Mobile Video Wall
Revolutionary Mobile Video Wall enlivens Learning Hub
The Tech Low Down:
The mobile video wall (MVW) consists of 4 Samsung 65” DMD Series 60Hz Full HD D-LED BLU digital display screens. Each pair of screens are secured to a trolley and the two trolleys connect together to form a screen 3m wide by 1.7m high, 130” diagonal. The highest position for display is 2.86 metres off the floor. The four screens on the two trolleys split into two screens per single trolley and lower to the minimum position for mobility. It drops to 1.90 metres off the floor to easily fit through a standard door. The trolleys can easily be maneuvered by one person. A computer sits on the back of the trolley or an alternate source could be plugged in. One video signal splits between the four screens to form one single picture. Standard video works just as well as 4K.
The Story of its Development
The seed of the idea – bringing a Learning Hub to life
Four years ago whilst developing a new social student space known as the Learning Hub, Victoria University investigated video walls but prices were prohibitive. Increasingly though they felt that the Learning Hub lacked a focal point. They re-opened the idea of a video wall but felt strongly that a static solution would take something away from the flexibility and adaptability that had been the underlying principle of the development of the Hub.
Jonathan Flutey, Learning & Research Technology Manager explains, “We wanted something very big but very moveable. Something that could shift with the use of the space, rather than the space be dictated to by a fixed asset.”
A trusted partnership - and a groundbreaking outcome
Victoria University turned to Sitech Systems NZ, who have a long history of working with them on bringing innovative concepts into being. “They are our own personal chop shop,” exalts Jonathan. “We drew up some designs of a big screen perhaps up to 130” on a trolley, along with some cartoons of it fitting into an elevator, and handed it over to them!” The Mobile Video Wall was born: 4 screens on two connectable trolleys that could be lifted up to 2.86m for display and lowered to 1.90 metres to be maneuvered.
Sitech Systems NZ selected the Samsung 65” DMD series as the ideal screen for Victoria University’s purposes. Jonathan knows well that technology in the education sector needs to be simple to use and the Samsung screens deliver. “One thing that we were always worried about was how we were going to get one video feed into four sources,” Jonathan explains. “But it is the most amazing thing that you have ever seen. You get the remote and you select ‘I’m a video wall.’ Then it asks you how many TV’s and all the TV’s say ‘What TV am I?’ and you say 1, 2, 3 or 4. The TV’s have the intelligence to make themselves into a video wall without any other equipment.”
The bezels on the prosumer models are not a problem either, “The professional bezel-less screens cost four times the price and yet you can stand 5 metres back from the MVW and you don’t notice the bezel between screens.”
Another positive welcomed by the Technology team is the ability to use standard video. “Because it consists of four TV’s it doesn’t consider itself to be one big 4K screen so it handles lower resolution video really really well which we were surprised to find too. We’ve been able to use standard definition video just fine.”
Even though audio was not a major concern of the University at the time, the MVW has ticked that box too. “We knew that 90% of the time we wouldn’t need audio. We didn’t want to flood what was supposed to be a social learning space with background chatter. However it needed to be easy to turn the volume up or to work with a sound system if required for a presentation or an event and it does.”
The big plus as always for the education sector is ease of use: “It stopped us having to have a really technical solution which we liked as well.” Jonathan Flutey and his team had their solution and were ready to roll it out.
Showcasing awe-inspiring student and staff-created video
The big unveil was at the Vice-Chancellor’s Christmas Party. “The reaction of the party guests was fantastic. We had spent a good month before that talking to our film design school investigating what assets the students had created and we used this as an opportunity to showcase their work. We got great feedback about using an area that had previously been a dead space, appreciation of the concept of showcasing student work and admiration at how easy it was to view the screen from anywhere in the space.”
The MVW has gone from strength to strength. There are now multiple pathways for video content to come in. There is still a strong focus on student-created content but now spread across a number of departments including media design, the film school and communications in science, a third year course where students consider how to share scientific findings with the general public.
There is also staff-created content including recent recordings made in Antarctica for use on online courses and some amazing research. Jonathan cites two mind-blowing examples: a time lapse video of the birth of a tuatara out of an egg and a year-long time lapse video of the Fox Glacier receding frighteningly fast.
The Marketing team has also embraced the potential of the MVW and is using some of their video assets in-between the staff and student-created content. Finally Sky can also be streamed into the space for events or breaking news.
Video wall promotes new ways of sharing learning
Three months on Jonathan and Victoria University are very pleased with the impact of the MVW. It has achieved what they expected and more. “At a surface level it has given us a focal point that adds more life to the space, the traditional benefit of a video wall. However it has also started staff thinking about alternative ways that they can produce content for their courses and got people thinking differently about how students can create and share their learning outcomes inside the University. The Media Design course is already including the development of video wall content and feedback from student and peers as part of their assessment.”
The MVW has also been used outside of the Learning Hub in a way that would not be possible with a traditional video wall. Victoria University has a pop-up “maker space” that includes 3D printers, Oculus Rift and other cutting edge technologies. The MVW was used as the centrepiece for all the other technologies. If someone was scanning a person’s face with a 3D scanner, the plastic face was coming up on the MVW. The view of flying through space as seen by someone using the Oculus Rift headset was also visible on the MVW and passers-by could see this person in the headset swaying away in front of it. In future it is envisaged that it will be used by many other faculties for such events.
An added bonus, (one that cannot be overlooked at the time of writing due to the cricket world cup!) has been how in conjunction with the Sky feed it has opened the Learning Hub up to being a social event space. Jonathan concludes, “What it has done really well for us is shown the value of video in open learning spaces, and as we develop more of these open learning spaces, large video walls will be part of those plans.”