FAQs: Video Wall
To return to the main documentation page, Click Here.
- 1 Video Wall
- 1.1 Q: What is Video Wall?
- 1.2 What is "Artistic" Video Wall?
- 1.3 Q: How do I configure my video wall?
- 1.4 Q: Is Userful’s integrated Color Calibration compatible with displays?
- 1.5 Q: How do I create content for an artistic video wall?
- 1.6 Q: I don’t have any 4K content. Why is it still important to invest in a video wall solution that is capable of playing 4K and higher source content?
- 1.7 Q: When you split 4K content to multiple displays, what filtering and processing are you doing on the scaled image before you send it out?
- 1.8 Q: Can I arrange my displays in an overlapping configuration?
- 1.9 Q: How should I optimize content for an ultra-wide video-wall (e.g., 1x7 or 1x10)?
- 1.10 Q: What are the different audio output options for the video wall solution?
- 1.11 Q: Can I make multiple content sources accessible from my video wall?
- 1.12 Q: Can I use 1080p displays to play 6K or 8K content on my video wall?
- 1.13 Q: How can I get live video from a digital video camera to output to the video wall?
- 1.14 Q: Can the Zones feature display a video in the center of a 2x2 video wall, overlapping the other 4 screens, and have different content played in the unused areas around it?
- 1.15 Q: Can you split / subdivide individual displays into smaller zones?
- 1.16 Q: How can I use input devices such as a keyboard and mouse with the video wall?
- 1.17 Q: If I have an existing display management system (RS232 or Ethernet) how will it interact with Userful?
- 1.18 Q: Can I output multiple content sources on a single video wall screen at the same time?
- 1.19 Q: Does your solution handle blending to send overlapping images to adjacent projectors?
- 1.20 Q: What are the most efficient ways to get content onto the video wall and how can I optimize my content for maximum performance?
- 2 Related Links
Q: What is Video Wall?
The Video Wall component is used to send synchronized high-resolution graphical content to an array of displays simultaneously. Typically this is achieved via the "Control Center". Video walls are commonly used in advertising, films, museums, broadcasting. With Userful, a single Userful host is able to output one or more entire video walls over a network.
What is "Artistic" Video Wall?
Sometimes called a Mosaic video wall, the Userful’s artistic layout available in the “Ultimate” module enables you to intermix different sizes of displays and configure them at any angle to create a truly unique and eye-catching video wall canvas. Userful’s unique and powerful interactive pixel-perfect calibration tool enables you to set up these unique configurations in minutes. Please visit Configuring Video Wall page for more details.
Q: How do I configure my video wall?
Visit the Configuring Video Wall page for detailed instructions.
Q: Is Userful’s integrated Color Calibration compatible with displays?
Color Calibration is achieved by adjusting color values directly at the zero-client chipset level (rather than adjusting settings within the display itself). This design ensures compatibility across a broad range of displays as well as having the further advantage of being able to calibrate color on video walls comprised of a heterogeneous mix of different displays. To learn more about color calibration, visit Configure Video Wall.
Q: How do I create content for an artistic video wall?
Userful software appliance is designed to make video wall content creation simple and straightforward. No special steps are required to create content for your artistic video wall. The canvas is the bounding rectangle that encloses all the pixels of all the displays within the video wall. For HTML5 content, the Userful host will launch a browser window of exactly the same height and width as the video wall. You can either create content optimized for this aspect ratio, design the layout of your artistic video wall to match a desired aspect ratio, or use responsive design techniques when building your HTML content so that it adapts cleanly to a variety of aspect ratios. If you are playing video content (e.g., using the Signage Player container), it will play your video centered horizontally and vertically, depending on the scaling option selected (Scale to Fit, Zoom full-screen, or Stretch full-screen).
Q: I don’t have any 4K content. Why is it still important to invest in a video wall solution that is capable of playing 4K and higher source content?
Installation of a video wall is a very large investment. Userful’s modular approach uses standard PC hardware for the server and standard zero client devices for each screen, ensuring your video wall investment can last for 5 or even 10 years or more. The zero client device lifespan typically exceeds that of your display, and the Userful host can be easily replaced every few years to keep current with the latest hardware advances for a nominal cost. The amount of 4K content is growing exponentially and will increase dramatically in the months and years ahead. While you may not have 4K content today, in a few years, 4K (or higher) will be the expected resolution for newly created content.
Q: When you split 4K content to multiple displays, what filtering and processing are you doing on the scaled image before you send it out?
Both the CPU and GPU are utilized to dynamically perform any scaling, rotation, or cropping required for each of the individual segments of the video wall.
Q: Can I arrange my displays in an overlapping configuration?
Yes, in an artistic video wall you can overlap displays arbitrarily, simply drag the displays on top of each other to create the desired overlap, then fine-tune your alignment using keyboard arrows. In a grid video wall you are allowed uniform vertical or/and horizontal overlapping
Q: How should I optimize content for an ultra-wide video-wall (e.g., 1x7 or 1x10)?
For optimal CPU utilization, it is best to encode content into h.264. Provided the maximum dimensions of the canvas (width or height) are kept below 4096 pixels, our system will leverage the built in hardware decoding of the Haswell GPU that will give you an additional significant performance advantage.
It is possible to exceed 4096 pixels, and if that is the case it is unlikely that a regular Haswell system (without the benefit of GPU decoding) could play back such a large native resolution (1920x7 = 13,440 x 1080p). For projects where there is a custom engineering budget, it is worth discussing the specifics of the needs with us as most projects can be solved with some special hardware and custom engineering time, but our stock product would not be able to handle a 1x7 aspect ratio at native resolution.
