, both on disc format and also via online streaming services.
So, backyard movie enthusiasts are able to watch 3D movies in the comfort of their own surroundings, family, and friends… and I am going to tell you how to do so, what type of outdoor 3D projector you will need, plus whether you need a special screen for 3D projection or not.
Read on to find out how you can watch 3D movies outdoors with this simple to follow, and easy-to-understand guide.
You Will Need a 3D Projector
Obviously, and if you really wanted to, you could cart your existing 3D TV outdoors into the backyard, but why do that when instead you can watch the movies on a big screen just as the film studios intended?
Instead what you should do is invest in a special movie projector that has 3D capability. By doing so, it’s possible to project 3D movies onto a large outdoor movie screen and have your guests blown away by the size and visuals.
Now luckily these aren’t too expensive, and many projector brands include 3D as standard despite the TV manufacturers stopping production.
The type of projector you will need will be one that meets the approved 3D specifications which tend to be the DLP and LCD projectors. The majority of 3D-enabled movie projectors will be able to play any 3D media format including Blu-Ray, cable, satellite, and online streaming services.
These movie projectors won’t just play 3D though, so you won’t be limited to what you can watch – the projectors will also play standard 2D and widescreen formats, so you can watch any type of movie outdoors, so anything you can buy can be used for all occasions.
So what 3D movie projectors do I recommend for outdoor use?
There are 3 which I believe offer the best 3D viewing experience, and I have listed those below with a model to suit different budgets. Hopefully, that will mean you can find something that’s going to be affordable and suitable for your night under the stars.
Under $300 – Optoma X341 3300 Lumens XGA 3D DLP Projector
This is an entry-level 3D movie projector and has excellent reviews on Amazon which are currently averaging out at over 4 stars out of 5. That makes it one of the highest-rated projectors in this price bracket.
It has a strong lumen rating of 3,300 which means you could start watching your outdoor movie before it gets completely dark – if you are not sure what lumens are then click that link to find out more.
With multiple connection ports including VGA, HDMI, Composite, and USB you can play 3D movies from any 3D-ready media player or device. When playing in standard 2D you can also play movies from smartphones, tablets, and even a flash drive. It’s virtually limitless in terms of the possibilities.
Under $700 – Epson Home Cinema 2040 1080p 3D Projector
This is currently on a special offer, so grab it whilst it’s still less than $700 as it truly is an exceptional product which would normally retail at over $800 – view latest prices on Amazon.
Epson is a great brand, and whilst this model only has 2,200 lumens meaning you will need to wait until it’s pitch black outside, it should be seriously considered due to the projection size it will offer in your backyard.
It has all the connection options you would expect, meaning you can play movies through it via any 3D-ready media player or device… and of course, it can still be used to play in 2D and will work very well indoors, just like all the recommendations will.
Under $800 – BenQ MS524A SVGA 3300 Lumens 3D Ready Projector
Don’t let the price put you off though, as it’s worth the money, and there are some cheaper versions available to buy with 3D from this brand. You can view the different prices on Amazon as you might end up spending less than $500 depending on current promotions.
It has a long-lasting lamp that advertises at 10,000 hours (416 days of continuous use!) and has HDMI and VGA ports meaning you can plug in a variety of media sources and players.
With 3,300 lumens it will offer an amazing outdoor experience with a bright and clear image. I would connect your own speakers to it though in order to boost the sound.
For in-depth advice on outdoor movie projectors, you can read this guide on how to choose an outdoor projector, but if you are purely interested in the 3D elements, then I would recommend choosing above.
You Have Your 3D Projector, What Next?
Now that you have your projector, you will need to do some things to make sure that it works and is set up properly, so you can get the best possible results.
3D Media Player or Device
If you don’t already have one, you will need a 3D-ready media device. This can be players such as:
- 3D-enabled Blu-Ray player
- 3D via a streaming service
- 3D via cable or satellite
I am going to assume you already have this type of product or service. Not sure, then look for the 3D logo.
If you don’t then take a look at the different 3D-enabled products on Amazon. If you do decide to buy a player, check to make sure that your chosen projector will be able to connect to it.
This shouldn’t be an issue as most of the 3D projectors on the market will have a variety of ports including HDMI, VGA, and USB – and in some cases wireless Wi-Fi (but you will need a strong Wi-Fi signal in your backyard).
