As if Election Night 2012 wasn't exciting enough, TV and cable networks pulled out all the stops and spared no expense to generate visually compelling election results programming. At ABC, having Vista Systems' Spyders in the house meant easy image delivery to a dynamic set designed for hosts Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos working from a studio at the epicenter of New York City's Times Square.
John Mims, of J3 Productions LLC in Austin, Texas, once again chose the powerful Spyder platform to manage digital video signal distribution and pixel mapping for the background video displays seen on the ABC set. Mims selected two Spyder X20 1608 systems running in a parallel configuration to handle Election Night tasks.
The Spyders fed imagery to a number of destinations on the set. A seamless video wall, comprised of 27 60-inch Sharp monitors in a 9x3 configuration, formed an atmospheric background for the news anchors. "I took three HD cameras fixed on three points in Times Square - the Reuters' sign, the NASDAQ sign and ABC's outside reader board - and blended them and overlapped them to get a soft border effect for the outdoor atmosphere of this large, beautiful canvas," Mims explains.
The Spyders also fed seven 60-inch Sharp displays, which were rotated 90 degrees and seamlessly joined to create a roughly 4:1 aspect ratio used as a background image for a panel of expert political analysts. "The studio initially thought that creating seven media files rotated to feed the wall was going to be a challenge with media production," he says. "Because of Spyder's processing ability I was able to propose another more cost-effective method. Once sold on the idea, I designed a media template for the ABC designers to run with."
Mims resolved the issue by simply creating media at the native resolution of all the displays combined and then applying that media to a custom pixel space matching that resolution. "This worked flawlessly, and the studio was impressed with the amiable capabilities of the Spyders' mapping engine to handle the seven rotated outputs," he points out. "The Spyders' superior pixel mapping ability made applying content simple, streamlined and very effective."
Additionally, the Spyders delivered content to a Barco NX 4mm LED wall in a circular shape, which displayed an interactive map of the national polling results. "The main challenge of this application was the angle from which the floor was seen on camera," says Mims. "It's natural, when viewing or shooting LED from extreme angles, that the eye doesn't comprehend all sub RGB pixels in each LED pixel. In most cases, depending on the angle and content, the images look cyan or magenta. Our solution for this problem was to stretch a rear projection surface across the screen to create a flat, evenly colored surface for the camera to shoot. The result was a stunning mix of creativity and technology in a simple form."
Finally, the Spyder duo fed an Everbrighten 5mm LED wall, which formed a header completely rimming the upper section of the set.
A long-time Spyder user, Mims credits the Vista Systems staff with being "instrumental in helping me achieve an expert level understanding of their product and how it works. Years ago, they were kind enough to take me through very privileged, in-depth, component-level training that has been very critical in my success as an operator. While the Spyder is a superior video scaling, switching, source and destination management system, its true advantage is the people behind the product: Every individual behind the Spyder is simply the best in the industry."
About Vista Systems
Vista Systems' switchers have become the industry standard for live multiple-destination video and data mixed signal switching with real-time windowing and composition. Vista Systems is a part of Christie, a global leader in visual solutions for business, entertainment and industry, to create a comprehensive source for image processing and projection solutions. For more information on Vista Systems, visit their website at www.vistasystems.net.