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Display evolution: dvLED and flexible video walls

Nick Belcore, executive vice president at Peerless-AV discusses the dvLED market

What are your key observations of the dvLED market and its evolution?
dvLED is overtaking LCD faster than we thought, and this isn’t just an observation; it is an overwhelming, undisputable result of the evolution of the technology as a superior, more flexible alternative in the video wall market. We all knew it would happen, but the accessibility of dvLED has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years alone. Although the world of standard VESA mounting points still does not exist in dvLED technology, the cost is decreasing, OEMs are investing, ultra-narrow pixel pitch is increasing, lifespans are improving, and LED is now more available in the channel. 

We are also now seeing OEMs implementing customer exchange programmes to swap out old LCD video walls and replace with dvLED. dvLED applications currently range from basic flat-to-wall 130-165in FHD walls up to giant and unique bespoke video walls of any size, shape or configuration, such as curved convex and concave with missing rows, suspended, half globes, indoor to outdoor through pane glass, on a track system, pivoting, floor pedestal, recessed – anywhere where the end customer has a creative vision and wants to make maximum impact.

dvLED lends itself to complex and challenging installations for its versatility to blend with a building’s architecture and make multi-layered creative visions a reality, thus the need for complicated design elements is growing exponentially. From a precision infrastructure need, the game is changing.

We’re seeing increased demand for custom fabricated substructures in large-scale, ground-breaking dvLED projects where a completely flat and level wall surface is required on which to hang the mount. It then takes time and patience using technology, hand tools and precision expertise to ensure the mount solution is hung level and plumb. This demand requires superior experience, and we are able to support every step of the way through our SEAMLESS dvLED Integration Program; coordinating stakeholders consultants, general contractors, structural engineers, site contractors, installation team, manufactures and end user.

In which verticals are you seeing the most growth / opportunity?
Verticals where we’re seeing the most growth is stadiums and arenas, casino resorts and sportsbooks, universities and transit, as well as museums and retail – but for Peerless-AV specifically, the opportunity is with indoor dvLED. LCD replacement is proliferating at such a rapid rate in these sectors.

Can you name some examples of recent high-profile installs?
An example of a unique dvLED install we were involved in recently with Ford Audio Visual, Waystone and Absen is The First Americans Museum (FAM) of Oklahoma. All parties worked together to install a giant, concave curved dvLED video wall that wraps around the centre of the museum. Peerless-AV designed a custom fabricated mounting system with the flexibility to accommodate the curvature of the wall, which cantilevers out 6 feet, giving the effect of floating in the air, and to also support the 4200-pound (1.9t or 1,905kg) combined weight of the 192 Absen displays. The installation was highly challenging; one slight misstep in the curvature would throw the entire structure off. Peerless-AV’s SEAMLESS team was instrumental in calculating the radius and providing a precision infrastructure system that allowed  fine-tune adjustment and exact placement of the dvLED panels at every single point. The installation exceeded the museum’s expectations, and the Peerless-AV team delivered the perfect mounting system for the unique wall, which is being used as a backdrop for performances and events during launch week in September 2021. Content is fine-tuned to the video wall and sections can be changed to vary the experience of the content deployed to each section. 

Mohegan Sun FanDuel Sportsbook in Connecticut is another recent project we’re very proud of. No straightforward installation due to the size and scale, the colossal curved dvLED video wall installed in the sportsbook is setting a new standard for the leisure and entertainment space. Mohegan Sun wanted to create an innovative and exciting addition to their facility, serving sports betters with access to a world-class selection of live sports competitions from across the world with restaurant, bar and gaming offerings. Working together with FanDuel, the concept of this visually stunning video wall came to life. 

Due to the complexity of the project, AV integrator Solutionz specified a bespoke precision infrastructure  rom the Peerless-AV team who designed, engineered, and delivered the fully custom solution. rt to support this triple XL wall and ceiling mounted curved video wall, with a total weight of 20,000lbs. The team carefully arranged Unilumin Uslim dvLED displays to create three individual video walls, including one main wall and two wing walls to form a concave appearance. Not only was the size, weight, and curvature of this video wall a challenge, but there were also adjustments along the way that allowed the teams’ adaptability and innovation to be showcased and still meet the deadline. 

