Entertainment

8K In NYC

A new benchmark in Times Square 11/11/2017 2:49 PM Eastern
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Last month, the highest-resolution LED screen in the history of Times Square cut through the eye traffic in one of the most display-intensive outdoor locations in the country. Just in time for football season, the 40-story wraparound display drives 8K imagery high and bright against the Manhattan skyline, showcasing the NFL Experience, a joint venture of the NFL and Cirque du Soleil.

The 350,000 square foot corner highrise that supports this pioneering display is at 701 7th Avenue (also know as 20 Times Square). It will house the Marriott EDITION hotel as well as prominent tenants such as the NFL Experience, a new interactive fan attraction co-created with Cirque du Soleil. Owner The Witkoff Group engaged creative consultant Sensory Interactive to design the dramatic radius screen including viewing angle calculations.

The building features SNA Display’s 8 mm wrap-around S|Video display canvas, one of the largest continuous exterior displays in the world representing more than 17,000 square feet of LED display technology. Utilizing the Nichia LED and supported with 8K/60Hz processing, the screen is built to accommodate the next generation of video and broadcast media content.

To drive the content on the massive display, SNA selected Analog Way to provide a full 8K processing solution, an opportunity that Analog Way Regional Sales Manager Seth Teates describes, not surprisingly, as an honor.” Analog Way was involved from the initial signal flow review to a full system mock up and demo, post-sale programming and on-site commissioning.

Analog Way had previously collaborated with SNA on several other high-profile projects, including the LED screens at the nearby 719 7th Avenue at Times Square, and the LED wall in the lobby of the Salesforce.com headquarters in San Francisco.

Instead of relying exclusively on media servers to drive the Times Square display SNA opted to have Analog Way create an 8K/60Hz scaling solution using the company’s LiveCore product line with its extremely low latency and high resolution.

Four Ascender 48 4K processors (ASC4806-4K-PL) deliver 16 feeds to the display, all with precise sub-frame level sync lock. Having precise sync lock on all 16 outputs ensures zero tearing of the image across the huge pixel space.

The Analog Way processing solution is capable of working with a multitude of different sources, scaling any source type to any size on the LED display. This offers SNA and the screen’s tenant crucial flexibility and security since they are not tied to a single source device or format.

“We can put a 4K source in the middle of the screen and surround it with traditional HD feeds and we’ll get pixel-perfect, clear imagery with the processors,” says Pat Green, Senior Director of Systems at SNA Displays. “That capability will likely help the owner land high-profile tenants for screen content. Who knows what the display will eventually be used for, but it’s clear that this screen is the only one in Times Square that can handle many of the modern demands of high-resolution TV and sports broadcasting.

“Analog Way processors are a very stable product line with no software set or drivers to fail,” he adds. “We view the processors as infrastructure, the hub of all the activity, and we like the heart of our system to be very stable and reliable with a low failure rate.”

Analog Way’s NeXtage 16 4K (NXT1604- 4K), a 4K AV processor based on the new LiveCore platform, provides 4K previewing of any input, output or the entire video canvas. Analog Way’s new RCU300, a controller for large-scale displays, makes its second high-profile appearance here following its implementation this summer at the revamped Wynn Las Vegas Race & Sports Book.

“We actually designed the RCU around this project,” says Analog Way’s Director of Business Development, Brian Macauto. “We typically use our chassis to drive 4-8 outputs. But this LED display required 16 discrete outputs to create an 8K video canvas. So we developed the RCU master controller to unleash all the horsepower behind Ascender. It takes our awesome scaling core technology and adds a meta layer of master control across multiple chassis.”

Using RCU hooks, the team was able to program the system remotely over an approximate three-week period. “We could do about 90 percent of the commissioning from our office in Atlanta,” Macauto says. “That gave us more flexibility with work schedules, which is so important when you’re relying on suppliers for a building still under construction.”

“The RCU300 really maximized remote support capabilities,” Green agrees. “Once we were on site we set up WiFi hot spots so the controller could verify the system, which made for a very fast turn on of the screen. We went from getting power to running video in nine business days. For a 17,000 square-foot digital display that’s tremendously fast!”

He notes that the ability to “work directly with Analog Way, manufacturer to manufacturer” prompted the launch of RCU300. “We were able to talk to the engineering team about our needs; they saw the value in adapting the product and went for it. We know that Analog Way will be there for us as a partner for the screen in the years to come.”

SNA Displays’ 91-foot tall LED display and NFL Experience’s strong branding has generated lots of attention in Times Square and lots of buzz on social media. “It’s hard not to notice it,” quips Green. “And the unveiling of the display is well timed for the start of the NFL season. Fans are hungry for football.”

“Working with our partners at SNA was a pleasure,” says Teates. “This was our highest-profile project together to date, and we are looking forward to many others.”

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