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Tall Tale From Times Square: Vista Spyder Crawls Walgreens' Wall

Tall Tale From Times Square: Vista Spyder Crawls Walgreens' Wall

WalgreensA lofty 15 feet off the ground and 340 feet into the air, in luminous Times Square, the Walgreens company proudly makes its mark with a new multi-media display that will be seen by an estimated 1.6 million passers-by every day.

To process and distribute the massive amount of data necessary to feed the supersign, digital display engineering and manufacturing company D3 LED - the company that engineered and manufactured the spectacular - has chosen Vista Systems' Spyder.

Elevated in the New York skyline, the display draws attention to Walgreens' new three-level emporium located in the ground floor retail space of One Times Square, home to the famed New Year's Eve Ball drop.

Lighting the Way

Dazzling Walgreens' advertising content is displayed daily on the supersign, which consists of a 17,000-square foot wraparound, three-piece light emitting diode (LED) wall and 13 five-foot tall high definition plasma screens at street level connecting the three pieces.

The LED façades are made up of 10,987 modules, each 15 inches square and containing 1,024 to 1,600 pixels. It takes 155 gigabytes of data to send one 30-second spot to the wall. "There are massive amounts of bits going all over the place," explains Meric Adriansen, managing partner, systems and engineering, D3 LED. "The Vista Spyder is right in the middle, shuffling this information around."

The Walgreens signs are comprised of two large slash-shaped or diagonal wings on the east and west sides of the building. Each wing is divided into three sections and fed by five Vista Spyders. The wings stretch up the façade and past the celebrated Dow Jones zipper which heralds the latest news.

Painting on a Digital Canvas

To offer customers the highest-resolution sign, the D3 LED team concentrates the highest resolution where it can most easily be seen. The bottom section of the wall features 10mm LEDs, the middle 12mm LEDs and the top 24mm LEDs. Inside the store are additional 6mm signs that are also fed through two additional Vista Spyder systems.

"For graphics creation," Adriansen continues, "we drew a virtual rectangle around each slash and called it our 'canvas.' Because our common denominator is the highest resolution, we had to create the entire virtual canvas based on 10mm resolution."

The creative intent developed by the designers of the branding of this Walgreens spectacular, The Gilmore Group, called for the whole building to come alive synchronously. As such, all display elements are synchronized through 15- to 60-second advertising spots

The total pixel resolution of each wing is over 10,000 high by 4,000 wide. Each Vista Spyders frame group will receive 2,048 x 1,536 DVI signals, output by a super high resolution 2,048 x 6,144 DVI player and composite the master image by sending it to the respective LED surfaces of the wing.

Adriansen enjoys using the Vista Spyder because it encourages creative flexibility. "The Vista Spyder is the only device out there that allows you to do this kind of pixel manipulation in larger DVI spaces. It's very versatile and works great. And with so many different ways to use it, we discover new stuff every day!"

About D3LED

Founded in 2005 and headquartered in New York, N.Y. and Rancho Cordova, Calif., D3 LED engineers and manufactures the world's most sophisticated and innovative LED digital displays, LED signs, video walls, spectaculars, ticker and marquee systems, and custom display applications. Some of the company's most widely recognized signage includes the ABC Display Ribbons and M&M World Sign in Times Square in New York City. At the heart of its product suite is its proprietary TrueElement module in which every single diode in the LED array displays the full 16-bits of color data. This has revolutionized the performance of LED displays in image quality and performance.

About Vista Systems

Vista Systems was recently acquired by Christie, a global leader in visual solutions for business, entertainment and industry to create a comprehensive source for image processing and projection solutions. The acquisition combines the power and flexibility of Vista's video switchers and real-time windowing and composition products with the power, performance and reliability of award-winning Christie projection systems. Vista Systems' switchers have become the industry standard for live multiple-destination video and data mixed signal switching. For more information on Vista Systems, visit their website at

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