Essential Considerations When Investing in a Video Wall Processor
You may have seen video walls in control rooms, collaboration rooms, auditoriums or laboratories, but video walls are also vastly used in shopping malls, airports and sports venues. Video walls are becoming more and more prevalent since “a picture (or video) is worth 1,000 words”. Not only are video walls used to promote advertisements, engage audiences and provide information, but they are increasingly used for security monitoring, network monitoring and emergency center operations across various industries like transportation, utilities and mining.
Video walls are comprised of multiple displays and require a video wall processor to ensure the synchronization of those displays across an entire video wall. A video wall processor takes multiple inputs from various content sources and allows them to be displayed on the video wall in any arrangement and size that is desired, turning multiple independent screens into a single large canvas. The video wall processor, also known as a video wall controller, is the brains behind any modern video wall. Without it, each content source would only be displayed on a single screen. The ability of utilizing the entire canvas as one is what makes a video wall so much more effective, both in control room scenarios and in public spaces.
What do You Need to Know When Selecting a Video Wall Processor?
As you are planning for your next video wall deployment, here’s what you need to look for when selecting the right video wall processor to manage your new video wall:
Scalability & Flexibility
The video wall processor should be expandable, able to support a video wall that has the potential of growing without having to add a second processor. While the number of monitors on your video wall may not change significantly once it’s deployed, you should still plan for expandability on the number of outputs of your video wall controller, this is especially true for control rooms. As a rule of thumb, plan to have enough outputs to handle one additional row or column of monitors on your video wall. Expandability is also important for the number of sources you want to make available for your video wall, whether they are physically connected sources or IP sources. Here, we would recommend to plan for at least plan a 20% expandability in the capture capacity of your video wall controller.
Every output on a video wall processor should have the option to be configured independently, using different resolutions and display orientations as some may be horizontal while others vertical or completely non-standard shapes, some LCDs and other LEDs, etc.
- Look for a video wall processor that maintains, as much as possible, the signal integrity from source to video wall, thus a technology that is able to capture external sources without any loss of resolution or frame rate AND at near zero latency.
Ensure that the video wall processor can display any source at any position and in any size on the video wall and can also be viewed in multiple simultaneous instances.
With AV-over-IP technology becoming prevalent in the audio visual industry, make sure to look for a video wall processor that is able to decode streams using the HTTP, RTSP, RTP, UDP protocols and H.264 (MPEG4 Part 10 AVC), VC-1, MPEG2 Part 2, MJPEG codecs.
In order to optimize today’s display technology, the video wall processor should provide outputs that support a resolution of UHD (3840×2160) @60Hz.
Make sure the video wall processor has the ability to decode multiple IP video streams with resolutions up to 4K.
In order to take full advantage of the latest video wall technology, you will need a video wall controller that can handle non-standard aspect ratios (particularly to drive Direct View LED walls), capture full color depth 4:4:4, maintain signal integrity, and simultaneously process a large number of sources with a wide variety of formats.
Any Source to Any Display
The video wall processor input/source hardware must support various types of sources consisting of physical inputs, network streams (including encoders, IP cameras, IPTV streams), software desktop captures (VNC or using proprietary software), HTML, media files (videos, images, PDFs), RSS feeds, scrolling texts and Windows applications.
Video wall displays are always evolving and changing with new types of displays, increased resolutions and different aspect ratios. We can’t be sure of what’s coming and when, but we know that it will be bigger and better. Already, LED displays are becoming more affordable and thus more popular. As they are bezel-less and provide increased brightness and contrast, they are becoming more popular in control rooms, an environment that demands the precise visualizing of data and important details to maintain operational efficiency. To future proof your video wall investment, make sure that the video wall processor can accommodate changes in display technology by being display agnostic, whether it’s an LCD, LED, MicroLED, projection, and whatever the future may bring.
Easy Set-Up & Operation
- Whichever processor you select, make sure it comes with a full-featured video wall management software with an intuitive user interface. Its software should come with an easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface that would allow you to drag-and-drop sources to destinations, resize your windows, save and recall presets and even provide the ability to manage multiple video walls and/or video wall processors from a single interface.
The video wall management software should have an easy way to create customized control panels where users can change the content easily on the video walls and recall other display configurations with the touch of a button. The ability to create control panels SHOULD NOT require any programming, giving operators the independence they seek to change their workflows and operations quickly and easily.
Since a video wall processor is one of the most vital components of any video wall deployment, take the time to select the right one. As explained above, there are so many factors to take into consideration, there is no one-size-fits-all. Understanding what technology to use for your specific application will be the key to your success. We encourage you to talk to a video wall control specialist before making your investment.
VuWall offers modular and scalable video wall controllers that are ideal for changing requirements, built upon an open architecture, providing interoperability, the utmost flexibility and certainly reliability as they are installed in some of the world’s most prestigious 24/7 mission-critical environments.