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How to LED the Right Way

How to LED the Right Way

There was a time, not too long ago, when only the largest organizations with the biggest auditoriums could afford a direct view LED video wall. Sure, there were some cheap LED curtains around, and projection was relatively cheap in comparison, but that only made sense if you had room for rear projection – at least, when it comes to onstage use. DV LED has a myriad of uses and is an additive solution perfect for creating an engaging visual experience. DV LED can be used for more than just duplicating content across other screens. It can be used as an extension of the lighting and staging design to extend content across the stage.

Let’s talk about how DV LED works and what you need to be thinking about if you are interested in using a DV LED 3rd screen in your production.
There are 5 components to a DV LED wall.

  1. LED panels
  2. Video Wall controller
  3. Video wall mounting structure
  4. Video Wall Processor
  5. Video Signal extender

DV LED is a giant TV screen built of small cubes – often referred to as LED Panels. Each panel consists of tiny colored LED (light emitting diodes) bulbs that, when used together, can display video. Think of a tightly packed “Lite Bright” –  for those of you old enough to remember. DV LED is constructed using dozens of these cubes stacked on top of each other like Legos until you have a wall large enough to fill the space.

Each panel is defined by it’s pixel pitch, which is the space between each diode on the panel – measured in millimeters. Typically, manufacturers will market them in configures based on this measurement.

Each panel of your DV LED wall is not a separate TV. It’s a section of the overall image. Each panel only displays a few hundred pixels of your overall image, and the image quality improves the lower your pixel pitch. An HD video signal is made of 2,073,600 pixels in total, and you need that many LEDs just to create an HD video wall. Try doing the math on 4K Video Wall and you will understand why prices on video walls increase the lower the pixel pitch is. Each of these panels has a controller card built into it, that is communicating with a master controller box called an LED video controller. This is the box that takes your video source and maps sections of it to each panel of your video wall.

The resolution of your video wall will be determined by the pixel pitch chosen which determines the size of your video wall. As you can see here, each color of panel represents a different pixel pitch, but each config is the same resolution. The difference is how close the pixels are packed together on each panel, which allows the wall to be larger or smaller without changing the resolution. What matters most is how far your audience is from the screen. As you get closer to the wall, there is a point in which your eyes can see the space between the pixels. Each millimeter of distance between pixels equates to 8-12 feet of optimal audience viewing. So, a 2.5 mm wall has an optimal viewing distance of roughly 25 feet. This is where you can save the most money on your wall. Pick the pixel pitch that matches your audience before you pick the size. Typically, the price goes down the larger the pitch, but keep in mind that the resolution will also go down. Before you jump into thinking your wall needs to be 4k in resolution – trust me, it doesn’t. In fact, most audiences won’t be able to tell the difference between a 1080p and 4K video wall in most viewing cases. With a larger pixel pitch, you can create a larger wall and fill more of the space on the stage, without spending the extra money on a smaller pixel pitch.

Let’s think about the mounting structures. A mounting structure is one of the most important aspects of your DV LED wall. Walls can be flown, or walls can be mounted permanently. For hanging walls, a structure strong and sturdy enough to hold roughly 64 panels at nearly 700 lbs is a requirement. The same holds true for installed walls. The wall you choose must be completely flat and level, or the individual pixels of the wall will drift and bend creating what’s called the “Christmas tree effect”, where jagged edges affect the integrity of your image’s lines. The structure may cost more than you expect, but a bad

mounting structure can make even the most expensive LED wall look bad. Don’t skimp on this aspect of your install; this is where I’d always advise you to seek professional help and not try to install it yourself.

Next, is the video wall processor. This device takes the video source coming from your production output and conforms it to your DV LED wall. Let say you’ve chosen a wall that’s not quite 1080p in resolution – since you took my earlier advice and went larger instead of denser. In this case, you will need to scale your sources to match the walls resolution. A processor is needed as the controller, mentioned earlier, rarely has one built in. If you choose to have more than one source on the wall at the same time, you may need a processor that can support PIP or image manipulation. In either case, plan on making room in your budget for an image processor to make sure your video wall looks it’s best.

