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The Mechanics behind the Surface-mount LEDs at Tennessee Titans Stadium, Part 2

Nov 27, 2012 11:52 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.

The trend in pro sports venues is headed toward the big screens and after setting up the Dallas Cowboys with the biggest LED display of all, ANC Sports has moved on to LP Field in Nashville. Now the Tennessee Titans have some giant screens to help get the fans fired up. Chris Mascatello from ANC Sports is here with more of the inside story, up next on the SVC Podcast.

SVC: Chris Mascatello, thanks for being back with us for part two on the SVC Podcast talking about the huge LED end-zone displays and the ribbon screens making their big debut this season at LP Field, the home of the Tennessee Titans. Chris, I’m interested in how the testing went with this. You don’t just fire up these things and hold the first game. And it’s interesting how you train people to operate it. What was it like when you first fired these monsters up? Did you have to make any tweaks or adjustments on them?

Chris Mascatello: You know there’s always some adjustments and a lot of little component level issues that you’re going to trouble shoot when you first energize the screen. These displays are actually built with almost a building-block metaphor, so it’s a lot of smaller cabinets that are all seamlessly attached to a sub frame on the scoreboard that then gives you a single uniform LED display. So each of those cabinets has their own ventilation fans, air filtration, as well as the driving electronics and power supplies. These come from overseas and they are on a boat; they’re moved on and off a ship. They are sometimes traveling by rail to the job site, sometimes on truck, so there’s a lot of vibration and a lot of movement during the transit process and we find more than anything it’s a lot of lose ribbon cables, connectors that have come unseated—those types of things that you just have to power on the display and see that something’s not lit properly and you’d continue module to module, cabinet to cabinet getting everything the way it should be. And then [with a] display of this size there will be some infant mortality and burn in electronics failures, but really, I think, most of the time that we spend most turning the power on was actually just reseating cables and just making sure that everything was connected the way it should be. It’s probably a week to 10 days per screen to work out all the kinks and the gremlins, but still done with plenty of time to leave two, three, or four weeks for the owner and the Titans to go through test their content and begin to formulate their game presentation on the actual display rather than storyboards and computer monitors. [Timestamp: 3:11]

So what’s operator training like on the display system at LP Field? What’s involved in getting the display operation crew ready for actual games with this?

From the hardware side, what we always say is the best way to learn these displays is to do the install. So in the case of the Titans, ANC has a 10-year service agreement with the team where we’re doing game day operations as well as day-to-day graphic design. So we actually had two ANC employees that are Nashville-based that worked with our project management team out of New York and these guys were with our crew just about every day nearly every hour that we were there doing installation and they learned everything from how the product came off the crates to how it got on the steel substructure where the power came in. They did most of the interconnects for power and data from the scoreboard control room, so they learned on the job and that really does give you the best foundation for maintaining and servicing the hardware. Now on the other side in the control room we have our software platform that is much like teaching any type of broadcast equipment to new people. It helps that our Nashville staff has a background in home theater installation and integration, so a lot of the metaphors were second nature to them already, but it was probably two or three weeks of software training on and off as the systems were being brought online and then there’s slowly the learning curve with how a facility or a team is going to actually produce their show. And you’re dealing with the interaction between the ANC side, which is sort of the digital and advertising playback control with the broadcast staff at LP Field. That’s a work in progress between both sides ,and you have to keep in mind as well, that not only was ANC doing scoreboard work and the software, but they were putting in a brand new audio system and HD control room at LP Field at the same time. So there was a lot of work going on, a lot of trades, and a lot of people dropped in to unfamiliar equipment. So there was a lot of learning that last month leading up to the season. [Timestamp: 5:40]

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