Key Things to Consider for a Successful Video Wall Deployment

Deploying a video wall involves a lot of planning. As with any new project, some ground work has to carried out and some key considerations have to be taken into account. “There are many variables that can make or break your video wall deployment, and being prepared is the best way to achieve a successful deployment that will both impress your audience without breaking the bank”, explains Tim Griffin, CTO of Userful Corporation, a leading software appliance company that provides a simple and affordable solution for AV & IT professionals to easily control large numbers of displays and interactive content sources from any browser.

What you need to consider:

Image of Userful's artistic video wall displaying moon

1. Layout & Sizing

Determine your audience and the type of message(s) you want to send via your video wall and how often these messages will change. Is your goal clear communication of specific written messages (grid layout) or is to make an impact with a unique design (artistic layout)?

2. Location and placement

Obviously you want to choose a prominent location but be aware that sun or bright lights can darken the display and create glare. Consider your surroundings and lighting conditions to ensure visibility and legibility at various times of day.

 

3. Wiring & Connectivity

Your host PC can be either at the video wall location or in the server room. If it is at the video wall location you can use a wireless network connection (for content access) if it is in the server room you will need to have at least one Cat5e (or Cat6) Ethernet cable going to a gigabit switch at the video wall location. Alternatively you can have one cable per screen and have your switch in the server room as well.

 

4. Mounting

There are a wide range of video wall mounts. you need to ensure your wall and mounting system can handle the weight and size of the displays. Zero client devices can be mounted to the back of your displays using double-sided adhesive foam tape or vesa mounts. The power for the zero client device can be provided either from a power adaptor or a USB port on the display. The zero client devices can be set to always power on automatically (via either a dip switch or rocker switch). If you are mounting directly on the wall and you have more than a few rows of displays ensure there is sufficient space for the heated air from the displays to rise. If you are recessing the displays to be plush with the surface of the wall ensure there is vending or active cooling to ensure that displays don’t overheat. Be sure to know you have enough space behind the display for cooling fan systems and the recessed cavity is built with sufficient either passive or active venting in mind.

In addition, you’ll want to make sure the walls or free-standing display support structures are sufficient to support the weight of your displays.

5. Content

You can create original or re-use content. There are many ways to deliver content to your video wall. You can have standard video formats (i.e. .mp4, .avi, .mpg, etc.) organized in a playlist and reproduced in a loop on your displays. You can also use HDMI/SDI capture cards and get multiple HDMI sources, such as cameras, laptops, PVRs, and more. Web streaming is another way that you can deliver content to your video wall. Also there is what are called Content Management Systems (CMS) that allow you to organize different content in a personalized canvas, from videos to static images, you can add weather and sports widgets and embed web content. This canvas will transfer directly to your video wall displays.

 

10 Questions to Ask Your Video Wall Vendor

Deploying a video wall can be an overwhelming experience, but don’t worry, there are solutions and resources available that significantly simplify the process of deploying and supporting a video wall. According to Tim Griffin, CTO of Userful Corporation, “Traditionally, video walls were complex and expensive, but with the advancements in technology and the rise of alternative approaches to video walls and digital signage (i.e. AV-over-IP, software-based, etc.), they are becoming easier to deploy and more affordable”.

Image of Userful's retail video wall.

There are now a myriad approaches to deploying video walls, which leaves people asking: ‘How do I know what solution is right for me?’. In this article we present a list of 10 questions that you can ask a video wall vendor that will help you make a better decision towards your video wall deployment:

1. What resolution is supported today? How can I upgrade this resolution in the future?

Content resolutions are constantly upgrading (i.e. from 720p to 1080p, 2k, 4k, 6k and now 8k) and having a solution that can easily adapt to these upgrades is highly advantageous.

2. What is the life expectancy (mean time between failure) for the device/solution in the field?

This one is self-explanatory, as it gives you a sense of how reliable the solution is.

3. How easy is it to calibrate color to adjust as the displays age?

Color calibration is a complex process in many video wall solutions, and it can be both time and resource-consuming.

 

4. How quick is it to setup?

A key aspect in a video wall deployment, a thorough understand of this process can help to make better decision when choosing a solution.

5. How many different types of content and sources can I connect?

There are many different types of content that can be displayed on a video wall (i.e. video & image, scheduled content, HTML, live streams, real-time camera feed, Live TV, HDMI sources, etc.). A solution that gives you a greater flexibility in content support will be a greater asset for your deployment.

6. How easy is it to switch what is playing on the video wall?

Interactivity is a key thing in video walls and digital signage, so a seamless switch between content will definitely make for a more impactful and professional video wall experience.

7. Will I be able to talk to current or former clients that can speak to the quality of your programs?

It’s a red flag if the vendor does not provide client references that you can call. Ask the vendor for references and do your due diligence by taking the time to speak to them.

