The SQLBits Projection Wall

Backwall Projection Graphic

The enormous projection wall is an unmistakeable and much feted characteristic of SQLBits and it has certainly been taken up a notch in recent years with the help of AV partners Pytch, with 2024 representing the biggest and most impressive technical set up yet. So, just how, and why, do we do it?

The wall is used first and foremost to stream sessions into the exhibition hall to allow an alternative means of attending the session. Up until 2023, SQLBits supplied silent disco headphones and delegates were able to pull up a beanbag or chair and tune in to their session of choice.

In 2024, delegates were encouraged to bring their own headphones and tune in via the event app. The beanbags of course remained!

The video wall also acts as a fantastic medium for messages from sponsors, videos and photos from previous events, and a giant noticeboard. Here’s the 2023 video wall in action at the Thursday night pub quiz.

Interior of a conference centre with a projected video wall at SQLBits 2023.

The Tech Behind 2024’s Wall

The tech behind a 71m wide by 4m tall projection wall is fairly significant. The setup is built around 13x Signwave playback devices, 11 x 21,000 lumen laser projectors, 2 x Barco E2 image processing units (linked by fibre optic connectors) and 2 media servers. The infrastructure then required to support that included 65m of Truss with 10 motor blocks. 880m of 3G SDI cable and a very dark room to allow calibration of the projector units. 

The physical tech behind the screen is very straight forward, the complicated parts comes in the edge blending and colour correction of 11 different projectors. Using EPSON software, one can enter the parameters of the set up, the desired out come and the system will then use two cameras and a lidar sensor built into each projector to perfect the edge blend between each screen. Once the system has completed its calibration, it will then offer the operators 33 points of corner correction/keystone to ensure the image fits within the desired screen area. 

Following the set up of the physical units, the next step is to get content onto the screen. Using 2x 4k inputs into the Barco E2’s (utilising a total of 2 full input cards) we use the E2s powerful processing to break this down into one really long image totalling 21120 pixels wide by 1080 pixels high. This was then broken down into 11 individual outputs to be put onto the projectors. The stream feeds were then taken and PIP’d onto the wall totalling in 13 HD images being pip’d in. Finally, the operator pre-programmes multiple different states positioning the pip’s in pre-made frames on the back wall to ensure everything was distributed evenly and looked good. 

So there you have it – the detail behind the famous wall! Plus, if you enjoyed this, you might like our timelapse of set up for 2024’s show.