Inspired by Cannes? Create your own film festival

The idea of having a home cinema might sound like something only the Cannes Film Festival guest list might have in their home, but these days it’s something we can quite easily bring into our own homes. To indulge your inner movie buff, a home cinema can be created affordably without having to miss out on any of the cinema essentials - making it easy for you to plan and host your own film festival.

Over the last few years home projectors have become brighter, more cost-effective and available in 4K UHD resolution. The increase in brightness in home entertainment projectors means they can be used with lights on rather than having to watch films, sports and TV shows with the lights down low. This is why many homeowners are choosing these as an alternative to having a TV as their main viewing device. 

 But if you haven’t got a projector installed in your home – don’t despair.  There are many excellent portable projectors that are perfect for impromptu film nights.  All you need to create your at-home film festival is a blank canvas in the form of a spare bedroom, dining room or maybe a loft space that’s being converted that has a plain, ideally white, wall.  From here, you’ll simply need to add the essentials and you’re set for watching films to your heart's content.

Read on for a no-nonsense, step-by-step guide to creating your very own home film festival.

Deciding a theme

First things first: decide on a theme for your film festival. Are you creating this for your little one’s birthday or to keep the kids occupied on a rainy day, a night in with your friends or a favourite film genre you want the room to reflect? We love the idea of designing the room with a particular genre in mind, to add an extra experiential element to the movies you’ll be watching.

Once you know who the home film festival is for, you can decide on what you need to keep the audience happy. For example, if it’s a night in with friends watching your favourite films from a particular era, genre or actor, it makes sense to invest in a mini fridge where you can store a few bottles of wine. This will provide welcome accompaniment for your Mamma Mia marathon sing-along, while you snack on an adult-friendly buffet.

Alternatively, if the room is designed for your kids to watch Disney classics back-to-back, you’ll want to make sure you’ve stocked up on Disney-inspired sweets, cakes and biscuits, and cartoon-themed cups for soft drinks galore.

Picking the projector

It’s far more exciting and immersive to watch your favourite films when they are a supersize 100” image projected on the wall rather than on the TV. 

A multi-use occasional table is perfect as a platform for a short throw projector during the film festival, or positioned at the end of the sofa for easy access to your tipple or to pop your coffee while it’s cooling down.  Short throw projectors can be placed at around one metre from the wall to achieve a 100” image whereas ultra short throw projectors can achieve a 100” from as little as 33cm!


Optoma offers a huge range of home projectors in a variety of resolutions, brightness and throw. If it’s for the kids and they’re likely to want to keep the lights on in the room, our UHD51ALVE 4K UHD resolution Full 3D home projector is the ideal choice.  

Creating a comfy seating area

No cinema is complete without the perfect viewing environment. Whether you’re getting comfy on the sofa in the living room or using a collection of big cushions to make a seated den area, it’s vital to make sure you and your fellow festival-goers enjoy a good level of comfort.

If you’re using the living room, think about any adjustments you could make to dial up the comfort factor. The addition of lights that can be dimmed would create a welcome cosy atmosphere, while some extra tables around the seating area for drinks and snacks will mean treats are never far from reach.

Providing a well-stocked treat station

A trip to the cinema is not complete without popcorn, sweets, nachos, fizzy drinks and other tasty treats - so it goes without saying that you’ll need to go town when it comes to your treat station. You might want to go all out if you’re having a night in with your friends and add some hot snacks to the mix, like pizzas or finger food.

Selecting a film lineup

Choosing which films you’re going to watch is an important piece of the puzzle.

You might choose to watch the films via a DVD collection you’ve stocked up on in advance, or, alternatively, you may have a list of films you’d like to stream online through an on-demand provider such as Netflix - either way, get prepared and pick what you’re watching well ahead of time so the film festival itself can be a seamless experience for all involved.

Film festivals are an ideal way to get everyone together in the name of a shared love of cinema - especially if you’re partial to a movie franchise marathon, covering an epic series such as Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings.


To whip up the ultimate at-home event, sort out your equipment, edibles, comfy seating and, of course, the all-important viewing agenda, and you’ll be set for an unforgettable film festival in the comfort of your own home.


How to choose the right projector

One of the most common questions we get asked here at Optoma is ‘how do I know which is the best projector for me?’

Buying a projector can be a confusing business with its own world of jargon and acronyms* but the key is to ask yourself the right questions.
How will you use your projector?
Is it mostly for showing presentations and slide shows, watching films or playing games? Would you like to watch 3D?

This will help you to identify what native resolution you require and the ports/connections and accessories you will need.  

Native resolution is simply the number of pixels in an image.  The higher the number of pixels, the greater the resolution and the better the image quality will be. Projectors have the following native resolutions: SVGA (800 pixels high x 600 pixels wide), XGA (1024x768), WXGA/HD Ready (1280x800), 1080p (1920x1080) and 4K UHD (3480x2160).

So, if you are looking to use the projector to mainly watch DVDs or Blu-Rays® you would probably chose a high resolution 1080p or 4K UHD projector with HDMI input.  If you need the projector for business presentations, you might choose a more basic SVGA or XGA projector.  

How big is the screen/image that will need to be projected and what is its aspect ratio?
The bigger the screen, the higher the native resolution you will need. Aspect ratio is dimply the ratio of image width to image height. This could be widescreen (aspect ratio either 16:9 or 16:10) or more square, like old-style televisions (aspect ratio 4:3).
•    SVGA and XGA projectors have a 4:3 aspect ratio
•    1080p and 4K UHD projectors have a 16:9 aspect ratio
•    WXGA projectors have a 16:10 aspect ratio

How far from the screen would you like to install the projector?
If the projector is to be permanently sited you will need to calculate the throw ratio to ensure the projected image fills your screen. A projector's throw ratio is defined as the distance that a projector is placed from the screen divided by the width of the image it will project.  If you know the screen size but are unsure how far back to site the projector, you can use the given throw ratio to calculate where the projector needs to be installed.

