Sixteen:Nine’s Best Of 2017

December 21, 2017 by Dave Haynes

I’m working with a UK company on formal awards – and at some point I might actually have time to review the entries (there are numerous judges) – but I have my own thoughts on what impressed me in the past year.

Going down the list, which is not in any order, most of these I have only seen through images or videos, but that’s been enough to clearly indicate some great work and thinking.

There are, of course, many other great projects – simple or ambitious – that were put together through this past year, so please don’t feel offended if your effort isn’t listed here. Maybe I forgot about the project, didn’t know about it, or did, but there was something else that resonated a bit more.

In no order …


Netflix Lobby, Los Angeles

This is just flat amazing on the vision, investment and technical achievement – the lobby walls of the streaming entertainment company Netflix are lined with fine pitch LED displays and supplemented with projection to completely immerse visitors in scenes from some of the company’s most popular titles.

The content is 13K.

Here’s a podcast about the effort.


Wait Time

This Detroit start-up mashes up AI-driven video analytics with real-time dashboards and sponsor messaging to communicate to people at sports and entertainment venues which washrooms and concessions have the fewest people in line. The net effect is the lines in the venues get load-balanced as people shift to where lines are shorter, which means happier fans and more concession sales. The systems pay for themselves quickly.

My podcast with the founder …


900 North Michigan Shops, Chicago

This is a stunning use of fine pitch LED in the ceiling of a seven-level shopping and lifestyle center on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. The centerpiece of the makeover at 900 North Michigan Shops is a massive, 190-foot-long digital art installation spanning the ceiling of the nearly 30-year-old complex. Visible from all floors, and built in 10 sections, the digital installation mimics a giant skylight that connects the complex’s interior to the exterior sky.

Put together by New York City-based experience design studio ESI Design, the LED canvas uses evocative content filmed at 16K resolution with state-of-the-art cameras, making the illusion of rustling trees and the sky above seem very real.


College Football Hall Of Fame, Atlanta

I like this because the design uses low-rez LED strips instead of crazily expensive fine pitch outdoor displays to create a great visual experience. The College Football Hall of Fame and Chick-fil-A Fan Experience in Atlanta uses LED lighting modules and glass diffuser panels to create a massive video display that spans the whole facade of the building.

The project was put together by Innovative Show Design (ISD) and CYM Lighting Services, using more than 17,000 individual LED dots.

Giant Selfie Head, Columbus, OH

This 14-foot high art piece at the Columbus convention center uses some 850,000 LED chips on small vertical modules to create a giant head that works with software and cameras to enable selfies. This is a custom 5mm pitch LED display formed in layered strips to the shape of a human head, with a radius as tight as eight inches.

The LED head electronics were manufactured by SNA Displays, and the structure and integration was by Design Communications Ltd.

The interior of the head has an integrated photo booth which uses 30 cameras to capture a 3D image of the person sitting inside. A custom developed software then unwraps the 3D model into a flattened texture map that is presented on the head within a minute of the completed scan. 

Starfield Goyang Mall, Seoul

A new shopping mall in suburban Seoul has a massive digital display experience in the centre court area that includes a very tall LED monolith and curvy LED ribbons lining the mezzanine overlook.

I can’t find much about the digital piece that’s in English, other than the content coming from Montreal’s Moment Factory. There are many projects that Moment Factory has been involved in, but I liked this for the ambition of it in a place that’s maybe not a landmark project or place.

University of Texas Longhorns Locker Room

There’s a good argument to be had – but not by me – about the merits of sooo much money going into football programs at American universities, particularly if academic programs are stretched thin and tuition rates are through the roof.

Setting that aside, I liked what UT Austin did with its football program training facility because the technology bling they put in had a clear purpose – stroke egos and attract star athletes.

The new Longhorns football locker room has has addressable flat 43-inch screens above every new high-tech locker stall – with the content mapped to the student athlete assigned to that stall. The screens are Samsungs and the content is being driven by PingHD.

It’s not even the first Texas school to do screens at lockers, but I liked how this one was done, with a clear mission to excite and sign star senior high school athletes who come through, looking at UT as an option.

Changi Airport, Singapore

Singapore’s Changi Airport – Terminal 4 switched on a vast immersive fine pitch LED video wall at the security screening area. Instead of small screens and those stupid talking flat ladies droning on endlessly about what you need to pull out of your carry-ons, the content here is a 50-minute long, custom-created playlist of 17 targeted pieces. It is montages of scenes from around the region and in Singapore, and includes a Rube Goldberg-ish animation about what happens with checked bags.

There is another LED wall embedded in a retail zone that shows a traditional Singapore streetscape. It comes alive and plays a film short on a schedule. Moment factory was involved in the content and the airport used NanoLumens displays.

Orlando Airport

Orlando, Florida’s main airport now has a massive video wall that is one wide by something like 700 wide. The horizontal bands behind the airline check-in counters are broken up only by things like major passageways. In all, the width is 1,560 linear feet of 55-inch super-narrow bezel LG displays.

The project involved content and overall solution by Synect, RP Visuals doing the mounting system, and LG getting a very nice screen order.

It’s amazing because of the scale, but also because it is fully thought-through and part of a broader effort at an airport that seems to really “get” digital.

Here’s a podcast with Synect’s CEO that goes into the project …

Jerome L. Greene Science Center, Columbia University, Manhattanville campus

A 20-foot tall direct view LED wall sync’d with seven 72-inch LCD monitors, that crawl up and down the wall on side-by-side tracks, shows information about the human brain and the scientists pushing the boundaries of neuroscience research at the new Jerome L. Greene Science Center on Columbia University’s Manhattanville (NYC) campus.

The monitors, when down at eye-level, are interactive, and when sliding up and down in sequences amplify and sharpen the lower resolution images behind them on the larger LED wall.

It looks amazing.

150 North Riverside, Chicago

A commercial tower in Chicago called 150 North Riverside has lit up what looks to be a pretty amazing video wall/experiential digital art sculpture in its lobby, using a staggered series of direct view LED columns. The 150 Media Stream is a 127-foot long and 19-foot high permanent installation.

It has 89 individual vertical LED displays or ‘blades’ creating a canvas of over 3,000 square feet. The content is driven by an ‘intelligent content library’ that constantly changes over time. Essentially it’s living content, using generative algorithms to mix content using data and programming to keep it relevant. There’s no advertising, messaging or monetization.

Here’s Michael Tutton’s podcast on the project:

Video here …


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