Pro hockey's opener takes over LED boards in Toronto's Dundas Square

October 26, 2010 by Dave Haynes

NOTE – Aaron Campus is an industry friend. Over lunch the other day, he related his recent experiences with a live event that used digital signage on giant LED boards. I asked if he’d do me a favour and write it up.

The NHL started its season in style this year on October 7th with its massive Faceoff 2010 street party in downtown Toronto.

While the historic Toronto Maple Leafs-Montreal Canadiens rivalry was renewed on the ice at the Air Canada Centre, several blocks up Yonge Street the Dundas Square area was taken over for a live broadcast of the game on six of the big LED boards that surround the public square.

Ahead of and during game breaks, there were live concerts on a portable stage and a huge synthetic ice rink where NHL alumni mixed with kids.

My company, Blink Multimedia, collaborated with SDI Marketing and the NHL on the flow and format of all the content elements running out to the signs from noon that day until the end of the game at 10:30 pm. With so many things going on in the square, it wasn’t hard to keep people entertained. But it still took a lot of planning to make sure all aspects of the event were showcased on the signs.

The big challenge, aside from the pure planning and coordination, was knowing the different LED board technologies in play and which ones were better suited to live events, as well as knowing their different capabilities and using them effectively.

Much of the content and data-driven elements were created specifically for the event. We took hundreds of photos from the NHL and turned them into beautiful, full-motion slideshows that ran on almost all of the signs and displays. We also took countless video files and formatted and reformatted to fit the various screens in the square.

One screen in particular, 10 Dundas, got star treatment by becoming an enormous data-driven scoreboard for the game. The board refreshed content every three seconds, showing data such as box scores and player stats. During commercial breaks and intermissions, we shifted to a live, on-site mode. A branded NHL Trivia game show was created for Labatt’s, using an on-site MC, camera crew and custom graphics.

Roughly 40,000 hockey fans turned up for the event. Blink worked with SDI Marketing, the CBC, Metalworks and Gridcast on the event.

(Aaron Campus is a digital signage creative veteran, based in the Toronto area. He runs Blink Multimedia, which has specialized in event production and large-format outdoor spectaculars for the better part of 15 years. Blink creates custom advertising in Times Square and works across North America on live events and conferences.)

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