Is ROI that important to an A/V company that potentially engaging the wrong piece of display equipment supersedes the clients best interests in deploying the right technology for their event ? After several similar calls in the last two weeks I decided to share this with others. Once you finish reading this post you’ll see why I made the comment of ROI.
I received a phone call from an event planner asking for prices on LED screens for her clients event. Her call was interesting in that her client has a preferred A/V supplier, who she felt uncomfortable with their recommendation of employing projection at an outdoor daytime event. So, she came to us to confirm if video projection is something that should be considered for an outdoor event during the day. I must give her kudos’ for taking the time, doing her homework, and having the professionalism to ask questions.
Here’s what she gave me for specs for the venue
- 40ft wide x 80ft long tent
- Tent material is white – single layer
- lots of doors on the wall part with clear plastic windows
- Presentation takes place at noon.
- Screen size 25ft wide x 14ft high
In speaking with her she mentioned the A/V company promised her client a clear and bright display using a 20k lumen projector. In challenging the A/V company’s claim, she mentioned LED screens would be the best solution for the ambient lighting conditions within the tent. Instead of agreeing with her, they told her their projection would equal the quality in brightness to the LED wall as the event was in a tent. Wrong! Before I continue on, I want readers to know that ColossoVision rents high intensity projectors as well. Rented these puppies for years. Therefore this article isn’t about giving preference to LED screens over projection. It’s about selecting the right tool for the job.
There is a time and place for each of the technologies. This is why we ask questions ensuring we don’t suggest or provide the wrong display solution. In this case, outdoors in the daytime should be a huge flag for any A/V provider that projection is not the best solution.
The following is but a small sampling of the questions we ask.
- Venue! Is it indoors or outdoors
- Content to be displayed
- Ambient Lighting Conditions – Can the ambient light ( spill ) be controlled?
- Size of display
- What real estate is available for the screen installation
- What is the show and theme
- Setup time / Strike time
Referring to the above screen which is 25ft wide and 14ft high, the total viewing area is 350 sq ft. …
Using the A/V companies 20,000 lumen projector, and assuming there is no light loss in optics, there would be 57.14 lumen per square foot of projected light intensity. How do we arrive at this figure?
20,000 lumen / 350 sq ft. = 57.14 lumen per square foot
I realize there are a number of screen surfaces such as glass beaded, rear projection, high gain, and others. For the sake of this example I’ll refer to flat white matte which is the norm at most events. Regardless of which type of screen is employed, ambient light is a reality and something to take into consideration when selecting a display.
A screen not only reflects the projected image but the ambient light in the room as well. Thus, the A/V technician must take into account the value of the ambient light reflected off the screen and determine if the projectors intensity will have the required results the client will be happy with. To overcome the high ambient light levels, some companies will go as far as double stacking projectors to hopefully accomplish a higher gain on the screen. You may see the beginnings of an image where black levels are high and the image looks milky. Is this what you want for your client?
So , going back to the comment from the A/V company they can provide an equal solution using projection is not correct.
Here’s the math and short explanation for those interested.
- Projected image is based on units of measure – Lumens ( reflected light )
- LED screens are based on the units of measure – NITS ( direct light )
- 1 (one) NIT of direct light = 0.09290304 Lumens of reflected light
- Screen image area in this post – 350 sq ft. ( screen size client wants for the show )
- Average LED tile ( screen ) brightness – 5500 NITS resulting in 510.97 Lumens / sq ft using the formula above
- Projector lumens that would be required, based on screen area, and resulting lumens / sq ft = 178,000 lumens
The results are clear!
The argument can be made that LED screens are not high enough in resolution and as such the content would be affected. True! However with the size of the screen in this example, LED is a strong contender as a solution which will deliver a true high resolution product.
Have a gander below at the two LED pixel pitches that will work
- 6mm SMD – 2000 pixels wide x 1066 pixels high ( offers more pixels than HD 1080 )
- 10mm SMD – 1200 pixels wide x 640 pixels high ( fall just a bit below HD 720 )
High intensity projectors were not developed for daytime use outdoors! They’re awesome at night when the sun has minimal to no effect on the screen. These projectors are also the solution for indoor events where stage lighting has the potential of affecting the projected product.
There are other factors in selecting the right technology. The one that will have the next immediate affect is budgets. Having said this, a 350 sq ft LED screen is no longer the huge expense it once was. You may be surprised by the time you spend the money on multiple projectors, darkening the room with blackout curtains and material, and the time to set this up, the dollar values begin to add up too. What is the costliest? Not achieving the results the client is looking for.
In closing, and going back to my comment of ROI. The event planner informed me the A/V company wouldn’t entertain LED as they had to use their existing inventory to make this happen. It wasn’t about providing the right solution, it was about moving their own product.