Digital screens have evolved over the last 80 years – Tom Mudd

Tom Mudd - digiLED Technical Director (3)On November 2, 1936, the British Broadcasting Corporation launched the first regular high-definition television service in the UK, broadcasting live from Alexandra Palace, London. The term ‘high-definition’ was used for this pioneering service in the 1930s, in comparison with earlier systems that were based on mechanical processes with as few as 30 lines of resolution – this has since been adopted again more recently to describe the new generation of communications media that display a substantially higher resolution than that of its predecessors.

Fast forward 60 years and Britain was once more at the forefront of a new wave of video technology that would one day change the world.

In the small town of Ipswich, Suffolk, the technology firm Invision Microsystems had already been constructing giant LED based video displays even before the blue LED had been invented.

Fortunately, in 1997, the world’s first commercially available blue LEDs allowed this pioneering British company to produce the world’s first ever full colour giant LED screen.

At the time, the giant Sony Corporation had publicly stated that “Cathode Ray Technology was the future”, and video industry leaders were saying: “LED would never catch on”.

Invision had other ideas!

A young Tom Mudd (who went on to become digiLED’s Technical Director), remembers training with Invision almost 20 years ago.

“When I started working with LED screen processors, they were analogue devices with 3 or even 5 wire BNC cable systems needed for a decent quality video input,” said Tom.

“Hum-Buckers, DAs, Video Baluns and ground-loop-insulated-shackles were all weapons of choice on your average LED screen gig in 1997.”

Systems were soon to change however, as new manufacturers from Asia started to introduce their own developing technology around the time of the Sydney Olympics, at the start of the millennium.

“As analogue video engineers, trained in reproducing accurate broadcast colours on LED screens, when the Asian newcomers arrived with their VGA cables (where the video image had been pre-processed for them by someone else’s box), we thought: hang on a minute, that’s cheating!”

As we all know, computer-based VGA signals continued to evolve into DVI and beyond.

“In 1997, there was no such thing as a digital video signal in the LED world,” Mudd said. “These days, LED techs don’t realise how easy their life is with so much of the video number crunching being done for them in a nicely packaged DVI or HDMI signal.”

Sadly, the continued British evolution of Invision’s television technology ended in 2000 when the company closed.

After a few years in the wilderness, many of the early industry’s key figures have now come together under the digiLED brand – who, as the tag line says, really are “The LED Experts“.

“TV may be 80 years old,” said Graham Burgess, CEO of digiLED, “but the combined experience of the digiLED team adds up to more than a century of giant screen know-how.

“Take Randy Green for example, our digiLED man in the USA, he was involved in the first ever LED screen to be installed in New York’s Time Square – imagine that!”

Side note, there are two digiLED manufactured LED screens which can currently be seen on the south side of Times Square – although you may be surprised whose brand is on the front!

The performance of LED display screen technology has increased rapidly in recent years. Pixel pitches are becoming ever-tighter, regardless of whether it is for either an indoor or outdoor installation, resulting in screens providing super-sharp image reproduction, enough to withstand ambient lighting levels and extreme weather conditions.

Increasingly, energy use is scrutinised by experts who consider it to be contributing to global warming; however, efficiency is high in LED display technology with screens only running somewhere between 20 and 30 per cent of their capacity – combatting the heavy energy consumption of antiquated systems such as projectors.

Only guesses can be made about the future of communications and suppositions of what the next eighty years will bring in the visual arts industry, but you can be sure that the expertise of digiLED will be behind some of the latest technological innovations to hit the marketplace.

Want to experience innovative and spectacular LED display screen technology for yourself? Book an appointment to visit us at The Pixel Depot to see what digiLED has to offer.

Record number of LED Screens on display at the Ryder Cup

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RyderCup2016 Toura6 CV

The first day of the Ryder Cup is about to begin, the sun is out, and the digiLED Toura 6 screens are looking pretty good so far. Good luck to both teams! #sittingsafelyonthefence

Case Study: Ryder Cup 2016

digiLED take a break from LED screens for a few hours to hit the Thames

Much fun had by all on the most recent digiLED team day out – and thankfully digiLED are better at installing LED screens than they are driving boats…



The outdoor LED Screen market as seen by Graham Burgess, CEO of digiLED

Read the opinions of our CEO, Graham Burgess, on the outdoor LED screen market in InAVate Magazine:

InAVate Magazine first page June 2016



The largest outdoor centre hung LED screen in the World makes the front page

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Colossus TV was centre stage at our booth at InfoComm 2016 this year, and because it is such a record breaking success, AV magazine have made it front page news.

AV magazine title page June 2016

Read the article here

Colossus TV, the largest centre hung LED Screen display in the world, is unleashed!

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The phenomenal Colossus TV, the worlds largest centre hung LED display at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee, has now gone live.

This gargantuan structure has four sides, each with a huge digiLED Toura 6mm LED screen measuring 19.2 metres wide by 9 metres high. That’s nearly the height of a three storey house. In total, the full system hosts almost 20 million pixels.

The digiLED Toura was designed by us to meet the specification requirements of our clients, GoVision, Panasonic and BMS. The 6mm pitch means that the pixels are grouped tighter than any other large-scale, permanent outdoor display. The result: a glimmering visual experience capable of offering 281 trillion different colours, is 23 times brighter and 25 percent sharper than the typical home HD TV.

The display hangs from a halo-shaped truss and features an additional circular LED display beneath the screens measuring over 6 metres in height. Between the screens and the LED ring, that’s more than 10,500 square feet of high-resolution, active viewing area.

