Video Wall Basics: What to Know Before Installation

You may be gravitating toward using video walls for your business. And you wouldn’t be alone. Due to unlimited flexibility, scalability, and more, video walls are helpful in various industries. Before installation, check out this must-read guide.
Video Wall Basics: What to Know Before Installation
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We're living in a time where walls can talk, educate, and captivate – they’re known as video walls. But harmoniously combining technology, design, and messaging requires thoughtful consideration. So, we bring you this must-read guide on the basics and key considerations of video wall design.

Video Wall Basics

First, let’s start with the basics. A video wall is a unique multi-monitor configuration composed of numerous computer monitors, video projectors, or television sets that have been tiled or layered together to create one big screen. It can display various content on each monitor or function as one unified colossal display.

If you're employing a video wall, you'll need processing and control systems to communicate with your display. The specific processing and control systems depend on the technology used and the complexity of the video wall setup. To construct a video wall, you can combine several display technologies.

Crucial Considerations for Design

One of the most imperative decisions in the design process is choosing the display type and resolution. The display technology will be the heart of your video wall. Video walls can be assembled using many kinds of displays, with each type having its own unique characteristics and trade-offs. Let’s break the most common choices down:

  • LED Displays: Light-Emitting Diode (LED) screens are among the most popular choices for video walls. They work exceptionally for outdoor or large-scale applications due to their high brightness, vibrant colors, excellent contrast ratios, and longevity.
  • OLED Displays: Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) displays are more suitable for darker environments or applications where high contrast is desired. They offer excellent color reproduction and contrast ratios, known for their ability to produce deep blacks and vibrant colors. However, they are typically more susceptible to burn-in and have a shorter lifespan than LEDs.
  • LCD Displays: Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) panels are another common choice. They are typically the most cost-effective option and provide good all-around performance, but they may not have the brightness needed for outdoor use or the contrast ratio desired for high-end applications. They also may not offer the same seamless flexibility as LEDs, but they provide good image quality and are often available in a range of sizes.
  • Projection Technology: Projection-based video walls use projectors to display images on a large screen. While less common than direct-view displays like LED, OLED, and LCD, projection walls are still used in certain applications.
  • Rear-Projection Cubes: These are cube-shaped displays where images are projected onto the rear surface of the cube. Rear-projection cubes are often used in control room settings and offer good visibility from various angles. They generally provide good image quality but might not match the pixel density of some direct-view displays.

The choice of technology depends on factors such as budget, space constraints, viewing environment, and specific visual requirements. It’s also important to remember that each display technology has different cooling requirements.

The ideal technology varies depending on the desired resolution. The resolution of your video wall refers to the total number of pixels that can be displayed. The higher the resolution, the more detailed and crisper an image will be. Understanding the intended viewing distance and content type is crucial for determining the appropriate resolution. The size of the screen will significantly influence the wall's impact, the viewing distance, and the overall spatial design. Moreover, it is directly correlated with the resolution of the video wall – larger screens may necessitate higher resolutions for optimal image quality. The aspect ratio, representing the width-to-height ratio of the screen, is also pivotal. While conventional ratios such as 16:9 or 4:3 are suitable for many applications, non-standard ratios offer opportunities to craft distinctive and engaging video walls. Direct-view displays often provide high resolutions, ranging from Full HD (1080p) to 4K and beyond. High-end projectors can support resolutions up to 4K or more, but achieving the same pixel density as direct-view displays may require careful calibration and other equipment. In situations where viewers will be close to the video wall, opting for high-resolution LED monitors would be preferable. Conversely, lower-resolution solutions are viable options for displays visible from a distance, such as those in stadiums.

Your choice of mounting and installation method will mainly depend on your physical space and design goals. People also get creative with it – it's not uncommon to see video walls mounted on curved surfaces, built into corners, etc. Keep in mind that projection technology requires additional space for projectors and may be affected by the distance and angle of projection. The choice of projection surface is essential for achieving optimal image quality as well. Additionally, rear-projection cubes are typically larger and bulkier, requiring sturdy mounting structures. They are often installed in a dedicated space, such as a control room. Installing rear-projection cubes involves arranging multiple cubes in a grid formation and ensuring the projection is uniform across the display.

A video wall also requires adequate space and proper lighting conditions. Consider the potential for glare or reflections. And if necessary, consider anti-reflective technologies or display orientations that minimize the impact of glare. While direct-view displays like LED, OLED, or LCD can be designed with anti-glare coatings or technologies to minimize reflections, projections rely on a clear and controlled projection surface. Glares and reflections in projection setups can be influenced by factors such as the type of screen or surface used, the ambient lighting conditions, and the positioning of projectors. Using specialized projection screens designed to minimize reflections and ambient light interference can help mitigate these issues.

The electrical requirements are also paramount to consider during the planning phase. In terms of electrical requirements, calculate the total power draw of your video wall and make sure that your facility's electrical system can handle the load. Overlooking this step could lead to electrical failures (or even fire hazards)! Direct-view displays, projection technology, and rear-projection cubes differ in electrical requirements, so that should be kept in mind.

