As one of the world’s busiest tourist destinations, New York City’s Times Square has long captured the imaginations of travelers with its seemingly endless array of neon signs, bright lights, and today, building-sized digital displays. In this hyper-digitized environment, at a time when nearly every traveler has their own digital screen in their pocket (or hand), systems integrator LG Fulfillment, powered by MDM Commercial (which is wholly separate from the manufacturer), helped the New York Marriott Marquis bring the neighborhood’s larger-than-life experience inside the hotel with two enormous 50x8-foot direct-view LED (dvLED) displays from LG Business Solutions USA.
The installation grew out of a major renovation of the lobby that occurred throughout 2020. Desiring a new digital space to sell to advertisers and event hosts, the hotel’s owner, Host Hotels & Resorts, saw an opportunity.
“LG has provided Host Hotels & Resorts with cutting-edge display technologies for properties all over the country, but these two are the largest displays, by far,” said Jake Benner, LG director of sales-hospitality, cruise, and fitness. “Based on our existing relationship, they knew we could deliver virtually any solution they needed. When they asked what options existed to provide a huge digital canvas on both ends of a split-floor walkway that’s visible from both above and below, we connected them with the expert integrators at LG Fulfillment to provide assistance in product selection, system design and installation.”
Breaking the Mold
When Host Hotels & Resorts first approached LG Fulfillment they described the desired outcome as four or five large video displays mounted side-by-side that could each show an individual channel or piece of content, or be combined to show one ultra-wide image.
“Of course, we could have put up a standard type of video wall with multiple panels and visible bezels between screens, but we knew that wasn’t bold enough for the Times Square location, and a dvLED display would blow away a multi-panel installation in terms of wow factor and usage flexibility,” said Cheryl McGinty Weiland, vice president-hospitality for LG Fulfillment. “Now they can split up the 50-foot-wide display however they want, show live TV flanked by marketing messages or even have a schedule of pre-programmed content pieces that use the display in various configurations throughout the day.”
Checking All the Right Boxes
With no bezels and virtually unlimited flexibility, the finished dvLED displays have given the property two impossible-to-miss advertising platforms that they can market as digital real estate for event hosts and local businesses.
“Host Hotels & Resorts previously installed a dvLED display at a Westin location, so they had a pretty good idea of how valuable it could be in terms of ROI,” McGinty Weiland said. “Since their goal is to sell digital ad space, we made sure the content systems would be reliable, simple to use, and maximize display performance and appearance.”
The content delivery system includes a media player for digital advertisements, a video resolution processor that scales traditional content to fit the displays’ unique aspect ratios, and a media player that connects to Blackdove’s digital art subscription service to display captivating animated visuals. Using a tablet, staff can quickly make adjustments to the display setup and alternate between live TV, artwork and promotional content, so it’s easy to switch from showing four TV channels to showing a single piece of ultra-wide digital art.
The identical displays feature a 1.8mm pixel pitch and 800 nits of brightness, making them excellent for viewing up close or from 100 feet away.
“Another benefit for the property is that we didn’t use any proprietary content management software, so they can use any platform they choose,” McGinty Weiland said. “This way they aren’t locked into something that only we can operate or service, and ensures they can stay flexible as their needs change, or as digital media continues to evolve.”
LG and Host Hotels & Resorts also collaborated to create immersive and captivating anamorphic content specifically suited to the unique aspect ratio of these displays. In one content scenario, the displays present a ‘room’, a three-dimensional space on the screen, in which textured 3D animations appear and interact.
It begins with the Invitation to the Space of Light, which shows a shimmering golden banner flowing freely to fill the 3D space and create new textures on the ‘walls’, energizing viewers with feelings of excitement. That leads into The City Dream and Fantasy, a golden-colored space that transforms into different colors and moods to reflect the unique elements of New York City. Finally, the experience culminates in World Full of Glitters, which transitions to a blue-tinged scene that mixes the city skyline with fanciful animations including a glittering virtual character that appears through a hole in the ceiling and attracts another character.
“This eye-catching content leverages the distinct shape of the dvLED displays to present visitors with an unforgettable visual experience that’s unique to this spectacular hotel,” said Benner. “That’s the promise of custom dvLED displays. Requiring no standard format or aspect ratio, displays of this type enable owners and creatives to reimagine what visual content can convey.”
Excelling Through a Pandemic
The project began in February 2020, just weeks before the global COVID-19 pandemic interrupted everything from office life and travel to manufacturing and shipping. Add the fact that this was LG Fulfillment’s first-ever dvLED installation, and the stage was set for a challenging process. However, the team was able to move the project along throughout the whole year, keeping disparate teams apprised of day-to-day progress and coordinating everything required to abide by the city’s variable health guidance and regulations.
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According to McGinty Weiland, LG Fulfillment considered multiple configurations for the video wall, but it was quickly apparent that one large canvas would deliver the best results.
“The original design called for a multi-panel video wall with custom millwork, but when the design progressed it became clear that a single large display canvas would offer greater flexibility and add even more wow-factor to the visitor experience,” McGinty Weiland said. “That morphed into the idea of bringing the spectacular impact of Times Square into this space with impressive, oversized displays that would be just as at home on the building’s exterior. Luckily, we were working with the professionals at LG, and besides unavoidable COVID complications, everything was extremely smooth. From LG presenting and explaining the tech options, to the manufacturing and delivery timing, and even the dvLED training they provided for LG Fulfillment’s integrators, we received seamless cooperation and support to complete the project on time.”