LED Walls & When to Spend the Extra Buck
In this post we will explain:
- What is an LED Wall?
- What are the parameters and settings that you want to be looking at before renting an LED Wall?
- Why it is important to rent an LED wall from an accredited company?
What is an LED Wall?
LED Wall is made out of modular video tiles that are typically 19′ 2″ x 19′ 2″ (0.5m x 0.5m) in size, and when put together, allows to build a customizable, scaleable, seamless video screens that are “self-lighted” (unlike a projector). The vast majority of LED wall tiles are manufactured in China and this is why it is more common to find LED tiles that are using the Metric system. LED walls started as an advertising solution (what you see in Times Square, NYC for example), and as technology got better and prices became cheaper, evolved to serve the events and retail markets.
What are the parameters and settings that you want to be looking at before renting an LED Wall?
Unfortunately, not all LED walls were created equal, and variation in quality and types are so large and technical, that it takes a lot of effort and expertise to differentiate and choose the right wall for your specific needs.
Indoors Tiles Vs. Outdoors Tiles
This is as simple as it sounds, indoors tiles are designed for indoors use, while outdoor tiles are designed for outdoors use. What are the differences then? The differences are typically in waterproof ratings, and the color of the face of each LED pixel.
‘An IP rating, or “Ingress Protection Rating, classifies the degrees of protection against both solids and liquids in electrical enclosures.” While IP rating is hard to explain, what it does is actually straightforward – an outdoors LED wall has a typical IP rating of “IP65”, which is considered “weatherproof” and therefore, suitable for outdoors use. An indoors LED wall is not weatherproof, and therefore can get damaged by merely being exposed to humidity – it can get damaged even without a direct contact with water.
Unlike the IP ratings, the type of LED lamps used is a bit more complicated to explain. The explanation requires us to explain few basic terms that will serve as an introduction to our next topic about “resolution” and “pixel pitch”.
What is a Pixel?
Each LED tile is made out of certain amount of “pixels” (for example 96 x 96 pixels). A pixel is a single light emitting unit that typically comprised of RGB lights (red, green, blue). When the pixels are put together, they make up a video screen that can display content. Any video screen is made out of pixels (for example, if you get very close to your television screen, you will be able to see the pixels, and the RGB lights in the, they are just much smaller and more dense that it is harder to notice them from a distance). A more official definition for a pixel – “a pixel is a minute area of illumination on a display screen, one of many from which an image is composed“. It is important to know about pixels because in our discussion about indoors vs. outdoors rated tiles, the color of the “face” of each pixel is different. An outdoors LED screen pixel face color is typically grey while the face of an indoors LED pixel is black (typically a black face SMD LED). The difference in color makes indoors screens have a greater contrast ratio, and therefore, the quality of the image is typically better.
The other major difference in pixels between indoors and outdoors LED is the brightness of each pixel, and the heat it is generating. A typical indoors tile will have brightness of 800-1500 nits, while an outdoors screen will have a brightness of 3,500-8000 nits. A brighter LED pixel generates more heat than a less brighter one. For that reason, it is harder to put outdoors pixels close to each other without damaging the pixels around them. This is because the heat each pixel generates can damage the pixels surrounding it. Therefore, indoors screens can be arranged in a way that more pixels can “fit” into a single LED tile, which increases the quality and resolution of the video it can display.
The latest technology in LED lamps offers a hybrid screen that is suitable for both indoors and outdoors – LED pixels that have a black face, but are still bright enough to display an image outdoors. The highest resolution of a hybrid led panel as of October 2018 is 3.9mm, which is 128 x 128 pixels per 0.5m LED tile. This lead us to our next discussion about resolution and pixel pitch.
Resolution & Pixel Pitch:
In digital video, resolution means the number of pixels displayed on a specific screen size. Each LED tile is consisted of certain amount of pixels, and the larger the amount of pixels condensed together in a tile, the higher the resolution. Therefore, the better the quality and clarity of the video screen. If you think about it, each video screen is made out of individual light bulbs that when put together can display a variety of colors that makes a picture. In the context of LED wall, the larger the amount of pixels per tile, the better the resolution, and the shorter the ideal viewing distance.
How it is applicable to the decision about which LED wall to choose for your event? Resolution and viewing distance are tied together! if you have an event where the first row of seats are 8′ away from the screen, you want to make sure to choose an LED wall that will have a resolution that is high enough to allow a clear viewable image from 8′ away. On the other end, if you hire LED wall for an outdoors concert, and the viewing distance is over 100′ away, you can choose a wall that is lower in resolution, and therefore will be typically cheaper to rent.
Here is a list of LED tile resolutions and minimum viewing distance we recommend:
9.6mm pixel pitch (52×52 pixels per tile) – 75 to 100 ft
7.8mm pixel pitch (64×64 pixels per tile) – 50 to 75 ft
4.8mm pixel pitch (104×104 pixels per tile) – 30 to 50 ft
3.91mm pixel pitch (128×128 pixels per tile) – 20 to 40 ft
2.97mm pixel pitch (168×168 pixels per tile) – 12 to 30 ft
2.84mm or smaller pixel pitch (176×176 pixels per tile) – 8 to 20 ft
Refresh rate is the number of times in a second that a display hardware updates its buffer. The refresh rate includes the repeated drawing of identical frames, while frame rate measures how often a video source can feed an entire frame of new data to a display. In our industry, what’s important is to choose an LED wall that is “camera-safe” – when shooting an LED screen with a camera, we may encounter what’s called the “flickering” effect, which appear as if the LED wall is “strobing”. “Camera-safe” LED wall need to have a refresh rate of 1920Hz to 3940Hz to be considered “camera-safe”.
Grey scale and color depth are also very important and can determine if the LED manufacturer used high quality components. Typically, a wall with 3840Hz refresh rate will necessarily have sufficient grey scale and color depth levels, because they share the same hardware.
Why it is important to rent an LED wall from an accredited company?
LED wall tiles are heavy, and therefore, need to be supported by certified and tested support system. Our number 1 rule is “Safety First”, so rest assure that you are in good hands in that regard. Building an LED wall is somehow similar to building a wall at your home, it needs to have the proper support system, and enough weight to support it so it doesn’t fall. We literally use physics equations to calculate how much support our LED wall requires. This video proves our point!
Wall Components Quality:
You probably don’t know this, but low end Chinese manufacturer will manufacture their products based on the budget you gave them. If you want to be cheap, you will get a CHEAP product – made out of lower quality components. For example, an LED tile with 2.84mm pixel pitch can cost anywhere from $400 to $3000 per tile! a reasonable person understands that cheaper isn’t typically better. Many companies are not knowledgeable enough to know which LED tiles to purchase, and what components to spec, so they simply purchase the cheapest option available. Our LED tiles are customized and specified to have the best components, from drivers, to receiving cards, led lamps, chassis, and more.
LED Tiles Inventory:
As you probably know, the events industry is unpredictable! sometimes you order a wall size that you think is large enough for your needs, but then you may find out that the screen you ordered is not large enough. LED tiles must be manufactured in the same batch, otherwise, when you mix them, the colors between tiles look different. In that scenario, if you chose a company that only owns a small amount of tiles from the same manufacturing batch, and you decide to increase the size of your video all, you may get an answer that they don’t have more tiles. When we rent an LED wall, we make sure that we have at least 15% spare tiles on-site (at no additional cost to you), and another 20% backup at the warehouse, ready to go.
Additionally, when you rent an LED wall from us, we guaranty ZERO dead pixels, We guarantee that you will get the highest quality, highly maintained LED wall.