Graham Burgess, digiLED CEO says “I’ve been doing this for a long time and been involved in some innovative and exciting projects. What we managed to achieve at Bristol took the use of LED screens to a different level. The thrill of seeing something on the scale of Colossus TV come together was truly awe inspiring. I’d encourage anyone to see this monster live, it is just amazing. Our friends at BMS, GoVision and Panasonic, together with all the other Partners involved are all so proud of what we have achieved and we are thrilled to have been a part of such a dynamic and thrilling installation!”

BMS launch 4

A ‘Big LED screen’ will never be the same for me again – Tom Mudd

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Tom Mudd - digiLED Technical Director (3)

I have spent my entire career working on “big” screens but after Colossus, the latest project with GoVision using digiLED Toura 6mm and being installed at Bristol Motor Speedway, I’m seriously going to have to re-evaluate quite what the “big” means.

Everything about this project dwarfs all my previous builds. Until now, it was easy to describe sizes as “the size of a double garage” or “half a tennis court”. This job changes everything!

Every single face of screen weighs in at more than four and-a-half tonnes and measures 19.2 metres wide and 9 metres high. To put that in context, if Curries was promoting this, they’d call it an 835 inch TV. Each face of screen has 3,888,000 pixels – that’s 1.8 million pixels more than your domestic HD telly. The surface area of just one screen (and bear in mind there are 4 of these in the Colossus installation) is large enough under UK planning for 15 car parking spaces. Each screen is 2.7 Storeys high from bottom to top but bear in mind too, the top row of pixels sits 140 feet in the air (and that’s half the axel-height of the London Eye).

The bottom ring (flown just beneath the four faces of Colossus) contains 144 panels, (2,332,800 pixels) with a circumference so long that the Mars Curiosity Rover would take twenty four (and a half) minutes to drive around the ring.

A grand total of 20,217,600 pixels are installed within Colossus fed by a fibre optic loom containing more than 140 cores. Behind this sits a mega-rack with more than 36 digiLED Navigator-NV LED Processors dividing and distributing the multi-4k-content.

All in all, the gigantic Colossus is just that, absolutely colossal.

LED Screen in Sheffield Hallam University lecture theatre is a groundbreaking first

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DMG993 iMAG2600 Sheffield Hallam AVM (2)

Sheffield Hallam University has recently installed a new LED Screen in their flagship lecture theatre, the first of its kind in the UK. Provided on behalf of Saville Audio Visual and in partnership with AV distributors AVM, this digiLED iMAG-R screen, 5m wide x 3m high with a 2.6mm pixel pitch has been chosen for its excellent image quality with high impact and great contrast, even with bright light levels in the theatre. The LED screen also adds benefit by enabling detailed content without the distraction of a projector shining in the presenters eyes.

LED Screens in a dirty old town – Tom Mudd

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Tom Mudd - digiLED Technical Director (3)When changing LED tiles in screens that are located in urban areas, it’s easy to see how polluted the environment we live in can be. Dirt, dust and construction ash all tend to accumulate on the LED screen faces and you may wonder why this doesn’t have more of a detrimental effect on the viewing characteristics. One of the main reasons this grime isn’t a problem is due to the nature of the shaders, also known as louvers, on the front of the LED screen.

The shaders stick out horizontally from the face of the screen and are designed to block the sunlight and place the LED pixel into a darker area of plastic, hence improving in the video picture. A side-effect of this is that it is generally the upper face of the shader that catches the dirt and grime from the urban fallout. Viewers on the other hand tend to sit below the LED screens and look up at the display. From this angle the viewer will see the underside of the shader (generally much cleaner than the top side).

Having a universal layer of grime is can be useful, but you only notice that the tile is particularly dirty when its placed beside a clean fresh tile and in some installations it’s even been known to the spares kit to be stored outside so the spare tiles weather at the same rate as the tiles in the screen.

So in summary while a bit of dirt can be a good thing, it’s also worthwhile having a regular maintenance programme in place to make sure that your screen is kept in pristine condition.

Ambient light levels when specifying an LED Screen – Jon Perkins

Jon Perkins - digiLED Screen brightness is measured in NITs, so 1 Nit = 1 Candela per sqm. Typically, the minimum requirement would be 5000 Nits for outdoor and 800 Nits for indoor. However it’s not always about the brightness, it can also be about getting the contrast right. An Auto-brightness (ABC) controller is important for all outdoor and increasingly for indoor screens. If we can fit a sensor it will be linked back to the LED controller which will automatically control the brightness. It is often a requirement made by planning offices these days, and they will usually specify brightness levels.

ABCs work over time, so it won’t adjust if car temporarily points its headlights directly at it. There will be an average reading over say 10 minutes.

Every screen in Piccadilly Circus has an ABC controller too, but there is an element of competitiveness whereby none of the displays wanted to be duller than its neighbour, so the recommended readings are not usually adhered to. The screen owners/operators are allowed to do this because Piccadilly Circus is one of the few areas that are exempt from the usual lighting regulations. If you ever fly over London on a clear night you will see the Piccadilly Circus screens lighting up the skies.

LED Screen on display at BMW Championships 2015

BMW Championship 2015 _ GV6 GV5

Photo courtesy of: GoVision LP

Event: BMW Championship 2015

Product: Toura6

Pixel pitch: 6.67mm


The digiLED Toura LED Screen magnifies the Pope to a higher level as he addresses Congress

Pope Visit 2015 GV6 (4)Photo courtesy of: GoVision LP

Event: The Pope US visit

Product: Toura6

Quantity: 3 x LED screens 2.7m x 4.8m

Pixel pitch: 6.67mm