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:
- Will the screen be used indoor or outdoor?
- Does the event venue have an existing infrastructure to support a screen?
- How will the aesthetics of the support options affect the look of the event?
- How high does the bottom of the screen need to be for the audience to view it clearly?
- 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.
“Stacked” means to put all of the weight on the ground, a stage, a scaffold deck. Simply, the screen is stacked on the ground.
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.
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.
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.
President of Upstage Video