One of the latest trends in video displays is LED video walls.
In the last few years, the prices have come down dramatically, while the LED resolution has been steadily increasing, to where LED video screens are rapidly becoming an alternative to projection.
In my position as a volunteer technician at my church, and as a business owner who rents AV equipment, I've extensively used and rented the last several years LED screens. There are times when they are the perfect solution, and times when projection makes better sense.
Pixel pitch or resolution is also something that needs to be considered when deciding on the right LED wall solution.
LED walls are known for their brightness. They can really “shine” in high ambient light environments, not to mention direct sunlight. If your application is in an outdoor environment or indoors with a lot of ambient or stage lighting, a LED screen may be a good solution for you.
As with all things, there are pros and cons to renting or leasing a LED video solution. I personally feel that renting is a great way to try the new technology, to see if it’s a good fit for your application before making the final plunge into a purchase.
Let’s focus on the benefits of a rental for a moment.
There is a lot more versatility with LED screens, given their modular design. With this versatility comes substantially more configuration. It’s not a straightforward is connecting an HDMI cable to the screen and turning it on.
Your application may not call for a standard shaped screen, or you may be using it for a lighting effect. This is what makes them so versatile. Your rental company understands how this all works and can set it up, configure it and scale the video to make it look right for the way you need it to work.
There are a lot of things to consider when using LED video screens. They typically require more power than a standard projector. Oftentimes, a couple of wall outlets are not sufficient. If your event is outdoors, you may need a generator and power distribution boxes to supply the video screen with enough current. There’s also the weight to consider if you are planning on flying the panels. The panels are pretty light individually, but add up quickly. A lot of LED walls can also be configured for ground support, but often will need some type of extra vertical support.
Pixel pitch or resolution is also something that needs to be considered when deciding on the right LED wall solution. And this is usually determined by the distance that the audience will be from the screen itself.
As technology progresses, pixel pitch is getting tighter and tighter which may lead some people to think that smaller is better. However, consider that the more pixels you have, the more power the screen will draw. This can also have an effect on the amount of video processing you need to send the image to the screen.
Oftentimes, standard projection screens are mixed in an environment with LED panels. This can make a very desirable effect utilizing technology that may already be in-house. One of the problems I have run into when mixing LED panels and projection is the brightness of the LED screen. Simply put, the LED panels are so bright that they make the projectors look dim. You can turn down the brightness of the LED panels to an extent, but at some point the gray levels crush, making the display look bad.
I recently met with a church considering purchasing an LED solution. They wanted to have it installed for an upcoming event, but need to convince the elders of its value. After speaking with the team for a while, I found that the technical director did not feel renting was a good value. He felt that it is like throwing money away, versus investing it into the final solution. I asked him what the elders knew about the benefits of the screen, how we would impact the congregation and whether or not they have ever seen one used in an environment such as theirs.
This particular event only happens once a year, but the church's goal was to use it year-round. I quickly found out that they do not yet have the infrastructure to utilize it and that the solution was part of a larger upgrade.
I was able to convince the tech director that a rental not only would help him explain and present the vision to the elders, but it would satisfy the need they have for the upcoming event.
By renting the screen for their upcoming event, the congregation could see and experience the vision that the technical director has for the space. I was able to further explain that by renting, the screens would be set up quicker and the content would look better, since we had experience setting it up in various configurations and know what "extra" items (processors, scalers, etc.) would be needed to achieve the look they wanted.
Many times, your rental house is also your integrator. If this is the case, they may give you a credit or discount off your rental, if you purchase.
In conclusion, LED panels and walls are here to stay. As they’re dropping in price and increasing in resolution quickly, it makes them a viable solution for video needs. If you have an outdoor event special event or are even considering a purchase, rental may be the way to go for you. By hiring a qualified rental company, you can illuminate a lot of unforeseen headaches allowing you to focus on your content.