Nowadays LED video walls are everywhere. We see them at most live events and they are quickly replacing projection with their more vibrant and immersive visuals.
We see them in use at large scale concerts and Fortune 100 corporate general sessions, to high school graduations and trade show booths.
Do you ever wonder how some event managers can afford to add such an enhanced visual to their events? Well beside the fact that prices are coming down, many A/V insiders also know how to negotiate the best price for their special event.
But what are those insider tips? Don’t worry, true industry insights coming your way on how to source the right product, for the right application, at the right price.
Insider Tips for SAVING MONEY ON your next LED video wall rental
1. “Go directly to the source”
Insight – There are a ton of A/V production companies in the US. They represent a wide range in capabilities, scale of inventory, and breadth of product assortment. Some are generalists while others are focused on certain areas of expertise ie: rigging, staging, audio, or video. The second type is especially true for LED video rentals where a high capital investment is needed and product life cycle is relatively short (3-4 years).
It is rare for any one company to have all the right gear and become a “one stop” shop; so most will source gear from others, through partnerships. We call this sub-renting or cross renting. A/V is a very incestuous industry. Sometimes we compete, sometimes we cooperate.
Recommendation – Go to the company that physically owns an LED displays inventory has the most margin and flexibility on prices – If inventory is sitting in a warehouse it is not earning anyone money. If possible try and avoid dealing with the middlemen up charges and sub-rental’s.
Go directly to the source to receive an authentic wholesale price quote. For instance, Matrix Visual Solutions specializes in state of the art LED video and owns over 40,000 panels with 25 different variants.
2. “Make sure you know the right product for the right application”
Insight –The price difference between a 3.9 mm vs a 2.6 mm product could be double; so do not recklessly spend your money to chase the lowest pixel count. If the front row of your audience is 50 feet away they will not see a meaningful difference between the two pixel pitches. Use the rule of thumb of a meter away for each pixel pitch ie: 3.9 mm front row needs to be at least 3.9 meters away or 12-14 ft.
You must know the distance of the audience to the wall. It is also important to understand the type of content that will be utilized ie: fine detail like text and mechanical drawings vs. videos with shapes and heavy animation.
Recommendation – Qualify your customers. The more you know the better your recommendations.
3. “Search for local equipment and local labor”
Insight – Many large national production companies store gear around the country around entertainment hubs. Sometimes they can roll gear from one location to another to save on shipping but do not shortcut the necessary post-event QC process! Shipping and travel expenses will add up to your costs.
Recommendation – All things equal source locally.
4. “Be an educated consumer”
Insight – “All LED is NOT created equal”. It is like buying diamonds. Just because they are both 2 carats does not mean that they are the same quality or brilliance. The same goes for LED. Just because you find the same pixel pitch, watch out for changes in quality based on manufactures, components, and performance.
Recommendation – If the audience is discerning, stick with name brands and remember that if the rental cost is too cheap, there has to be a good a reason. In order of US export volume for video wall rentals ROE and Unilumin are top of the food chain. They are followed by Absen and INFiLED. At Matrix Visual Solutions, we only carry the top manufacturers to be able to promise our clients a quality event.
5. “Avoid peak demand windows”
Insight – Depending on the vertical you target, the peak season for demand will vary. For example, concerts and touring happen in the warm weather months, while trade shows mirrors the spring and fall school year.
Recommendation – from a macro perspective, avoid major national holidays such as: New Years, Christmas, Easter, 4th of July and the peak months of May/June, and Sept/Oct. You’ll thank us later!
6. “Minimize total time for your video wall rental through streamlined logistics” – ie: shipping, receiving, and marshaling
Insight – You want the LED digital signage to come in last, after staging, lighting, and audio is in place. The order of the load-in relative to the show adds time, and never forget that time is money.
If you’re show is so small that set, show and strike takes 3 days or less, you may be able to squeeze out a reduction off the weekly show rate.
Recommendation – Manage your project timeline and look for additional savings on long-term event productions.
7. “Fly the LED video wall whenever possible”
Insight- Ground support requires more time and the variable of uneven floors and stages. This adds complications to set up and could impact the seamless display of the LED video screens.
Recommendation – Where possible, hanging bars and motors are the most efficient and time saving option
8. “Source rental friendly LED video panels”
Insight – More recent models with the latest designs enhancements save time building LED Displays. These are often described as designed for “single engineer” and most often are both front and rear serviceable. They also include heavy duty magnets to hold panels in place, guide pins on frames to align LED panels, and come with quick release locks, longer jumper cables for flexibility and speed.
Recommendation – shop for the newer design models that have these added features
9. “Spend your money on experienced technicians”
Insight – Anyone can build an LED video wall. but only the best know how to efficiently trouble shoot. It’s electronics after all, and things will go wrong.
Recommendation – Check the technicians references and years of experience.
10. “Negotiate redundancy at reduced rates or no charge”.
Insight – Most LED video rental companies will offer you spare panels at reduced rates. They are doing this because they have learned over the years, these spares will saves shows.
Recommendation – Adding spare parts and redundancy is a must for live events. These are your life line and insurance. Make sure to use companies that have in house repair services and experience as authorized warranty service providers. Renting LED is easy, but few know how to properly QC and repair the LED panels to ensure mint condition.