Diamond Vision: The History of the Large-Scale Video Screen
22nd July, 2020
In stadiums, arenas, and shopping districts across the world, large-scale video screens have become a major source of attraction, captivating crowds and passersby with their enormous high-definition images. The first company to develop these massive outdoor video displays was Mitsubishi Electric, who pushed through a brutally tight schedule to successfully debut their Diamond Vision at Dodger Stadium in 1980.
A Revolution in Large-Scale Video Entertainment
The large-scale video screen has become ubiquitous, gracing stadiums and arenas bursting with excitement as professional athletes push their athletic abilities to new heights and even thoroughfares in New York, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and other cosmopolitan sites. From dynamic footage of live acts to sophisticated ads for upmarket fashion brands, the content on display is designed to enhance each location’s atmosphere and energy.
Today, these mega-screens are a typical feature of many prominent sites, but the first location to set one up was Dodger Stadium, home to the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team — and that screen was designed by Mitsubishi Electric.
The story begins over 40 years ago. In the late 1970s, outdoor digital signage consisted mostly of dot matrix displays that employed incandescent light bulbs, but there was increasing demand for TV-quality outdoor screens capable of displaying full-color images that were clear from even 100 meters away. Mitsubishi Electric decided to take on the challenge. The development team explored several different technological approaches before arriving at the idea of developing a high-response CRT (cathode-ray tube) screen that offered exceptional color fidelity and energy efficiency. After all, Mitsubishi Electric already had a strong technological foundation in this field — and what better way to display clear, full-color content than by designing what was essentially an immense TV screen?
Development on what was to become the Diamond Vision accelerated in 1980, when Peter O’Malley, then-owner of the Dodgers, was given a preview of the test model while visiting Japan. He was so bowled over by the quality of the video demo that he decided to debut the Diamond Vision at the July 1980 All-Star Game. A project that Mitsubishi Electric had estimated would take at least two years suddenly had its schedule cut to nine months, pitching the development team into a Herculean battle against time.
Indeed, testing continued until just before the All-Star Game. However, even as the team pushed themselves to complete the product on time, they also developed a system for delivering content — such as player profiles and instant replays — designed to fire up the crowd. As a result, the Diamond Vision was a tremendous success at its debut outing, creating a template for sports-based entertainment that brought the fans closer to the sport.
A Historical Milestone
Over 40 years, over 2,000 Diamond Vision screens have been installed. The current model offers low energy consumption, ultra-high resolution, and can be designed to greater sizes than ever (due to the incorporation of LED). For example, the screen installed in late 2016 at the Hong Kong Jockey Club Happy Valley Racecourse is an immense 6-by-50 meter affair that offers such exceptional resolution and contrast that viewers can clearly identify each horse by the sheen of its coat.
The reason the Diamond Vision remains so successful is that Mitsubishi Electric has continued to develop its features over the years. In 2018, the Diamond Vision was recognized as an IEEE Milestone — a designation reserved for inventions that have served for over 25 years and have greatly contributed to the development of local communities and industry. (The IEEE, or Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, is the world’s largest organization for technical professionals in the fields of electricity, electronics, information and communications.)
The award is also a milestone for the Diamond Vision itself, which has come a long way since its public unveiling at Dodger Stadium.
From Dodger Stadium to the World
Today, the Diamond Vision entertains crowds at not only baseball stadiums, but also rugby stadiums in South Africa, cricket fields in Australia, and soccer stadiums in Spain. From the CIVISION screen on SOGO Hong Kong to a digital ad display at 1535 Broadway on Times Square, New York, the Diamond Vision also adorns the exteriors of establishments in shopping districts around the world.
This level of international success has been no accident. Since creating the foundation for vibrant outdoor visual entertainment 40 years ago, the Diamond Vision has continued to evolve, offering greater sizes and higher definitions than ever. This is why it remains the global standard, captivating a worldwide audience on a daily basis.
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