Held in conjunction with its annual All-Star Game, the Major League Baseball FanFest provides fans with an opportunity to celebrate the players, the game and the community of baseball as a whole. This year, under a mandate from the new Commissioner, the production team behind FanFest, BaAM Productions, was asked to reenergize the fan experience inside the San Diego Convention Center. Having worked with the event producers for the last 25 years, MSI Productions tech director Tom Bollard knew that one of the key elements to the reinvigorated design would be a truly immersive LED video entrance which he chose to bring to life with FLEXLite Plus 3.9mm LED video technology from Nashville-based PixelFLEX.
“We have been involved with the MLB All-Star FanFest since the event first took place in San Diego back in 1992,” says Bollard. “This year the new MLB Commissioner wanted to breathe new life into the event and the large, curved HD LED video entrance designed by BaAM Productions would be one of the main design features to really bring a higher level of excitement. Having worked with PixelFLEX on another production, we knew they would have the ideal product solution for the curved LED video entrance and that solution was a FLEXLite Plus 3.9mm LED video wall.”
FLEXLite Plus from PixelFLEX is one of the highest resolution curve-able LED displays on the market and is capable of a 15-degree curve in any direction. With its bright, dense display and high refresh rate, FLEXLite Plus photographs and videos extremely well and its tiles are calibrated directly out of the box to help decrease failure, and insure perfect color and brightness of your LED screen.
“At the entrance, the producers wanted the fans to have a feeling of walking through an immersive tunnel, and at the end of the tunnel they would see the world’s largest baseball,” says Bollard. “Understanding our guests were going to walk inches away from the screen, we needed an incredibly high-definition display in a tight 2-3mm pitch configuration, but the product still had to give us the curving aspects needed. After speaking with PixelFLEX to discuss all the product performance capabilities, we felt very comfortable that our best product choice would be the FLEXLite Plus 3.9mm technology.”
Now getting to work on the construction of the curved LED wall entrance, Bollard and his team took a trip to Nashville, Tennessee, to meet with the specialists at PixelFLEX. At the factory, they were able to not only able to collaborate on the final design together, but they were also able solve any potential challenges which may have occurred in San Diego during the load-in.
“For the build-out, we shipped PixelFLEX our custom, curved truss structure and then my production manager and I flew out to Nashville to their headquarters to create a full-size mock-up in their shop,” says Bollard. “Because we were able to do this, we solved a lot of design challenges that would have been difficult to overcome onsite. This was a tremendous advantage and allowed us a relaxed, on-time installation in San Diego with ample programming time, which made the project even more stunning.”
With the curved LED entrance now in place inside the San Diego Convention Center, Bollard and the team began the process of loading the custom content created by the MLB design team which would showcase the true effectiveness of the FLEXLite Plus 3.9mm LED video wall.
“For the content, MLB Productions created a custom video presentation which played alongside a 5.1 surround sound audio track, and from the moment we turned the screens on we knew we had hit a home run,” says Bollard. “They were so dynamic and the graphic display looked absolutely incredible. The producers of the show were completely blown away with how the final product turned out and it was exactly what they wanted the MLB FanFest experience to be.”
As the final out of the 2016 All-Star Game was made, the American League bested the National League with a 4-2 win. But looking back on the FanFest experience, Bollard is quick to admit that while the American League may have won the game, it was the assistance of the team at PixelFLEX that allowed the fans to come away with the ultimate victory.
“PixelFLEX has a variety of great products but more importantly they have many talented project managers and technicians who personally connect with your event,” says Bollard. “If you have a project that is unique, or maybe even something that has never even been done before, PixelFLEX has the vision to make your design a reality and I can’t say enough good things about their team of talented professionals.”