Video Walls are gaining huge popularity in Higher Ed, Hospitality, Corporate and Healthcare. Unfortunately, a few simple things are routinely missed that cause big problems. Make sure to follow these 10 video wall design guidelines and your video wall is more likely to enjoy a long and healthy life.
For those who are not familiar with the concept of a video wall, it is an array of video displays, created with the intention of forming a near seamless image. Because this can be misinterpreted as “just a bunch of TV’s hanging on the wall”, I have seen some projects where a technology consultant is not engaged until the end of the process. This usually results in one of two possible outcomes:
The best outcome is that the situation is recognized late in the design. The good part is this means the problem gets fixed. Unfortunately, this usually also entails re-work and re-design “ripple”. In the worst outcome, the situation is not noticed at all and leads to a premature failure of the product that is not covered by the manufacturer warranty. The purpose of this checklist is to provide a few simple things to watch out for to avoid either of these pitfalls.
NOTE: There are several competing technologies on the market with a variety of advantages, disadvantages, and price points. Some of the concerns on this list to not pertain to certain technologies. The intention is to keep things simple and keep you out of trouble.
VIDEO WALL DESIGN GUIDELINES:
- Consider Business Objectives First: Take the time to outline the goals of the video wall implementation, before considering any technology. By making sure that the objective is clear in the minds of all stakeholders before moving into the technology stage, your solution will be more creative, unique, and more likely to provide a high ROI.
- Determine Size and Location Jointly: Don’t lock-in on a display size, before you know exactly where the video wall will be located (and vise-versa). Viewing distance, screen size, and resolution are a three sided triangle and should be considered together
- Determine the Nearest Viewer Distance: With all this talk about 4k, how important is resolution? It depends on display size and viewer distance. The same amount of information that fills that huge screen in a movie theatre will fill the 70″ display you are looking to buy. Do you really need it? Depends on how far away you are standing. A good technology designer or integrator can help you with this, but don’t buy 4k, just because it’s a buzz word.
- Determine the Number of Images to be Shown Simultaneously: One giant image or dozens? The size of the individual content can impact the overall size and shape of the display, especially in a control room type of environment.
- Consider Content Before Finalizing Design: Will there be custom content created for the wall. Consider operational costs upfront to understand the real TCO. Content creation costs can add up. It is also important to consider how the aspect ratio of the display may affect content.
- Consider Duty Cycle and Color CalibrationCommercial displays can cost 2-3x more than their consumer brethren. One big difference is duty cycle. A consumer TV isn’t made to run for long periods and will ultimately decrease ROI. Commercial models are available for anywhere from 12-24 hour duty cycles and are priced accordingly. Commercial displays also allow color to be balanced between displays using special tools. Out of the box, they will not match and the result can be unprofessional.
- Budget for Appropriate Mounting Solutions: If you are holding costs for a project, do not underestimate the costs of mounts. Videowall mounts include costly mounting to enable servicing all of those tight packed displays. This is especially true in the case of curved displays!
- Consider Special Criteria for Touch Displays: Interactive touch is becoming increasingly popular. Firstly, consider that with few exceptions, you cannot do high quality touch on a curved surface. Also consider that most manufacturers utilize the same technology for display touch, which limits the overall size of the screen. This usually doesn’t present a problem in the vertical (you can only reach so high), but sometimes needs to be considered in the horizontal
- Make Sure to Provide Adequate Ventillation: The importance of ventilation increases exponentially with the size of the array and can easily affect lifespan TCO/ROI. Be sure to provide adequate space and cooling. There are a few technologies on the market which either produce negligible heat, or relocate the heat generating components to a remote location.
- Use Professional Designers and Integrators: Compared to the cost of the products involved, the cost to do it right is negligible. A good designer can help make sure that business objectives are being considered and avoid a “me-too” installation, while maintaining best practices for long term TCO. A good integrator can make sure the design is carried out properly and that investment is protected.
Hopefully this list will help save you from some significant headaches in the future. I also hope that it serves another goal … to help you think of technology as an integral component of design. Good design is both beautiful and functional. At Base4, we are always pushing to implement technology as a component of design, and move away from “technology for the sake of technology”. By definition, this means that many of the technology aspects of the project must be considered EARLIER in the design process.
Architects – Don’t be afraid to recommend that owners consider tech design on the front end of a project. Just because the owners declined that offer on the last 3 projects doesn’t mean this one has to be the same. Clients are getting more savvy to the importance of tech during Programming and SD.
Owners – Talk with your stakeholders and define your technology objectives early! Don’t just say “We’re going to put a video wall here”. What do you want that wall to display? How will it be used? You are going to pay for design regardless. It cannot be built until it is designed. The only difference is that it will be designed in accordance with your mission and vision if this is done early in the process. Let your architect know that you have had these internal discussions and want to address tech early. Many architects are (justifiably) concerned that you have NOT had these conversations. They worry, based on experience, that bringing up these topics will just lead to endless internal disagreement and delay the design phase.
If you enjoyed this article, you might also enjoy reading about The Epic move from Presentation to Collaboration, since video walls play a key role in this shift. You can read the first article or sign up for our blog to get notified about articles like this one.