Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Breaking Down Walls

Breaking Down Walls 1

In this month’s Leisure Insight feature, Paul Murphy, the Operations Director from digital signage consultancy, Saturn Visual Solutions sets out the case for large-scale LED wall displays in retail and leisure.

The march of the mega LED wall as a means of creating immersive, interactive retail and leisure environments is gaining momentum, fast.

Already, this technology has captured the public’s imagination in the arts and entertainment world. Last year, all eyes were on Las Vegas when The Sphere was unveiled – a music and entertainment venue, with a 580,000sq ft, fully programmable LED exterior. Elsewhere, the world’s tallest building, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa incorporates an LED wall that almost covers the full height of its 828m tall tower.

These are, clearly, the most monolithic examples of large-scale LED facades in action. But the use of sizeable LED displays is becoming more widespread and is proliferating into retail and leisure. In 2024 we’ve already seen the launch of Europe’s largest digital ceiling at The Printworks in Manchester, UK and growing demand for immersive visual experiences is bound to catalyse similar installations across the leisure and retail sector.

Why is LED technology gaining popularity at such a pace? There are three key reasons. Firstly, it is very flexible, which means you can use LED displays almost anywhere – indoors, outdoors, on a flat or curved surface and even on ceilings.

Secondly, LED wall displays are incredibly vivid which makes content more attention-grabbing and memorable and this vividness also ‘lifts’ and invigorates places.

Lastly, from a practical point of view, they are energy efficient, relatively easy to maintain and ensure a seamless display space.

As a result of these benefits, retailers and leisure operators are increasingly turning to big impact LED tech. At Saturn Visual Solutions we’ve witnessed the growth in this area, having been involved in it from the outset. When the idea of large, curved LED displays was in its infancy, we created the tightest-radius curved LED wall in Europe to deliver an immersive 270° concave branded experience for the car brand SEAT and have since worked on many LED wall projects.

Installations don’t have to be mammoth like The Sphere, to have impact. They just need to comprise the right hardware, software and content and be handled by experts who know how to optimise the technology. Managed in this way, LED walls can bring any retail or leisure space to life.

The Art of the Possible

LED technology has revolutionised the way we think about visual displays, offering a wide range of possibilities for creative expression and practical applications.

LED walls and ceilings can display high-resolution images, videos, animations and interactive content. The options for panel configuration when creating large-scale displays are almost never-ending.

Flexible LED panels can be manipulated to fit curved surfaces, allowing for the creation of immersive environments, curved LED sculptures and architectural designs. It’s also possible to build LED tunnels, curating mesmerising visual experiences by lining corridors or walkways with panels that display dynamic content, as people walk through them.

With transparent LED displays, you can take things a step further, as this technology allows for the integration of digital content with real-world environments, overlaying digital information onto physical objects or spaces, producing stunning visual effects.
With the right elements in place, LED displays offer endless potential.

The Kit
Creating an LED wall or ceiling involves several key components:
LED panels – the building blocks of the display – consist of lots of individual LED modules arranged together on a special board called a panel. LED panels come in various sizes, resolutions and configurations to suit different applications and are linked together using a special container called a cabinet.
LED controllers – these devices manage the content displayed on the LED panels, controlling factors such as brightness, colour and synchronisation. They receive input signals from computers, media players, or other sources and translate them into commands that the LED panels will respond to.
Mounting hardware – LED panels need to be securely mounted onto walls, ceilings, or structures. Mounting hardware such as brackets, frames and rigging systems are used to ensure proper installation and alignment.
Content management software – this is used to create, edit and schedule the content displayed on the LED panels. It allows users to upload images, videos, animations and interactive elements, as well as control playback settings and transitions.
Power and connectivity infrastructure – LED installations require power sources and cabling to connect the LED panels, controllers and other components.

Game Changing Content
The most titanically proportioned LED wall in the world is nothing without the right content. There is both art and science behind impactful displays and a number of factors must be considered.

Content layout and composition needs to be designed to maximise the visual impact across the entire LED surface. The size, aspect ratio and shape of the LED wall (or ceiling), all need to be taken into account, so that content is tailored to complement dimensions.

Equally, the viewing distance and perspective of the audience relative to the LED wall (or ceiling) is important. The scale and placement of content elements should be adjusted to ensure optimal visibility and legibility from various viewing angles, with larger text, bold graphics and high-contrast colours used to enhance visibility – particularly for viewers at greater distances.

Visuals must be dynamic to capture attention and maintain viewer engagement. As such, animations, transitions and effects can be employed to create immersive experiences that draw the audience in. Expert content curators will always consider how motion can be used to guide the viewer’s gaze and convey narrative elements effectively. They should also explore if there’s an option to incorporate the physical surroundings of the display into the content, for a more immersive outcome – 3D perspective LED walls on the corners of buildings do this really effectively, for instance.

Finally, optimising content resolution and quality to suit your canvas is essential. Content assets must be developed at the appropriate resolution and aspect ratio to ensure they are suited to the specific LED display – whether it’s on a wall or ceiling.

Expert Application
Large-scale LED displays can deliver unforgettable, headline-grabbing retail and leisure experiences. They can also represent significant investments and therefore need to be done right. Having experts in place who can successfully manoeuvre a project through every stage – from planning and design, to installation, testing and content integration will ensure that maximum impact in a leisure or retail space is achieved and that the return on investment is delivered quickly and efficiently.