LED video wall systems are becoming more and more popular, to where they are often featured in house of worship environments.
Stage lighting, as well as natural light coming into your space (if you have windows), will not negatively impact the visual quality of LED video panels.
Over the last several years, the quality of these video wall products has increased significantly, as pricing for these systems has decreased. These two factors have allowed companies like E2i Design, to bring LED video wall systems to the forefront of our conversations about projects with churches as a solid alternative to projection systems.
However, there are several factors at play to determine if such an option is feasible.
While each system and project is unique, there are some baseline considerations to look at when beginning to discuss the pros and cons between an LED wall and projection system.
One of the most important things to consider when looking at an LED video wall system is how it is going to be used. Are you planning to set it up and leave it up forever, or are you intending to use it as part of your overall visual and scenic look for your stage designs?
If you are using the panels for IMAG to replace projection screens, you most likely will not be taking it apart anytime soon. But if it is part of your overall stage looks, you will probably want to break it down and reconfigure the wall into other looks in the future.
One of the beautiful things about an LED video wall system is modularity. The capability to configure the panels in virtually any setup is very attractive to designers for creative elements, and is one of the key differentiators between LED and projection. Usually you wouldn't want to take a pair of scissors to your HD screen surface and cut it up into smaller pieces!
Let's say you do want to use it for a visual element and would like the capability to reconfigure the panels three to five times a year. If that is something of importance to you, not all panels are created equal.
Some manufacturers are much better with their design of the frame that makes up the overall video panel than others. Most manufacturers require tools, levels, and all sorts of other pieces of equipment to put a LED video wall together.
Others have a very easy locking system that requires no tools, to where setup is fast and easy. This is very important, if you want to reconfigure the system regularly, because as we know, time is precious.
Another consideration is if the LED video wall system will be enhancing or replacing physical scenic elements on your stage. If it will be replacing, you can take the budget you spend on scenic annually and put that money back into the costs of the LED video wall system. You can do the same, even if you are reducing the number of physical pieces you use.
Keep in mind you will need to have the ability to create and configure content for your LED panels, if you are doing special designs and configurations, so make sure you are prepared for that. It's unlikely you can pull off-the-shelf content, and just send it out to the panels, as you'll need to configure pixel counts, aspect ratios, etc.
LED video panels are also very bright, and without negatively impacting visual quality, the intensity of the panels can be controlled through the system processors. This is a very nice feature to ensure your LED panels blend well with the surrounding lighting.
Speaking of which, both stage lighting, as well as natural light coming into your space (if you have windows), will not negatively impact the visual quality of LED video panels, as either would when using a projection system. This allows you to again balance the brightness of the video panels perfectly with the surroundings, so it does not overpower the creative lighting elements you may be doing on your stage. There is nothing worse than making a great lighting look, and then destroying it with video that is too bright! In addition to brightness control, LED panels tend also to have a very high viewing angle. This means that depending on placement of the panels on the stage, an audience member, at an estimated 140-degree angle to the stage, will still be able to see the image or text displayed on the LED video wall.
Another important consideration to take into account is pixel pitch. This is room dependent, and is usually driven by how far away from the panel surface the first audience member is sitting. The higher the pixel pitch number (such as 2mm vs. 7mm), the lower the image quality will become. One example of how the difference between two pixel pitches can have much different results, is if you have someone sitting 20 feet away from the LED wall panels, a 7mm pixel pitch probably isn't going to allow the image to blend enough for them to see it with a great degree of clarity, especially text.
By comparison, if you had a 2.8mm pixel pitch panel instead being viewed by that same audience member, it will probably feel to them as if they are watching an LED TV in their living room at home. The image quality will be very high.
With the wide variety of LED wall panels available with extremely low pixel pitches, there is some important math to be used to calculate what the best pitch is for your needs. You don't want to buy more pixel pitch than necessary, otherwise, you would unnecessarily be wasting money. And of course, you don't want to come in under pitch as well.
In addition, maintenance is also a key factor to account for. LED panels are very low effort, when it comes to maintenance, whereas projection tends to have a much higher maintenance schedule. I usually say it like this, LED has a higher up-front cost, but has a diminishing cost of ownership the longer you own it.
Initial investment in projection may be only slightly lower (depending on projector size vs. LED panel count) and it will have an increasing cost of ownership over the life cycle of the product. Ongoing care, cleaning, lamp replacements, etc. all will cost time and money. And while LED systems are not without required care, it is certainly significantly less than compared to projection.
These are just a few considerations when thinking about an LED video panel system for your ministry, but some we consider very important to look at.
If you have additional questions on this topic, feel free to reach out and I'm happy to assist!