The main video wall featured a uniform yet gentle curve with a 179.8-degree angle between any two adjacent displays. The right and left sections each had a greater curve than the center, with a 176.7-degree angle between any two adjacent displays. The team included a half-inch vertical expansion gap between each of the sections to account for a potential difference between snow loading deflection that could impact the side sections of the curved video wall differently than the main wall.  This attention to detail and incorporation of virtually all potential variables is what truly differentiates the Peerless-AV Bespoke dvLED solutions.  

Designed for visitors of the sportsbook to be able to view the display from any angle of the space, the total viewable surface of the dvLED video wall is 139ft (w) x 14.7ft (h) and 2,034 sq ft, and 420 Unilumin Uslim dvLED displays were used for the enormous wall. The panels were arranged in an 84-wide by 5-high configuration. The bottom four rows contained 500 (w) x 1,000 (h) displays, totaling 366 cabinets, while the top row contained 500 (w) x 500 (h) displays, totaling 84 cabinets. To create a desired viewable size maximised to fit the space, this custom design had to accommodate these different cabinet sizes. 

Four months after you announced a new acquisition, how has this impacted your LED business?
ADF is no longer the best kept secret in the digital signage industry. People now understand how instrumental the company has been in some of the most prominent, visually stunning and challenging dvLED deployments of the last decade. We have calculated that ADF is responsible for 400,000 sq ft of dvLED in every iteration of complexity around the globe. We originally began partnering with them on dvLED projects where we didn’t have the capacity in-house and quickly realised that they were a logical addition to our company to facilitate continued dynamic growth. 

How do you work with leading OEM partners / how do you ensure you stay ahead of the curve?
Firstly, we work in close collaboration with OEMs at the R&D stage to ensure we’re up to date with the latest product launches. Secondly, we always require that OEM cabinets to be deployed in a project are sent in to our manufacturing facility for fitment trials and testing. We take our own measurements of cabinets to four decimal points and we do heat testing, amongst many others; the data from which we work into our design and engineering of our SEAMLESS Bespoke dvLED Mounting Systems – all to ensure the OEM dvLED is shown in the most perfect light.

Getting involved in installs at the earliest stage is something we require  of our integrator and OEM partners. No install is the same when it comes to dvLED and each project comes with its own unique set of challenges. Meticulous planning with all teams is essential to avoid potential issues when on-site, and for dvLED it’s make or break. Experienced, expert engineers are needed on site. If a dvLED video wall isn’t installed properly, on a precision infrastructure  an alignment issue on the video wall could cause failure of the video wall, and the need to de-install or repair damaged LED cabinets or pixels. If tolerances are insufficiently exact, the visual experience is flawed and damages the ability of the wall to immerse the audience. In either event, the wall would need substantial adjustment or repair, thus dramatically increasing project costs.

Many in the industry attempt to mount dvLED using the same skillset, experience and sense of urgency of large array LCD flat panel mounting. The idea that dvLED is “similar enough” to approach in that fashion is incorrect. It takes time, patience, and thoroughness to ensure the dvLED mounting system is perfectly installed before mounting the display cabinets; the process should not be rushed.

On a recent installation, the integrator said “wow, the cabinets slid in like butter”, and that’s the way it should always be when all planning is done correctly upfront, allowing the precision infrastructure to be installed as engineered and manufactured and thus deployed seamlessly in the field..

What are the next steps for Peerless-AV and dvLED looking ahead to 2023?
Our plans centre around ownership of the totality of the completed project. We are increasingly being brought in to manage the whole install, even the installation of the dvLED cabinets and commissioning of the video wall. Working with our network of integration and installation partners, we can now provide design, engineering, precision fabrication, installation and commissioning of dvLED video walls. It’s an exciting phase of growth for us and all I will say to close is watch what we have in store for this space!