Four Seasons Sydney has one of the best LED screens in the biz.
Story: Christopher Holder
It’s the look that defined a Steve Jobs presentation, and helped ensure Apple product launches were ‘insanely great’. The image of Steve in his black skivvy prowling in front of a floor-to-ceiling image is, you might say, iconic.
It’s so etched in our consciousness that if you’re planning on staging your own presentation — whether that be wedding speeches, corporate gig, TED-style lecture, awards ceremony — it’s the look we instantly have in mind, indeed the look we crave.
The trouble is, it’s a deceptively tough look to acquire.
To achieve a full floor-to-ceiling image, you’re ruling out front projection. This is by far the easiest and most cost effective way of attaining a big hi-def, high-brightness look. But if you’re walking in between the projector and the screen you’ll unavoidably have shadowing.
You can buy short throw projector lenses, which will help but to achieve a huge backdrop image you may still need the projector to be three or four metres from the screen, which again may mean shadowing.
There’s also the rear projection option, but rarely does a room have the luxury of space to accommodate it.
Then there are signage displays. You can attempt to get the look with a video wall but you begin to feel like a weather presenter or game show host, and to fill a wall you need a lot of TVs.
LED has been the best fit for this kind of large-scale application for a while.
LED screens normally ship in a modular fashion, which means you can generally achieve dimensions that best fit your room without compromise.
I realise that’s quite a long introduction to a story about a hotel that’s installed a primo LED screen into its ballroom, but context is important here. Why would the Four Seasons Sydney spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on AV theming?
Let’s ask them:
“The investment in the screen was certainly substantial,” noted Will Parry, Director of Catering and Conference Services for the hotel, “and was part of the larger renovation project to transform the ballroom into a stunning contemporary venue. We have proudly been delivering unforgettable events here at the hotel for decades – and the opportunity to further enhance our events with this spectacular technology at an accessible price point was one that we didn’t want to say no to. We believe this is the way in which events are progressing – leveraging technology to deliver better, more seamless events than ever before.”
TWO TONNES OF VERSATILITY
The solution was delivered by the hotel’s in-house AV provider AVPartners, helmed by a clearly chuffed Gary Hackett.
“This is a 12m x 3.5m, 2.8mm pixel pitch, 4K-capable LED display. It’s huge,” enthused Gary. “In fact the screen itself weighs in at more than two tonnes.”
It’s a little odd to quote the weight of a screen… unless of course you plan on moving it around.
“The screen needed to have the capability of being reset. That was the brief. The screen splits into one-metre segments and allows you to have any configuration from the uninterrupted 12m x 3.5m wall through to 12 x 1m panels, and anything in between.”
Consider if you will, the site of the bride and groom emerging from a door between two 6m-wide screens with a giant LED wall of flying confetti. Or indeed a catwalk jutting out from between the screens for a fashion show with edgy 4K motion graphics.
ALL THE RIGHT MOVES
For a screen that looks all the world like an elegantly and fully-integrated feature of the room, the tracking system is, by necessity, quite a feat of engineering. Especially, given the ballroom has an operable wall running down the centre. The track needed a corresponding break in the middle but had to be within a 1mm tolerance for the screen to bridge the gap when moving it to and fro.
The processing behind the screen is also industrial strength. Making the leap from HD to 4K is a big one. The screen with its multiple configurations also allows for a variety of ‘multiview’ options, meaning if you have an 8m centre screen with two 2m banners either side you can send individual video to each. Again, this takes a lot of processing grunt.
TIS THE SEASONS
Sky’s the limit. This is a glorious piece of technical infrastructure that has the capability to discretely set the mood in a way that you hardly know it’s there… all the way through to being the vivid, pulsating centre of attention/life of the party.
We asked Will Parry what he was most eagerly anticipating and how his clients might use the tech: “It’s limited only by imagination. A French-themed cocktail party for instance can unfold overlooking a beautiful moving city scene of Paris complete with Parisians strolling the streets. A big-reveal product launch can be delivered by a presenter roaming the stage, with the screen behind them showing floor-to-ceiling product images, all the while with no shadowing – perfect for live streaming. And a stunning wedding reception can ensure that the bride and groom enter the room with a bang, literally, with elaborate firework displays lighting up the room on entry.”
Four Seasons Hotel Sydney: www.fourseasons.com/Sydney
LED TECH STATS
- 12m x 3.5m in widescreen mode
- 2.8mm pixel pitch
- 168 panels (500mm x 500mm)
- 5.2 million pixels
- Can be reconfigured to CinemaScope, Panavision or Widescreen cinema formats.
- 12 Meyer Sound loudspeakers complete the theatrical experience