Lastly, we come to the video signal extender. In most cases, your production system is not directly next to your video wall. Your production happens on the other end of the room, or maybe in a different room entirely. Depending on the distance and I/O of both your production and video wall controller, video quality can degrade over long distances and your output signal to your video wall will not look as sharp as it does on your production monitor. To make up for the distance between your production and your video wall processor, you will need to invest in a signal extender which will take your output signals from you production and route them to your video wall, all without losing video quality.

By investing in Direct View LED, your team will have more opportunities to create innovative content that is an engaging visual experience for your viewers. So, if you’re in the market for a visual upgrade, consider Direct View LED technology! Once you see it in your space, you won’t want to go back!

Create the ULTIMATE 4×4 Video Wall with the Gefen 4K VWC!

Create the ULTIMATE 4×4 Video Wall with the Gefen 4K VWC!

EXT-UHD600A-VWC-14 | Gefen’s 4K Ultra HD 600 MHz Video Wall Controller with Audio De-Embedder

In 1927, visionary French director, Abel Gance, wanted to put audiences right inside the action of his upcoming movie “Napoleon”. The method he devised to film the final sequence of “Napoleon” used three 35mm cameras, positioned side-by-side. The results were then projected in the theater by three side-by-side projectors. This triptych sequence was later called “Polyvision”, and it was MASSIVE. The equivalent of 16,000 pixels wide!

An image of that size was unlike anything the world had ever seen, but it had drawbacks. The largest of which was the issue of seams between the images. Plus, the need to perfectly align the cameras on set, as well as the projectors in the theater. Because of the added configuration and lack of theater compatibility, not long after the film was released, Gance was forced to removed the Polyvision portion of the movie and replace it with a more standard aspect ratio cut. However, the notion of making larger than life video presentations, remains to this day. In part, thanks to Gance’s innovation.

old film reels

Gefen was able to bring this century-old concept into the 21st century with the 4K Ultra HD 600 MHz 1×4 Video Wall Controller with Audio De-Embedder.

So, what does it do?

It allows you to split a 4K signal into 1080p signals (up to four) to make a much larger image across 4 displays. Simply plug in a digital signage player, like BrightSign, a media player, a decoder, or heck a good old-fashioned Mac or PC into the HDMI in of the 1×4, and then, plug in up to 4 displays to create one unified image, across all of the displays, that doesn’t lose visual fidelity.

Now, you might be asking yourself, why do this instead of buying a larger 4K display? The largest commercially available 4K televisions are usually about 2-3 grand for an 85 inch at the absolute largest (We’re excluding Samsung’s “the Wall”). Projectors don’t always play nice with poorly-lit spaces, and LED walls are great, but again are pricey and require very specific hardware to install. Instead, you can put four 40 inch, 55 inch, 65 inch, or even larger displays next to each other, and have your very own video wall that’s being fed with one video source.

To configure your video wall, use the buttons on the front panel of Gefen’s VWC to tweak each display. Alternatively, you can sign into the 1×4’s web client for even easier management. Choose whatever kind of display configuration you want – even a custom one if you need it! Bezel compensation, global rotation, and color correction is all handled on the 1×4. De-embed the audio that’s in your screen content and pipe it out of the built in RCA jacks into an outboard DSP or mixer to play through an audio system. It’s all easily handled on the 1×4.

To push the 1×4 even further, you can actually show 4 different images or videos at the same time, with a little bit of preparation. Remember, all the 1×4 is doing is taking a 3480×2160 image and cutting it into 4 equal quadrants. Try this. Open up Adobe After Effects or Premiere, or any NLE for that matter. Make a new 2160p sequence, and align your 4 designs or videos into each of the 4 quadrants of the sequence. This process can be done in a myriad of ways, but now you have individual control over all 4 displays, and you can always switch back to treating all four displays like one whenever you want. Just put full screen content above the per monitor content in your editor and voila, you’re back to the Gefen’s intended use case.


The Gefen 1×4 has tons of potential use cases. (This is where it gets fun.) Obviously, this solution would work great in a conference or board room as your main display. Combat poor lighting, power and structural restraints by mounting 4 TVs in a quad configuration, and then, plug in a video conferencing or collaboration solution into the HDMI IN, and you’re ready to wow everyone in the room.

