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How to Project a Movie Outside Without a Projector?


Feel like hosting a movie night in your backyard? Invite a few friends over, pop some popcorn, and enjoy the pure pleasure of an outdoor screening. A significant problem with this plan is that many people do not have a projector which they can use to screen the movie outdoors.

Projectors can be costly, and not a lot of people can afford them. Cost aside, they also require a constant power source. Consequently, this limits their use outdoors because you need to have a power source to connect the projector to at all times.

This limitation is one of the primary reasons that many people look for alternatives to using an outdoor movie projector.

Alternatives to using a projector

Many DIY methods give adequate replacements to an actual projector, therefore saving both your money, time and resources and letting you have a fun movie night with your friends.

There are many different methods of making your outdoor movie screens, but the most common way is undoubtedly using your phone as a projector.

Using your phone as a projector

This method is the most common method that people who do not have a projector use. Using a few simple and readily available household items, you can make your outdoor screen and enjoy projecting the movie without actually buying a projector. This method creates the best movie projectors that you could ask for without actually purchasing a projector.

Things you will need:

The items that you will need include:

  1. A magnifying glass; the most vital thing which acts as a lens.
  2. A shoebox of adequate size.
  3. Glue.
  4. A crafting knife and scissors.
  5. Black paper or cloth.
  6. A blank white wall or a white cloth; which will act as your screen.
  7. Tape
  8. A smartphone or tablet; to project your image onto the screen.

Method to Project a Movie Outside Without a Projector:

  1. The method of using the things mentioned above to make a projector screen is pretty simple.
  2. The first step is to remove the handle of the magnifying glass and to separate the lens from the stem. One of the alternatives to using a magnifying glass is using an old camera lens instead. The handle wouldn’t need to be removed with a camera lens, and it also eliminates the effort of removing the handle with a hacksaw. If you are using a magnifying glass, use the hacksaw with extreme caution and care.
  3. The next step is to select a shoebox. One of the most essential features that your selected shoebox should have is sturdiness. Furthermore, make sure that your tablet or mobile phone fits into that shoebox. If your box has any loose sides from where light can enter, seal those corners with hot glue.
  4. Trace the outline of your lens on the inside of your shoebox with the shoebox lying flat. Cut the outline with a utility knife to make a hole the exact size of your knife. Handle the utility knife carefully.
  5. Carefully place your lens inside the hole and tape it into place. Make sure that the lens is properly reinforced and the tape isn’t loose. An even better way to strengthen your glass inside the shoebox is using a hot glue gun instead.
  6. Cover the inside of your box with black paper; this black paper is significant in making your image clearer.
  7. Make a stand for your device to sit on. This stand can be made from simple paper clips or metal clips that are twisted to form a holding stand. Another method to make a stand is by using glued together foaming sheets and cardboard. Choose whatever way suits you best but make sure that the position is sturdy.
  8. Choose the movie that you want to play on the projector and be sure that you have turned on the brightness level of your device to maximum. The maximum brightness is needed because the lens inside the shoebox will darken your image a bit. If your phone screen is not bright enough, the image on the screen will be very dark.
  9. Connect your phone to a Bluetooth device so that you would be able to pause and play the movie on command without having to take your phone out of the shoebox. Place your phone inside the shoebox on the stand. Make sure that it is placed at the end which opposes the lens.
  10. Make sure that your shoebox is facing has the lens part either facing a blank wall or a white cloth. These act as a screen for the projector. Make sure that the wall is entirely blank; otherwise, your image will not be clean. If there is not a wall like this available, tape or stick a cloth over a wall.
  11. Play the movie and see if the image is blurry. You will need to adjust your device to be either closer to the lens or farther from the lens until your image becomes clear and focused. After this, play the movie and enjoy it.

Quality of the image

Even though this method works fantastic for projecting your movie outdoors without an actual projector, the quality of your image is not the best. This blurriness is because your image is being magnified a great deal which distorts the image quality to some extent. The blurriness can be reduced by playing the movie on the highest quality setting available.

Other methods

Although the smartphone method is the most common and secure method of making your outdoor projector, there are many different methods present as well. Some of these are:

  • The laptop screen projector; which projects a laptop display onto a screen. This method offers better image quality than a smartphone projector but is harder to make.
  • A lightbulb projector; more or less the same as the smartphone projector but has a hollowed-out lightbulb instead of a lens.
  • DIY wood projectors; which use a wooden container instead of a shoebox. Although this is harder to make, it is way more durable than a shoebox projector.


With a knack for crafting and a few readily available household items, you can make your very own projector at home. Not only is this cost-effective, but it also saves power and is transport friendly as well. They can be great as a project for the kids as well. Make one for yourself, invite a few friends over, and have a good time.

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