Best Options For Supporting Your LED Screens

You would think this wouldn’t be much of a topic, as it probably seems cut and dry to most of us, but you would be surprised to learn how many live event producers and meeting planners struggle over this decision. Building an LED screen of any size demands careful planning, calculation and the right product and tools. Before we get into how to support it, ask yourself these 5 important questions.

When deciding which support option is better for your event, consider these questions:

  1. Will the screen be used indoor or outdoor?
  2. Does the event venue have an existing infrastructure to support a screen?
  3. How will the aesthetics of the support options affect the look of the event?
  4. How high does the bottom of the screen need to be for the audience to view it clearly?
  5. How long will the screen be in place?

Flown vs. Stacked

When someone says they want to "Fly" an LED screen, that means the screen will be rigged to either an overhead truss system, a ceiling grid, a crane, or some other support structure from above.

Corporate Meeting LED Screen Rental
This is an indoor LED screen rental solution using the flying support method. The screen is hanging from truss using the venue's ceiling grid.

“Stacked” means to put all of the weight on the ground, a stage, a scaffold deck. Simply, the screen is stacked on the ground.

Leaderboard Screen Rental for Golf Tournaments
The screen is stacked on a stage dressed with a branded wrap.

I have seen clients build enormous, expensive truss structures in order to have the bottom of the screen 20’ above the ground. It was truly impressive and truly unnecessary. In fact, most of the crowd had to strain their necks to look at the screen. I’m pretty sure the screens would have been great at 8’ off the ground. If you’re outside, and you need the bottom of the screen high in the air (high in my opinion is anything above 10’) then your best choice is going to be to fly it. I’m not going to go into which way is the best way to fly a screen in an open field. That’s for someone else to figure out. If you only need the screen to be a few feet off the ground (a golf tournament for instance) then a stacked screen is a good option.

As screen providers, our lives are easier when a screen is flown, but anytime you put all of that structure up in the air you are creating risk. It creates an entirely more important decision for you, who will be doing your rigging? You have to choose a company that has a track record for safety and experience rigging LED screens both indoors and out. When we go indoors, the decision seems to be more aesthetic than practical. If anyone cares out there, we prefer to fly. It's quick, it's easy, and it's fun. I think the best way to help you make your decision is just to show you a bunch of pics and let you decide.

LED Screen Rental for Outdoor Concerts
This is a small screen, supported by truss, lifted by motors. Rear of screen.

Trade Show LED Screen Rental with Custom Built Scenic Structure
This screen is ground supported using a custom-built scenic structure.

Ground Supported LED Screen
This a view of the screen above from inside the scenic structure using a ladder ground support system.

LED Screen Rental for Outdoor Concerts
Same screen, from the front. Flown at an outdoor concert.

LED Screen Rental for Commencement Ceremonies
This is a 9'x12' LED screen rental supported by truss. This configuration is sometimes referred to as goal posts.

Outdoor LED Screen Rental
This is an LED screen in the stage-supported, or stacked configuration. Needs weight, ballasts to counter balance the screen.

LED Screen Rental for Outdoor Events
Same screen, shown from behind.

LED screen rental for Car Shows
This wall is stacked, stage supported, and then the stage itself is dressed in a branded wrap.

I'm not sure if this should be its own unique blog post, but it just occurred to me that I had neglected to bring up a very important point. This past summer we ran into this issue multiple times and I wish our clients had a better understanding of the risks associated with flying LED screens from truss outdoors, for days at a time. When we provide LED screen rentals to PGA golf tournaments, the screens are normally deployed for 8-10 days at a time. At golf tournaments, we almost exclusively use scaffold structures to "ground support" the screens. Not only is it pleasing to the eye, but it alleviates the biggest risk associated with multi-day outdoor events- bad weather.

LED Screen Support System
This is the side view of a wall supported by scaffold. In my opinion, this is the best choice for when a screen is deployed outdoors for multiple days. The weight is on the deck, and the rear is braced with lots of pipe.

Most stagers are so accustomed to using truss and motors that the idea of supporting a screen in any other way is uncomfortable to them. When you fly a screen from motors and truss, you normally have a free hanging screen, susceptible to moving in high wind. There are ways to "tie off" or brace the bottom and middle of the screens to minimize the movement, but no matter how you slice it if the screen is hanging from span set or chain motors, there is going to be movement with wind. Movement is (especially of screens that weigh multiple tons) the enemy. Movement affects momentum, and momentum brings down structures. In contrast to all of that nastiness, we would suggest you consider a scaffold structure, where the screen is rigid and braced in multiple locations. This removes the whole dance of lowering the screen when the wind arrives, which really does nothing other than making someone feel better because when the whole things fall, it won’t have as far to fall from. I don’t want anyone to take this the wrong way, traditional truss and motors are fine when done properly, but if you are going to hang a screen outside for a week or more, consider a scaffold structure.

Same screen, view from the front. Very pretty with the landscaping in front of the structure. All of this is temporary but strong and safe.

This one might confuse you a little. It's on scaffolding, but technically it's flown. The weight is supported by the chain motors above the screen.

This shows the rear of one of our lightweight CS16 mesh LED screens, flown on Stageline 250 mobile stage. Don't quote me on the Stageline model, but I'm pretty sure that's accurate.

Calvin Harris DJ Booth LED Screen Rental
Same screen, 1/2 flown, 1/2 stacked.

DJ Booth Rental LED Screen Calvin Harris
Stage supported, bottom half of the LED screen for DJ show.

Doug Murray

President of Upstage Video

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