Major projects: Dubai Mall’s Aquarium & Underwater Zoo5 December 2017
The Dubai Mall’s latest AV attraction puts modesty to one side, claiming three world records. It’s a 50m-wide, curved OLED videowall that is wowing visitors to Dubai’s Aquarium & Underwater Zoo. Rob Lane finds out how it was created.
Bigger continues to be better in Dubai, especially when it comes to tech. The latest AV attraction at The Dubai Mall – the world’s most visited retail destination – is a huge, two-storey 700sqm (50m x 14m) curved, ‘waveform’ videowall above the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo. Comprising 820 LG OLED screens, it boasts 1.7 billion pixels and is claimed as the world’s highest-resolution, largest hi-def and biggest OLED videowall.
Unveiled in August, overseen by leading entertainment and leisure providers and overseers Emaar Entertainment, and installed by Dubai-based systems integrator Digital Communication (DigiComm), the giant OLED videowall mimics the rolling waves of the ocean and complements the Emaar Entertainment-run Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo that it looms above. “This is by far the most exciting and large-scale videowall project we have ever worked on,” explains Abdul Bakhrani, CEO at DigiComm.
DigiComm supplied the technical specification, solution and installation expertise for the project, co-ordinating with Emaar Entertainment and key suppliers Dataton – which provided the media servers, content management software and custom show control – and OLED experts LG.
Dataton’s WATCHOUT multi-display production and playback system, WATCHNET manager software and compact WATCHPAX 4 servers deliver all of the high-resolution content for the wall. All functions and the bespoke user interface were tailored to meet the venue’s specific requirements.
“We worked with Dataton to create a cost-efficient media delivery system that would seamlessly deliver high-quality videos and images at the native resolution of 1.7 billion pixels,” says Bakhrani. “A total of 52 WATCHPAX 4 Media Engines have been networked to synchronise content across 820 OLED displays.”
Designed primarily to promote the aquarium, the wall also provides a visually stimulating canvas for additional content and sponsors.
“The biggest challenge was to work only five hours per day as allowed by the venue – 1:00am to 6:00am,” explains Bakhrani. “The main discussions were primarily based on the tests required to make sure that such a large synchronisation was possible. We had to innovate a format of creating videos in resolutions exceeding 80,000 x 20,000 pixels and then upload them to 52 WATCHPAX 4 players. It [the installation] taught us that we are prepared for even larger and more complicated projects.”
“With such a high-profile installation there are, of course, great demands on content quality and reliability,” says Trond Solvold, sales director at Dataton. “WATCHOUT with WATCHPAX 4 was likely the only system in the world that could pull off such a complex installation. The system needed to be flexible and scalable, and requests for future functionality left other systems far behind, making our solution the best choice for the installation.
“Besides high performance, the media servers needed to be robust to handle almost 24/7 use and have a compact form factor. Space is incredibly tight behind the videowall – virtually non-existent – and extensive cabling to a server room was never an option. That meant each server had to sit close to the screens. With quad 4K video outputs and a trim A4-size footprint, the WATCHPAX units were eminently suited to the task.”
The Dubai Mall videowall is part of owner Emaar Entertainment’s ongoing strategy to provide world-class ‘edutainment’ using innovative platforms.
“Emaar Entertainment continues to push the boundaries and achieve greater heights through innovative installations and attractions,” says Maitha Al Dossari, CEO of Emaar Entertainment. “We’re committed to delivering the best in the industry and are honoured that the new OLED screen at Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo has received three world record achievements [highest resolution, largest hi-def and biggest OLED], underpinning our commitment to pioneering innovative attractions, continued advancements in technology and digital attractions, and inspiring joy.”
Kevin Cha, president of LG Electronics, Middle East and Africa, comments: “LG has always pushed boundaries with innovative display technologies, especially with its pioneering OLED technology. In the heart of The Dubai Mall, we are proud to showcase to the world a global example of how LG digital signage products provide innovative solutions that B2B customers of today demand, creating a visitor experience unlike anything anyone has ever witnessed.”