In a previous post, we outlined the top 5 multiscreen setups in use today. Now we want to talk about some of the biggest mistakes we all make in dealing with multiscreen setups, especially when we’re just starting out. It happens to everyone. You get excited about this great new idea, concept, or tool and before you even get the idea off the ground, mistakes are being made. Before you know it you’ve lost the trust of your leaders, the money is gone, and you’ve got nothing to show for all your work up to that point. Let’s take a quick look at these issues and how we can avoid the pitfalls that come with each of them.
1. Multiscreen Processor or Distribution Amplifier
This is probably the call we get most often when someone is trying to troubleshoot their multiscreen setup. All the projectors are working but they can’t get the image to project across multiple surfaces. The problem, they have a distribution amplifier where they need a multiscreen processor. A distribution amplifier can take one signal and repeat that output to multiple devices. So, if you have a simple signal that you want to send to multiple monitors or screens, you would be golden! Unfortunately, when we setup multiscreen a simple distribution amplifier will not suffice. A multiscreen processor, such as a TripleHead2Go or a Data Path X4 is what you’re going to need. These items allow you to split portions of the signal (aka your image, video, content, etc.) and send those unique pieces to the projector or LED elements you want them to display on.
2. Mismatched Resolutions
Ok, so you’ve got your media going to where you want it to go. But, alas, the center screen doesn’t really look like the side wall LED panels. The problem is mismatched resolutions. Make sure that you take into account not only the display proportions, but also the resolutions of the displays. This is crucial when combining LED and projection but always needs to be considered if your screens/surfaces are different sizes. When your main screen is a 1280*720 and the rented LED panels are 126*62, you must adjust your content to match those resolutions.
3. Insufficient Software
Can we all just agree that to do multiscreen well, we need something more powerful then Keynote or PowerPoint? I’m not hating on either program, we use them for the applications they were designed for…which is not multiscreen. Much the same way a nice luxury sedan won’t suit you on an off-road dirt track, insufficient programs will only hinder your ability to do multiscreen setups well. Looking for some options? Check out our top 6 VJ applications here!
4. Tools of the Trade
Do you know how far your projector throw distance is or needs to be? No? Ok, how about power needs versus available power? No? Does your brand new iMac have VGA or SDI out? No? There are tons of questions like these you need to ask before you can even begin to configure and put together your multiscreen setup. Start simple and get three items together – a laser measure tool, a multimeter, and a small connector kit. We have these in abundance and no amount of projectors and LED panels can overcome not having the right connector, enough power, or projector throw distance. Get the tools you need for the job so you can do it well.
5. The Little Details
Way beyond what a great multiscreen setup could cost are the ramifications of what this type of video setup can mean to your room, audience, and experience. Don’t start before you do your research. Be sure you know the little details that create an experience instead of just a different setup. Read books on multiscreen setups, ask the experts about what works and what doesn’t, find out what the limitations of the space are ahead of time, and make sure you clear your budget with whoever signs the checks. The fastest way to derail your progress is to over promise and under deliver. Take the time and effort to make sure you know what journey you are embarking on and why. If the media trumps your message then all its going to be is noise.
Content is why we exist, and yet it’s forgotten about WAY too often. Every multiscreen design needs a story. Media (or content) is where the story exists. Too often we see the most amazing setups where there is low res, stretched, bad aspect ratio content that looks awful. Also be considerate on the speed of your media, the larger the screen surface, the faster your media will appear.
So that’s our list of mistakes. I assure you, we’ve made them more often than we want to admit. But the first step to solving a problem is admitting that you have one! Don’t be too prideful to admit when you make a mistake. Fix it early and move past it. Mistakes are opportunities to learn and be better at what you do. If you need any help, let us know. We are always wanting to chat with anyone about whatever questions you’ve got!