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Outdoor Week: Outdoor LED Video Wall Case Study

South Florida integrator leans on Digital Projection to deliver a video wall fit for finicky outdoor conditions at a luxury estate.

Outdoor Week 2024 Logo - Draper at Home

For as long as there have been outdoor LED video walls, there has been a sizeable market of viable commercial customers. A shift is long overdue. Given the clarity, brightness, and size advantages of a video wall over projection systems in outdoor settings, utilizing this large-format imaging option in the backyard of a luxury residence makes a lot of sense. Still, many dealers catering to affluent customers are reluctant to transition.

“The amount of coordination that goes into transporting, designing, installing, and configuring a video wall for residential applications, much less outdoor applications, is considerably more complex than simply hanging a conventional display,” says David Holiday, owner of AudioTec Designs, of Boca Raton, a CEDIA Systems integrator since 1989. “Most video walls are designed and intended for use in commercial spaces, so there’s a good deal of finessing and fine-tuning that needs to happen when they’re used for outdoor entertainment purposes at home.”

Outdoor Week: Skater Park Sound and Light

He should know. Holiday and the AudioTec Designs team just completed one of their largest, most elaborate residential projects in their 35 years of business — a “pinnacle project” topped off by a custom 130-inch video wall from Digital Projection tucked into an exquisite marble wall of a stately lanai.

Creating Backyard Bliss with a Big LED Display

The expansive outdoor area occupied by the Digital Projection Radiance Outdoor LED video wall is accoutered just as heavily with AV and automation as the interior of the 25,000-square-foot estate. “The client’s intent from the start was to make their backyard resemble the grounds of a 5-star resort,” Holiday says. The built-in HDR video wall, along with 18 Origin Acoustics bollard-style speakers, 18 Sonance Extreme flush-mount speakers, and scene-setting landscape lighting evoke this vibe; a Control4 system simplifies the setup with 12 presets alone for the outdoor area.

Digital Projection Outdoor Videowall - Mid Distance

The exceptional level of automation, control, and entertainment extends seamlessly from the inside to the outside of the house. “Per the owners’ preference for large, modern, state-of-the-art displays, we also outfitted the interior Clubroom area with a very large video wall. It was only fitting to carry that scale and performance to the outdoor areas.”

Finding the Right Fit and Finish

There was just one problem. During a pandemic-related hiatus in the construction schedule, the outdoor video wall originally specified by AudioTec Designs was discontinued. Unfortunately, nothing else in the manufacturer’s video wall portfolio would fit the proportions of a cavity that had been carved into a marble wall. AudioTec Designs had no choice but to look elsewhere. At CEDIA Roadshow, they found the perfect-size LED video wall from Digital Projection. It would mark a milestone for AudioTec Designs. “This would be our first time installing a video wall outside and our first time working with DP,” Holiday says. He and his tech crew eagerly embraced the unknown and delivered their customers “an outdoor viewing experience that’s even better than a 5-star resort!”

Outdoor Week: Achieving Outdoor Shade Success

The successful adaptation of a high-end commercial product into an elegant residential setting was no small feat, but a necessary step for customer satisfaction and company growth. “This may have been our first outdoor residential video wall installation, but it certainly won’t be our last,” Holiday expects. “Consumer demand for outdoor video walls is bound to rise; with this project under our belts, we’ll be one step ahead of our competition and prepared for anything our customers ask for.”

Perfecting Outdoor Video Wall Performance

Having Digital Projection involved from the initial design to the completion of the perfect-size video wall was invaluable to the success of the project. “We were able to learn from DP’s project coordinators, the small yet crucial details to consider when implementing a video wall. Even the processes of moving the video wall panels from the curb to the lanai without damaging the lawn was a huge deal that DP helped us plan and execute,” Holiday remarks. The team was exposed to many other uncharted territories and minor obstacles prior to the deployment —“things we didn’t even know to ask, but DP sure did,” Holiday adds. [See sidebar — “Key Considerations for Outdoor Resi Video Walls.”]

Digital Projection Outdoor Videowall - Closeup

Building a video wall into the structure of the lanai was a sizeable investment, so AudioTec Designs went the extra mile to make it work perfectly under any weather or viewing conditions. For example, a super-bright image may look great on a sunny day in Florida, but at night this same brightness level could “possibly cause a sunburn,” Holiday jokes. Seating distance would vary, too, with some people choosing to watch in the lanai and others by the swimming pool.

