Cheap and Expensive Inflatable Movie Screens. What Is the Difference?

Inflatable movie screens have long held a major place in any outdoor event. Their convenience, mobility and universal usage leaves all the other open air screening technologies far behind. The market offers various models, costing from $200 to up to $10,000+.

But why is there such a huge difference in price? Let's figure it out. 

Well-respected world leaders in this area are Open Air Cinema, AirScreen Inflatables and EPIC. The cost for their movie equipment may range between $800 and $50,000.

But why are these brands so expensive if China-based companies offer inflatable movie screens for just $200?

A major difference is the experience of manufacturers. For years, they make constructional improvements to their outdoor movie screens, based on communication with the customers. Small manufacturers -- and especially manufacturers from Asia -- usually make their inflatable screens according to templates badly copied from the quality brand movie screen manufacturers. However, lack of experience and quality control does not let them create the same quality products, at the end of the day. 

So, what is a clear downside of buying a movie screen from an unknown -- read -- inexperienced manufacturer?

Just before the show, you may find out that your inflatable screen looks far different from the image that the company showed you in their promo materials. The screen may not fully inflate. Or it may arrive severely skewed, or even 'burst' at inflation. Also after several shows it may become plain unusable.

On average, customers of these quality screens have been successfully using their high-quality inflatable screens for over 10 years without any significant problems.

Typically, such problems with low-quality products may cause financial losses, when your shows are commercial. In other case, such issues simply disappoint your friends and family spirits and kill their anticipations for a fun backyard movie night in the bud.

 

The main differences between inflatable movie screens made by well-reputed manufacturers in comparison with the low-budget ones are these:

Quality of materials

A serious manufacturer pays great attention to the choice of material for the screen production. It has to be durable, water-resistant, and to have UV-protection. As well as to be hard-wearing and withstand even rough care (of course, such treatment is not recommended by any manufacturer). Not many people know that a high-quality movie screen is reinforced and can withstand several bullet shots retaining its shape. But we strongly recommend you to refrain from such experiments. The threads used for sewing each type of screen are specially chosen depending on the needed tension. They need to be capable of withstanding hundreds of inflations, deflations and folding-ups of the screen, as well as transportation.

Production

Despite its visual simplicity, the inflatable screen has a complex structure that has to meet high expectations of a viewer. Production technologists and high-qualified seamstresses take part in its development and manufacturing. They use very specialized sewing machines, and the production has to be carried in the facilities with a roomy area and height ceilings because each ready-to-go movie screen must be inflated and checked first. Each screen is kind of a living creature, and after the control inflation the technologist can make some adjustments to make the screen perfect.

Geometry/Shape

Smooth sides of the screen without distortion is the main, most important and most difficult part in its creating and production. The inflatable frame of the movie screen itself always tries to change the shape deforming in different directions, these are the Laws of Physics. And professionals work on the construction in a way to achieve the most even geometrical shape. Various constructional innovations for supporting elements of the canvas are used, or other methods of stabilizing, so the screens remain straight and with even proportions of the projection canvas, despite any weather or landscape conditions.

Projection Canvas

This part is used to project the image directly onto it. The canvas should have some specific characteristics. In tension the canvas has to be as stable as possible which means that serious investment into development of its chemical composition are essential. After all, it has to be strong and resilient but flexible at the same time. There should be no joints on the screen and this is a big problem for production, since it requires the creation of massive looms especially for manufacturing such a large canvas. Color and reflectivity. The screen should not be too white nor too yellow. Cheap screen manufacturers often use unsuitable materials. And while without a reflected image, such a screen may seem good but when the projector is started up, you may find out that it distorts the colors and can partially absorb the brightness so principal to the viewer. It is also important to point out the dispersion of the material itself. Due to poor quality fabric, the screen may add some ‘snow’, noise to the picture.

Another important aspect to explain is the rear projection. The canvas should have good reflective properties for front projection, this can be achieved by choosing a good black lining material attached to the main canvas which does not allow to absorb light. On the contrary, for rear projection, a special screen canvas should allow light to pass through it to maintain the right brightness of the image for the viewer.

Frost resistance

For small screens, this is not a big problem, but when it comes to the screens of 25 ft and more (size of the projection canvas itself), then in subzero temperatures (many customers use them in winter for Drive-In events) such inflatable screens may freeze up and consequently change their geometrical shape or even not to inflate at all, either to crack during inflation. To prevent this, manufacturers use sub-zero resistant materials with a special treatment. 

Very often manufacturers buy canvases from vendors who specialize ONLY in producing professional-grade canvases and are fully responsible for their quality. So the price for such canvases / screens goes up.

In addition, it goes without saying that any customer can get in touch with a well-established screen manufacturer for technical or warranty support. Or just return the unwanted product and get a refund, as per the brand's refund policy.

You can find Our Refund Policy here.

The prices from the well-established inflatable movie screen brands are justified by the high-quality materials and qualified workforce these manufacturers use. They invest in the R&D and as a result you get high-quality products plus a peace of mind that your outdoor movie screen will not collapse on you during the most anticipated blockbuster scene.

These observations were based on our own market research and operating experience, as well as our user reviews. If any comments or questions about which outdoor screening equipment fits your specific needs best -- please get in touch with us via info@bigscreenpro.com or by calling (385) 297-0027.

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