April 19, 2016
Lee Kahle never met Pitbull, but the Technical Director of Harford Community College says he owes the superstar rapper a nod of thanks for helping him enhance the audience experience at the school’s arena by replacing its projection videos with an impressive 10’ tall by 20’ wide LED wall made of PVP S5 Panels from CHAUVET Professional.
“When I came to the school almost two years ago, there were issues with sunlight washing out the projection video images during the many daytime presentations and events held in the arena,” said Kahle. “I was familiar with Chauvet’s LED panels from my touring experience and I recommended them to the school.”
Having never seen CHAUVET Professional LED video panels in action, school administrators understandably wanted proof that the products could project quality video images. As part of his presentation, Kahle showed the administrative board a promotional “Behind The Scenes” video Chauvet made that featured its LED panels at a Pitbull concert.
Although the PVP S5 wasn’t the product shown in the Pitbull video, the demo got school administrators excited about the idea of adding panels to their arena. “Once they saw the Pitbull video they were pretty much sold on what LED panels could accomplish,” said Kahle. “From that point, it went through the normal evaluation procedures, but the enthusiasm level was very high.”
Looking back, Kahle believes that everyone involved in the decision making process feels that “we made the right choice” replacing video projection with LED panels. “There’s no question that brightness is no longer an issue when we show video content,” he said. “Plus the LED panels give you much greater flexibility to show content from text to graphical images to video, so you can match whatever is happening on the stage or podium.”
Anyone who’s ever visited the Harford Community College arena will find it easy to understand why brightness was an issue prior to the installation of the PVP S5 panels. Opened in December 2012, the building was initially intended to be a sports complex. In keeping with this goal, its design called for a bright open look, as evidenced by the row of 6-foot and 10-foot windows that circle the building just below the roof line.
Although aesthetically pleasing, the sunlight that these windows let into the 52,000 square foot arena makes it extremely difficult to see projection video images. “Visibility was a real issue, especially since there are quite a few educational conferences here that take place during the day,” said Kahle. “This issue disappeared instantly after we installed the video panels. We run the panels only at 25 to 50 percent and there’s never an issue about seeing the content.”
Aside from liking the panels’ 1,500 nits brightness, another thing Kahle appreciates about the PVP S5 units is their lightweight structure and easy rigging features. “We treat the panels as modular units,” he says. “We’ll position them in different locations throughout the arena depending on the event; we’ll also use them at the theater and other buildings on campus. Since the panels are easy to rig, we’re able to do this pretty quickly, which saves money over buying video walls for different buildings.”
In the arena and the theater across the street, the 72 PVP S5 panels are arranged in a 10’ by 20’ configuration. When used in other buildings, they’re usually configured in 6’ tall by 10’ wide setups. However, Kahle will also arrange them in less symmetrical configurations depending on the event.
“A nice thing about video panels is their versatility,” he said. “We use them in concerts, conferences and theatrical productions in the arena. They’ve opened creative vistas that just weren’t possible with video projection. “
To illustrate his point, Kahle describes a recent production where the LED wall acted as a giant computer screen. “We had a play where the lead character was looking up things online and her searches showed up on the LED wall as if it were her laptop. What we did was capture Internet searches earlier, turn them into video content and then we fed them to the LED wall with the Chauvet VIP Media Server Pro. The audience loved it.”
The quality of the video images on the Hanford Community College Arena’s LED wall has also earned acclaim, not just from audiences, but from video designers whose work is shown at the facility. “We get a lot of compliments from video people telling us how true their work looks on our walls,” said Kahle. “The quality we’re getting here can meet any pro’s standards.” That would include even a superstar like Pitbull.