Sign & Digital Graphics

September '14

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S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S • September 2014 • 81 ELECTRIC SIGNAGE A ny LED display quotation requested from an EMC (electronic message center) manufacturer is going to come loaded with specifications that are cru- cial for understanding the quality of the display that one will ultimately purchase and install. Let's break down one of those crucial specifications, the color palate or number of colors a display is capable of exhibiting. Generating Color To begin, we need to dig into how color is generated by an electronic LED device in the first place. All full-color LED displays consist of a collection of pixels. Those pixels are laid out on a grid or, as it is often referred to in the EMC industry, a "matrix." Each pixel is made up of a group of three colored LEDs— typically red, green and blue. The spec- trum of color that the display can show is achieved by combining variations in brightness of each of these three colors. Think of mixing paint from the three primary colors—although interestingly, the primary colors for artists are red, blue and yellow (subtractive), not red, blue and green (additive) as it is in dis- play technologies such as your computer monitor or an EMC. As you add vari- ous amounts of each primary color, the resulting color changes in proportion to what was added. The millions, billions, and yes, even quintillions of colors pro- E M C C o L o R T E C H N o L o G y LED Displays: How Many Colors are Enough? More is only better to a point — then things start to get absurd B y S . D A v I D R y C y N A I I I David Rycyna III is the CEO of Cirrus Systems Inc., a manufacturer of outdoor LED displays. He is an expert in digital display technologies and product development.

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