Here Are Two More Jobs Showing How LED Video Walls Are Now Mainstream Tech

June 28, 2022 by Dave Haynes

I have been writing for the last couple of years about how direct view LED is now a mainstream technology that is no longer just going into high-profile, big-budget projects, and a couple of new installations in this morning’s inbox really drive that home.

A multimedia room gateway in a local library, and a giant backdrop in a high school’s theater.

First up, the main branch of the Whittier Public Library in Whittier, California (middle of metro LA) has a 2.5mm digital archway made with two vertical columns joined by a horizontal ribbon across the top. The project uses SNA Displays for the LED and it was pulled together and put in by solutions provider Electrosonic. The arch is positioned as a portal taking people from the main library and into the children’s reading section.

Despite the technical nature of the LED installation, says an Electrosonic press release on the job, a new display is only as good as the content that goes on it. To deliver the Library with high-quality, engaging, and relevant content, Electrosonic turned to Render Impact. Render Impact is no stranger to non-traditional digital displays. Most of their creative content work is for requests outside the usual 16:9 format. Digital ceilings, floors, column wraps, and 90-degree corners (think anamorphic illusions) are all formats Render Impact is used to dealing with. When they received the request to create content for this project, they jumped at the opportunity.

For this project, Render Impact created four separate pieces of content. An underwater scene made in the Unreal Engine, creative incorporation of historic images of the city of Whittier, a 3D mid-century modern bookshelf canvas and finally, a tranquil CG nature scene that highlights the Library’s mascot Leo the Lion.

“The Whittier Library project was an exciting project for several reasons. The non-standard screen format of the LED archway always creates a playful canvas, as seen in the Bookshelves animation. Creating content for both sides of the archway (Public side; Children’s side) gave us a great opportunity to craft imagery for a broader range of audiences. The longer runtime of the 3D-animated underwater scene allowed us to mix in several small moments for patrons to discover,” says Dan Maher, Production Manager at Render Impact.

The second job is an ambitious upgrade to the performing arts center for the Pioneer Central School District in rural Yorkshire, NY, which is about 45 minutes southeast of Buffalo.

The theater now has a 49 foot wide by 18 foot high, 2.4mm fine pitch LED wall that manufacturer Watchfire Signs suggests is the first of its kind outside of the Broadway theater district in New York City. The interesting thing, beyond where it was put in and by who, are the cost, ROI and operational reasons behind the project, as related in a Watchfire press release:

Pioneer Central’s 1,200-seat performing arts center is used by both the school district and community organizations to provide a variety of enrichment opportunities throughout the year. The district serves 2,500 students from a 250 square mile area about 45 minutes southeast of Buffalo.
“A lot of our facilities are considered among the best in the region,” said Benjamin Halsey, superintendent of Pioneer Central School District. “Families in the region don’t have easy access to other enrichment activities, so we felt it was important to provide the best facility for dance, music, and theatrical performances.”
The original performing arts program stage was designed without “fly space,” an area above the stage where stage crews raise and lower curtains, scenery and other effects, which limited what crews could do with moveable props. To solve the problem, the school looked into raising the roof above the auditorium as well as installing a video board backdrop.
“From a cost perspective, the video board was more advantageous,” said Halsey. “We also felt that this was the future of performing arts, and it gave us another avenue to teach students a new skill.”
According to Halsey, the district’s music department is planning to design a curriculum for students that teaches scene design using the new video board. Students will have the opportunity to design scenes for school performances.
Convergent Technologies Design Group, an engineering firm involved in the project that specializes in audiovisual, telecommunications, and acoustic services, specified Watchfire for the project because of its quality and reliability. The new backdrop surpasses 4k resolution, giving it a higher resolution than television screens.
“It was important to specify technology that students would encounter in a studio environment after graduation,” says Paul Corraine, principal at Convergent Technologies Design Group. “The district is very progressive in teaching students how to generate the content for the video wall, putting them on a career path after high school.”
Jill Szpylman, marketing communications manager at Stark Tech, a leader in facility optimization and the project’s integrator, noted that the video board will pay for itself over time by eliminating the costs associated with building physical sets.
I assumed this was put in based on a donation from a deep-pocketed school grad, but it went in with school funds: The video wall is fully funded through school capital reserves and state school construction funds.
Other companies involved in the job include M&E Engineering and Jones Architects.
  1. Wes Dixon says:

    These are fantastic uses of technology. But I challenge the “payback” angle versus physical sets in the performing arts venue. Sets are cheap… this tech is not … AND… maintenance on the tech will be the same, if not more expensive, than any number of “physical sets the district might build. Plus, the tech is designed to last 8-10 years. But they are high on the “cool scale.”

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