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Video Signage at Cowboys Stadium

Jun 14, 2012 10:18 AM, With Bennett Liles

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Editor’s note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.

It’s the most overwhelming video venue in all of sports. The Dallas Cowboys Stadium with a huge midfield screen, nearly a mile of ribbon display, and motion graphics to delight fans and the TV audience. ANC Sports just completed the huge video display upgrade and CTO Mark Stross here to take us behind the scenes, coming up next on the SVC Podcast.

Mark thanks for being with us on the SVC Podcast. This is a great opportunity to get behind the scenes in the Cowboys Stadium. Everybody’s seen the place and the digital video displays just knock you over. There’s so much going on its just incredible. But before we get into all of that, first of all, what does ANC Sports do and how did you get into this massive video display upgrade at the Cowboys Stadium?

ANC is a multi media solution provider and throughout North America we actually put in advertising, we develop content, we actually mount LED DLP LCD screens, we build giant HD video screens with our partners like Mitsubishi and our aspect of the build is actually to provide the software so it’s really nice to be in our specialty in Sports because what we actually pride ourselves on is we take over the mission critical element and the mission critical element is being able to have the produced content, the statistics, the score, the game prompts all to go out to all the displays and coexist always in the singular moment and when you think about it ANC has actually developed systems in software that actually allow us to really be in the forefront of the game though we add our magic to what the vendors like Mitsubishi do to building the largest video screens in the world. We try to create the most versatile open-ended software to make these things run.

And what was going on with the upgrade? I know they already had a fabulous place there so what did the Cowboys Stadium need more than what they already had going for them?

That’s a really good question and I would say the first thing the Dallas Cowboy Stadium had going for it was vision. The second most interesting nugget was they brought together partners that were able to do their thing extremely well and what we did is we lit up very long distance video boards and we made sure that all the systems ran, that there was no interference, no glitching and more importantly everything was incredibly crisp and sharp and beautiful to watch. So from our prospective what ANC brought to the table and why this was challenging was the distances.

That’s a huge place, just the scale of it is fantastic. My first thought would have been, how do we get all this done within the allotted time, so was this a hurry up or what was the timeframe on getting it all done?

It’s always hurry up, when you’re given a project like the Dallas Cowboys and you said go you always worry and you always start doing lots and lots of pre-preparation and then a lot of second guessing and then re-preparation to make sure that you get it right. What was interesting about the Cowboys is we were using our greater partner Mitsubishi and when you have their expertise in the manufacturing and the construction of video boards and you bring together our ability to help them mount it and what I mean by mound is actually get the content to the boards and in addition to that provide the synchronicity between all the elements of the score, to the main video board and also to the fascia systems and the outlying boards. What really comes into focus is the scope and each partner had to bring a tremendous amount of expertise to each portion of the scope.

And of course, one of the big jobs here and maybe the primary problem was the distances involved in sending high-def video. Right, I mean we have an LED boards that’s over 4,000 linear ft. long. When you think of aspect ratio of 38 pixels by 14,000 it kind of boggles the mind that’s a very thin slither or a ribbon that you’re drawing a contiguous video signal on and our software is able to do it by utilizing a tremendous amount of memory and a tremendous amount of resource and that’s one of the reasons we started to implement a 64 bit operating system is to be able to handle these extreme distances and for us, staying ahead is not just coming out with software that serves one client extremely well but to try to service our unique clients with their needs better than anyone else. It’s hard, sometimes the outcome can be frustrating but what is neat is when you finally bring it together and you take that frustration and turn it into a compromised synergy of effort. What I’ve seen happen in these stadium projects is magic because what you find along the way is there’s sometimes things you just can’t do and what I love is once you’ll identify that then you’ll try to push around that item until you finally achieve it.

The 4 thousand linear foot ribbon display is one of the big attractions. Now what sort of content do you show on that?

Well game prompts, advertising and then of course fan prompting, spectacular pieces that integrate with the main video board and also we’ll try to gain the attention of the crowd and when you have a synchronized event, especially in all the boards, and you specifically see it in all of your peripheral vision it scoops you in. You immediately watch and what I think what is neat about the Dallas Cowboys our experience is they’ve got you exactly where they want you and you’re transfixed to the whole visual experiment of having boards literally in every portion of the building. It’s an amazing place to go and visit and to watch a game. It‘s also amazing because I think you are forced to watch because of the grandeur and the spectacle of that.

I would think that a huge problem for content producers is just coordinating that much square footage of display space and having the right things showing at the right time.

You need to learn on these projects what content will look best on those boards. If you think about it when you’ve got something that large sometimes content that will work on a small television screen just will not work on a big board so it is interesting to watch the producers and the directors in the control room learn how to actually minimize and to maximize different items on their boards to achieve the same feel that you would have at home if you were watching a television set and what people don’t realize is the larger something is the production needs to shift and change because the eye can’t actually scan all of it. So what’s been interesting is watching the changes in how shows are produced for that aspect ratio and for the mere size of something like the Dallas Cowboys.

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