OLite 510


I highly recommend that you take a closer look at the Barco OLite 510. It may look like a single tile, and sure, you can use it as a tile to build a nice video screen. But if you look closer, you will discover that the tile is made up of modules that can be easily snapped out of the frame to be arranged in just about any manner or configuration. It's like taking a standard Lego block, but instead of building with the Legos, you literally reshape and dismantle the individual block, deconstructing it into many, much smaller component pieces to build any shape that you want. The modularity of the OLite 510 allows designers to integrate LED screen technology in set designs, to create screens of any shape and size, and to let the video flow over surfaces. You could drape them around doorways, use them in floors, or place them behind glass or acrylic panels for a variety of effects.

What It Does

The Barco OLite 510 is designed for either indoor or outdoor use and is supplied as a ready-to-use LED tile. However, each tile breaks down into 64 discreet modules, each with 8×11 pixels. “Each module is the size of a cigar box,” says Mats Karlsson, product manager, creative light imaging for Barco Media and Entertainment. These modules are connected to a control unit inside the tile structure, by means of four cable strings, each providing power and signal to 16 modules.

The OLite 510 tile is 35.3"×26.5"×11.6" (896mm × 672mm × 294mm), and the modules are each 4.39"×3.29" (111.6mm × 83.6mm). The modules themselves are IP65 rated — even when they are not in the actual framework — so they can take pouring rain without any problems.

Taking them out of the frame could not be easier. It can be dismantled without tools. The modules slide in to place and are held firmly in place with integrated snap locks. Power and signal is handled by a single rugged connector that eliminates wiring errors and cuts assembly time. In case a module gets damaged, it is easily replaced without having to recalibrate or even turn off the system. “Disconnect the connector, and you are done,” says Karlsson. “It is no more difficult than changing a light bulb.”

How It Came To Be

“It was decided to make a 10mm high performance LED system using these three-in-one SMD (surface mount device), where you have the red, green, and blue pixel all behind one diffuse package,” says Karlsson. “Soon, it became apparent that there was a way to make the screen modular from a usage point of view. It changed from a fixed tile to a modular tile very early on. The flexibility and the advantages far outweighed the small additional cost. Now, roughly, a year after its introduction, it is really taking off in a big way for us.” Karlsson sums up his thoughts on the product, “With OLite, we got it right.”

What's Next

“We are looking at a fixed installation version that is optimized for non-touring applications,” says Karlsson. “The actual structure that is used for the tiles — the frame that the fixed form modules snap into — has proven to be a very functional and popular design, so that design is migrating into other products. There is a definite demand for a product that goes together quickly without using any tools.”

What End-Users Have To Say

“We were the first ones in the world using the OLite 510, and on top of everything, we used them as Omix [deviating from the standard tile configuration],” says Ola Melzig, the production manager for the 2005 Eurovision Song Contest last May. “We used the OLites to do light lines and circles instead of putting them in a rental frame and use them as tiles. When we first started to look at it, the options of what you could do with this system were unlimited, but during the pre-production period, we hit a lot of speed bumps that limited the whole system and what we wanted to do with it. Thanks to Barco and [rental house] Massteknik, we managed to solve all these problems, and at the end of the day, we were able to use the system just the way it was originally planned.”

Eurovision LD Per Sundin agrees. “With OLite — plus MiPIX and MiSPHERE — Barco finally hit a path that goes straight into the lighting industry,” he says. “Especially the size of it and the high brightness give enormous possibilities to build into different set combinations. Also the software (mapping system), where you can define every tile, gives large possibilities to build LED walls in different scales, patterns, and shapes.”

Kenneth Paterson, managing director of Massteknik Sweden AB, shares his thoughts on OLite. “Basically, it was the only product that could be used for the Eurovision production. The idea was that the backdrop would move during and between the songs. The product is extremely flexible, and therefore, it is possible to make stage sets that have not been possible previously. The negative part is the amount of time that it takes to re-cable the product between configurations. It is also an expensive solution, as one must use the original cables and lots of them. The cables that are included with the modules are only made for use when the modules are used as a screen, and the reason for buying OLite is the possibility of creative solutions. It is important to budget the additional cables and control boxes when investing.”