ARLINGTON, WA – Video may have killed the radio star, but it's breathing new life into the fortunes of a 30-year-old Washington State lighting/staging company. Earlier this year, lighting industry veteran Mark Steneide (Steneide Illumination) added the capability to install video walls at music concerts and shows, using EVLED 1024SMD panels from Elation Professional. The demand for this service has proven so hot that Steneide has since spun it into a separate company, NW Video Wall ( www.nwvideowall.com), which was chosen to provide the video screen for the California leg of Bad Company frontman Paul Rodgers' solo tour.
It all began as a measure to cope with the economic downturn, said Steneide. “I was trying to figure out how to pump up business during this recession, and for awhile now I'd been seeing how lighting and video are merging. You look at everything from TV awards shows to concert tours, and all you see are LED video walls. So I said to myself, â€˜I've got to get a video wall.'”
Steneide attended last year's LDI Show determined to find a portable, easy-to-use affordable LED panel. He was immediately impressed with Elation's EVLED 1024SMD, a 20mm-pixel-pitch medium-resolution transparent LED video screen featuring tri-color SMD LEDs. Lightweight and portable, each modular EVLED panel measures 2.2” x 2.2” and can easily be linked to other panels to form a screen of any required size. Rated at IP65, the versatile screen can be used either indoors or outdoors. Initially, Steneide ordered 30 of the panels, but it soon became apparent he needed more so he has since purchased an additional 30 units.
One thing that stood out about the 4,000-nit panel, said Steneide, was its extreme brightness. “The intensity is just incredible,” he remarked. “When you put an image of fire on the screen, you can actually feel the heat!”
This brightness and intensity also made an impression on Paul Rodgers' tour manager, who happened to be at a benefit concert in Tacoma where Steneide was working one of his first video wall jobs. “The band had been using another (video wall) product and, at a 20mm pixel spread, our EVLED screen was twice the resolution of theirs and much, much brighter,” he said. “As soon as they saw my video wall, they were very impressed” -- enough to immediately hire NW Video Wall to supply the video screen for Paul Rodgers' California dates.
During Rodgers' solo tour which kicked off in June, the video wall was configured as 6 separate screens, each 4' wide and 10' tall. “They had 6 pieces of 14' truss, so we hung 10 screens from each one,” said Steneide. The flexibility and quick assembly of the EVLED panels make it easy to meet any spatial requirements and work within the tour's often very tight set-up deadlines.
“Many of our dates are county fairs and casinos, and we typically roll into town 4-6 hours before the show. I can set up the screen in 2 to 2-1/2 hours, including mapping it,” said Steneide. “Everyone's really amazed at how quickly the panels go together and come apart. It's incredible – they just snap together, there's nothing to wrench or bolt.”
With Rodgers playing at both indoor and outdoor venues, the EVLED panels' brightness and robust IP65 rating have been another big plus on the tour. “You should see these things outdoors in the daytime. At one venue the sun was setting like a huge spotlight, shining right into the entertainers' eyes and right onto the video wall. And you could still see the images on the video wall – it was that bright! In fact it's so bright that at most shows I usually only put it at 25%-30% intensity.”
Most of the video content is designed by the tour's lighting director, Jaye Murphy, and management. But Steneide said he has put together a library of video clips, obtained inexpensively from online sources, which he can use at other jobs where he is asked to provide the creative content.
“On the Paul Rodgers tour, we are basically the equipment provider, which is great,” he commented. “The really nice thing about the video wall business is that we can work with anybody – lighting, sound, video production guys – and we're not competing with anyone. Nobody else in our area has a video wall, so it's bringing us a lot of plus business. And the best part is that we add value to the show. Everybody benefits from it –from the entertainer to the audience -- everybody gets a better show.
“It's a lot of fun, too, because it's a new technology and people are just amazed at what you can do,” Steneide added. “Over the years we've done rigging, staging, set design and lighting -- and now we're doing video walls. In this business you have to be adaptable.”
For more information about EVLED Video Panels, call Elation Professional toll-free at 866-245-6726 or visit www.elationlighting.com
NW Video Wall can be reached at 360-403-7773 or visit www.nwvideowall.com