Steve Bumstead, PixelFire Productions' founder, designed the technology that makes it possible. Dubbed Pix-it, the application integrated in the digital billboard lets people take still photos from a cell phone and upload them to firstname.lastname@example.org, where they sit in a holding area on the Web site until manually approved.
Bumstead plans to oversee the project from across the street in Clear Channel Spectacolor's office in Times Square. He will personally review and approve each photo before displaying it for three seconds as part of the Happy New Year's Eve animation message on JVC's sign.
JVC took the wraps of the new sign earlier this month. It's being promoted by the company as the first 720-line progressive big screen in Times Square, with a widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio and 1280 by 720 resolution supported by 1,007 light-emitting diode (LED) modules.
The screen will run consumer-generated video, but Bumstead--who has worked with film and digital displays for many years--said technical reasons stopped PixelFire from setting up the platform to accept clips. Video uploaded to the electronic billboard which Clear Channel Spectacolor manufactured would take longer to proof because of the large files.
Partygoers who upload photos are emailed a hyperlink and a redemption code that lets them sign onto a special site and retrieve a copy of the photo as it appeared on JVC's billboard. The "screensaver, desktop, wallpaper kind-of-thing" provides a memento of their night in Times Square on New Year's Eve 2009, Bumstead said. "They'll share the photo with friends and soon a whole bunch of people will have Happy New Year from JVC sitting on their desktop."
Bumstead hopes the campaign turns viral, since people will have an option to share the photos. Licensing and release issues stopped PixelFire from building in search options for people to view other photos on the site. A project similar to this one, which would cost between $10,000 and $30,000 to pull off depending on the complexity, typically take two months to put together. The Renton, Wash.-based company, however, managed to turn around the campaign in much less time.
PixelFire has produced large-scale projects for Times Square displays in the past. In 2006, the company teamed with Campbell-Ewald to produce Chevrolet's display atop One Times Square, Times Square's first video-analog clock.