Optoma’s short throw projectors can be installed very close to the screen.  Its mobile, desktop and home entertainment projectors must be sited further back.  We have a distance calculator on our website that will help.

How bright is the room where will the projector be used?
Can the lights be turned down/blinds shut? This will determine the ambient light in the room and how bright the projector needs to be.  The brighter the room, the brighter the projector will need to be.  Brightness is measured in lumens.

And finally, is the projector for home or business?
Home: Consider whether you would like built-in speakers or will you be connecting the projector to external speakers.

For home cinema and gaming you will need a high resolution projector to ensure the contrast and picture quality is crystal clear.  So, ideally a 4K UHD or 1080p projector.

For gaming, check the projector’s ‘input lag time’ which is the time it takes for the projector to produce an image. Latency in games can be crucial and a few milliseconds can mean the difference between shooting the enemy and being shot. A lower lag time will improve your gaming experience.

Where will the projector be used? Does it need to be light and portable for off-site meetings or installed in the boardroom?

This will help you to chose between mobile or ultra mobile, desktop or installed projectors.

For basic Powerpoint presentations SVGA and XGA projectors are good all-round cost-effective projectors.  

Boardrooms and larger meeting rooms might need a larger screen and a higher resolution projector – so a WXGA projector may be a good option or if you need greater detail a 1080p or 4K UHD projector would be ideal.

For those looking for a projector to install in a much larger space, such as an auditorium or exhibition, a professional AV projector may be what you need, such as Optoma’s ProScene range.

*There is a helpful glossary on our website to help make sense of this world of aspect ratios, lumens and throw ratios.

How to create an outdoor cinema in your garden

With the summer festival season upon us, it is a great time to have an outdoor cinema in your garden.

Many of the major music festivals such as Glastonbury, Reading and Proms in the Park are televised.  So, with a super-size screen and a projector, you could bring the festival feel to your garden.

Or you could screen the latest blockbusters and create your own film festival with friends and family.

So what do you need?

If you are looking to use the projector to mainly watch DVDs or Blu-Rays® you would probably choose a high definition, high resolution 1080p projector with HDMI input.  You will need the projector to be fairly bright.  Home entertainment projectors are suitable for use with some ambient light so would be ideal for a garden cinema set-up.

You will obviously need sound for your film or music festival.  This can be from the projector’s built-in speaker or by connecting the projector to your external speakers.  You will need to check your chosen projector has Audio Out.

And you will need a screen. You can be creative and use a sheet stretched over goalposts or the washing line, project straight onto the house (if it is light-coloured) or you could get a pull-up screen.

It is really easy to simply plug and play with an Optoma projector.  You can connect any of your devices straight into the projector including your DVD player, set top box or streaming devices such as Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire Stick, Roku or Apple TV. Check the projector has the necessary input port for the source device with which you wish to connect.

You can leave your source device (such as your DVD player) in the living room and connect a wireless device, such as the WHD200. This allows you to stream Full HD 1080p content direct to your projector wirelessly.  This cuts out messy cables and means you can leave your DVD player connected in the living room. 

Our great garden cinema guide has some brilliant ideas for setting up your own outdoor cinema including seating, screens and BBQ recipes.  


Are you ready for the revival of video?

Like the resurgence in interest for vinyl records, video tapes could see a revival according to reports.


After the first video cassette recorder (VCR) went on sale at Dixons in 1978, demand for VCRs fell due to the rise of DVD players in the 1990s.


But the past few years have seen a huge influx in VHS collectors according to Daily Grindhouse.  Video collectors say films made for VHS look strange when cleaned up for higher-definition DVDs. They prefer the grainer quality of the VHS format, in the same way a vinyl collector might speak about the warmth of a record’s sound.


“These are movies that feel too cleaned-up on DVD and Blu-ray, as if they were never meant to look that good. Watching them on VHS is closer to the way the director intended it to look,” Dan Kinem, a VHS collector, told Collectors Weekly.


People wanting to reminisce with their old films on their trusty video cassette recorder (VCR) will need a projector to create the full cinema experience.  But modern-day projectors don’t always come with the inputs needed to connect with the older VCR technology.


VCRs would not have a HDMI output that can connect to the HDMI inputs in most modern projectors. It is more than likely you will need to use either the composite or S-video ports. 


So, if you want to dust off your video classics, you will need to choose a projector carefully to ensure that it has all the inputs that you need.  The Optoma HD36 is a good option as it is bright, has fantastic picture quality but, more importantly, has the plethora of inputs to ensure it is compatible with all devices – both modern and historic.  These include composite and S-video.


Composite video cables have a small, metal-tipped plug (also known as a RCA plug) which is usually yellow.  S-Video cables have a slightly larger plug with a series of small, delicate-looking pins jutting out of each end.  If the VCR is really old, it may have a SCART output for which you can get SCART to composite adaptor or cable.


You will also need to connect sound from the VCR to the projector via a set of stereo RCA plugs.  These are usually red for the left channel and white for the right.


Those that remember, and still have, laser disc players which played vinyl analogue video - the forerunner to DVD - will most likely need to use the SCART to composite adaptor to connect to the projector. 




Welcome to Optoma UK’s very first blog!

This will be updated regularly with insight, commentary and discussions on issues and events relating to the projection industry.

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