WCMH-TV, the NBC affiliate in Columbus, OH, was looking for a high-tech way to showcase large-format video and graphics on its new set. The station wanted a sharper image than what most rear-projection screens generate. The solution was Optoma Technology's BigVizion DLP monitor.
The unit, which measures 100in (and is also available in 80in and 90in models), offers clear pictures that work well in the broadcast TV environment. Originally developed for home theater and corporate installations, this is the first time the monitor was installed in a live TV studio. The monitor is ideal for such uses not only because of its large scale, but also because it's specifically designed for wall surface installation.
The compact modular steel frame, mirror and projector assembly gave the set's desiger — FX Group — the freedom to spec the frame and wall coverings around the unit from within its existing materials library. It includes a customizable bezel designed to match designer's requirements.
Despite its large size, the monitor requires a minimal footprint. The housing behind the unit is only 30in deep, which makes it possible to integrate a large monitor in smaller studios. Because the unit lacks the casing found on a traditional DLP monitor, the area behind the monitor must be kept dark for optimal results. It also offers various antireflective, high-contrast optical display options, so FX's lighting designers can prevent the studio's bright lighting from creating a glare on the image.
Crisp HD images
The large scale of the monitor creates an eye-catching showcase behind the anchor desk, allowing WCMH to display live feeds, video playback or motion graphics in native HD resolution. The unit's crisp images are created by combining DLP technology and a bright lamp that is rated at 4000 hours of use.
Using a proprietary light engine, all input signals are displayed in 1080p, with pixel-matching technology for 1:1 scan conversion. Video can be input via HDMI, BNC RGBHV, YPbPr, S-video, VGA, HDSMI or composite video, each with its own individual picture adjustment memory. The unit also offers ISFccc custom day and night modes and is compatible with 480i, 480p, 576i, 576p, 720i, 720p, 1080i and 1080p at a maximum resolution of 1920 × 1080.
This is made possible with an optical short-throw lens that projects the image using a P-VIP 180W lamp and a 100in, first-surface glass with 1in aluminum honeycomb backing. Image quality is controlled by advanced scaling with 1080i to 1080p deinterlacing, as well as a professional grade external scaler, a feature that was added specifically for broadcasters.
Large-format screens are a great way to add flexibility to sets and aren't limited to just anchor areas. Because stations can output practically any image on the screens, it's possible to create instant branding changes for different newscasts or franchise segments such as health news, consumer reporting and special reports. For generic uses, subtle animation loops give newscasts an active feel and add visual interest.
FX has also placed large-format monitors in standup areas and weather centers. The image is visible by both viewers and talent, allowing anchors and reporters to interact with the material displayed on the monitor, such as pointing out locations on a map.
Michael P. Hill is founder of NewscastStudio, a Web site covering creative services for television news.