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CNN is well known brand in the TV News industry. We’ve been so lucky to have the opportunity to light up the new TV studio for CNN Czechia using pixel LED strips and LED screen panels.

First of all, the “boring” facts:

  • 1.5 km of digital LED strips, 60 LEDs/m
  • 170 square meters of P10 LED panels used for TV studio horizon.
  • 25 LED Ethernet Controller 3 PRO (LEC3), 4096-pixel versions
  • 500+ power supplies
  • 1 year of preparations
  • 3 months of installations
  • 1000+ Red Bulls

Prima TV is one of the most popular TV stations in Czechia. They’ve made the deal with CNN to host local CNN for Czech Republic. It’s called Prima CNN and it’s pure TV News station running for 16 hours a day providing the latest news for the viewers.

The interesting fact – this new TV studio is a “double-decker” TV Studio. Therefore it’s more than 8 meters high. We’ve used digital/pixel LED strips and standard LED screens for studio decorative lighting.

Pixel LED strips

There is more than 1400 meters of digital LED strips installed in this single TV studio. The creative director requested most beautiful colors we can get. That’s why he has decided to use black plexi-glass as a diffusor. This brings beautiful color for cameras with high contrast and low reflexivity of the decoration. There is a little problem though – you lose a lot of brightness when using black diffusion glass. That’s why we’ve used double LED strips in every light segment in the scene, which requires a lot of power.

Pixel LED strips in the Prima CNN scene

Total individual number of RGB LED pixels in the scene is about 84000. This requires quite a lot of digital SPI outputs to be used. We’ve used LED Ethernet Controller 3 device. One device provides control for up to 4096 individual LED diodes. Total number of controllers running in the scene is 25 and they are all connected using Ethernet. But all can be handled by a standard computer – we use simple Intel i5 based laptop computer to control all 84000 individual LEDs.

Art-Net pixel LED control? No…

We control all the LEC3 pixel controller devices using our network protocol. We don’t like to use Art-Net for the installations with more than 10000 LEDs. The reason is the data stream size – it’s just too much for Art-Net. Our LED Strip Studio protocol requires typically only about 20% of the stream bandwidth required for Art-Net.

LEC 3 front view
LED Ethernet Controller 3 – easiest way to control 80000 and more LED pixels – check more details about LEC3 pixel controller device

LED screen used as horizon

For the LED horizon in the TV studio we’ve decided to use standard P10 LED screen panels. We’ve produced special structure to be able to fit the LED panels precisely to fit the pixel to pixel. The complete LED horizon covers more than 170 square meters of projection area, which gives a lot of creative options for the graphic guys.

AC delay devices attached to power sources – you need them to power up the scene without any problems

170 square meters of LED screen requires quite a lot of power. We’ve used standard fan-less 150-Watt power sources. But you can’t power on 500 power sources at once – this could cause the complete power generator for TV studio to shut down (it’s also called inrush current).

Aluminum structure holding the LED panels and power sources

That’s why we’ve developed special device, which allows us to delay the start of the power source. We call this device AC delay and it allows us to delay the power up of the power source from 1 to 25 seconds after the power is connected. This delay can be defined using pins on the device.

Testing the AC delay device

You can see the “boot sequence” (or startup sequence) of the LED screen in the video. All the power sources start to turn on one by one within a few seconds.

Was it a success?

Prima CNN is the biggest TV installation we’ve been able to work on. It’s one of the most beautiful TV studios as well. Mr. Holota (creative architect of the TV studio) made a beautiful project full of lights providing a lot of options for the TV guys. Prima CNN is one of the most beautiful works we’ve done.

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