Fremont Street Experience

Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas is home to the largest single video screen in the world. The canopy display, originally built in July of 1995, underwent a long awaited upgrade in 2019.

Over 49 million LEDs. Suspended 90 feet in the air. And over a quarter-mile long. That’s what makes up the brand new Viva Vision Canopy at Fremont Street in Las Vegas Nevada. This $32 million dollar project is one of a kind and the most ambitious undertaking in the digital signage industry to date.

With a resolution of 15,104 by 1088 pixels, it’s now four times sharper than before. Most notably, it’s seven times brighter, now allowing for operation in broad daylight. Other design innovations increase the contrast and color reproduction of the display, making it the most technologically advanced digital sign in the world. Here’s how it was built.

Watchfire Signs, a digital sign manufacturer in Danville, Illinois was selected for its ability to design and deliver a custom product, that could meet the strict requirements the upgrade called for. The canopy had to shed rain, let daylight filter through and deliver vibrant, high definition graphics - day or night. The new sign panels also had to be engineered to fit the existing structure, which included many obstacles such as mounted speakers and supports for an over-the-street zipline experience. Because of these requirements, the Las Vegas climate and the sheer size of the sign, a custom solution was required.

Watchfire responded with an innovative module design. This 27mm module achieves the desired transparency by using strategically placed holes that also allow air and water to pass through. Bright surface-mount LEDs and a high contrast panel design resulted in rich, vivid color capability that was further fine-tuned through a proprietary color calibration process. Perhaps the most innovative aspect of the design allowed the new modules to be cut to fit around obstacles in the existing canopy structure. More than 64,000 individual modules make up the full Viva Vision Canopy. Watchfire began manufacturing modules, which would then be mounted into steel subframes, in December of 2018. Each subframe, made up of 64 modules, was then meticulously color calibrated, using Watchfire’s proprietary image processing technology.

To deliver the completed subframes, Watchfire designed a custom crating system that helped make installation at the jobsite run smoothly. 60 semi-loads of signage, comprised of 1054 subframes, were shipped to Las Vegas over a 6-month timeframe.

The first shipment of crates arrived in April of 2019 as workers began removing the old façade from the canopy. Installation began in May, with the goal of completing the canopy in eight discreet sections by December of 2019. As each section was completed, the canopy display was tested. Then workers began preparing the next section for installation.

Back in Danville, Watchfire employees worked to stay one section ahead of the installation crew. As progress was made throughout the summer, content played on both the new and old sections. Visitors were able to see the stark difference in quality, with content being played side by side. The final shipment of subframes left the Watchfire factory in October of 2019. This massive project was completed on schedule and on budget, all while Watchfire continued to provide the most technologically advanced digital signage available to businesses and billboard operators across North America.

Thanks to the upgrade, new, high-definition content can now be played on the canopy continuously throughout the day. Watchfire’s proprietary digital signage software monitors the health of the screen by running on-demand diagnostics in sync with the Viva Vision Canopy control software.

The display is used for live events, live concerts, and runs several musically-driven light shows each day. It is estimated that annually over 22-million visitors travel to Fremont Street to experience the canopy and adjacent casinos along the pedestrian mall.

Watchfire is extremely proud of the company-wide effort required to complete the iconic project and looks forward to the continued success of Fremont Street and the city of Las Vegas.

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