Case Study: BBC Arabic updates studio with LED displays

By Contributed

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The rate of technology development has sped up so much recently that broadcast studio sets that were only commissioned a couple of years ago are already in danger of being outdated. Using LED displays for TV set designs can solve this problem, providing both creative freedom and a future-proof solution to studio design, as the BBC Arabic team discovered recently.

Using LED displays for TV set designs at the BBC

Anna Valley has provided displays for many BBC studio shows including “Newsnight” and “The Andrew Marr Show” at W1, “Match of the Day” and the BBC Westminster studios amongst others.

In 2016 the BBC Arabic team commissioned Anna Valley to provide and install an 11 square-meter, 2.5mm LED screen backdrop for the BBC Arabic set in Studio 34D at Broadcasting House, as part of a new set by Jago Design. The LED screen was the centerpiece and the focal point of the set design.

Refreshing BBC Arabic’s existing set design

Just two years after this project was completed, the BBC decided to update the look and feel of the BBC Arabic broadcast, a decision which might have required an entirely new set if not for the LED backdrop used in the original design. A high-quality LED screen can last for 5 years or more, enabling customers to repurpose and reutilize an existing investment while refreshing a look. The Jago Design team capitalized on the longevity of the LED backdrop and simply enhanced the existing set design by adding curved LED screens on either side.

A bespoke LED set that stands the test of time

Normally curved video walls are built by attaching straight, rigid LED panels to a curved frame, resulting in a faceted arc. But, to ensure that this design would stand the test of time, the BBC wanted a bespoke solution with flexible LED panels molded into a smooth, linear curve. To achieve this Anna Valley commissioned trusted LED design and display screen manufacturer, DesignLED, to provide flexible panels on a rubber substrate that were mounted on a bespoke framework.

“Physically building a flexible, curved LED wall was only part of the challenge on this project,” explains Anna Valley director, Mark Holdway. The curvature also affects how the screen looks on-camera – preventing moiré patterning is trickier and different camera angles can affect the off-axis performance of the diffuser.”

As the supplier was based in China, a 2m x 1m prototype of the proposed solution was first built and shipped to London so that Anna Valley and the BBC engineering team could run extensive camera tests before commencing production. DesignLED and Anna Valley also produced detailed CAD drawings of the LED components so that the set builders, Scenex, could construct set elements that would fit precisely around the steelwork and LED panels.

The BBC Arabic studio enhancement project was completed in the summer of 2019. The current solution allows the BBC Arabic team to easily change the look and feel of the studio simply by changing the video wall inputs or camera angles and the LED display can be upgraded to higher resolution panels in the future if necessary.