We’re frequently asked about the difference between seamless video walls and LED tile displays. The conversation often leads to HD and 4K (UHD) media. We get tired of saying, “it depends” so I decided to find a way to clearly define the issues.
A simple experiment makes a point.
Go into your home office and find your 10 year old digital camera. Chances are, it was a pretty low resolution. Take a photo of a scene with lots of detail. Now display the image on the largest screen you can find — a projection screen would be great, but even a 46” or 55” display in a conference room will work. Now, walk right up to the screen and put your face about 6 inches from the surface. What you’re likely seeing is a lot of jagged lines. The small objects in the photo are now clusters of pixels — not clearly defined objects. Now take one step back and note that the image improves. You don’t see the flaws anymore. The image might still look soft, but it looks okay. Now take a big step back and note that the image is holding up pretty well. You no longer see the imperfections. Repeat the steps again and again — back you go.
Resolution is governed by proximity.
The closer your eyes are to an image, the higher the resolution the screen needs to be in order to present a clear image. The farther you are from the screen, the more your brain will “fill in the blanks” to make the image appear sharp.
We recently presented a technology showcase here at our facility. One of the demos was a point-to-point comparison of a 75” 4K (UHD) display next to the same size HD display. We ran identical synced media on each at its appropriate resolution. I started everyone at a position 5 feet from the displays. The reaction was always the same. “The 4K display has so much more detail, it’s amazing.” Then I asked our guests step back 10 feet from the displays, and again there were very consistent reactions. “I can see the difference, but they look very close to being the same now.” Finally, we stepped 15 feet away and everyone said, “I can’t really see the difference.”
See for yourself.
One attendee told me that I wasn’t doing a very good job of selling her on the 4K display, to which I replied, “Our job is not to sell you on technology, it’s to help you make smart decisions about where a particular technology is appropriate.”
Where should you use 4K displays?
Anywhere that people are going to be face-to-face with the image. If it’s a display close to you, and there is a lot of detail in the imagery, then 4K is perfect.
Where do you use standard HD displays?
Everywhere. HD is still a great standard. Use it without concern. Our only caveat is when you have really large displays, where the size will show too much pixelization. (See seamless reference below.)
Where do you use LED?
That depends on the resolution of the LED, the size of the display and the proximity of the audience. If the LED is used to create a banner/sign over the top of a trade show booth or an entry sign to an event — this is a perfect application for LED. My preference for indoor LED is nothing smaller than 4mm or the resolution will suffer. This, of course is not true in larger indoor spaces like an arena. Outdoor LED is a completely different animal. 4mm looks good at about 20 feet away — any closer and the LED pixels become too obvious and perhaps annoying.
Where should I use Seamless Displays?
Seamless is striking in situations where your audience will be close to the displays. Floor displays, hands-on demos, interactive demos, or any time the audience is face-to-face with the content. The question then becomes, at what resolution? Remember, seamless displays are flexible so you can use higher resolutions. Here, the size will matter too. Generally, we recommend a 3×3 of 55” seamless will hold up well with an HD source. Larger than that and it should likely be 4K footage. Of course there are exceptions to every recommendation, but this information will get you close to a solid decision.
Present us with a challenge. That’s where we shine.
AVFX has the display technology to fit the specific application you’re considering. If you get us involved during your design phase, we can test your media on the exact equipment we recommend, so there are no surprises and you get the highest quality possible.