This Sunday, 40 to 50 million Americans, and countless more worldwide, will tune in to ABC to watch the 86th Academy Awards. The event is hosted, as always, in the one and only Hollywood, California: http://oscar.go.com/. As Oscar night draws closer, it’s impossible to escape the non-stop debates between entertainment reporters arguing the merits of this year’s best pictures, actors and actresses. Yes, perhaps there may have been a few Zero-In ‘water cooler’ discussions regarding whether Sandra Bullock or Meryl Streep deserves Best Actress this year and if the “The Wolf of Wall Street” is worthy to win over “Gravity.” With one week to go, however, our attention is totally focused on one thing that never crosses the minds of the rest of the world.
As thousands fill the streets of Hollywood Boulevard, anxiously awaiting the arrival of movie stars in limousines, a series of enormous LED displays hanging high above will add to the magical landscape of the evening. To the crowd focused on the chaos below, or the tens of millions watching on TV, the digital signage will just be part of the atmosphere and act as a backdrop for the event. However, everyone here at Zero-In will be holding our breath — not for any envelopes to be opened and for award winners to be announced, but for the opportunity to see these gigantic LED displays play their part on one of the world’s largest stages. That’s because we know that the seamless integration of the displays for the big night can actually be credited to our extensive work and technology behind the curtain that no one will ever see. All of the jumbotrons on Hollywood Boulevard are networked with a cloud-based content management system called Scala, which allows content to be scheduled to the screens remotely over the web. All content required for the pre-show and on-air production has been carefully tested for weeks before the big day. The large LEDs fastened permanently to the building’s exterior are displays manufactured by LED manufacturer Barco. Fiber runs throughout the conduit of the building back to a control room in the shopping center with Windows-based media players, connected to the cloud-based signage software. Since run distances are 1,000+ feet away, fiber transmitters distribute the signal from the media players and video control processors to the receivers by the digital signs. On-site back-up exists for the media players for on-site redundancy should there be an issue during the event. Days before the event, a crane will raise support technicians to the displays so that LED tile swaps can be made and to address any other image issues. And of course, members of the Zero-In team are available during the event should there be any sudden last minute issues. So while the rest of the world is glued to the TV to watch the stars walk down the red carpet, eyes at Zero-In will be glued to the technology above. We aren’t nominated for any Oscars this year, but we have prepared an acceptance speech just in case!