Creating a Digital Signage Network (42. Video Walls)

West Virginia University Visitors Center

Understanding The Big Picture !

When audiences experience a well designed and thoroughly thought out video wall there is a massive impression made, in more ways than one.  Sure, there is a “WOW FACTOR!” but there is a true liberation from your standard content creation.  Certainly, you could do a basic square pattern configuration in a 4:3 aspect ratio and simply make your content LOOK bigger… but why stop there?  You are NOT constrained to the “square look” of a  2X2 or a 3X3… or a 5X5 installation, as pictured above.  Consider thinking outside of the box!

 At West Virginia University we are renovating our WVU Visitor’s Resource Center  (VRC) and will  install three interior vertical 60″ monitors each tasked individually in  1X3 configuration side by side, a 46″ tabletop wayfinding application and a 2X4 video wall with eight 46″ monitors in a horizontal aspect.  That’s right… a 2X4 configuration!  We also have created a small 2X4 video wall using 23″ monitors to design our content on in our Master Control Room; once created there it is pushed to the large video wall in the Lobby area of the Visitor’s Resource Center.  The VRC is the main recruiting portal for campus visits by prospective students during their campus visits and the goal of the VRC is to make a lasting… and BIG impression… on thousands of visiting students each year.  Bus loads of students arrive for two tours each day and it all begins when they step into the Lobby and behold a massive video wall that is designed to target market to their market profile.  We want every prospective student, by the end of their campus tour, to say, “I WANT TO BE A MOUNTAINEER!”  

We have created content in HD video, time-lapsed photography and videography, photo galleries, our institutional national television spot and all of our standard content from our regular digital signage loop of information.  Our video segments and images can span the entire length and width, or be constrained to a 2×2 area, to individual monitors or any combinations of monitors… the sky is the limit!

It goes without saying that once the video wall is installed, you have to feed the beast with content.  We want to leverage every aspect of a video wall to make a lasting impression on our audiences.  Given that this particular video wall is used for reinforcing our marketing message and recruiting new students that are mostly high school age we design the content so that it appeals to that market segment.  (We also have elementary and middle school aged students visit as well at other times of the day.  We use age-appropriate content to plant a seed in their minds at that young age that a college education is important and that WVU wants them to be a Mountaineer in the future!)  

We recognize that this type of content needs to have a fast pace in the messaging.  Transition between pages of information need to attract the audiences attention with lots of motion.  Graphics need to be stunning and engaging.  The content needs to be heavy on the “visual experience” of our campuses.  Due to the grand scale of the 2X4 video wall horizontal orientation we are developing some “cool” infographics that will spotlight WVU campus student life, technology, research, sports and social media.  The goal is to show prospective students that life on the WVU campus and the Morgantown, West Virginia region will be a wonderful experience that is exciting and fun!  From a content creation standpoint we have graphic designers and production specialists from our sister units in Web Services, Creative Services, and Television/Video Productions take on individual pieces of the whole content loop.  This management model gives the individual designer some ownership and pride in their piece of the puzzle and they can edit or make changes to their work as their concepts evolve over time.  Often they design in such a way that their pieces of work have a long shelf-life in our loop and can be edited in the future to represent changes in the seasons of the year or various special events during the semester calendar.

Content Ideas For the WVU Visitors Resource Center Video Wall

Prospective high school students  (Juniors and Seniors in high school considering WVU as university/college choice.  Create a “WOW Factor”.)
Elementary and Middle School aged kids (age appropriate designs and information to get them to WANT to consider WVU in the future.  Planting the early seed in their minds that WVU is a great place to be!)
WVU Foundation  (off-hours programming, evenings, weekends in loop of information.)  (They own the building and maintain the lobby area.)
Information Ideas for the Infographics:
These are a couple ideas that one of our excellent designers is considering for our 2X4 video wall.  These are only initial mock-ups for beginning to understand how to span 8 46″ monitors with an infograph in our content loops.  This type of content gives us the ability to convey a lot of information in a short amount of time to our audiences.

WVU Information Stations Video Wall (Conceptual Infographic Mock-Up)

WVU Information Stations Video Wall (Conceptual Infographic Mock-Up)

Sports niche  (all WVU sports… varsity and club sports, history of NCAA Records and Championships… riflery, basketball, football, soccer, track & field, club sports, etc. )
Research niche  (research fields, medicine, animal sciences, horticulture, ag sciences, technology, engineering, forensics, awards, etc.)
Technology niche  (cool projects being researched at WVU, gizmos, widgets, inventions, Information Security, etc.)
Social Media  (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Foursquare, Yelp!, WVU Info Stations, etc.) (Students leverage social media every day!  Show them how WVU uses social media and the statistics behind it.)
Student Technology usage  (cellphones, cellphone carriers, iPhones, Androids, tablets, WVU mobile web app, most used web apps for students, WVU Wi-Fi hotspots, etc.)
Student Services  (WVU Student Health, Mountaineer Maniacs, Student Rec Center, WVU Libraries, Personal Rapid Transit & WVU Bus Line, WVU Sporting Event Tickets, Banking options, WVU Bookstores, WVU Food Services, The Mountainlair student union, WVU Career Services, 300+ Campus Student Organisations, Fraternities and Sororities, etc.)
West Virginia University Visitors Resource Center (Remodeling Project)
While many video walls monitors are butted up against each other on all sides to form a contiguous display of multiple monitors, this particular video wall is designed for a specific purpose of allowing three visitors at a time to access many different forms of media using touch-screen technology, three 60″ vertical monitors, three separate computers and three separate directional audio systems.  Content for these monitors will include WVU videos,  photography, Student Diaries (many students telling their stories of a day of typical campus life) and institutional promotion.  The WVU VRC is the main recruiting portal on our campuses and students arrive by the bus loads twice a day, so this is our opportunity to explain to them WHY they should WANT to be a Mountaineer!  (This portion of the remodeling of the interior of the WVU Visitors Center was performed by a third party vendor.  Pictures will be updated as the projects proceeds to completion.)

Conceptual Design of WVU Visitors Resource Center 1X3 Video Wall

Each vertical monitor will be surrounded by very nice millwork wooden enclosures with ventilation and computer access from behind the wall.  Directed audio will be subtly cast to each viewer standing in front of each monitor.

Beginning Build-Out of the WVU Visitors Resource Center 1X3 Video Wall

Our engineers consult with the vendors and contractors during the planning and construction process.  This is a major consideration!  If your engineer and staff are not in discussions early on in the planning and construction phases, I can guarantee a lot of drama when it comes to deadlines and supply chains with vendors when you have to re-order a “fix” for a solution.

This is the type of stonework we are using along with a millwork wooden framing.

A video wall should be a hallmark and centerpiece that speaks volumes about your institutional brand.  A well designed project will make you the envy of your peers.  Proper planning and discussions from the beginning of the concept that includes your staff, your administrators, the architect, vendors and the contractor will save you thousands of dollars and a ton of aggravation.

WVU Visitors Center Portrait Posts (Touch screen interactive)


About swgraham2

Mountain Mists is an opportunity to develop some thought processes individually as I journey through this wonderful world; as someone who values highly effective management techniques and the art of leading teams; and through my association with West Virginia University as a professional technologist and network manager specializing in digital signage.
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2 Responses to Creating a Digital Signage Network (42. Video Walls)

  1. Spence,

    I enjoyed your article on video walls, however I noticed that you included an uncredited photo of an Americon video wall and console furniture project (second photo). You’re welcome to use the photo, although a credit would be appreciated.


    Jerry Herrington
    Senior Project Consultant, National
    Americon Control Room Furniture and Video


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