Video wall software spans a broad spectrum of capabilities, ranging from basic single-source content management to intricate multi-source, multi-zone management systems equipped with interactive features. Working hand in hand with the software, video wall controllers receive incoming content signals and efficiently distribute them across the screens. Certain controllers offer the option to stretch a single content source across all screens, a mode commonly referred to as "video wall mode." In contrast, others can handle multiple content sources displayed on individual screens or zones. Direct-view displays and projection-based video wall displays typically use video wall controllers and management software to organize and display content seamlessly across multiple screens. However, projection setups may include additional features for edge blending and warping to ensure a seamless image across multiple projected surfaces. The software for rear-projection cubes is designed to manage synchronization and calibration between individual cubes, providing a cohesive display.

Additionally, the network infrastructure of a video wall system is the unseen but critical framework that connects every component, regardless of whether you choose direct-view displays, projection technology, or rear-projection cubes. A robust and reliable network infrastructure is key.

Once you have your video wall set up, it's important to keep environmental factors in mind, as they can significantly affect your video wall’s performance and longevity. If your video wall is in a non-climate-controlled environment or outdoors, it's necessary to invest in displays designed to withstand the elements. Dust and debris are the silent killers of electronics. Dust can clog up ventilation systems and may lead to overheating. On the other hand, debris can scratch or damage screens. Therefore, if your video wall is in a dusty environment or outdoors, it's vital to choose displays with appropriate dust and debris protection. Additionally, regular cleaning and maintenance can assist in keeping dust and debris in check. In high-noise or vibration-prone environments, consider soundproofing and vibration isolation. However, some display technologies, such as LED, are inherently more resistant to vibration than others. Ensuring proper electrical installation and grounding is imperative for both the safety and optimal functionality of your video wall. Lastly, ensure that your video wall installation adheres to all pertinent safety regulations and standards.

Video Wall Utilization

Due to their flexibility and scalability, video walls are useful in various industries, as recognized by many Fortune 500 firms and brands. When you examine the places where a large video display is useful, the applications for video walls are virtually boundless. Hospitality, retail, security, and educational institutions remain among the most typical applications. Conference-hosting companies, museums, restaurants, hotel lobbies, casinos, and houses of worship are examples of places where video walls are typically utilized. Whether you want to create a dynamic art installation, produce an eye-catching curved video wall for your store, or make a dynamic stage backdrop, video walls could be a helpful route for you to take. Keep in mind that each display technology has its pros and cons, catering to different needs in various industries.

Understanding the cultural and psychographic characteristics of your audience, such as attitudes, interests, lifestyle, and values, can considerably increase the effectiveness of your video wall. And when it comes to video walls, ensuring accessibility and inclusivity means guaranteeing that your content is clearly understood as well as appreciated by all viewers, regardless of physical abilities or cultural backgrounds.

Conclusion

In summation, building a video wall begins with careful planning and precise installation. During the planning phase, consider the video wall display types available, such as LED panels or projectors, and evaluate their advantages and drawbacks. LED, OLED, and LCD displays are among the most popular choices, but depending on your project, you may consider using projection technology or rear-projection cubes. The choice between these technologies should mainly consider the specific application’s requirements, budget constraints, and desired image quality.  

Video walls offer benefits like increased visibility, improved engagement, and enhanced communication. They provide a larger canvas for displaying content, making them ideal for conveying information in control rooms, advertising in retail spaces, or creating immersive experiences in events. Their modular nature allows for flexibility in configuration and easy scalability.

You can find this article and others like it tagged in the Digital Signage channel and AV/IT Buyers room. When posting to Xchange, make sure to tag a relevant room and channel for increased visibility!

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Go to the profile of Alexis Bou Farhat, CTS-D, CTS-I
about 2 months ago

Great breakdown @Iulia Popescu - AVIXA   ! This post covers all the essentials for designing and setting up video walls effectively. From choosing the right display tech to understanding audience needs, it's a handy resource for anyone looking to make an impact with video walls !
Thanks for sharing !

Go to the profile of Iulia Popescu - AVIXA
about 2 months ago

Glad that you enjoyed it, thank you!! @Alexis Bou Farhat, CTS-D, CTS-I 

Go to the profile of Polyvios Kaisaris
about 2 months ago

Great article! Are there any specific numerical comparisons available for maintenance and installation costs, as well as energy consumption, when comparing them with a laser video projection system of the same size? Thank you in advance for any insights you can provide.

Go to the profile of Iulia Popescu - AVIXA
about 1 month ago

Thank you for the question @Polyvios Kaisaris! When comparing them, systems of the same size can vary depending on several factors such as the specific technology chosen, the brand, the quality, the location, and the complexity of the installation. While there are general trends in terms of installation costs, maintenance costs, and energy consumption, the specific numerical comparisons can vary widely based on the specific requirements and conditions of each installation. It's essential to consider these factors carefully and consult with industry professionals to determine the most cost-effective solution for a particular application! Starting yourself off with questions about your audience requirements as well as goals for engagement and budget will help to guide your decision. If you have further questions or specific systems you are looking at, please feel free to post a Discussion to our AV/IT Buyers room so that others may chime in and message me for more info.