LED Walls: The Basics
Posted on Sep 29, 2021 3:30:48 PM
Part 1 of 5 in the LED Walls series
What is an LED Wall?
At its core, an LED Wall is a collection of small lights known as diodes arranged in columns and rows on panels that can be connected together and arranged to form a larger cohesive image. Since these panels can be arranged in a variety of ways, LED Walls allow for a tremendous amount of design creativity and flexibility when compared to a traditional Projector and Screen.
Components of an LED Wall
LED Walls are composed of multiple Panels. Panels are connected together by internal mounting connections on each side - top, bottom, left, right. If the LED Wall is built on the ground or a stage (known as Ground-Stacked) the bottom row is connected first, and then Panels are added up from there. If the LED Wall is suspended (known as Flown) from the ceiling or truss, the top row is connected first and then all the way down. For more info on Processors, check out this article.
LED Walls receive a video signal from an external Processor, which receives video from sources like computers or cameras, oftentimes through a switcher. The processor assigns a “map” of how each panel is physically connected and sends the video content needed to each panel. A “Signal Flow” represents how the wiring on the back of the LED Wall is connected in order to carry a signal to each panel.
Advantages of LED Walls
- Incredibly bright compared to traditional Projector/Screen setups
- Ambient Light or bleed from Stage Lighting is much less of an issue
- Inherent design flexibility since the Panels can be arranged in multiple layouts
- Allows more dynamic visual presentations than static, scenic backdrops
- The same LED Wall design could be used to display a Logo, then a scenic video, then function as a visual aid during a presentation, and then a slow-moving background while performers are in front of the wall. The only thing that changed was the visual image being displayed, but the LED Wall was able to perform as both a Background and Focal Point.
- Scalable: If you have 100 panels, you could use all of them for a large event, or create a design that only uses 40 panels for a smaller event.
- Longevity: Typically, LED Walls have a longer expected lifespan compared to Projectors. Laser-based projectors typically have a life of around 20,000 hours for projectors and upwards of 100,000 hours or more for LED before their maximum brightness levels drop below 50% of their original brightness. However, the brightness of an LED Wall is relatively consistent for 8-10 years. And since individual components can be replaced (quadrants, power supplies, network cards, processors, etc) it is certainly possible to maintain a quality image well past 10 years.
Disadvantages of LED Walls
- Cost: Panels, Processor(s), Infrastructure like Power, Cabling, etc.
- Weight/Structure: LED Walls are heavy.
- Stage Decking must be able to support the weight of Ground-Stacked panels
- Trussing and Structural Steel must be able (and certified) to support the weight of Flown panels
- Service Issues
- Can you reach every panel from a ladder? Do you need a lift?
- How many panels need to be removed to access a single panel in the top, middle, or bottom of the wall?
- What will need to be moved or removed from the stage in order to access the front AND back of the panels?
- An LED Wall isn’t a curtain - it won’t move over 6” without a large amount of effort.
- Where are you going to store and protect spare panels?