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LED Video Walls 101

There are few things in the world of A/V more eye-catching than an LED video wall. From just a few panels on the side of a DJ booth to massive screens in arenas and mega churches, video walls have spread throughout the performance world in a big way in recent years. You may have been hesitant to invest in a video wall up until now, possibly due to a lack of knowledge on the subject. Today, we’ll cover the basics of video walls so you can get a better idea of what they’re all about - and why there’s no reason to get left behind!

Shop for LED Video Panels

Why Use a Video Wall?

Many get excited at the prospect of implementing video walls into their A/V systems... until they see the price. Video panels tend to be a sizeable investment, and if you’re not clear on the benefits, you may just think you can use a projector instead to cut costs. Well, you might not want to do that because:

  • You can stand right in front of a video screen without disrupting the image. Projectors are susceptible to shadows, and nothing kills your awesome visuals faster than a bunny-shaped hand shadow. Rear-projection can help you get around this pitfall but has its own, namely having to make enough room behind the screen to ensure a proper projection.
  • Projections get easily disrupted by fog and/or haze, drastically reducing clarity and resolution, sometimes to the point where images are indecipherable. The beam between the projector and the screen will also become visible, which you may not want as part of your show. LEDs, on the other hand, cut through fog and haze with ease.
  • You can’t technically project the color black, meaning your contrast with a projector is always limited. The faces of LED panels are typically painted black to ensure you get the best contrast possible.
  • Sunlight may make a video wall appear less vibrant but it can completely wash out a projection.
  • LEDs are rated to last at least 50,000 hours on average, whereas you’d have to buy dozens of replacement lamps for your projector in that same amount of time.
  • LED video screens can be completely customized into any size/shape you want or need.

Pixel Pitch - Determining Your Resolution

The first step in choosing the right video screen is picking the pixel pitch. Pixel Pitch is the distance from the center of an LED cluster (or pixel) to the center of the next LED cluster/pixel, measured in millimeters. To put it simply: the smaller the pitch, the higher the baseline resolution.

Here are a few general guidelines to keep in mind when selecting pitch:

  • Allow one meter of viewing distance for every millimeter of pixel pitch. For example, if your pixel pitch is 5.2 millimeters, your optimal/minimum viewing distance is 5.2 meters or approximately 15 feet.
  • If you need to display (readable) text, stick to a pitch of 7mm or smaller for better clarity.
  • 6mm or smaller isn’t necessary if your screen is going to be outdoors.
  • True HD is 1920 pixels across by 1080 pixels high. You can technically have HD picture quality at any size pitch as long as you have the right amount of overall pixels.

How Bright Does It Need To Be?

This is one of the hardest questions to answer for video walls and for lighting in general, as the answer is relative to the user; what I consider bright enough may not be bright enough in your opinion or vice versa. Factors such as where the panels are used (indoors or outdoors), the amount of fog or haze being used, and the ambient light level in the room all make a difference in what would be appropriate.

Brightness levels for LED video walls are measured in NITS. To put it in perspective, your average TV is about 300 NITS total. For outdoor use, you’ll need panels that provide about 4,000 NITS or more to compete with the sun. Indoor use has many more variables, and therefore doesn’t have any hard and fast rules to go off of.

Types of LEDs

You’re probably aware of the difference between halogen and LED lights but did you know that there are also different kinds of LEDs? There are two that you will typically encounter when working with video panels:

SMD - Surface Mount Diode
  • Multi-color LED that looks like a single pixel
  • Capable of much smaller pitches - better for hi-def images
  • Wider viewing angle - will not lose detail viewing off-axis
DIP - Direct In-Line Package
  • Separate, encapsulated diodes for each color
  • Less expensive than SMD
  • Brighter
  • Longer lifespan
  • More durable against heat and weather
  • Outdoor screens 10mm+ will usually be DIP

Putting It All Together

There are many components to a video wall integral to get it running aside from just the panels themselves. Signal cables, power jumpers, rigging gear, and signal processors are all necessary components of a video wall system , and while I would love to elaborate on them, explaining how they play into the setup could warrant a whole other article (stay tuned – it just might!).

You now can make an educated decision on the panels that are right for you. For the rest of the package, give us a call at 1-800-268-5520 and one of our seasoned Gear Advisors will get you set up in no time!

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