Canada’s CBC Fills Election Night Set With Direct-view LED

Canada had its federal election last week – a five week or so sprint of an election instead of the ones south of us, in the US, which seemingly never really end.

One of the national broadcasters – the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation – had a one-night elections set that heavily used direct view LED to add visual energy.

The CBC worked with APG Media Group to build was is touted as the country’s most technologically advanced live broadcast studio, where nearly every visible surface was an LED display — including the floor.

The temporary studio in Toronto had 350 LED cabinets – two video walls, 16 LED towers, two anchor desk displays and a circular LED floor display.

“In this situation, there’s only one chance to get it right,” says David Weatherhead, President & CEO. “Based on APG’s extensive product catalog, design experience and technical knowledge, the CBC trusted us to specify the absolute best, most reliable technologies to deliver an election night broadcast unlike any other in Canada’s history. The immersive 360-degree studio offered endless opportunities to display and share information and graphics to grab the attention of modern viewers.”

The specs:

  • 284 Hyper Pixel LED tiles with a 2.9mm pixel pitch, for the studio’s 11.5’ wide by 6.5’ tall “Election Results Wall”;
  • a 19.7’ wide  by 11.5’ tall “Remote Video Wall”;
  • and 16 ceiling-flown LED ‘towers’ that were 9.8’ tall and have various widths.

As CBC required the anchor desks to have LED displays built into them, APG supplied new 1.5mm HyperPixel LED displays, so the higher resolution would ensure that up close camera shots would have no moire effect.  Furthermore, the desk LED was curved at 5 degrees and the HyperPixel product has a built-in mechanism to ensure a consistent curve is achieved.  A 4.9’ wide by 1.6’ tall display was installed on the front of the guest table, and a 3.25’ wide by 1.6’ tall display for the front of the presenters’ table.

As a viewer that evening, the interesting thing to me was the LED floor – an arch-shaped display using 66 4.76mm LED panels with a 4.76mm pixel pitch. The resulting floor resolution is full HD.

APG seems to have its own line of LED modules, called Hyper Pixel, to use on the job.

A variety of video processors were used to feed all of the different aspect ratios and content for the various LED displays. The CBC designed all the content and pixel mapped it to fit each display’s unique aspect ratio. The studio was designed and built exclusively for Canada’s 2019 federal election night, and was dismantled immediately following the close of the election broadcast.

It was impressive to see. I did not see what the other national broadcasters were doing, so can’t speak to whether this all one-upped the other folks. One thing I liked, which managed to deftly tread the line between visually interesting and gimmicky was an AR overlay of that floor display. It showed live charting and graphics that grew out of the floor.

The grid lines on that floor display made it look more like LCD than LED, but it is indeed LED.

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