Building a sports stadium is a tremendous investment. With costs measured in billions and the potential boon to businesses in the surrounding community dependent on the venue’s success, it is important for stadiums to be focal points for the community. That’s why stadium designers focus so much on ensuring stadiums stand out to passersby. From innovative architectural design to large outdoor signage displays, sports teams look for ways to help people to view these stadiums as must-go destinations. Another popular method stadiums employ to stand out is with architectural lighting.

Architectural lighting uses expertly designed and installed lighting systems to accentuate the natural architecture of a building. Bright white and multi-color LED lighting fixtures are placed strategically, and then programmed so they can adjust automatically over time. By controlling the position, intensity, and color of lighting hitting the building’s exterior façade, lighting designers can change the entire mood of a venue.

As LED technology has developed, it has allowed lighting designers to extend the concept of architectural lighting, utilizing LED lights as pixels in a large-format outdoor display. This converts a normal building exterior into an innovative media façade. These customizable video displays use strips of LED lights—such as Martin PixLine strips—to create video displays of virtually any possible size or shape, from thin LED video strips to massive video walls. The LED strips are combined to make shapes, and then lighting designers use software to configure those shapes to function as video displays, where each LED is a pixel in displays of really any desired resolution and aspect ratio.

pixline 10_1000Lighting designers use these massive LED displays to become creative architectural elements, bringing color and motion to stadium façades. From moving elements to video advertisements, the possibilities for this technology is endless. The system works using strips of tightly-placed LED lights. The closer the LED lights are spaced together (measured in millimeters), the higher the resolution will be for whatever video is distributed over an area of a specific size. A lower LED spacing will make the image appear clearer when you are close up, whereas a spacing is better when the distance is farther away. Using higher-spaced LED strips will cost less both for the product itself and the ongoing energy cost.

Once the lighting strip displays are designed, a processor like Martin’s P3 processor takes video from any DVI, component or HD-SDI input and splits it into multiple creative resolutions for distribution across the various video strips. Proprietary technology splits out the pixels needed for each LED strip, rather than sending the whole signal to each lighting board, eliminating latency and stuttering and improving video quality.

Organizations have employed this technology in a variety of ways. The Confederation of Danish Industry, for example, employed a creative installation that allows passersby to manipulate the lighting façade, for an interactive experience that connects the people and the building. Really, the potential is infinite.

Have any experience with architectural lighting or media façades? Tell us about it in the comments.