Video Walls at Viacom Headquarters Make an Entrance


Viacom’s corporate headquarters in New York City’s Times Square hosts thousands of daily visitors. The media conglomerate flaunts bold digital signage innovations with larger-than-life video walls and innovative LED initiatives including motorized 4-foot by 15-foot doors veiled in 2.5-millimeter LED and six mobile 4-foot by 15-foot LED blades suspended from a ceiling track.

Nominating Company: McCann Systems, Edison, New Jersey
Venue: Viacom, New York, New York
Project: Viacom lobby video walls
Category: Event Venues & Hospitality

The goal of the Viacom project team was to provide eye-popping technology that would create a unique media experience for employees and visitors alike.

Dual 4×4 lobby video walls create two 16:9 aspect ratio digital canvases. With the highest possible resolution on each monitor, each video wall delivers 4K-plus resolution.

At the hallway’s end are two 2.5-millimeter LED, 4-foot by 15.61-foot, motorized, 480 pixels wide x 1680 pixels high video panel doors. When opened, they reveal Viacom’s event space.

The “White Box” event space features six, 4-foot by 15.61-foot LED panels hanging from a 190-foot custom track running along the 140-foot wall facing the entrance, and making a 90-degree corner turn. Each panel can be moved to any location along the track and in any configuration spaced individually. All together, they create a 16:9 aspect ratio or anything in-between. Two lower-resolution LED curtains are on the opposite 140-foot wall, flanking the main entrance.

In keeping with that of a media company, the architectural vision called for displays throughout the spaces, but with content that needed to transcend far beyond basic digital signage. “Without a doubt, expectations around the creative and visual impact were sky high,” said Mike Bivona, vice president of broadcast and production engineering for Viacom Media Networks. “Our challenge was to balance those expectations with technology that fit within the architectural vision and could be sustainable on a day-to-day basis.”

With these high-profile, high-impact digital signage displays, the systems must be constantly monitored to ensure uptime.

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Using a combination of hardware and software, including a monitoring system designed for a critical 24/7 environment like broadcast television and custom-designed PCs with the ability to send up to 16 direct simultaneous HD signals over fiber to the video wall, there are two PCs running each lobby video wall, and a similar build with fewer outputs, for the other displays.

This allows the media platform running across all of these components to move content organically between them. Imagery flawlessly moves from one video wall, to the entryway and back to the adjacent video wall.

Critical service is monitored for signal integrity and overall system status. As part of the overall system monitoring, email notifications are used to ensure prompt resolution and maximum uptime.

The Viacom lobby digital environment was launched in November 2014, and the White Box launched in January 2015. “Everyone wants to be a part of it, and everyone can be a part of it. That’s the beauty of it,” says Matt Herron, Viacom’s executive producer and vice president of video and motion graphics for catalyst, Viacom’s internal branding, marketing and creative agency. “Moreover, we are working with a ton of brilliant artists that have pitched, and delivered insanely beautiful work. All in all, we deal with over a dozen different groups, a multitude of artists and that number keeps climbing.” The lobby and the White Box experiential environments have been such a huge success that the Catalyst team has used them for everything from a background for VH1’s Top 20 Countdown to a way for Viacom to welcome guests and as a way to drive traffic to Viacom initiatives.

McCann Systems won the DSE 2016 Gold Apex Award in the Event Venues & Hospitality category.

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