Whether it's mapping your next conference booth or planning a social media launch, event planners use a wide range of skills on a daily basis.

“Not only are they involved in the design, communications and marketing, and catering decisions, we also have to be experts in A/V technology,” says project manager Sofia Nikolaeva.

Likewise, there's an industry-wide onus placed on these planners to use the latest technologies and make a statement at every event.

Here's a look at video walls and projection mapping — two of the most popular event technologies today — plus how they can further your goals and keep you ahead.

Powering Events with AV Over IP

Before choosing between a video wall and projection mapping, it's key to understand the technology behind them: AV over IP. Diving into your AV over IP budget first can ensure a more seamless transition to either projection mapping or video walls.

“Because AV components comprise a large part of an event production budget, it should be dealt with early on. Audio visual equipment doesn't have as much leeway as other categories like decorations, catering or publicity,” notes ITA Audio-Visual Solutions.

The flexibility of AV over IP is one of its greatest selling points. No matter the size of your audience or budget, there's a solution that caters to your needs. It is especially useful for booths and stages with multiple controllers, as the learning curve for AV over IP is far less steep than similar technologies in the industry.

Commercial Integrator CTO Tim Griffin explains that with AV over IP event managers can take advantage of ordinary servers and existing technologies.

“It can deliver the video wall content over the network, a standard gigabit Ethernet network to the displays, and you're not limited in terms of the number of capture sources or the number of live web pages you can play or the number of outputs.”



The Potential of Video Walls

Video walls are a great option for engaging audiences in brand storytelling, says D. Craig MacCormack at Commercial Integrator. Capabilities like LED cabinets, narrow pixel pitch and permanent installations can all contribute to making these videos enticing and memorable. These walls can also be used to show content in real time, which allows audience members to stay immersed.

Video walls are popular for their ability to capture people's attention and leave a lasting impression. But as people's attention spans get shorter, there's more demand to push the boundaries of what video walls can achieve.

Brawn Consulting principal Alan C. Brawn explains that when it comes to improving video walls, bigger is always better. “We are seeing a trend of increasing screen size across all use cases. Average flat panel sizes have been steadily increasing, from 42-inch to 46-inch and most recently to 55-inch and beyond. LCD displays are available near 100-inch diagonal – but this is still not sufficient for many large screen applications.”

Opportunities with Projection Mapping

The trend towards bigger projections will keep video walls relevant in a world where trends die fast. Still, projection mapping stands in fierce competition as a technology that can engage all ages in fresh, unexpected ways.

This is why Panasonic highlighted projection mapping at its 2018 ISE booth, says the company's marketing manager, Hartmut Kulessa. The reason for this focus is simple. Projection mapping is quickly becoming the next big thing — the technology everyone wants to use and learn from. But how can project mapping further your company's goals?

“At its very simplest, projection mapping is the art of making multiple projectors work together on a surface to create amazing visual displays. By playing video, animation or graphics off different shapes and textures, the practice creates a captivating experience of light and movement over previously static objects,” says Adrian Pennington at News & Views.

In other words, projection mapping turns an event into an immersive, visual and auditory experience. It transforms the venue into a whole new world, completely engaging the audience and transporting them to a new place.

Using this exciting technology can mean the difference between being forgotten and being remembered. Many event planners in the industry are already taking note of this impact.

According to Kulessa, AV over IP-powered projection mapping combines tracking software, laser projection and media servers to create a memorable experience. The Fast and the Furious tour, for example, successfully used this technology to immerse visitors in the movie's word.

“48 high brightness projectors blended two projection surfaces – the arena floor and a back wall, while also live mapping 42 cars driving around the venue in real time.”

Projection mapping differs from video wall technology because the possibilities aren't confined to the edges of a screen or wall. This is a considerable benefit for creativity because it eschews the restrictive boundaries of traditional media formats and creates endless possibilities.

The downside? Projection mapping can be costly. Successfully executing a projection mapping event requires the purchase of multiple tools and technologies, says Matthew Eve, who plans corporate events. Eve notes that things like virtual reality tools and 3D software are necessary to test the effectiveness of the content. These hidden costs can add up if they aren't accounted for early on in the planning process.

Neither platform is inherently better than the other — it simply depends on business goals, venue constraints and audience desires.

Corporate events, for example, need information shown clearly and concisely. In this case, a video wall might be more appropriate. For events where you need to stop passers-by on the street and lure them with exciting imagery, projection mapping is a better choice.



Selecting the Right AV Over IP Vendor

Successfully exhibiting a video wall or projection requires the right vendor, which is why Heroic Production's Jon Young suggests finding one right away. Assessing a vendor's past successes can help you judge their creativity and abilities based on real-world evidence.

“To really ensure peace of mind when selecting an audio visual provider, ask about their history in presenting similar events and their history at the chosen venue. Look at some examples of their work closest in scope to your event,” says Encore Event Technologies.

Another thing to consider is equipment. As event company Crescent notes, AV vendors can provide access to the latest tools and top-tier devices in the industry. It's best to ask questions about the available equipment, and how these items play a role in the overall audience experience.

Kaitlin Colston of Endless Events explains the importance of asking such questions. “Ask if any of the technology in your quote is new. If it is new, ask if it is proven to work well. Also, check to make sure they are not just giving something to you because it's the latest and greatest thing.”

She adds that, while AV companies tend to carry older technology equipment, new tools are usually available at the same price. Inquiring about the age and model of each device can ensure you're always renting the latest items on the market.

Another thing to consider? Your venue. Technology rental company Tallen suggests picking a vendor that understands the constraints and possibilities of your space. Choosing the proper vendor for your event and space can ensure that your presentation has the intended effect.

Images by: Alexander Tolstykh/©123RF.com, Ints Vikmanis/©123RF.com, Heiko Schneider/©123RF.com