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Christie MicroTiles on TV

BFM Business was once a radio station, but became a TV station. The conversion of its studio saw the broadcaster choosing Christie's MicroTiles to give it the appropriate look and feel for financial programming.

On the occasion of its television debut on TNT and to mark its new positioning within France, the financial information radio station BFM Business was outfitted with an ultra modern set. A core part of the decor, the Christie MicroTiles video wall reinforces the visual experience that focuses on financial information. BFM Business is distributed via all ADSL TV packages and on TNT in Paris. The channel targets high-level professionals, particularly managers.

In converting its radio studio into a TV studio, the major considerations were space and cost. The starting point was a 60m2 studio located in the middle of the BFM Business editorial offices. “Contrary to our continuous news channel, BFM TV, we chose a “real” rather than a “virtual” decor, which generates additional operating costs because it requires additional staff,” said Philippe Espinet, CTO of the NextRadioTV group. With BFM Business, which is still on the air as a business and financial information radio station, the challenge was to add a “TV layer” highlighting the presenters and financial information through the on-air look, which is a real added value for the channel.

Among the goals laid out for the BFM Business visual environment was that it should model some of the foreign financial channels – that is, use a view of the editorial area as part of the decor, and, at the same time, use a video wall behind the presenter to broadcast stock prices in real time along with assorted video and graphics. “To create this kind of video wall, several technologies were available to us, each with its specific features and, of course, limitations,” continued Espinet. “As an initial choice, we had the option of putting together LCD or plasma screens. But given the size of the area to cover (11m2) and the extensive use throughout the day, there was a risk of the display becoming marked after some time and, in addition, the installation’s lifetime would be limited to just two years. So we eliminated this option.”

A second option was rear projection cubes which were available to the technical director of the NextRadioTV group, but this solution also came with some unacceptable characteristics, according to the company: too deep, compared to the area of the studio; too noisy, given the sound environment; too time-consuming in terms of maintenance (reliability, colour calibration, colour drift and so on). “The solution to this problem was proposed by TAV, the Christie MicroTiles distributor who installed the solution in our studio,” said Espinet.

“When BFM Business explained their circumstances, we told Philippe Espinet he should look at Christie MicroTiles,” said Madec Julien, sales director for TAV, “and we set up a demonstration of the Christie solution at our facility.” It’s a solution that is claimed to overcome the restrictions required by the channel’s set: the solution must produce very little noise, little heat, be fairly shallow, require virtually no maintenance and have very low energy consumption like LED and DLP technologies. In addition, the video wall should have a lifespan of about 7.5 years of 24 hr/day operation and automatic calibration.

“I was quite impressed by this product, which met all my expectations,” noted Espinet. “As for colour reproduction and illumination, LED and DLP technologies produce images with saturated colours and a viewing angle of nearly 125 degrees. This is quite an important feature when the intended use is on a television set with a video wall that has to be effective regardless of the camera positions. At the same time, the texture of the image has a natural look, and not digital. That’s a bonus in my eyes. We send the display a full HD signal without any pixelation. Over an area of 11m2 with a base of 4.6m, the output is exceptional.”

The 88 Christie MicroTiles that are used on the BFM Business set form a screen with an aspect ratio of 16:9, which means that the images and computer graphics created for broadcast can be used on the MicroTiles and switched freely. In addition, the HD SDI signal from the control room is converted to DVI to feed the Christie MicroTiles ECUs (External Control Units).

The Christie MicroTiles were installed on the BFM Business set soon after the order was placed. “We were able to rely on the responsiveness of both Christie and TAV in order to complete the installation of the Christie MicroTiles thanks to their remarkable support, both technical and advisory.” concluded Espinet.