Low-Resolution LED Displays

in Buyer's Guides

For a PDF of the Nov. 2008 PLSN Buyers Guide, CLICK HERE .

If you need any convincing that we’re entering a period of amazing technology, click here and watch Blaise Aguera y Arcas demo Photosynth. You’ll see a powerful piece of software that grafts together a variety of images and links them in 3D space. It’s amazing to watch the pixels fly.

This is just one example of how far video processing and imaging has come. Every year we seem to cram more and more pixels onto displays by blending, adding resolution, expanding systems, and piling pixels on top of pixels. So why, then, are video, lighting and set designers fascinated with low-resolution displays? Probably for the same reason that Henri Matisse was fascinated with bright color, and why he favored expression over detail.


Low-resolution LED displays provide ample opportunity for the Matisse in all of us to cut loose with bright color and bold shapes. While Henri permanently committed pigment to canvas, the modern-day Matisse uses LEDs on a variety of surfaces and a computer to generate any image that can be imagined. But the way the canvas takes the image depends on a variety of factors; the type of LEDs, the pixel pitch (how far apart they’re spaced), the way the LEDs are held in place and how they are fed video content. Of course, there are so many other considerations that Henri didn’t have to worry about — how they are rigged, the size and weight of the display, their suitability for indoor or outdoor use and more. This Buyer’s Guide will help you pick the proper canvas for your masterpiece.

Matisse, along with Maurice de Vlaminck and André Derain, were called “les Fauves,” or “wild beasts” by a French art critic for their bold use of color. If ever there was a more apt group of artists who deserve the label of “wild beasts,” it has to be the video, lighting and set designers of today. Thanks to the power of computers and the ingenuity of low-resolution LED displays, Matisse, who once said that the future of art is light, lives in all of us.