Anyone who’s been to Las Vegas a few times has probably, at some point, visited Fremont Street – the old school, downtown part of Las Vegas that is even weirder than the Strip.
The big feature of that hotel and restaurant stretch is an LED canopy that runs a scheduled multimedia show. That canopy, called Viva Vision, has been around for many years and has undergone a few upgrades since it first lit up in 1995.
The first crates have arrived in Las Vegas from Illinois-based Watchfire, which is supplying the LED tech for a new version of the canopy that is set to go live on New Year’s Eve.
The $32 million upgrade involves a new 1,377 foot long screen that will have 49,299,456 LED chips and drive a max of 5,000 nits. So … seven times brighter and four times more resolution. Brighter means shows can run during daylight hours, instead of just at night, as is now done.
A giant benefit to the upgraded screen will be that it can show during daylight hours.
What’s interesting is how Watchfire, which won out over more than a dozen other bidders, has designed custom LED panels with a 27mm pixel pitch (these things are 90 feet up) that has holes that allow air flow, so heat can escape from what would otherwise be a tunnel oven.
Here’s a tech video on the project:
Watchfire is deep into manufacturing and starting its install. It says:
Watchfire started construction of the modules in December 2018. At our Danville, Illinois, headquarters, each frame is first painted with a 2-part UV stabilized, polyurethane enamel. Brackets, components, wiring and modules are all installed by hand. On average, five subsections can be built in one day. The modules allow light to pass through the display, which can be seen when looking at them straight on. The display’s transparency is diminished when looking at it from an angle or from the ground.
Prior to shipping, each subframe assembly is rigorously tested and color calibrated using Watchfire’s proprietary calibration technology. This ensures uniform color reproduction across the full display. Subframe assemblies are shipped 18 per truckload in custom made containers.
Installation is being completed by local Las Vegas businesses. Row by row, old sections will be taken down and replaced with new sections. Installation will take up to eight months, and be completed in eight sections. New sections will be set to match the brightness and resolution of old sections until the display is complete.
Installation is planned during early morning hours to minimize disruption to businesses and visitors. The new display will allow Fremont Street Experience to operate the canopy display during the day, attracting more tourism and money to local businesses. The full brightness and capabilities of the new sign will be unveiled on New Year’s Eve, 2019.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.