Avoid these Tech Glitches Before your Next Backyard Movie Night

The cold weather could be the least of your concerns if your outdoor projector doesn’t function properly at your backyard event. Here are a few problems to look out for and how to fix them.

My family and I have returned from a little adventure across town. It was at a friend’s outdoor birthday party in his backyard for his eleven-year-old son.

My friend asked me if I could bring along my portable projector to help him create an outdoor screening of “Black Panther” via his Disney+ app on his iPad. I was more than happy to oblige. His wife put up a white sheet on the back side of their house overlooking their patio, and we were ready to provide the post-meal entertainment.

How to Set Up your Backyard Movie Night Gear
Over the summer, my new Nebula Mars II Pro projector made by Anker was the backbone of my own backyard movie night series. My iPhone served up movies through the iTunes Store and Disney+.

I connected my iPhone to my Lightning Digital AV Adapter (from Apple) and then used an HDMI cable to tether my iPhone to the Mars II Pro. Though you can connect via Bluetooth, a direct connection avoids certain content transfer restrictions.

Though my portable projection system worked great, there were two technical glitches that I needed to work through:

How to Fix Audio Sync Problems with an External Speaker
The Mars II Pro’s two onboard speakers are relatively powerful, but the outdoors can be a noisy place, especially with crickets at dusk. When I tried augmenting the audio oomph with my portable AOMAIS Go Bluetooth speaker I discovered an annoying quirk using Bluetooth.

When streaming content via the Mars II Pro’s onboard apps, the video synced up just fine to the external Bluetooth speaker. The Mars II Pro works perfectly in its own operating universe.

But once I tried extending that equation and connecting the Mars II Pro via HDMI to my iPhone, that was a step too far! It created a small but infuriating audio delay from my AOMAIS Go speaker.

The fix is to avoid the Bluetooth connection altogether and hard wire the external speaker using an audio cable with 3.5mm mini connectors. After that, my external speaker’s audio synced to the Mars II Pro’s video perfectly.

Don’t Miss this Setting when Downloading Movies from the Apple TV App
File compatibility can be a problem when using a digital AV adapter.

I found that when downloading movies onto my iPhone from the iTunes Store, the flicks wouldn’t play when I used my Lightning Digital AV Adapter. Instead, I received this message.

BUT…

When I opened my iOS 14’s settings and navigated to the Apple TV app, I spotted this critical setting under Digital AV Adapter Options:

  • Downloads for AV Adapter

And here’s the fix:

  • Slide Downloads for AV Adapter to – Green

This setting allows “Apple TV app to download titles specially-formatted to play through an AV adapter…”

Wow. Yes, it was that simple.

The Fall Challenge
Armed with my summer outdoor movie night learnings, I felt emboldened to confront any technical problem that fall outdoor movie night might throw at me. I brought my gear over to my friend’s house, eager to boot it all up.

My friend had already download the movie on his iPad’s Disney+ app to avoid the occasional but maddening video artifacts that can pop up when streaming gets bumpy. (smart)

I unpacked my Lightning digital AV Adapter and HDMI cable combo and connected his iPad to my Mars II Pro.

Docking was complete, and we were ready to go.

Great Scott!
My friend tapped the play icon, and the movie began.

Suddenly, I felt an uncontrollable impulse. I screamed, “It worked!” And I proceeded to take a victory lap around the patio. Everyone stared at me with confusion. They must have wondered if I was channeling my inner Doc Brown from “Back to the Future.” (I was.)

That’s because over the summer, I tried to project downloaded Disney+ movies using this same set up using my iPhone XS Max… and failed.

I’ve always receive this message:

So, I’ve been forced to stream my Disney+ content instead. And yes, that worked. But the Disney+ download method has continued to elude me.

Living Happily with Cold and Mystery
Of course I’ve tried to figure out why my friend’s iPad succeeded where my iPhone has stumbled. Let me simply say that the investigation… continues.

For now, the fact that my Nebula Mars II Pro was able to contribute to another successful outdoor movie night during this chilly time of year is plenty to celebrate.

Sure, it was cold out, but these are extraordinary times. If there’s a way to avoid cancelling yet another event while also being able to social distance outdoors, I think it’s worth considering.

So, break out the long underwear. Wear layers. Stir up some hot chocolate for the kids. And maintaining some glow in a fire pit doesn’t hurt either.

With that in place, it’s worth it!