The Stellar Atrium Project
London Stock Exchange came to Labs with a brief to create an innovative visual representation of their market for the atrium at Paternoster Square. The canvas – a permanent installation made up of over 500 individual screens divided into seven pre-existing arrangements – challenged the team to design and develop a striking graphical concept which could draw in the vast amounts of data needed to fully visualise the movements of one of the world's most significant markets.
The London Stock Exchange Group's brief called for an innovative visual representation of the market that would prove both informative and interesting for staff and clients alike. Since the dawn of screen-based trading in 1986, visitors to the LSE have been unable to truly 'see' the market in action, placing emphasis on a new content system and display that could reintroduce an element of the buzz of the old trading floors. The resulting installation needed to serve two practical purposes: to work as a sales tool, opening the market every morning for IPOs; and to show market data, news feeds, video content and live television throughout the day, whilst striking a careful balance between the LSE's immense heritage and it's dynamic, forward-facing business approach.
A Star is Born
After some preliminary research, the Labs department based the graphical animation on a stellar concept; an explosion would represent the daily start of trading with individual stock tickers orbiting around a central light throughout the day’s trade. Each stock ticker would be visualised as a star which rises and falls in a real-time correlation to the market.
With the creative concept in place the team tackled the technical challenges of visualising such vast amounts of live financial data in real-time. 'We quickly realised we would need some serious power in the graphics cards and CPU. The data would be visualised on 500 screens with 200 million pixels, so we had to be very precise with the system specifications we gave to the client', said Labs Producer Jonny Dixon. The output visualisations were synchronised across all the screens, with broadcast commands accurate to within thousandths of a second; the team also added HD video player capabilities, as well as live TV signal playback, allowing financial news broadcasts to appear incrementally. Additionally, LSEG were given the ability to tailor the experience to each of their clients via the CMS and a web page.
The market open visualisation became a major aspect of the project, with the animation having to sync perfectly with the London Stock Exchange opening at 8am. 'We treated all the screens, including the side scrolling "fingers", as one large canvas, so it was important to get the timing of the visualisations just right', said Installation Director Robin Carlisle. The team also incorporated London Stock Exchange’s rotating cube and mosaic screens within the completed designs, creating a show-stopping, attention grabbing display for visitors as soon as they step foot inside the London Stock Exchange’s main foyer.
'Having worked on the project for so long it was great to see it up and running. We’re very proud of the work and personally I think it’s the best we’ve done as a department', said Dixon, of the launch. 'Myself and Robin had the pleasure of going down to London Stock Exchange and opening the market – it’s quite a grand and unique ceremony, and something I’m very proud to have been a part of'.