LED Walls – A Bold And Exciting World Full of Options PART ONE: Low or High Resolution Products
The new world of light-emitting diode or LED has exploded. Costs are starting to fall. The range of products to choose from is increasing each day. This is amazing and opens up a lot of opportunities. But like any technical instrument of worship, you will want to choose what’s right for your facility and what best matches your application needs.
Let’s start with a simple explanation of a few different types of products.
LOW RESOLUTION OR HIGH RESOLUTION LED PRODUCTS
Let’s keep this simple. The way I am using this term, resolution, has to do with the spacing between each LED light on the panel, even though the official term that is used is “pixel pitch.” The closer the LED lights are to each other or the tighter the pitch, the better the panel will look to the congregation that is close to the panel. The farther away each LED light is from each other, the better it will look to the congregation further away.
For example, a product with 3mm resolution or “pixel pitch” would look fine to an audience 15 to 20 feet from the panel, but a 9mm product would not. But a 9mm panel would look fine to an audience that is 40 or 50 feet away from the panel. All of this is assuming you’re trying to do HD or higher-quality video. Don’t forget about super low-res products. These are products that go as high as 25mm for resolution and can create very interesting atmospheres in the room.
Low res and super low-res products are mostly used as backgrounds, or eye candy to paint a stage or fill in some gaps. There are some really cool products that are flexible LED, and have models that range from super low-res to high res. PixelFLEX is one manufacturer I’ve seen that has a range of impressive products.
These types of products give you a ton of flexibility when using it to create lively moving images and backgrounds that accent the lighting design in your worship space. As an example, we flew a 70 foot wide by 40 foot high LED wall for an event at Gateway Church. It used flexible LED and created a massive background for our lighting team. We were able to make this happen on our stage due to it being very flexible, allowing rigging not to be an issue, because the product was much lighter than a traditional LED wall.
If you need something that’s more of a traditional mounted screen look, these types of flexible products will probably have some drawbacks for such an application. When considering a traditional LED wall versus a specialized screen, you may want to consider your typical rigid LED products made by companies like ROE Visual, THOR or Absen.
These high resolution products can really bring life to your event, especially when you’re looking for brightness. High resolution products are typically sold by companies that offer a normal, rigid LED. Because these LEDs come in panels that are latched together to make the wall, you can build an LED wall in tight spaces that are very large or odd-shaped. I have worked with Absen and ROE VISUAL. I really rely on their higher res products when doing video shoots that show the screens a lot. They create eye-popping video images that draw in the audience. If the LED walls end up in a camera shot, these companies offer processing and really tight pixel pitches, like 1.9mm pitch, that help reduce if not eliminate moiré issues.
Moiré patterns occur when a scene or an object that is being photographed contains repetitive details (such as lines, dots, etc.) that exceed the sensor resolution. As a result, a still or video camera produces a strange-looking wavy pattern as seen to the right.
Some of your lower quality LED walls with wider pitch or lower resolution can cause this issue when seen by the video camera. In addition, you want to pay attention to the refresh rate of the LED wall. The higher the refresh rate, the better the product will look on video cameras that happen to shoot the wall. I stay with 2,800 Hz or higher for a reliable refresh rate.
Other benefits for using LED walls are that they are very bright and can be used outside. Larger productions, outdoor events, or shows with lots of light bleed on the screen tend to use LED. A good rule of thumb is this: If the technical expertise of the event requires a large screen, odd screen size, is installed in tight spaces, or needs to be eye-popping bright, traditional rigid fixed LED may be the right choice for you.