Another approach is to play multiple videos on an ultra-wide wall (e.g., two 1x3 videos on a 1x6 wall). Currently, we do not offer the option of frame synchronization between these different videos. If the videos do not require perfect synchronization you can certainly play two videos at once on the two halves of the wall.
Q: What are the different audio output options for the video wall solution?
There are 3 options:
- Pull sound from the sound output jacks on the Userful host. This typically provides the best quality sound output as you can get 5 or even 7 or more channels of sound from a Userful host, as opposed to just stereo sound at the zero client or display itself. This is recommended if sound will be via an overhead centrally controlled audio system which is located in the same room as the Userful host.
- Pull sound from the zero client device via the 3.5mm stereo audio output jack. One device will be designated as the control station for the video wall during creation of the session container and will provide audio output.
- Connect the display with an HDMI cable. This has the same quality as option #2 (stereo) but lets you use speakers built directly into the TV or display.
Q: Can I make multiple content sources accessible from my video wall?
Yes. Userful provides a unique feature called the “Welcome Screen” that lets you map multiple content containers to a single video wall. This is perfect for multi-purpose video walls where you can either map a single container to your video wall (in which case it appears in "kiosk" mode) or you can map multiple containers (which gives users a "Welcome Screen" at the start of each session). You can return to the Welcome Screen at any point by either ending the current session or pressing "Ctrl+Alt+Backspace" on a keyboard plugged into the zero client connected to any display of your video wall.
Q: Can I use 1080p displays to play 6K or 8K content on my video wall?
Yes. Video wall applications always upscale content. Unless you have unusually high-resolution source content (e.g., 8k), or are outputting to an unusually small video wall (e.g., less than 4 1080p displays), the Userful scaling optimizer ensures you won’t miss out on a single pixel of source resolution fidelity whilst balancing CPU and network demands. Userful scales all the way up to 6k and soon 8k source content, with the more typical 4K resolution source files, unless your video wall is less than 4-screens you are also not going to miss out on any resolution.
Up-Scaling (increasing the resolution of the content for output on a high resolution video wall) is a natural part of every video wall technology. The only time you are losing resolution is when you are engaged in down-scaling (for example outputting 8k content to a 2x2 video wall).
Q: How can I get live video from a digital video camera to output to the video wall?
Some webcams output RTSP streams and these can be connected via the Network Streamer session container. Please note this approach would add some latency encoding and decoding will add visually detectable latency to your broadcast.
If you need to achieve imperceptible latency, you’ll need a direct connection between your camera and a capture card in the Userful host. We recommend cameras that outputs via HDMI or SDI streams combined with one of the certified capture cards. If configured correctly this should enable you to capture and relay live video to various screens or video walls connected via network to the Userful host.
Q: Can the Zones feature display a video in the center of a 2x2 video wall, overlapping the other 4 screens, and have different content played in the unused areas around it?
The zones feature allows user to have a video wall playing different content within one layout. To achieve the desired effect you could either setup a 3x3 video wall (with the single monitor in the middle playing different video than the outer ring of 8 displays surrounding it) or a 4x4 video wall (where you could have a 2x2 in the middle).
Alternatively, using one of the integrated content management systems you could achieve the desired effect by mapping a single session container to the entire wall (regardless of size) and control the "picture in picture" zone size within the content management system.
Q: Can you split / subdivide individual displays into smaller zones?
Though not supported directly within Userful, you can achieve the desired result by using various 3rd party content management systems. The Userful "Zones" feature enables individual sources (content management system, live TV, etc.) to span one or more whole displays. Many of the content management solutions which Userful integrates allow you to create and independently address multiple content zones within a single display (e.g. to have tickers across the bottom, etc.). Together these create a literally limitless range of creative possibilities.
Q: How can I use input devices such as a keyboard and mouse with the video wall?
A control station in the video wall configuration is the primary station designated for input and audio capabilities. Plug a keyboard or mouse into the control station's zero client device and make changes. Any action taken to this control station will have the same effect on the video wall as it would on an independent display. You can select the control station while configuring zones.
Q: If I have an existing display management system (RS232 or Ethernet) how will it interact with Userful?
The display connects to the zero client device via either the HDMI or VGA port of your display. You could still use an Ethernet or RS232 control function using an external control and monitoring system to display monitoring, settings, etc., and in the case of a smart display there is nothing that needs to be installed on the TV or display itself.
Q: Can I output multiple content sources on a single video wall screen at the same time?
Yes. However, currently this functionality is only available via the Linux Login and Cloud Desktop session containers. This enables access to a desktop environment and a full window manager where you can resize and move multiple windows around the screen. Alternatively, you can also use an external source (such as a Windows PC) and capture a real time video feed via the HDMI capture.
Q: Does your solution handle blending to send overlapping images to adjacent projectors?
We can adjust overlap via adjusting for a "negative bezel" creating an overlap region, but currently we don't support blending (as in reducing the intensity in the overlapping region to correct for the double or quadruple light).
Q: What are the most efficient ways to get content onto the video wall and how can I optimize my content for maximum performance?
The most efficient approach is to playback videos directly from the hard drive. Though video content can technically be up to 16,000 pixels in either direction, provided your video content does not exceed 4096 pixels in either direction; it enables the onboard GPU to perform the hardware video decoding, preserving CPU. For video, we recommend h264, MPEG2, or h265 (note: h265 requires "Skylake" or better CPU), as the codecs with MP4 or avi as the container. To maximize performance create and store your videos on the Userful host to play in a playlist loop. Note: When the same content will be played simultaneously on multiple video walls be sure to use the mirror group feature. This ensures the video is only being decoded/processed once.
The CPU is consumed most when your video wall is mapped to session containers that render the content directly (for example a full-screen browser session or a content management system player). Here the Userful host needs to generate all the pixels in addition to performing all the typical tasks of a video wall controller (splitting and sending content to each display).