Most of the time, the manufacturers of 3D media and disc players will bundle up 3D glasses when you buy online. When I have bought 3D players, they tend to give just 2, 3, or 4 pairs though, which might not be enough for how many people you have attending your outdoor movie night.
You will need to buy enough for all of your guests, but thankfully you can also do that on Amazon… and I am not talking about the cardboard ones which used to be given away with cereal back in the 1980s if you can remember that far back!
One thing that’s very important to understand though, is that 3D glasses for one brand might not work with another brand’s projector. I know for a fact that Samsung 3D glasses don’t work with Panasonic 3D TVs so just check before you purchase so you don’t waste money.
Do You Need a Special Screen for 3D Projection?
In most cases, you won’t need a special screen to watch 3D movies outdoors or in your backyard.
If you are just using one 3D movie projector, then you won’t need a special screen. You can simply use your outdoor movie projector screen as you normally would, whether that’s a standing screen or an inflatable version. You can see my recommendations for screens if you don’t have one currently.
Where it will get complicated is if you are using a dual-projection system for 3D – in other words, if you are running 2 projectors, one for each eye. If that is the case, and you do want to use a dual-projection system then you will need a special screen.
This is called a polarization preservation screen which has a high gain to deliver very bright images in order to balance the lower light output typically associated with 3D projection.
Recommended 3D Movies to Watch Outside
So now that you have a reasonably good idea of what you will need to watch a 3D movie in your backyard or on outdoor movie night, how about some movie suggestions? Movie studios are still making 3D films, most of which can be picked up on Blu-Ray DVD or via streaming services – in fact, I believe you can now stream in 3D via the Netflix platform.
The IMDb website has its own list of suggestions which you might want to check out, but here are just some of my own recommendations that you should watch outdoors in 3D. They are listed in order of how good I think they are. You can buy all of these 3D movies on Amazon.
This was the movie that really broke 3D as a massive movie theater spectacle, and it still remains the best 3D movie to this day, in my opinion at least. I remember watching it an IMAX cinema in Kansas and being blown away.
It has a 7.8 review rating on IMDb and tells the story of a paraplegic marine sent on a dangerous mission to protect his home.
Under the Sea 3D
With a 7.6 rating on IMDb, it’s an amazing visual spectacle as you get taken deep underwater to look at some of the most diverse coastal regions on the planet. It is a truly immersive viewing experience.
This 3D exploration of the ocean’s depths and creatures is a documentary that should capture the imagination of your guests. It’s quite simply stunning.
The House of Magic
One for the kids now, with this cartoon tale of Thunder, an abandoned cat taking shelter from a storm. It’s rated 6.3 on IMDb.
Released in 2013, it’s a good, colorful, and fun film offering some hilarious and scary (but not too scary) moments coupled with eye-popping visuals.
This one is just for the adults or older kids as it’s a scary movie in 3D about a couple of brothers who stumble across a mysterious hole in their basement. It’s rated as a 12A just in case you were wondering.
This film was released in 2009, and whilst it didn’t get amazing reviews (just 5.7 on IMDb), it will offer you something a little bit different for your outdoor 3D movie night experience. Sit back with the popcorn and be prepared for a few jumps out of your seat!
A Turtle’s Tale: Sammy’s Adventures
I saw this with my son. He is 4 years old and he absolutely loved it. It tells the story of a funny turtle traveling the world, meeting other amusing characters along the way. Interesting it does has an environmental message attached to it which helps the kids to learn more about the threat to our oceans.
With a 6.1 IMDb rating, it’s not as well-reviewed as The House of Magic but will still keep you kids well entertained on backyard movie night while you sit back and stuff your face with snacks and drinks.
I hope that this quick primer for watching 3D movies in your outdoor space has helped you understand what you will need a little better. I will admit, watching 3D movies outdoors isn’t as good an experience as it is in a dedicated theater in a pitch-black room, but it’s still a whole lot of fun.
If you need any further advice on planning your backyard movie night, then please click here. I also have a page dedicated to showing you the very best products for backyard movie night. Please go and take a look at that if you need additional advice on what you need to buy based on my years of experience in putting on events such as this.