LED video systems are becoming more and more popular in house of worship environments.
Ongoing care, cleaning, lamp replacements, etc. all will cost time and money relating to projection, versus LED video wall technology.
Over the last several years the quality of the products being produced have improved significantly, while the pricing structure for these systems has comparatively reduced.
These two factors have allowed us to bring LED video systems to the forefront of our conversations on projects, as a solid alternative to projection systems.
However, there are several factors at play to determine if it is feasible.
While each system and project are unique, there are some baseline considerations to look at when beginning to discuss the pros and cons between an LED wall system and projection.
One of the most important things to consider when looking at an LED video 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 any time soon.
If it is part of your overall stage designs and visual support, though, you will probably want to break it down and reconfigure the wall into other setups.
One of the beautiful things about an LED video system is its modularity. This 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 an LED video wall and projection.
Let’s say you do want to use the LED video wall 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 equally.
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 wall together. Others, though, have very easy locking systems that require no tools and setup is fast and easy. This is very important if you want to reconfigure fairly regularly, because as we know, time is precious.
Another consideration is if the LED video 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 system.
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 really 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 those same elements would with projection. 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 really great lighting look and then destroying it with video that is too bright!
In addition to brightness control, LED video wall 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 say a 140-degree angle to the stage, could still see the image or read text.
Another important consideration 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, the lower quality image you will get. The smaller the pixel pitch is, the better the image quality.
An example would be if you have someone sitting 20 feet away from the panels, where 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, particularly text. However, if you have a 2.8mm pixel pitch panel, and that person is sitting the same distance away, 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.
Overall, there is some important math we want to use to calculate what the best pitch is.
What you don’t want to do is buy more pixel pitch than you need. At that point, you would unnecessarily be wasting money.
And of course, you don’t want to come in under pitch as well.
Maintenance is also a very important consideration.
LED video wall panels add up to a very low effort, relating 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 versus LED panel count) and it will have an increasing cost of ownership over the life cycle of the projection product.
Ongoing care, cleaning, lamp replacements, etc. all will cost time and money relating to projection, versus LED video wall technology. And while LED systems are not without required care, it is certainly significantly less than 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!