8. How do you adapt to the continually changing B2B landscape?

New products and services are constantly transforming industries. Key to your success is finding a partner that has the flexibility and foresight to grow your audience to maximize meetings for your sales team – and positively impact your ROI.

9. What is your pricing model?

Different approaches have different pricing schemes, and knowing this will be helpful not only for the initial deployment, but for future upgrades and refreshment cycles.

10. Who are your closest competitors?

Most vendors don’t want you seeking out competitors, as a general sales rule. But there’s a lot to be said for a vendor who IS willing to share this information with you. It indicates that the vendor is confident in the services they provide and the potential ROI of their client campaigns.

 

How to Choose a Video Wall

At Userful we understand that deploying a video wall can be an overwhelming experience, so we made it our mission to provide a solution that helped simplify the implementation of video walls. Along the road we have gathered some insight on the things that can help you make the best out of your video wall, and we have decided to put together a list of some great tips that will definitely help you on how to choose a video wall. Video walls are arrays of high quality commercial or professional grade monitor screens placed together to create a larger screen.

Userful's Stunning Videowall located in a hallway

Video walls can have many different sizes, applications, configurations and displays, including LCD, LED, blended projection screens, rear projection screens (DLP), mosaic-style tiles and direct view LED panels, just to name a few.

1. Space and Ambience

One of the most important factors. Before considering any solution, you should be aware of the environment where the video wall is going to be. Things like location (indoor/outdoor), how much ambient light will there be, accessibility to the video wall (for maintenance, etc.), and of course physical dimensions, like size of the wall and room space and layout will determine the appropriate size and components of the chosen video wall solution. Ideally, you would want a solution that allows for video walls in various layouts

Also, when designing a video wall, you need to account for enough cooling space for your displays—that will stretch its life significantly. Based on these factor, you may implement a recessed or on wall video wall.

2. Customer Impact/Usage

This is what really drives the Return On Objectives (ROO) and ultimately the Return Of Investment (ROI). Knowing what kind of business use the video wall will have, and how your customer would want to impact the end-user, can provide great insight into what video wall solution and components to acquire, that would fit and satisfy their needs, without blowing up the budget.

3. Content Delivery / Interactivity

Still images, Low-res / High-res videos, even 4k content; HTML5 applications, or 3D graphics. Which of these will be showing on your video wall? These are things you would need to consider when choosing the right video wall solution. Once you know what kind of content you will have, then you need to consider how will it be delivered to the screens. And keep in mind you want to maximize flexibility to ensure that your video wall can grow as you grow. Choose a solution with flexibility.

Nowadays there is a wide variety of solutions that deliver content in very different ways, you no longer need a highly specialized and expensive hardware solution to get high quality content on your video wall. You can find displays with integrated media players, which eliminate the need for external components; or very efficient and flexible software-based solutions such as Userful that leverage the incredible power of standard computers to provide UHD content with great stability and reliability to a great number of displays.

4. Size, Layout, Shape and Aspect Ratio

We know now that physical space and location plays an important role in determining the layout and size of a video wall. Designers also would need to consider a very important aspect before deciding how many displays—and what kind— , and what layout the video wall will have, and that is the aspect ratio of the content. For example, even if physical space permits, a certain video wall layout might have a distorted view of the content if it’s not configured in it’s original aspect ratio.

5. Set-Up, Calibration and Maintenance

This aspect is usually overlooked when deciding what video wall solution to get. Video walls require a variety of components—including displays, media players, cabling, display mounts, etc—that need to be properly installed. Moreover, if not properly calibrated, a video wall can actually generate a negative impact on the end-users, defeating the purpose of it, and ultimately affecting the business. Video wall calibration can be a laborious process, so you would want a solution that simplifies the configuration and calibration of your video wall and help you save both time and money.

Also, troubleshooting; updates and overall management is expected, as with any technology solution, so a solution that minimizes these expenses will always be the smarter choice. Ideally, you would want a solution that doesn’t require highly-trained personnel or specialized skills to perform these task, one that is simple enough for the end-user to configure and maintain.

6. Expansion and Upgradeability

Growth is a key objective in any business. What happens with your video wall solution when there is a need to expand its size, or perhaps upgrade it to accommodate the latest content resolution or format? When choosing a video wall solution, taking into account future adaptability can definitely save you some headaches and money. Highly integrated solutions or solutions that need specialized components might prove inflexible, even perhaps needing to replace the entire system upon refresh; whereas modular, software-based solutions such as Userful that leverage standard hardware and the network could easily accommodate future upgrades by replacing just a single component and keeping the rest of the video wall in tact.

7. Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

Ultimately, for a video wall to make sense, we want to maximize the profits associated with it. Since the revenue derived directly from the video wall is hard to estimate, rather than spending a lot of money on a video wall solution and hoping for the best, a good start would be to actually minimize the expenses on the video wall—without sacrificing its ability to fit your needs, of course. A thorough TCO study can provide great insight on what solution to choose.

 

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