Together, AudioTec Designs and Digital Projection customized solutions to these issues. For example, they integrated a light sensor with the video wall to enable automatic adjustments of image brightness based on ambient light conditions. To ensure the image would look crisp and pin-sharp no matter how close or far away viewers would be watching, the team requested the video wall be configured with pixel pitch of 1.5mm. Also implemented was technology to protect the video wall from lightning strikes and electrical spikes and surges. The equipment racks are isolated and connected to dedicated surge protection, power conditioning, and battery backup. Additionally, AudioTec Designs isolated the video wall and video processor via fiber-optic cable instead of using highly conductive copper cabling.

Outdoor Week: Made For the Shade…and Sun

“This was of major importance, as any major electrical disturbance, whether from the environment or from the power utility, could travel over copper to the video wall and potentially cause catastrophic damage to any equipment,” Holiday explains.

Video Wall Integration Adds Ease of Operation

Unlike conventional displays, video walls don’t have internal audio components, so AudioTec Designs took extra measures to ensure signals from the home’s audio distribution system stayed in sync with the video content. “This was even more challenging given the outdoor area’s seven independent audio zones powered from separately located AV racks,” Holiday says. “We programmed the Contol4 system to enable the audio portion of a video presentation to play at different volume levels at each zone, or the owners can choose to play music in some zones simultaneous with video wall audio.” Designed exclusively for the outdoor area, a dozen presets on a Control4 Halo remote and portable touchscreen grant the owners one-touch control over audio, video, lighting, and water features.

Digital Projection Outdoor Videowall - Far

Of course, no custom home tech project is complete without one-touch activation of AV and other amenities. AudioTec Designs rose to the occasion in the backyard oasis, programming a Control4 Halo remote and portable touchpanel with 12 custom media scenes dedicated to the outdoor area. At the tap of a button, the Digital Projection Radiance Outdoor LED video wall switches from its dimly illuminated “off” state to full brightness. The owners can choose from more than 3000 Kaleidescape movies, satellite TV, AppleTV, Cable TV, and a myriad of streaming services. Synchronized audio joins the chosen video content, playing through every speaker in and around the lanai. Simple steps for such a sophisticated entertainment setup anchored by one of the first LED video walls to set foot on residential soil. The momentous achievement by AudioTec Designs underscores the importance of precision engineering, attention to detail, and the support of a knowledgeable manufacturer to the successful deployment of a cutting-edge imaging solution set to take the luxury residential market by storm.

Outdoor Week: Outdoor Ecosystem Tech Showcase

Equipment List

  • 1 – Digital Projection Radiance LED 130” Outdoor Series 1.5 pixel pitch Direct View Video Display
  • 18 – Sonance 8” VP Extreme Outdoor Series Flush-Mount Speakers
  • 18 – Origin Acoustics Landscape Bollard Speakers
  • 2 – Origin Acoustics DSP3 -700 Amplifiers
  • 2 – Triad 16 source, 16-zone Audio Matrix Switch
  • 2 – Audio Control Avalon G4 Amplifiers
  • 1 – Kaleidescape 88Tb Ultimate Server/Strato Player
  • 1 – AppleTV 4K Streaming Player
  • 1 – DirecTV Satellite Receiver
  • 1 – Xfinity X1 Cable Receiver
  • 2 – Rukus 350 Outdoor High-powered Access Points
  • 2 – Control4 HaloTouch Handheld Remotes
  • 1 – Control4 T4 Series Portable Tabletop Touchscreen
  • 1 – Control4 CA10 Control Processor
  • 2 – Control4 EA5 Control Processors

Key Considerations for Outdoor Resi Video Walls

  • The LED System components comprising a video wall are numerous and heavy. Carting them across expensive flooring or a well-manicured lawn requires a solid plan. Know how the transport will happen well before the components are delivered to avoid damage.
  • Video walls are normally used for digital signage; the design of a residential unit, therefore, will be much different and require some degree of customization. Be sure to ask your customers what types of content they plan to watch — it will influence the technological and design implementation of the video wall.
  • Multiview or video tiling is not necessarily a default option. Be sure to ask if this feature is important and must be planned during the design and engineering phase, including control options.
  • Environmental conditions should be worked into the design equation, as well. Will the display reside in a light-controlled theater or face the sun in an outdoor area? This will determine how the video wall is engineered and configured.
  • Unlike conventional displays, video walls never completely turn off. They are intended to run 24/7, illuminating slightly when images are absent. Be sure to let your customers know this.
  • While we are used to most consumer displays natively supporting 4K and HDR content, video walls can support many formats from 1080P SDR to 4K HDR depending on the specifications you require. Be sure to request this from the manufacturer for residential applications to ensure your clients can play all their favorite content.