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Pictures of LED wall used as backdrop in theatre

Discussion in 'Multimedia, Projection, and Show Control' started by egilson1, Apr 10, 2017.

  1. egilson1

    egilson1 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    So below are a few pictures of the new LED wall purchased for the Scottish Rite Valley of Boston. It's a PixelFlex 6.9mm wall driven by Qlab. Roughly 26' wide by 13' tall. The only challenge so far is when you put people or objects close to it you get a little "distortion" around those items.


    download 1.png download 2.png


    DSC_0019.jpg DSC_0078.jpg DSC_0181.jpg DSC_0227.jpg
     
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  2. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Interesting. Having worked on a Scottish Rites facility and dealing with 50+ painted drops, I can see how they got here.
     
  3. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Nice. A colleague just installed one for the Tucson Opera. I'll see if I can post some of their pictures as well.
     
  4. Abuholzer

    Abuholzer Member

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    Looks nice. Do you have any RP or scrim in front of the wall? If you can hang a gray RP in front of the panels so the RP is touching them it helps a-lot with distortion.
     
  5. ScottT

    ScottT Eos Programmer

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    Here's a photo from a recent Broadway production:
    [​IMG]
    Source
     
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  6. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Someone suggest what they think is a reasonable quality LED backdrop - pitch and so on - and any idea of how much they cost? Would you want one in your theatre? I'd think with a seamless plastic cyc available to drop in front of it, it would be a great sky drop. Let's start at 40' x 20', but sure would like 50' by 25' at least. And what does it take - skill and knowledge wise - to "operate" these?
     
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  7. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    No one here knows? Oh my.
     
  8. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Caveat, I have never directly operated one, but I know people who do. I think that this is like many other technologies, there will be a learning curve and then they will become second nature. I am sure that a lot of venues would love to have one, but I don't know if they could afford them. My guess is that you will need around a 7mm pixel pitch for most venues that could afford one. I would suggest going with a company that has the best support staff over one that can get you a better pixel pitch. Some of the companies have the ability to log into your system in order to help color match the tiles, etc.

    As for the quality vendors, I'd have to ask around.

    As for driving the content, that might be a different story. If you need to use more than one server to drive video, you need to make sure that they understand how the image can tear if you aren't also installing a burst generator and genlocking the devices.

    You need to make sure that there will be the ability to do refresh training if anyone leaves. The biggest challenge is that those who already have the experience will make more money elsewhere (with regards to educational and regional theater) and those who don't have the experience may have difficulty learning without the proper training.

    Cheers!
     
  9. egilson1

    egilson1 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    The rule of thumb is for every MM of pixel pitch you need a meter of viewing distance. So for my 6.9mm Pixelflex wall the viewing distance should be roughly 7 meters or 22.96 feet.


    Ethan
     
  10. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    So against upstage wall, 50' to first row, say 16 meters, 16mm pitch. I think that means pixels are about 5/8" apart.

    Somewhere I thought I learned it was not the closer pitch but the processing power necessary for that many more pixels.
     
  11. AlexDonkle

    AlexDonkle Active Member

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    Backend processing power is a lot cheaper than it used to be especially with ones running on standard PC's, but getting good, high resolution content is still often a challenge. Re-scaling content only gets you so far. The biggest challenge I see with spec'ing large LED displays is typically finding a way to bid them without an ultra-cheap manufacturer undercutting all the more reputable ones. Video projectors and screens are much less susceptible to this.

    How tight of resolution you want has a lot of personal preference elements, but the stat I use is typically "pixels per degree" (ppd), based on how many pixels are visible in a single degree from the seating position.
    Most NBA level pro sports arenas typically design center hung video boards for 6mm, which is ~22 ppd based on 50' viewing distance to bottom of the board. Apple's claim of "retina" displays where you can no longer see pixels starts between ~44-60 ppd depending who you ask and how good your eye sight is, most manufacturers recommend the "minimum" resolution is ~10-12 ppd since lower resolutions no longer have colors blending together (this is what many LED billboards aim for).
     
  12. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Price goes up almost exponentially when you start getting to the finer pitches like the 1.8mm's and so forth.

    I had a project estimated last fall for 42'x26', 4mm, that came in at $570,000, for a little better than 4k canvas resolution. Same canvas in 3mm was $800k. That's cost of materials, spare tiles, pre-installation test assembly and burn in, and shipping -- not including cost of on-site install. General rule I've worked with is 1mm for every 10' of viewing distance. So if the first row is 40' away, a 4mm pitch would be ballpark and a 5mm or 6mm would be "budget" options

    For the same size canvas, it would've been cheaper to do rear projection to the tune of $300k.

