While Content is Still King, Processing Holds the Keys to the Kingdom

Thursday, August 04, 2016

PRI Journal Article

By Jason Barak, Managing Partner and Sarah White, Creative Director, D3 LED, LLC.

Are you wondering why some video walls and LED displays look better than others?

You are not alone, as the image clarity topic buzzed around the trade show floor at InfoComm’s 2016 conference, with designers, integrators, and owners evaluating various different LED video products for upcoming indoor video wall implementations.

At InfoComm 2016, Meric Adriansen, Managing Partner of Systems & Engineering at D3LED, hosted an educational session in the Content Creation and Streaming Pavilion on LED processing and content for Ultra High-Definition LED display surfaces. In this session, titled “Content is King … but Processing Holds the Keys to the Kingdom,” he shared that the significance of investing in quality technology and content is not new or surprising, however Adriansen’s core message demonstrated how crucial processing is in delivering stunning imagery.

“Content is king” has long been the mantra and rallying cry of content creationists and LED manufacturers alike. As industry experts know, great content can make a mediocre display look even better, and conversely, content that is lacking in quality can make a great display look mediocre. Content drives a brand’s messaging, and the quality of the visual content is what creates that personal connection with your consumer.

With the upward-pressing momentum from 4K resolution to 8K and beyond, how do retailers ensure content can keep up with the escalating advancements in display technology?

Most digital signage receives content via a digital media player paired with a Content Management System (CMS). The content is often distributed from remote locations in a compressed format sent across the internet. On smaller displays or single-panel LCDs, the result is passable and the compression goes without notice. However, this method breaks down with larger video walls. As the content is “blown up” to fit the array of larger displays, the image begins to look noticeably fuzzy, with some undesirable artifacts.

Porcelanosa, a premium supplier of tile, kitchen, and bath products took this advice to heart when selecting D3 to manufacture and install a high-resolution LED display in its flagship New York City showroom. Nearing 4K resolution at 3000 x 2000 pixels using NCORE 2.5mm UHD display modules paired with D3 processors, content creationist Wildbytes delivered native resolution content to ensure the content is showcased at its best across the expansive two-story display. Launched September 6, 2015, the magnitude and the high-resolution of the display, coupled with stunning graphics generate a profound visual impact, resulting in an elegant and clean look for the showroom. Clients can see precise simulations of architectural remodels before ever investing a dime.

In another example, as part of a total overhaul to NBC's Studio 1A, D3 was an integral member of a select team responsible for transforming the iconic broadcast studio at Rockefeller Center in just 30 days. D3 was tasked with delivering custom indoor LED display solutions that integrate and enhance Studio 1A broadcast systems, stand up to high definition cameras, present seamless content to viewers watching at home, and create defined areas within Studio 1A. UHD solutions provided to NBCUniversal include an NVIEW 1.9mm LED display for the “living room” interview area that is retractable, a curved NCORE 2.5mm LED display located above the anchor desk, NCORE 2.5mm LED column display behind the anchor desk and a modular NVIEW 1.9mm LED window display that can separate into six different panels and rotate 180 degrees to face Rockefeller Plaza.

The core message here is that with massive pixel counts needed for indoor displays, processing matters more than ever. The analogy Adriansen shared to the local and streaming InfoComm audience is to imagine cooking a Kobe beef ribeye steak in an Easy-Bake Oven – starting with a beautiful product and ending up with a less-than-desirable result. The same holds true with great content, which is compressed or driven through an underpowered processor. The issue is prevalent, as most standard players cannot process the larger file sizes necessary for higher-resolution content.

Today, most photographers, using the latest camera technology, are delivering 4K-plus content. Unfortunately, this high-resolution content is too often scaled down and compressed for ease of distribution. To solve this dilemma, several next-generation 4K players are now making their way into the marketplace to accommodate the trending market drive toward higher resolution.

“Content is king,” and more likely than not, most retailers already have the higher resolution content available to them. It’s just a matter of asking their photographers and production houses to provide the proper codecs and file formats. Higher-end processing and 4K players are a worthwhile technology investment to further the return on your content spend and with visible payback by delivering significantly better image and video quality.

As retailers look to improve the quality of digital signage, video walls, and LED displays, they need to ask a lot of questions about the processing and player capabilities of the video infrastructure. The right equipment now can help retailers transition and adapt as the demand for better content grows. A brand is more than a static logo; it's a dynamic entity – a lifelong connection between a business and its customers. The quality of a retailer’s image is its brand.

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