Go Big or Go Home
Sid Roth Ministries has invested in an expandable VR environment for its production studio.
(Image credit: Neoti)
It is rumored among the interwebs that the idiom “go big or go home” was conceived in the 1990s by a Southern California motorcycle parts company that was packaging oversized Harley Davidson pipes. Since its conception, the phrase has been used for story and song titles and has found its way to the Urban Dictionary. For Messianic Vision, a Charlotte, NC, production studio for Sid Roth Ministries that installed a monstrous 92-foot Neoti dvLED video wall, it is their mantra.
According to Joel Nori, COO at Messianic Vision, the idea to change the way the privately owned studio produced its shows began prior to the pandemic, with talks starting as early as 2018. There was an initial plan, which revolved around a more virtual set for productions, to have six freestanding walls that were all separated in space and could display different images.
”Meanwhile, we had started using large 85-inch studio monitors stacked together to create different environments,” Nori explained. “We started testing out the idea of using graphical backgrounds with physical elements in the forefront to change up set designs and get different looks without having to have hardscape sets for everything.”
Why the change? Messianic Vision was producing more than 30 shows, and from 2011 to about 2019, Nori said they were building different sets for each program the studio produced, from teaching shows for its ministry to late-night talk shows. The various sets took up not only a lot of space, but quite a bit of the budget as well. After a few years of experimenting with freestanding display walls and meeting with several integrators, it became time to ask: Why not build one seamless, concave-like display that could showcase all different types of programs?
The new set with the enormous dvLED display began operating in November 2022, but wasn’t fully operational until January 2023. “It's kind of like the Death Star from Star Wars—it blew up a planet, but it didn't look pretty doing it,” Nori said jokingly of the November launch.
How did the studio land on Neoti for the installation? Systems integrator Solutionz brought several manufacturers to Messianic Vision to see which was the best fit.
“Primarily, it was related to the color reproductive brightness, especially at low brightness levels,” explained Aaron Kipfer, CTO for Neoti. “The marrying of our product using precise componentry and our specialty control system made the difference. We were the last group at the 11th hour, and so they had already seen what everything else was capable of.”
The massive video wall has a relatively simple mounting system. (Image credit: Neoti)
The installation itself was completed in about four days, quicker than expected. The LED screen has a 1.8 mm pixel pitch, which Kipfer said was the largest pixel pitch that would not cause moiré issues on camera.
Neoti went to work installing the 92-foot wall, which can be expanded to a whopping 104 feet due to additional, batch-matched product purchased for future expansion or auxiliary displays. The display and mounting solution were designed with simplicity in mind to maximize the space in the studio.
Kipfer explained it was a relatively simple pole mount attached to the building structure. “The overall size was one of the largest we had installed in a studio, but really, it's no different than other projects, just bigger,” he added. “One of the challenges, not necessarily from a mounting perspective, but the wall that this display is on is already a curved wall, so we had to match the architecture.”
“The Neoti team was awesome when they came here," said Nori. "I'm a planner. I wanted to know: What do you guys need us to have ready for you? What do you need on site? How much space do we need to stage everything? And we went through all the Ps and Qs, and when they got here, it was an absolute seamless installation. We couldn't have asked for a better partner.”
Let There Be (Not Too Much) Light
While the dvLED wall operates on low brightness, what about the other lighting in the studio? With more than 90 feet of screens, you would think there would be a lot of glare or shadows to work around. But, after some initial adjustments, the Messianic Vision lighting team has adapted well.
“It definitely pushed our lighting guys to the limit because they were not used to lighting that style,” Nori recalled. “But this LED wall doesn't have a plexiglass in front of it, it's just the exposed diodes and then a matte black material in between the diodes. So, whenever you shoot it with light, if you're getting any type of washout on the wall, you just bump up the brightness on the wall. It makes lighting a lot easier."
Messianic Vision is producing a variety of programs using its 92-foot dvLED video wall. (Image credit: Neoti)
Nori said the biggest hurdle for the lighting team was no longer needing strong backlights—because the lighting came from the video wall. "It comes off the wall so we can go a lot brighter, and then it just becomes a lot different and richer than typical," Nori explained. "If the camera operators were saying it was too bright, you turn the iris down on the camera. You don't have to make the background look perfect to the human eye. It just has to look right on camera. It was a lot of things that were counterintuitive for traditional television or traditional production mindsets, overcoming a lot of those sacred cows.”
“With LED or LCD monitor walls, there is always a shiny surface to deal with,” Kipfer added. “With direct-view LED, in general, there is no shine. The customer doesn’t have to worry about reflections. It just blends in—the customer can shine the light directly on it if they want to for added effect.”