Screen to be believed

AUTHOR: Inavate

Mitsubishi and Lang AG have combined to provide the Cologne Sharks with an updated video display system at their home, the Kölnarena in Cologne, Germany

The Kölnarena situated in Cologne is one of Europe’s biggest indoor venues. A 76-meter-high steel arch soars above a generously designed steel and glass shell which houses a venue boasting 18,000 seats and 83,700 m² of usable floor space. The Kölnarena also offers giant displays for live video broadcasts, a restaurant, a bistro, bars, shops, and of course the very latest in stage, sound, and lighting technology. It hosts sports events and concerts, as well as party conventions, annual general meetings, congresses, symposia, and entertainment events of every possible kind.

In September 2007 it acquired a replacement large-format, 4-sided video display that does justice to its impressive dimensions. The new display boasts four screens, each one measuring 27.04 square meters, and replaces the venue’s ten-year old display system. According to the Arena’s management, it is the world’s largest and most advanced permanent indoor display. German Hockey League fans got a first look at the newcomer on September 30 when the Kölner Haie (Cologne Sharks) took on the Straubing Tigers and the four screens treated a 9,300-strong crowd to a revolutionary visual experience. The Kölnarena’s management had called for a display combining extremely high picture quality and flexibility with low mass and energy consumption. All four screens had to guarantee homogeneous image quality on a seamless surface, precise colour consistency and high-quality, flicker-free pictures, irrespective of screen content, as the display would be required to serve simultaneously as a scoreboard, a display for live or pre-recorded images, action replays, as well as advertising.

Given the Kölnarena’s precise requirements, The AVL-IDT10 LED Diamond Vision Series from Mitsubishi Electric was chosen by the project management. The new display system weighs in at 20 metric tons and features four AVL-IDT10 screens, each of which is 5.2 x 5.2 meters square and can display up to eight separate video elements. The AVL-IDT10 system has a maximum brightness of 1,500 cd/m² and generates more than 16 billion colours per screen, ensuring clear, bright images even in the strong ambient light of the arena.

The virtually black surface of the AVL-IDT10 displays provides the necessary contrast, and the 10mm pixel pitch gives acceptable screen resolution for the crowd even at extremely off-axis viewing angles.

The new system was transported to Cologne by air and sea, directly from Nagasaki, Japan, with each 27 m² screen split into six smaller elements for transport. Project Manager Dirk Strohmenger’s team worked around the clock for two weeks to install the display. The team consisted of ten engineers from Mitsubishi Electric and Lang AG, who travelled especially to Cologne for the project. They were assisted by the Kölnarena’s own production and technical crew. The German telecommunications giant Deutsche Telekom also provided active support in the form of technical expertise and financing for the purchase. The display was finally brought into place on chains – measuring a total of 40 meters – attached to eight mobile motorised chain blocks.

The new display scores over its predecessor in several ways. Mitsubishi Electric’s LED technology not only gives the cube significantly longer life expectancy, it also provides a significant leap forward in operational flexibility, with new features such as PiP functionality. The new display also weighs 500 kilograms less than the previous display, meaning it can be fitted with additional cameras or lighting units for TV recordings, whilst not affecting the integrity of the existing roof structure. The AVL-IDT10 system from Mitsubishi Electric provides a seamless surface with versatile split-display options, good colour consistency and natural-looking colour reproduction. It can operate at just 25% of its maximum brightness of 1,500 cd/m² without impairing picture quality and these lower brightness levels protect the LEDs, save energy and reduce running costs. The new display is virtually maintenance-free, but in the event that repairs or adjustments are required, they can be carried out quickly and easily from the front and the rear.