ISD and CYM Lighting Services select Martin VC-Dot 9 LED video elements and Martin P3-050 System Controllers to create an innovative and highly customizable LED video display
ATLANTA, GA.—Innovative Show Design (ISD) and CYM Lighting Services recently completed an innovative video display at the College Football Hall of Fame and Chick-fil-A Fan Experience using a massive array of cutting-edge Martin by HARMAN LED video solutions. The installation is the largest deployment of Martin VC-Dot 9 video elements in the country, using more than 17,000 individual dots to create a stunning LED video display that covers the entire façade of the building. The groundbreaking design enables the College Football HOF to create highly customized original content for special events and display eye-catching visuals to attract guests.
“The easy route would have been to use video tiles and create one big video surface, but that would have been cost-prohibitive and introduce weight restrictions,” said Justin Garrone, Lighting Designer and President of Innovative Show Design. “When I approached Martin about the project, they were excited and very willing to support the project with system diagrams, system flow and selecting the right version of the dot. They were there to make sure from the start of the project to the day that we left that everything was right and working—and that I, as the designer was happy. The Martin VC-Dot 9 allowed us to be as creative as we wanted when we were distributing the dots behind the glass, and create something special and one-of-a-kind. I wanted this to be a centerpiece for downtown Atlanta, and I think we accomplished that.”
The project is the result of close collaboration between Garrone and Kevin Swank of CYM Lighting Services, a longtime partner of both ISD and Martin. As Garrone began working on his design for the building, Swank and the CYM team started working on design enhancements, layouts, schedules and brainstorming on which product would help them accomplish the ambitious installation. After looking at multiple vendors, Swank met with Martin to test the VC-Dot 9 and it immediately became his strong recommendation for the install.
“As soon as we had the VC-Dot 9 in our hands, we could tell how robust it was,” said Swank. “I knew the product would meet or exceed our expectations, and I also knew the level of support we were going to get from Martin. With an install this large, there are going to be issues, but any small bumps were eased over by the amount of effort put in by everyone on the Martin team. They partnered with us for every step in the process and had nothing but the team’s best interest in mind.”
ISD’s relationship with the College Football Hall of Fame and Chick-fil-A Fan Experience began in 2015 when the ESPN College Football Awards Show moved to its new home at the Hall in Atlanta. ISD created a complete production design inclusive of all the scenic, lighting and graphics for the award show to fit within the new venue. Mike Bilbow, Vice President of Content & Production at the College Football Hall of Fame, was impressed with the results and hired ISD to design a lighting installation for the building that would increase curb appeal and make the exterior of the College Football Hall of Fame as engaging and unique as the interior.
“The inside of the building is so interactive and engaging, but the outside didn’t really convey that,” said Bilbow. “Now we have the ability to create custom content for our own special events and city-wide celebrations. We have already developed programming for the College Football Playoff National Championship, Super Bowl and Final Four. When those events come to town, we’re ready to help welcome them to Atlanta in a big way. Anyone can slap a video screen on a wall or use cheap LEDs. We were able to create something much more artistic with the generous support of our partner, Chick-fil-A.”
Measuring approximately 30 feet tall and 156 feet wide, the massive display features 78 individual glass panels divided into 26 columns. Each panel acts as an independent light box, which creates a mosaic of colors and patterns when viewed as a whole. 17,568 VC-Dot 9 elements are configured into strands using 522 Martin VC-Feeder multi-protocol driver boxes. Power is provided by the 78 Martin P3 PowerPort 1000 IP integrated power supply. The fixtures are controlled by 2 Martin P3-050 System Controller video signal processing units.
Lighting Programmer Andrew Giffin and ISD’s senior graphic designer Nate Mitchell were charged with programming the panels and creating original content for the wall. The College Football HOF supplied the team with a marketing style guide, which Giffin used to create a base package of eight colors. The wall is programmed in 10-minute cycles that move each panel through a random combination of the base colors. After nine minutes, the panels all fade to black and the wall plays one minute of video content. The panels change colors at different speeds depending on the time—faster during the day and much slower at night. In addition to the base looks, the team created specialized content for major holidays and sporting events.
“Conceptually, we started thinking about the windows as separate light boxes,” said Giffin. “Creatively, we had to constrain ourselves. We didn’t want to just play video. We wanted to create big, bold and bright colors, but when you have a canvas that big and you can play anything you want, there’s a tendency for things to get out of control. We wanted to stay true to the brand identity of the Hall, which is how we picked out the individual colors and created the base looks. We also programmed the system so that the building managers can change themes very easily using a touchscreen without programming anything. They can change to a school’s colors when they visit, or display welcoming text. We also set the system up for remote access, so we can continually create new content for the building from anywhere in the world.”
“When you look at the installation it’s somewhat daunting, with a lot of fixtures and cables and wiring, but it’s about as surgical as you can get,” concluded Bilbow. “Martin even flew in an engineer from Denmark to ensure everything was going smoothly. And it wasn’t just some guy. It was the guy who wrote the software for the solutions we were using. That’s a testament to how much they support their clients and believe in their products. We weren’t just buying lights—we were looking for a partnership. They had the best product and they had the best customer service, which are the two things we really needed. I can’t praise Justin, Kevin, Andrew and the folks at Martin enough.”