Video Wall Fundamentals: Learning for Success

Video walls are growing in popularity by the day. Part of their appeal is how they inspire imagination. While static signs remind us of the past, video walls tell us the future is now and deliver the excitement factor, whether for a campus looking to convey an image of cutting-edge technology to prospective students or a school desiring to convey information to tens of thousands of constituents each day.

Video walls are scalable and come in varying shapes and sizes. Video walls inspire creativity, too. Before deploying, however, organizations first need to think through their implications and have a plan for success.

Here are some tips for getting the most from your video wall deployments:

1. Determine Your Video Wall Needs and Goals:It’s important to give strong consideration to the video wall’s purpose, goals or potential uses. Will the video wall be used for digital signage and to show campus information or events, or for way-finding? Will it be used for classroom/lecture hall presentations, or part of a visualization system for a STEM lab? Does it need to be touch interactive? If these questions can’t be answered with specifics, then a highly functioning video wall system will be difficult to design. We also need to determine the dimensions of video wall systems for a particular environment, and the best locations to place them for high visibility and readability. A location or site survey and needs analysis may be required.

2. Content is King- Determining the Number of Images for Display at One Time: Talk about the types of content to be shown before the hardware gets installed. You don’t want to be tweaking content on-the-fly minutes before the grand opening. Also, in what resolutions and file formats will the content be designed? It’s imperative to have this conversation with the content creators up-front. Who is managing the content and updating it? Will you need to show one large image, multiple images from different sources at one time, or perhaps something in between?

3. Go Native: Most professional video walls can take an HD (1920×1080) input signal and stretch or scale it to the size of the video wall. Some video walls can even take a UHD/4K (3840×2160) resolution and stretch it to many monitors using internal daisy chaining. However, it’s highly recommended that content match the screen’s native resolution. More complex and larger video walls can be designed with multi-head graphic cards, use specialized CMS (content management software), or external video wall processors to manipulate the content. All the hardware components should match so you don’t have video bandwidth restrictions.

4. Choose Professional-Grade Products: Use commercial grade displays that are designed for long hours of use. They should be able to be color calibrated to achieve brightness and color uniformity from screen to screen. These monitors can handle the most rugged of applications and public environments while those sold at Big-Box retailers can’t handle commercial demands. Go with high-end products for their reliability, features, inputs and color calibration capabilities. Some display manufacturers even offer expansion slots for OPS (Open Pluggable Specification) plug-in computers or integrated computers for an all-in-one solution.

5. Choose Appropriate Mounting Systems/Access for Maintenance: Safety is of the utmost importance. Is the existing wall structure sound? Get a structural engineer involved to make sure that the floor, wall, or ceiling can support a large video wall system. For ease of installation, use pull-out mounts with 6-axis micro adjustment to help with proper alignment and spacing necessary between each monitor. This will also help for service and maintenance. Display manufacturers typically require between a 1mm-to-2mm spacing gap between each monitor.

6. Keep it Cool: Large video walls produce a lot of heat. Proper cooling and ventilation need to be part of the overall project and budget. Purchasing displays that offer integrated cooling fans will ensure long operational life.

7. Use Trained Professionals for Your Video Wall Installation: Do yourself a favor and connect with an experienced AV systems integrator partner for the installation. That partner will help you locate power sources and data jacks, and help you do the job correctly the first time. For more complex system designs, connect with a trusted display manufacturer.

8. Perform System Maintenance and Color Calibration: This will ensure a consistent, great looking video wall for years to come and make sure the university colors are perfect when shown on the displays. Have your system integrator clean or vacuum the vents of your video wall at least once a year to ensure proper operational temperature. This will help the system last a long time. Maintenance contracts should be discussed upfront.

Keeping this checklist in mind can help an institution make the most of its video walls, endearing you to core audiences and bosses alike.

About the Author
Michael Ferrer is Director of Solutions Sales for NEC Display Solutions and a former systems integrator. He has served various roles at NEC Display over the last decade, helping clients address business challenges with display technologies. Ferrer can be reached at