Use VWCs on a virtual production set to drive window-like background displays (New York stock footage not included). Use one in a restaurant or kiosk to display menus and promo videos. Use them to display branded signage at an expo booth to show schedules right along side product highlights and sponsored content. Speaking of Expo Booths… Connect 1 Gefen 1×4 to large displays in a cube configuration to create a completely immersive experience for anyone who steps inside it. The possibilities are only limited by your creativity.

The 4K Ultra HD 1×4 is an incredible device for visionaries looking to channel their inner Gance and push the limits of what’s traditionally thought as possible for displaying content. Expand not only the size of your content, but how it’s percieved by your clients and customers. So get out there and design your next visual masterpiece with the Gefen 1×4!

Gefen Video Wall Controller

Click image to enlarge.

Gefen VWC diagram

This Video Wall Controller creates a picture on any combination of up to four Hi-Def displays.

The Gefen 4K Ultra HD 600 MHz Video Wall Controller is the perfect solution for entertainment and digital signage applications in retail outlets, clubs, trade shows, control centers, building lobbies, and other venues where a large, high quality 4K picture is required. It accepts a single 4K 60 Hz 4:4:4 (18 Gbps, 600 MHz TMDS clock) HDCP 2.2 or 1.4 compliant HDMI source, and using its advanced video processing technology divides the picture pixel by pixel and without any extrapolation or approximation, over four equally-sized 1080p Full HD displays. It can also create multiple display configurations using predefined row or column layouts, up to a maximum of four displays installed in vertical or horizontal orientation, or allow complete customization of how the input is cropped and outputted to each screen.

The picture on each display can also be rotated in 90 degree increments, individually or simultaneously….


Gefen’s New 4K Splitter Solution

Gefen’s New 4K Splitter Solution

Gefen’s New 4K Ultra Splitter Series is a Perfect Solution for Retail Digital Signage.

Gefen 2x8 splitter
Gefen 2x8 detail
Gefen 1x8 splitter

Video Distribution Complexity

From various Formats, Distances, Cost, Reliability, etc., Digital Signage can be complex to get right, and the bigger your system, the more difficult it is to resolve any issues. Retailers around the world have struggled with these issues, but the complexity goes beyond just distributing video to many destinations.

From Digital TVs to Digital Signage

The TV walls in retail have evolved to become more than an opportunity to sell the TV itself. Walls full of TV’s (or digital displays) are a perfect delivery platform to display advertising or important content – it can now be effective digital signage.

Retail Digital Signage Solution

Gefen has been innovating in Video Distribution for over 20 years, and their new 4K Ultra Splitter Series is perfect for these retail applications. Not only do these splitters distribute video, Gefen’s 4K Ultra solution offers Ease of Use, Management and Control (not found in other video splitters) – and all of this is at an incredibly affordable price.

Features & Highlights of the 4K Ultra Splitters:

  • Easy to install – simply plug and play; ready to deploy and upgrade retail store displays with minimum downtime- they even include integrated test pattern generators
  • Centralized management – control all cascaded splitters through the IP network for easy maintenance
  • Auto-downscale – automatically downscale 4K content to 1080p in mixed display scenarios
  • Self-healing – System automatically returns to displaying preselected content even after shoppers interact with the displays
  • Always on – 1:1 redundant inputs ensure with smart switching technology that content is always on display providing best shopper retail experience
  • Smart CEC Management – Gefen has brilliantly started using this communication standard and designed new ways to utilize its features to ensure that all connected displays will remain on when you want. If someone walks by and turns the TV off, the 4K Ultra will automatically turn it back on. If someone walks by and changes the input, we can turn it right back. This ensures customers will always see your preferred content.
  • Last, but not least, is the dual networking interface that is designed to cascade network connectivity across each splitter. This will allow for network monitoring and control of every aspect of the inputs and outputs.

As you can see the Gefen 4K Ultra Splitters are a great choice in Retail Video Distribution projects. That’s probably why some of the largest retailers in the country have already started to deploy them.

To Learn more about Gefen products and how they can solve your retail video distribution issues, reach out to us. We would be happy to help!