A huge new videowall has taken pride of place in the entrance lobby of 505 1st Avenue South, a dramatic new office building in downtown Seattle, USA.
Related: Dataton company profile / Audiovisual technology: A short history of the videowall / Dataton to launch version 5 of WATCHOUT at InfoComm 2011 / Dataton drives ‘Exploration Space’ for the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
The 9ft high by 52 ft wide rear-projection wall has its content managed and delivered by six DLP projectors, each with its own PC workstation running Dataton WATCHOUT to offer seamless edge-blending, overlapping, and meshing of images, all in complete synchronization. A seventh PC is used as a master production computer, running its own copy of WATCHOUT.
The videowall is part of a complete multimedia installation in the lobby of the building, designed by principal consultant Tracey Nash of ProAV Gear, and constructed and installed by CompView. The lobby was not designed with a videowall in mind but, after the building’s owner, Starbucks Coffee, decided not to occupy it but lease it floor-by-floor to tenants instead, the whole nature of the space altered.
“We had to get prospective tenants interested in the building and were looking for something that would grab peoples attention, explains Jay Philips, Director of Corporate Facilities for Starbucks. We wanted a signature piece for the building.
“In Seattle, new buildings don’t have signature pieces outside of a fireplace or maybe a water feature. We wanted something interactive or media-related that could create a different look and feel in the lobby, without having to change lighting or decor. Some of my colleagues thought a videowall might be a bit too Vegas but I persuaded them otherwise!”
Tami Zeidhack, Marketing Manager, CompView, adds: “If the picture is static when you walk into the building for the first time, you might think it was a huge mural considering how well the rear-projection panels blend into the overall design of the lobby.”
Once the WATCHOUT servers start doing their stuff, however, the picture soon changes, quite literally. We started with stop-motion movies of the building being constructed, then onto pre-programmed material such as Seattle city scenes in different seasons of the year, Zeidhack adds, “The great thing about WATCHOUT is that it is so flexible. You can take video from practically any source a computer, a DVD, and even audio, which is important here because sound is an integral part of the project.
“WATCHOUT was specified by the consultant and it was a very wise choice. It was the first time we had worked with it and we were really impressed with its capabilities and also with how simple it is to assemble the system and get it up and running.”
Local Seattle creative agency, Mind Opera was tasked with creating all the content for the video wall. David Johnson, President and Founder at Mind Opera says: “The stop motion was shot by an outside company and assembled by my team along with all the graphics and video displayed on the wall. Since WATCHOUT was used in this installation, it allowed for more cost effective options in building content. With WATCHOUT we were able to create about thirty minutes of custom looping content at a fraction of the price of what producing a video of that length would cost. The ability for WATCHOUT to tween stills and mix other media formats is a powerful tool in the creative world and it has been put through its paces with this most amazing project.”
Indeed, the videowall has proved to be such a hit with tenants that Starbucks now considers it to be an asset of the facility in its own right, rather than merely a marketing tool.
“My original concept was that, once tenants began to occupy the building, the screen would do something like restart itself on the hour every hour, creating something new and cool to look at that employees would want to come down and check out, says Jay Philips. “We had not done much else but come up with some simple sights and sounds from around Washington State things that people might remember the building by.
“We never thought that our tenants would get so excited about using it for their own marketing and communications purposes to such an extent that they want to negotiate usage of the screen into their lease terms. We have one tenant that does voice-recognition software that is looking at how they might produce content, and another that wants to use the wall to mark their arrival in the building in October. Having made the original investment in the wall, we’re now seeing our tenants investing in it themselves.”
Fredrik Svahnberg, International Marketing and Communications Manager, Dataton, concludes: “The ability of WATCHOUT to manage multiple sources of video and audio content, in a way that is very flexible and also very easy to use, is well-proven in markets such as live events and visitor attractions. What we’re now seeing is more and more installations like 505 1st Avenue South a construction project where WATCHOUT does not just enhance a space with continuously evolving content, but where the end customer gets a rapid return on the investment they have made.”
Renowned Swedish show control developer and manufacturer Dataton has firmly established themselves on the international market since the 1980s. The company’s flagship products include the award-winning Dataton WATCHOUT multi-display production and presentation system as well as the intuitive Dataton PICKUP audio guide. Dataton is represented in most countries and their products are in use every day in commercial and cultural installations worldwide.
Telephone: +46 70 3228557
Fax: +46 13 138445