PixelFLEX Elevates the Live Entertainment Experience at The Cowan

Specializing in the design of premiere audio/visual systems, J Sound Services has produced a number of successful integrated solutions for the design-build industry. Recently working with the management team behind the new Top Golf location in Nashville, Tennessee, they were asked to create a custom acoustics and audio/visual design for The Cowan, a two-story live performance music venue. Wanting a high-definition video display to complement the multitude of applications planned for the new venue, J Sound Services installed a mobile and expansive FLEXTour 2.8mm LED video solution from PixelFLEX.

(Image: PixelFLEX)

“This was our first time working with Top Golf, and we were referred through a colleague of ours, Nick Cua,” began Jason Spence, J Sound Services. “Set and lighting designer Chris Lisle, with the direction of Aria Group Architects and Nick, was helping define the experience of the room. From an atmosphere and ambiance perspective, they wanted to have a very industrial looking space, but from a functionality perspective, we knew they would be using The Cowan for touring artists, live recordings, singer/songwriter showcases, and corporate events as well. To create a warm production environment in a stark, industrial room, we paid a lot of attention to the details, which really shows in the design of the FLEXTour LED video system.”

(Image: PixelFLEX)

A robust, high-definition and curve-able LED video display, FLEXTour is designed specifically for the rigorous demands of live entertainment productions. With its unique rigging capabilities that allow for traditional and off-set configurations, each 500mmx1000mm tile is fully front-serviceable and its integrated climbing ladder allows for quick access to displays flown high overhead. Built with the highest standard in components including the new NovaStar A8s receiving card, FLEXTour is completely flicker-free making it one of the premier LED video design solutions available today. 

Spence continued, “For the LED video, we started by investigating the visual acuity of the space and what content would be shown on the screen. With many types of events, the content would range from full-on HD video imagery to PowerPoint presentations, so we really needed to keep the formatting of the content as simple as possible and we ended going with a 16:9 format.”

(Image: PixelFLEX)

With the technology solution now identified, the determination of pixel pitch was yet to be made. On a stage measuring approximately 24 feet wide and 16 feet deep, Spence knew that image quality would be key to the experience behind the video design in the live entertainment venue.

“When we do a video installation, we really try to look at all technology solutions, and when determining the pixel pitch, we knew we needed a clear and crisp, high-definition display,” explained Spence. “We initially looked at both 3.6mm and 2.8mm options and wanting the client to see the performance differences between the two, we went over to PixelFLEX for a factory demo. They set up two walls at opposite ends of the viewing space; on one side was the 2.8mm and on the other a 3.6mm. We all then stood in the middle and it was a pretty quick decision to go with the FLEXTour 2.8mm LED.”

(Image: PixelFLEX)

While determining the ideal pixel pitch was a significant part of the technology solution, the functionality of the video system needed to be addressed as well. Since the venue would be used for multiple events requiring various positions of the video system on stage, Spence and his team designed a custom mounting structure which enabled a traveling LED video design.

“In this particular situation, our client also wanted to have the ability to move the LED video screen to various positions on stage for different applications of the space,” added Spence. “To do this, our rigging engineer worked with the Top Golf structural engineers, and they fabricated a beam and trolley system that was connected directly to the building structure. Since the video screen would now be mobile on the trolley structure, we needed a robust LED panel technology that could securely lock together, and the FLEXTour works great.”

Now finished with the installation of the video system, it was time to focus on the backend operation that could provide expansive control options for the design. Understanding that both technical and non-technical personnel would be using the display, Spence designed a comprehensive, yet simple, control system that would allow anyone to quickly get their event going.

“There really is a wide range of functionality in the room from a sound, lighting and video perspective,” admitted Spence. “We have an Analog Way Asender 32 that is feeding the outputs to the sending units, and the inputs are connected to a media server and an auxiliary HDMI TV input. There are also HDMI inputs on the stage and front-of-house so that pretty much anywhere you need to place your source inside the venue, you have a way to connect to the LED video wall. All the switching is done using the Analog Way Web RCS software, and we have a three-camera HD PTZ system as well in case they are doing an event that needs live video. Additionally, if there is a non-technical staff that needs to put something on the wall, we have a Crestron Control system that allows them to easily switch to pre-loaded graphics or connect a laptop to the LED video wall with one-touch ability.”

Completed and ready for guests, The Cowan has begun selling out houses for established touring artists such as the Stone Temple Pilots, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, and the Old 97's. Knowing they had created a state-of-the-art sound, lighting and video design, Spence was eager to see the reaction of both guests, artists and technicians alike.

“The response has been absolutely tremendous, and people are blown away,” concluded Spence. “From all perspectives of clients and guests, people are having a similar reaction where they stop for a moment to take it all in. We were really given the opportunity to deliver something special and watching the reactions has been the best part. It’s been an overwhelmingly positive response and it’s a great system.”

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