Hail to the Digital Screen!

The George W. Bush Presidential Center on the Southern Methodist University campus in Dallas, Texas, is divvied up into two parts: (1.) an exhibit about George W. Bush and his presidency, and (2.) Freedom Hall, which serves the National Archives and the Presidential Library. And at the entrance to Freedom Hall is a new, photo-realistic LED display welcoming visitors with an interactive show, “The People”, a 360-degree exploration that celebrates the diversity and the beauty of the land, its people, and the connected nature of all Americans. The eight-minute experience was conceived by Artist David Niles and produced by Niles Creative Group.

 

Seamless imagery wraps the foyer’s upper walls on a specialized, high-performance version of Barco LiveDots C5 LED display tiles, comprising four individual 50-by-21 foot surfaces that are mounted with 90-degree corner joints to form a 360-degree, 220-by-21-foot seamless video screen installed twenty-seven feet in the air.

A new LED tile concept was developed to eliminate potential color and brightness shift. The result is a daylight-viewable, photorealistic display that is completely uniform when viewed from any point in the hall.

Niles Creative Group designed, built, and installed an innovative media and content delivery system. The system delivers the experience more than thirty-two times daily and is totally automatic. Broadcast style intelligent redundancy ensures “fail proof,” “hands free” operation at all times.

Niles Creative Group is a “soup-to-nuts” production company based in New York City and Palm Beach, Florida. While its foundation is in content generation, the group has an engineering side specializing in digital display technology and intelligent media delivery systems. Niles became involved in this project back in 2008, after Mark Langdale, president of the George W. Bush Foundation, contacted him after seeing the content work he’d created for The Comcast Experience at the Comcast Center in Philadelphia.

Back in 2010, Niles initially developed the idea of creating a “living mural” for this centerpiece. “That developed into a solid concept over several months’ time, but had to wait for the construction of the building to be realized.”

Back during initial conversations, there was no display technology that could handle the steep 70- to 75-degree viewing angle without distortion. Niles partnered with Barco to create a new LED display design that’s unique to the library,” says Niles.

Niles was allowed access to film inside the Oval Office and at Camp David during 2008. And for the “Textures” segment at the beginning of the experience, he set up four DSLR cameras in order to achieve a very challenging, high-resolution, 360-degree-view time-lapse presentation. “When you’re time-lapsing four independent cameras at the same time, every single frame on each camera has to be slightly different than the other ones,” he explained. “So each frame had to be specially treated to make it smooth and seamless.”

The experience then evolves into a tapestry of the land, its people, and the capital, set to an original composition performed by a sixty-five-piece orchestra. The finale incorporates a surprise that makes the viewer part of the experience.

“Every day, there are thousands of people that are inspired and moved by this experience,” says Niles, “and that’s something that we take special pride in.”


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