    My preference is still in projection over LED when it comes to theater. Just like stage makeup and costumes help performers slip into their roles, so does the scenery. Unless you get into the really fine and absurdly expensive pixel pitches, the cast members don't get to live in the same scenic environment as the audience. To the audience, it may be a seamless canvas of artwork. To the performers standing right up close to the image surface, it's a chopped up grid of bright lights. Like an Excel spreadsheet with thick borders turned on and the cells colored in.

    Projection or LED, if you're only doing a single canvas it's pretty accessible for someone to throw some content up on there from Qlab. Finding decent high-res content is an issue all of its own though. Worth noting that if you do projection, you can still light the cyc or RP screen like you would any backdrop. With an LED wall, if you want to do any busking you're going to need some hefty programming experience and a full tilt media server.
     
  13. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Also food for thought about how these kinds of things tend to go through the VE process...

    When you can't afford enough lumens out of a projector, you either make the image smaller, turn the other lights down a little, or just accept that your backdrop won't be vivid. When you can't afford a fine enough pixel pitch, you end up with an expensive gadget that might only look good from the back row. In this regard, projection can be much more forgiving than LED.
     
  14. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I assume this does not include the cost of building a room behind the screen, though I'm not sure how big of a room is required for laser projectors.

    At a half million for a full stage drop, it's a possibility for the project I have in mind. And I prepared them for a sole source contract. No way do I want to spec this for low bid.

    Does it make sense for LED screen to have a rp that can be flown in front of it when you want something more akin to a sky drop look?
     
  15. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Indeed. Nice thing about an LED surface is you need hardly any structure behind it. I'm a fan of DesignLED's product for this, which is based on fully magnetic, lightweight tiles that are front serviceable. Not much really needed in terms of structure but you need some cable pathways coordinated and dropped into place during rough-in.

    For the ~25x45 I was looking at, we needed ~25' upstage for projection. If you do custom mirrors to bounce the images around, you can spend $150,000 and shave all of 3' off of your projection distance.

    We looked at doing RP with Panasonic's ultra short throw lenses ($$$) to cut that upstage depth down to 18', but the steep and graduated angle of incidence with the screen would've created serious visual blooming.

    I would recommend doing a mock-up of this first but I think it could be interesting. Rose Brand's Translucent PVC projection material might be good for this. It's high gain which makes it susceptible to ambient light, but it pulls your image through the screen with vibrance like none other.

    The trick would be getting the screen close enough to the LED wall that you maintain some resolution but not so close you prevent the LED surface from getting enough airflow for cooling. Would maybe need 2 operating modes for the LED wall, one with a lower brightness level for direct view, and a 2nd higher brightness version for when the RP is place. Either way, you would never hit the max brightness of the LED surface which would probably be in the in the neighborhood of 1200 nits. In a dark theater, 1200 nits will just about incinerate your retinas.

    If you want to do a mock-up, give Howard Witherspoon @ DesignLED a call. He's out of Minneapolis area but comes down through WI and IL pretty regularly. He's got a good demo rig of different types of LED walls he goes on the road with. I would have a few yards of 2-3 flavors of RP materials on-hand you should be able to source through Rose Brand.

    I think you'd still want cyc lights though. An entry-level user can throw faders and put looks together quickly with light fixtures in a way that just can't be done with video.
     
  16. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Shortly after Phillips bought Strand, they had a system with rp screen in front of an led tile system. Very crude resolution but it wasn't for images, just as a backdrop with ability to do zones, like sunset sky and such. Very impressive, at least in a demo room. Could achieve a very good uniform color. With a black scrim in front of it ultimate backdrop.

    What I'm looking at needs to be on a line set.

    Iirc the Willow Creek screens were each 28' x ~16' or when tracked together, 56' x 16'. Also, Iirc, around $3.2m
     
  17. AlexDonkle

    AlexDonkle Active Member

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    If it's mounted on a lineset I'd be looking at LED options aimed at the touring market, since most install LED screens are designed to be mounted on a wall of some kind and aren't very rugged if they're going to get moved around a lot. I've done a motorized LED ceiling recently but it was only ever going to be moved for maintenance.
    Daktronics and Barco would like be the first two companies I'd talk to for options.
     

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