LED Walls: Do You Really Need Them or Are They Getting Old?
When was the last time you attended a concert, conference, or live event that didn’t use an LED wall? Does that question take you a few minutes to answer? If so, you likely already understand the popularity and, dare we say, overuse of products like LED.
LED walls definitely provide flexibility and creativity in stage design. However, it’s just one of many production elements you can use to create an immersive, engaging experience. It might be time to rediscover some other production elements that fly under the radar but offer great alternatives or additions to LED walls.
LED Walls: An Industry Trend?
The use of LED walls spiked in popularity in 2008 when they became more affordable and, therefore, more accessible for live events such as performances, concerts, and conferences. We started offering LED products in 2012, and since then we’ve rented out thousands of different LED displays.
While LED walls certainly have advantages, it’s important to remember that they aren’t the only options for your stage design. LED walls can even have some weaknesses, like the moiré effect (though an experienced production partner will know how to avoid that given the right parameters). You can use other production elements along with LED, or you can steer clear of LED screens altogether and still create a captivating set.
Benefits of Using LED for Your Live Event
Before jumping into the alternatives to LED, let’s examine why this production element became so popular in the first place.
LED walls allow you to quickly change the look of your stage from moment to moment. One second, they can be used as a lighting element, the next as a video display, and the next as a dynamic background. With LED walls, you can easily transform the stage with minimal effort.
Makes Room for Creativity
An LED display is truly a blank canvas with endless possibilities. You can use this multipurpose production element to create an immersive experience that, when done well, is often more dynamic than a fixed set.
Unique Alternatives to LED Walls You Can Use in Your Stage Design
LED walls may allow for endless flexibility and creativity, but their constant use is starting to get a little old — and not just to AVL experts.
People today see LED walls everywhere — at concerts, conferences, awards shows, sporting events, and even shopping malls! The truth is, there are only so many ways you can rearrange squares to create a distinctive experience. Eventually, they all begin to look the same.
Before settling on LED alone for your next live event, consider some of these alternative elements that can add flexibility and creativity to your stage design:
1. Hard Sets
Hard sets, also called “scenic shop builds,” are sets made from physical elements, like custom props, set walls, creative borders, and set scenery. They’re great for events where you’d like to transport the audience to an environment or location for the duration of the event, like a forest or a specific cityscape. Jimmy Buffett, for example, brings his fans to the beach with hard set pieces like sea grasses, large boulders, and mobile tiki bars. Does he still use screens? Absolutely. But he also has an octopus and a seagull on stage with him.
Projection is another useful alternative or addition to LED walls. It still offers many of the same benefits, such as flexibility and innovation, but projectors are significantly lighter than LED walls, so they’re a safe, reliable choice for ballrooms, stages, and other venues with strict rules and weight limits.
Projection works best in a dark environment, so it’s ideal to use this production element in indoor venues where you have complete control over the lighting. You can also use projection mapping, a technique that allows you to project video footage onto a surface, turning architectural elements and hard set pieces into lively displays.
Another alternative to LED walls is to increase your lighting budget. You can incorporate dozens of creative lighting options into your set design, such as lasers or lights with gobos on house trusses.
You can use gobos to project images or patterns onto the stage, or you can use lighting to “paint the room” by visually extending the stage and making the audience feel like they’re a part of the set.
Use All the Tools in Your Belt
Don’t get us wrong — LED walls are an excellent option for events, especially when you pair them with engaging, beautiful content. If you want to use LED for your upcoming event, we’ll gladly rent it to you! Just remember to allocate budget for custom content creation.
It’s important to keep in mind that LED is just one of many production elements you can use to bring your event to life. Other elements, like projection and lighting techniques, can also produce great results and help you stand out from the crowd.