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Is an LED Video Wall in Your Church's Future

Jun 16, 2017

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LED Video walls are rapidly becoming an essential part of church lighting designs. This has created exciting new opportunities to enhance your worship services, but it's also raised questions about how to choose the led displays that are right for your church. Things like pixel pitch, viewing distance, panel/module dimensions, and NITS are all important factors in selecting products for your video wall, but if you aren't experienced they can leave you more than a little confused and cause you to spend more money than necessary by buying “more led video panel” than your church actually needs.

The first thing to look at when evaluating a video panel for your church is pixel pitch. Pixel pitch is the center-to-center spacing between each LED (both vertical and horizontal), measured in millimeters. The smaller the pixel pitch, the closer your minimum viewing distance becomes. If you're too close to a video panel based on its minimum viewing distance, the images will look pixelated; which means you'll see the individual LEDs that make up the image rather than the image as a whole. So, if you want your video panels to convey images that look clear to worshipers, you have to make sure that the pixel pitch is appropriate for the distance between those led panels and the first row in your church.

Here's a simple formula to use when evaluating pixel pitches: allow one meter of viewing distance for every millimeter of pixel pitch. So, if your pixel pitch is 5.2 millimeters, your optimal/minimum viewing distance is 5.2 meters, which is approximately 15 feet.

Too often, we've seen churches “over-buy” pixel pitch when selecting video panels. For example, if the closest member of your congregation sits 50 feet from your video wall, you can buy a video panel with a 15 millimeter pixel pitch instead of a 5 millimeter pitch. (Panels with smaller pixel pitches cost more.) I compare what some churches do when over-buying pixel pitch to someone using a tractor trailer to haul a bag of groceries from the supermarket every week; it isn't necessary or cost-efficient. Buying the pixel pitch that matches your needs (and nothing more) is the surest way to save money on video panels.

The next biggest thing to consider is the brightness of a video panel, which is measured in NITS. A NIT is a unit of measurement, defined as the cd/m2. It's used primarily in televisions, projectors, and video walls. If you're doing an outdoor event that takes place during the day, then you're going to need to compete with the brightness of the sun. In this setting, you're going to want to have a rating greater than 6000 NITS; otherwise, your content won't be legible on the screen.

However, if your church event is indoors, then 6000 NITS is overkill and very overwhelming for your congregation. Therefore, for indoor applications, 1200-2500 NITS is not only sufficient, but preferable. Even with a brightness of 1200 NITS, you may not need to run it at 100% intensity for your content. Again, as with pixel pitch, you should be careful not to over-buy brightness. If your led screen is intended only for indoor use, it doesn't make sense to invest in the brightest panel you can find.

If you do intend to use your video panels in outdoor services, you should look for video panels that are very stable, in addition to having a high NITS rating. A modular video panel system can become a large “sail” outdoors, capturing the wind and blowing over. (Stage designers often plan appropriate ballast systems for the canopy, but not the video wall.) This is a serious safety concern that you should always consider when planning for outdoor events. There are many LED video panels available that offer “transparency” in their design. This design feature allows the wind to blow through the video wall, rather than against it. You'll want to select a video panel with a transparency rating of 10% or higher to remain safe. While you will still need to increase your stage ballast system for the video wall, it will be minimal in comparison.

Knowing how to evaluate your options in video panels in a way that reflects the specific needs of your services will not only help you enhance your congregation's worship experience, it will result in considerable cost savings your church.