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The Buzz: Installation Spotlight: Staples Center, Los Angeles

Oct 1, 2008 12:00 PM, Staff Report

Giant Video in the Round

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Arguably, fans of the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers don't need arena-generated stimulus to get excited about their basketball team. Given the Lakers' historic success, the team's fans are usually pumped up when they arrive at the Staples Center.

But it didn't hurt to build on that excitement with an innovative pregame video show from Los Angeles-based TLC Creative Productions, which delivers high-energy visuals to giant dropdown screens inside the arena. The TLC 360 Screen Drop & Video Cylinder system enables a multi-channel video show to be projected onto a cylinder of spandex screens more than 60ft. tall and 168ft. in circumference.

“People don't notice them — they blend into the catwalk, trussing, and I-beams of the Staples Center,” says TLC Creative's CEO and team leader Kevin Bilida. “Once the lights are turned off and the material is released and flutters down, the screens are twice the size of the basketball floor — they're massive.”

TLC has been working with the Lakers on the pregame video show for the last eight years.

“We started with videotape playback, and then transitioned to computer-based playback with four square screens in the arena,” Bilida says. “Now, we've moved to the cylindrical screens and a fully digital system.”

Four Electrosonic MS9500GL HD video players drive a system feeding HD images to four Eiki International LC-XT5 LCD video projectors that fill the entire center of the arena with a huge 360-degree panorama of players, action on the court, and text treatments accompanied by a monumental musical score. All four 9500GLs are used to create a 4-channel show with continuous action — players running down the court, passing the ball to each other — across the screen's circumference. Two playback devices are used for a 2-channel show.

Four redundant projectors are online as backups that can be instantly switched to, if needed. The bright, new Eiki LC-XT5s display 15,000 lumens and have a 2000:1 contrast ratio.

The 9500GLs handle HD images with the frame-accurate sync needed for TLC's vast wraparound screens. They have also proven to be more stable than PC sources, a key factor in TLC's decision to deploy them in such a mission-critical operation.

“The reliability of the 9500GL was our top priority along with ease of use and high-quality imagery,” says TLC Creative Director Scott Anderson. “We began using the Electrosonic players this past season, and they're really great machines. We've recommended them to quite a few clients for different applications, including exhibit display and corporate environments.”

Another key factor in selecting the MS9500GL was Electrosonic's “technical and customer service and support,” Bilida says. “We had a few hardware choices, but the other systems just didn't make it because we felt the support wasn't there. This equipment wasn't purchased for one season — we plan to use if for a minimum of three years.”

The low-cost, compact MS9500GLs support ATSC-compliant formats HDV and MPEG-2 in multiple resolutions, making HD imagery as economical to use as standard definition. Using a 10/100BASE-T Ethernet network infrastructure, the Electrosonic video players can live anywhere on the network, providing high performance, manageability, and efficiency.

The 9500GLs are housed on the arena's production level. Operators can preview the players' four outputs of the show on their way to the projector. Using a custom interface developed by Electrosonic, the operators run the projectors, cue the show, and interface to the audio playback.

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