4 Screen Fast Food Menu Setup
So there is a small business which will be a fast food taco shop that is starting up, In which they would like to add 4 screens for the menu like the ones in mcdonalds or other fast food places. Thing is that they also want to have specials popping up every 20s and having steam on the tacos when they come back on so basically some animation involved. My first thought is video synced on 4 screens. I just don't know how I would output that to 4 screens and have it all be synced.
Is video the best way to present? and how do I get it all synced on 4 screens?
What is the budget? IMO, USD20,000 and above would be good.
What you seem to require may be summarized as -
1. 4 synced outputs to 4 Display Monitors
2. One or more overlay of Specials over one, two or all 4 monitors every 20s
3. A second overlay (animated smoke) over the taco
4. Hands-free, idiot proof operation every day, preferably with Remote over the choice of Specials
5. Reliability and stability
Offhand, you need either -
1. A Digital Signage system that would permit scheduling, and two or more overlays, plus the ability to 'program' the sequences required.
2. A multi-display system like Dataton Watchout or AVStumpfl Wings Platinum
I am not that familiar with Digital Signage systems that can fulfill the requirements above. There are many on the market. Example you may want to look at is Brightsign.biz and their HD product range. I have 2 units of their old range, and the two units will loop all day in sync linked by a simple ethernet router. Control is zilch but some of their units allow GPIO attachment for control. Brightsign units are basically media players with additional features. I use their freely provided BrightAuthor to author the SD cards inserted into each unit, but have to produce the media files (stills, video, etc) with After Effects to store on the SD Cards. If I'm not wrong Brightsign units accept only MPEG-2 files and/or H264, therefore alpha-channel video (for the smoke effect over the taco) may not be possible. Changes require the SD cards with the changes to be uploaded or re-written to the SD cards, i.e. stopping the playback till all changes are done and transferred, rebooted. Some units allow update of media files via a network.
I am familiar with the multi-display systems mentioned, and of the two, I would recommend Dataton Watchout with their new Watchpax 4 (4-outputs) as the Display PC, or you can build your own Display PC with, say, the AMD Firepro W4100 (or newer WX4100) graphics card with 4 outputs. The Watchpax 4 is a locked down embedded Windows PC (i.e. no Windows changes possible; just power up, power down every day) - quite ideal for installing in a client's premises. Control of Watchpax can be with a free 'Watchout Remote', an app for IOS or Android. Needs a wireless connection to the Watchpax for this. With the remote app, client can call out the Specials as and when, or pre-programmed to 20s call outs.
Watchout requires a 'Production PC' with a licence key to program your required sequences. This 'Production PC' can be a laptop, connected to the Display PC/Watchpax4 via ethernet cable, and when programming is done and the instructions and media files are transferred to the Display PC/Watchpax4, the Production PC can be disconnected. Thereafter a reboot of Watchpax 4 is required. Daily, when powered in the morning, it will autoload the instruction program, run all day, and merely powered off at the end of the day with no damage to Watchpax4 nor the embedded Windows. Changes/Additions, however, need the Production PC to be re-connected for the changes to be made and re-transferred.
Budget for 1 Watchout USB licence key (required for the Producton PC) + one unit Watchpax 4 will be about USD13,000. Watchpax 4 includes a Watchout licence built in. You will have to add some necessary accessories like 4 ACTIVE mini-Display Port to DVI adapters, DVI-?? converters and cabling to the 4 monitors, and the cost of the 4 monitors, installation, etc. And your fees, of course. Therefore, I foresee at least a 20K budget.
You may download a free copy of Watchout from Dataton's website. One major limit without the licence key is that you cannot communicate/transfer files/instructions to the Display PC (Watchpax 4). Other than that, you may preview your program, save, etc. There is no time limit.
If you wish to go the Dataton route, I can send you an example program 'xxxx.watch' that will show you how you may achieve your requirements using media files from your own pc as examples.
Wow thank you, checked out the sites and saw the examples of how they are run and they look very fool proof on and go.
Only issue is their budget they only have about 8k for it. Did some more digging around and found this badboy. https://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=email&A=details&Q=&sku=8...
It only does 3 screens so will have to tell them to bring it all down to 3.
It uses ProPresenter which can also be programable with looping video and fade to other videos so is programmable and startup is easy.
ProPresenter is $399 & $199 for multiscreen plugin, and hardware is only $350 (One input 3 outputs). So with this obviously need the computer that can run about $600 and the screens which I was able to find for $1500 for all 3.
Total about $2500. Much profit!
Ah, yes...the Triplehead2Go. Forgot about that as I have never played with it 'cos it requires that you create/present to the Triplehead2Go one large and wide file all the time, and it in turn splits it into 3. If that is all you require all the time, then should work out fine. Watchout is much more flexible, and obviously does have more features than you require.
As for Propresenter, suggest you try a demo first. Last I tried it, in demo mode, it was not reliable (i.e. crashes). That was a few years ago. Maybe it was me or my pc as a newbie then. Hopefully latest version is more reliable.
Ok yeah I am in charge of projection at the church I go to and we use pro all the time and works flawlessly so yeah that crashing issue must be an old version or computer/program bug.
And yeah for creating will have to provide them with 3x wider files but hey, if they want to save on budget I'll have to do more for them so more work for me.
Thanks for guiding me in the right direction though and being of assistance! I will post how everything has worked with the triplehead and program for this project just as record for those with similar projects.
There is also possibility to have a low-end and quite inexpensive, but reliable setup with my KeyShowX:
Essentially, you can drive in sync as many slideshows as you want in a loop, or with a script. The version on website is for Mac version of PowerPoint or Keynote, however, I do have a private beta of client for Windows. So, in case of Windows, for your scenario you can have 4 Intel PC Sticks (150$ each), 4 monitors with HDMI for PC sticks and PowerPoint on each. Of course you can always go with Mac Minis (even very old or refurbished) and screens. You can design slideshow for each screen, so they look like one gigantic when running side by side. And a controller machine, which can be as low end as possible.
I maintain this software for many years and you would be surprised in which movies, TV shows, trade shows, museums, keynotes etc it was in use ☺
Contact me through the website if you are interested in experimenting with private beta of Windows version.
Sorry to plug my product in here, but your scenario is pretty much what it was designed for.
Software for multi-screen shows and presentations