Concert Visuals – Choosing LCD Displays, LED Walls or Projectors
Live music events, increasingly supported by ‘concert visuals’ are increasingly critical to an artist’s success. In today’s music industry record labels and musicians are finding it difficult to sell hardcopies of their records in a slumping CD sales market. Since the introduction of online music stores such as iTunes and Amazon and now monthly streaming applications such as Spotify and Pandora, recording artists are now having to adjust for lack of sales with more beefed up live shows and merch sales.
With the average ticket price for live events steadily climbing, artists are now having to build more value around their live shows. One way in which this is happening is the introduction of more elaborate visual shows. Visual aids on stage are nothing new. Displays and lights have been around since the technology was first introduced. But in today’s visual aid market, the artist has more options to mull over.
Some of the top display technologies that are currently dominating the concert venue stages are LCD Displays, LED Screens and Projectors.
The focus of this article will be to give a quick overview of all three technologies and which technology best fits the artist’s vision and venue size.
LCD displays are relatively new to the ‘touring on stage’ market but are extremely well suited to concert visuals. In the past the cost and weight had been big deterrents when choosing what displays to bring to venue. Although with costs dropping significantly and better advancements in the overall product weight they have become the new hip kid on the block. Their ability to be interactive via Multi-Touch and their HD picture brilliance make these displays versatile and engaging for both the user and the audience. LCD displays also come in a large range of sizes that anyone from your weekend DJ to your mega touring act can use. See More
Dispay: LCD displays allow performers the ability to spin any content of their choosing. Whether it be abstract lines and patterns or HD video, the LCD displays come standard with HD 1080p and now 4K resolution. LCD displays are also being manufactured for daybright use, which means that they can be seen even when the sun is at its peak. The ability to add anti-reflective optical bonded glass not only makes them extremely durable but also ensures that your audience is seeing the brightest picture quality possible. The viewing angles on LCD IPS displays makes for a much more well rounded viewing experience for audiences as it allows up to an 89 degree viewing angle.
Interactive: With advancements in multi-touch software and hardware, LCD displays are now becoming even more interactive. The ability to turn any LCD display or video wall into a touch MIDI interface for software like AbletonLive or Traktor takes the LCD displays to an entirely new level. Cue samples or visual content with the touch of a finger and engage your audience with the wave of a hand. The future is truly bright!
Mobile: LCD displays make the setup and breakdown of your stage rig easy and fast. With plug and play features to any video source via HDMI, the performing artist needs only to unbox, hang, power on and plug in. Video Walls once bound to structured spaces or heavy rigs are now able to be mounted to light, rugged rolling carts. Traveling with video walls is easier with rolling ATA cases and durable easy grips on each display. LCD displays also come in a variety of sizes, making them not only versatile but accommodating to any size act.
Image: Whereas black reproduction was once considered a disadvantage this is no longer the case thanks to recent advances with IPS LCD technology and now OLED backlit displays that produce sharp blacks and crisp colors, the issue isn’t as much of a concern as it once was.
Size: Although video walls can be arranged to any size the performer desires, the ability to mount large arrangements depends on the venue scaffolding and infrastructure.
Projectors have recently received a bit of a facelift with the introduction of more advanced ways to display. The trend that has the industry buzzing right now is the art of Projection Mapping. With the advancement of mapping software like Madmapper, TorsionBlend and HeavyM to name a few, artists are now being able to custom design and fabricate how visuals will wrap around any 3 dimensional object. One artist who took this technology to a whole new level is AMON TOBIN and his team of artists and designers.
Display: with the right projector set up and software anything or anyone can now become a display. The consumer based model projector’s picture quality has gained ground with advancements, so being able to display HD pictures is now available.
Mobile: Projectors are easy to setup / breakdown and transport. The plug and play feature also makes projectors very friendly to the touring artist.
Light: This tends to be one of the major drawbacks with projectors. With stage lights and ambient fog, a projector’s performance is heavily affected.
Although great for static acts like DJ’s, projectors tend to not work well with live bands where members are moving around on stage. Performers run the risk of cutting in front of the projector, thus losing your image completely.
Lamps / Bulbs Replacement: Dimmer projections and lost pixels happen when lamps / bulbs / etc begin to diminish. Lamps last between 700 and 3,000 hours. Replacing these parts can also get pricey.
Software: Yes the plug and play feature is great with projectors but now the artist must hire someone to manage the mapping software and visuals or learn to run them themselves. Learning and triggering the software can often times be frustrating or time consuming.
LED Screens have been the staple of many dj / performing band’s live shows, from mega concerts to intimate venues, they have been the foundation for visual aids.
Display: with LED screens the size and shape are really up to the artist’s vision. They can be built in almost any 4 point shape and can be seen from far distances. They are also great for indoor and outdoor use.
Mobile: With advancements in LED screen technology the end user is now no longer bound to rigid metal frames and scaffolding. Fold up LED curtains are now becoming a norm in the world of onstage visuals.
Image: Unless you are a major touring act and can afford a densely populated LED pixel count and sizes that require a team of stage hands to set up and break down, the everyday touring artist will have to opt for a less high definition picture. The ability to freely choose visual content is usually cut significantly and most artists opt for more abstract lines and patterns.
Viewing Angle: is an important element when showing visuals on stage. When playing at a venue that has a wider crowd base than the stage length, LED screens run the risk of only being seen from the straight onlooker. Thus cutting off the visual experience to anyone who is not within the optimal viewing range.