LED screens used to be a nice to have at your event. But, with the reduction in costs over the last few years, they are becoming more and more common, almost to the point of being a default for many events.
LED screens, although flexible and visually stunning for your attendees, come with unique challenges that need to be considered.
Using LED Screens
LED screens are modular video surfaces that can be used in a lot of situations. Because they are modular, you can enjoy flexibility in the size and shape of the video surface you use at your event. Gone are the concerns of a speaker walking in front of a projector and casting a shadow on the screen. You can use them for stunning visual impact without impeding additional space in the room for projectors or additional infrastructure.
You are never held back by standard shapes and can use their modular nature to create video columns and pillars, traditional video screens, scenic elements, curves, surrounds… pretty much anything you like.
The footprint can be really compact while giving you more impact for your visual buck!
However, there are some challenges that you need to be aware of when using LED screens.
Weight is a Huge Factor
Each of those panels weighs around 25 pounds. This need to be taken into consideration in your rigging plan. The span and weight of an LED screen need to be factored in when designing your truss or rigging system.
Don’t use White or Black
White can wash out a room because the LED screen is a series of thousands of little lights pointing directly at your audience. Conversely, Black will appear grey once you shine some stage light on it. Try to use bold, saturated colours as your main screen colour. Use the white and back as highlights and emphasis in your design.
You Need a Good Processor
An LED screen is not a television. It’s made up of thousands of little lights (called pixels) that can be controlled to display any image you want. But, in order for those images to look good, you need a good processor. A processor takes the video signal and breaks it up into the right colours for each pixel on the screen. If you don’t have a good processor, your images will look blocky, blurry or washed out.
Moire – Lots of Squiggly lines
If you have ever looked at a screen and seen squiggly lines where there shouldn’t be any, that’s called Moire. It’s caused by the pixels on the screen being unable to keep up with the image on the screen. The result is a series of wavy lines that can be distracting.
In most cases, this can’t be seen by the naked eye, but the camera you are using for IMAG (Image magnification) will see them all. So, if you are using an LED screen for IMAG, make sure you factor this in when designing your event. Moire can mostly be caused by the distance your speaker is standing from the screen. The closer they are to the screen, the more easily the Moire will be visible. By adding a few feet of distance between the speaker and the screen, your camera can focus on the speaker more with additional depth of field, allowing the LED screen in the background to be in slightly less focus. Like your eyes do to focus on the foreground, this eliminates the Moire effect on the camera.
Resolution is everything
Resolution is the amount of pixels high by the number of pixels wide an image or video is. For example, on your standard HD-TV, a 1920×1080 resolution means that the images displayed are 1920 pixels wide by 1080 pixels high. You can read a ton on the internet about different standard resolutions.
Remember that modular LED tiles are all manufactured in a 1:1 ratio. Meaning that each tile is exactly the same amount of pixels high and wide.
Every LED tile type is slightly different. Some have 128 pixels per side, some up to 200. So, if you want to create a screen that displays 1920×1080 content (a standard PowerPoint) and your tiles are 128 pixels per side, you need a screen that is 15 tiles wide and 9 tiles high. (note that technically that is a little larger than 1080 pixels high….)
Sizing you Screen
Remembering that every tile is generally 500mm x 500mm in size, the screen sizing will be a bit tricky. When sizing your screen, make sure to take these measurements into account. You will have to do a bit of conversion. Luckily, most manufacturers have helpful online tools you can use to get the specs of your screen right. On these tools, you can enter in the amount of tiles high and wide to get your pixel resolution, screen overall size etc, along with some of the key things you will need like weight, power consumption and other specs your team will need.
Measured in Millimetres
The resolution of LED tiles is measured n Millimetres. For example, when you see a 2.6mm tile, it means that the distance between each Light Emitting Diode (LED) is 2.6mm. The higher the number, the less resolution. That is not always a bad thing. It will all depend on how far away your audience is from the LED screen. In most outdoor applications, like a concert or festival, we will go with a lower resolution tile. It is more cost-effective and a higher tile resolution would not be required for visibility.
In typical business events set in a ballroom, a high resolution might be required, as your audience will be seated much closer to the screen. Viewing something that close on a low-resolution tile will make your content appear pixelated.
Content is King
Finally, you need to think through your content creation process. Although there are great pieces of technology that can map your PowerPoint presentation on the screen (i.e. the processor), you will need to make sure that your content is built with native resolutions. From the example above, notice that the resolution of the 15×9 tile screen was above the 1080 standard height. Creating background images and video will need to be created using the native resolution of the full tile layout to ensure you don’t get black bars (non-content areas) or stretching.