Giant LED deployment is a slam dunk for Alabama Média at LDLC Arena

A spectacular 17-tonne LED cube designed, manufactured and installed by French event production expert Alabama Média forms the imposing centrepiece of France’s second-largest indoor arena, the new state-of-the-art LDLC Arena in Lyon, France.

Before this milestone project, Alabama Média, from Groupe Novelty, built its reputation and technical expertise in live entertainment, sporting, corporate and broadcast events, both in France and internationally. With decades of experience delivering video and AV services for major shows – the company is also a long-term partner of Ligue 1 football giants Olympique Lyonnais – Alabama was uniquely positioned to understand and meet the unique requirements of a prestigious integration project such as LDLC Arena.

François Aubert, LDLC Arena’s Technical Manager, said:

Alabama is renowned in France for the quality of its service and its professionalism, so this was a perfect marriage between two companies committed to excellence. The fact that Alabama is more of an events company actually helped a lot, and its ability to adapt to any scenario was a massive plus.

According to Aubert, the idea for the mammoth LED set-up originally came from retired NBA legend and the majority owner of the LDLC ASVEL basketball team, Tony Parker, who “envisioned an American-style venue, which influenced our decision to incorporate iconic features such as the large LED cube and balcony seating,” says Aubert. Drawing on decades of rental-staging expertise, Alabama “played a pivotal role” in bringing this vision to fruition, he adds.

In addition to serving as the home arena of LDLC ASVEL for EuroLeague games, the 12,000-seat LDLC Arena (16,000 for concerts) is also set to become a go-to venue for a wealth of world-class events, including shows by renowned artists such as Green Day, Justin Timberlake, Eric Clapton, Shaka Ponk and the Jonas Brothers.

Armed with this knowledge, Alabama set about designing an LED configuration that would be flexible enough to accommodate a wide range of event types, as Aubert confirmed:

Modularity was key; the ability to move the LED cube to the roof or stage really adds versatility to our events.

After being drafted to create and integrate the arena’s entire video set-up, including the LED cube that would serve as the its focal point, Alabama, in partnership with Cobalt, proposed a number of ideas regarding its design that diverged from the cube’s initial concept, focusing on its load-bearing capacity, demountable nature and aesthetic appeal. Extensive discussions with VINCI, the arena’s structural engineer, followed, and the three partners worked closely throughout the duration of the project on the design of both the cube and the production control room, with the help of local metalwork specialist Fer et Défaire to design the structure and decoration of the cube.

Masterpiece of engineering

Weighing in at a daunting 17 metric tonnes, the 144m² LED cube is a masterpiece of engineering that rivals those found in even the most highly specced American basketball arenas. Equipped with four 3.9mm Absen LED panels, each measuring 8m × 4.5m, the cube is also fully motorised and retractable, courtesy of eight GIS D8+ electric chain hoists boasting a 2.5 tons load capacity each, which effortlessly raise and lower the cube to accommodate different configurations for the venue. A secondary independent LED ring (consisting of four 6m × 1m Absen PL3.9 V10 LED panels) at its base completes the structure.

The cube can additionally be lowered to the ground and partially dismantled to lighten the load for larger productions and allow for the rigging of other equipment, which also enables the LED panels to be used elsewhere in various configurations for events and concerts.

In addition to the LED, Alabama supplied and integrated all video equipment for the broadcast control room, including servers, production and live video broadcast tools. Image, credit: Julien Rambaud

Highlighting the importance of the LED cube to the customer experience, LDLC Director, Pierre Duprat, explained:

When we first discussed it with Alabama, our aim was clear: we wanted something that would make everyone entering the arena say, ‘Wow!’, and seeing it now, it’s exactly what we envisioned.

Alabama also installed 200 linear metres of Absen 4mm LED fascia between the lower and upper sections of the stands and two Absen 3.9mm LED scoring screens (measuring 6m × 3.5m) to relay real-time information to spectators, as well as supplying 37 metres of FIBA-certified Absen 4mm LED perimeter banner screens to be used at the edge of the court during games.

In addition to the LED, Alabama supplied and integrated all video equipment for the broadcast control room, including servers, production and live video broadcast tools. The sophisticated front-of-house set-up, which is ideally configured for capturing and broadcasting live events, includes a Tricaster 2 Elite video mixer with 2-Stripe control surface, a 3Play 3P1 from Vizrt, and a Lightware MX2-8×8-DH-8DPio-A full 4K matrix switcher. With DisplayPort 1.2 input and output ports, the MX2 Series matrix secures unmatchable AV signal switching and supports flawless picture quality, delivering uncompressed 4K UHD@60Hz RGB 4:4:4 video with no latency.

Finally, Alabama supplied electrical panels and cabling, as well as the racks in the control room. Both Alabama and sister company Novelty AURA are regularly called in to provide technical service including lighting equipment for events in both the main arena and CUBE, the venue’s 2,000sqm VIP room.

Hospitality at LDLC Arena. Image, courtesy: Julien Rambaud

Alabama Média’s Technical Project Manager, Xavier Aucagne, says he was able to harness the company’s extensive experience working with touring productions in France and across Europe to seamlessly deliver an all-in-one video package for LDLC Arena, one of its first major integration projects:

From the initial concept to the final installation, every aspect demanded precision and expertise. We know only too well the challenges and expectations that come with working with live productions, and we worked tirelessly to ensure seamless integration that really delivers for LDLC Arena.

François Aubert is full of praise for the work of the Alabama team, which also included project manager Christopher Dubost and production manager Morgan Micolier, and the wider Groupe Novelty at LDLC Arena, which opened in late 2023. “In a word,” he says, the quality of both the finished project and the service provided by Alabama was “‘impeccable.’ Everything is perfect – from technical mastery to the support they’ve shown us. A true masterclass.”

The video element is also going down a storm with the public, according to Duprat, who sums up the fan reaction to the mega LED installation:

We often hear them say, ‘Have you seen the size of these screens!’, before reaching for their phones to take pictures. It never fails. That’s exactly the experience we wanted to provide to visitors who love live events and it’s been a huge success.

Arguably the best person to summarise the quality of the end result is the newly inducted Hall of Fame player, four-time NBA champion and entrepreneur Tony Parker:

This is the culmination of the incredible project I initiated in 2014. The LDLC is going to be one of the most beautiful venues in the world. Today, a basketball match is a spectacle. As soon as the spectators enter this hall, they will see the difference.

Photo credits: LDLC Arena / Alabama Media

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