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Digital signage? Anyone with expertise?

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Todd Terry
Digital signage? Anyone with expertise?
on Jun 28, 2014 at 10:43:10 pm

Anyone in here have any experience with digital signage?... or experience with vendors for digital signage?

Tiny bit of backstory... my better half has created all of the graphic design and marketing materials for a new shopping mall food court restaurant. It all really looks great... including her menus that display across four big-screen LCD monitors.

A really good sign company here in town was to install these and get them up and running. However the restaurant owners obviously know just as much about these things (i.e., "it would be cheaper") and the best route was clearly for them just to look at the would-be vendor's specs and sneak out and buy/install the monitors themselves and get it all up and running on their own... rather than foolishly letting the experts who do this for a living take care of it. I mean, c'mon... are they made of money?...rich doctors or something?? (actually, yes). Sound familiar?

How hard could it be? After all, the monitors were even almost hung straight, and only a few feet from where they should have been.

Sadly though this trainwreck has fallen to my significant other to take care of, and she is understandably frustrated. These big LG monitors come with built-in hardware and software called EZsign that manages the amazing feat of being both extremely complicated and extraordinarily rudimentary at the same time. It's supposed to allow you to build signage files and broadcast them to multiple monitors (different images on each monitor). In reality it's more like My First L'il SignMaker - by FisherPrice and is extremely template-oriented and design-constraining. Plus it's waaay overly-complex to use. And doesn't allow embedding video or customizing designs like they want.

Anyone have any solutions, suggestions, or directions in which to head?

I know there are two COW forums for digital signage, but considering they are both hostless and appear to have zero archived posts, I don't think there's a lot of expert traffic there.

Any advice would be most appreciated....

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Mads Nybo Jørgensen
Re: Digital signage? Anyone with expertise?
on Jun 29, 2014 at 9:10:45 am

Hey Todd,

Sounds like a story straight out of "Clients from Hell".

I have some experience with Digital Signage, although that market is the Wild West full of cowboys in comparison with the business of video production.

1) The end client, the restaurateur, will soon realize that it would have been cheaper to get the original vendor to do the install and ongoing maintenance. So make sure that your better half gets paid for all of the additional work.
2) Screen Manufacturers own digital signage software is often a non profitable add on, and can only be operated in earnest by the programmer who made it. Unless that you are doing something very simple that does not need regular updating, forget it. However, EZsign does come with comprehensive promotional websites from LG and how to vidoes + templates. Ask the client to supply an additional monitor that can be worked on/from in the design studio.

Alternatives that will work:
1) Design the whole thing in flash. It is an old fashioned way of doing it and will require a media player - but it locks the presentation in and no-one will be able mess it up - or easily change it... If adventurous, you could also consider HTML 5.
2) Get a bespoke digital signage package. My favorite is http://www.reveldigital.com - should make it clear that I am biased, as I am already connected to the company. It is a proven piece of SaS that can work on even the smallest media-players.

If you want to speak off-forum, then I'm more than happy to help out.

All the Best
Mads

@madsvid, London, UK
Check out my other hangouts:
Twitter: @madsvid
http://mads-thinkingoutloud.blogspot.co.uk


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Tom Sefton
Re: Digital signage? Anyone with expertise?
on Jun 29, 2014 at 2:32:37 pm

I've only ever produced digital signage bits for brightsign players. They aren't too expensive, you could preload high quality video and the signage program is pretty good and easy enough to customise. You can also set up remote login/updates so your better half can make modifications from her home machine.


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Matt Townley
Re: Digital signage? Anyone with expertise?
on Jun 30, 2014 at 3:44:34 pm

I second the nod to BrightSign. I have a handful of their HD220 units that I use when clients need to loop videos at conferences and tradeshows. I have only used them for looping a video and never gotten into the actual digital signage aspect of them, but I know they are incredibly powerful and very flexible with what they can do.


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Tom Sefton
Re: Digital signage? Anyone with expertise?
on Jun 30, 2014 at 7:49:49 pm

The other positive is that they are networkable so you can actually use them for playing back synced content that utilises anything up to 12 different screens (think it's 12).

Simple to do really.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Digital signage? Anyone with expertise?
on Jul 1, 2014 at 12:14:18 am

Hard to beat the prices on Brightsign gear too... just a thought here, and I may be off-base...

If you just use the Brightsign units, or even the stuff the clients are currently stuck with - to play back a canned loop, you could perhaps forget using their tricksy software package, and instead, build all the animation and timing using the editing and compositing tools you already know and have, in the shop, on your NLE system. This at least will buy time and get the stuff up and running while SWMBO maps out a longer-term strategy.


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Todd Terry
Re: Digital signage? Anyone with expertise?
on Jul 1, 2014 at 1:58:16 am
Last Edited By Todd Terry on Jul 1, 2014 at 2:00:56 am

Thanks to all for the suggestions. I'll pass them along and suggest they give BrightSign a look.

[Mark Suszko] "build all the animation and timing using the editing and compositing tools you already know and have, in the shop, on your NLE system."

That's actually probably what we will do, we ran a test of doing that over the weekend. What's supposed to happen is that you build this signage in the EZsign software, and then the central computer broadcasts the various screens to the various monitors...in beautiful standard def, no less!... ("Why does that look so crappy?).

But each monitor does have a USB port, and we discovered that if you stick a thumb drive in it with an .mp4 or .wmv file, it will autoplay it and they look beautiful, and loop. Sadly, not seamlessly loop though... it does have to think about it for a few seconds and reload when the file completes.

That's not what they want though... they want signage that the staff can go in and change (prices, items) at will, long after this job is over... which they can't do with pre-produced video files. But we don't always get what we want, now do we?

I'm also not really a vendor to them... with the exception of doing the food photography. They already think my schweetie's graphic artist rates are high (and they are extremely reasonable)... I'm sure they will crap the proverbial brick when they find out what edit suite time goes for in comparison.

Thanks again all...

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Rich Rubasch
Re: Digital signage? Anyone with expertise?
on Jul 1, 2014 at 2:59:31 am

We rep BrightSign as well and we control all pushing of content to players across the state. The software is more complicated than authoring DVDs and hard to get your head around plus there is the networking aspect on the client side that could involve different hardware at every site.

But we like the BrightSign workflow....except no Mac version so far....but we are pleading! It takes time to get it all set up and really have a handle how the boxes get new updates, but they are already making iPad apps to update daily content with a simple user interface etc.

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media Inc.
Video Production, Post, Studio Sound Stage
Founder/President/Editor/Designer/Animator
http://www.tiltmedia.com


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Ned Miller
Re: Digital signage? Anyone with expertise?
on Jul 3, 2014 at 2:30:46 pm
Last Edited By Ned Miller on Jul 3, 2014 at 2:31:44 pm

Todd,

I just did a search on LinkedIn for Groups and I typed Digital Signage. Many Groups came up. Seems like two dozen. Have her join several, it may take a couple of days to be admitted as a member, some are instant. Then post her technical questions and a bunch or pros will respond. Similar to CC. Some will offer their services for a consulting fee but there's many gurus who will advise for free.

Ned Miller
Chicago Videographer
http://www.nedmiller.com
www,bizvideo.com


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Richard Herd
Re: Digital signage? Anyone with expertise?
on Jul 3, 2014 at 4:56:03 pm
Last Edited By Richard Herd on Jul 3, 2014 at 4:57:42 pm

Almost always, this is the underlying tech http://scala.com/

You need some serious networking chops to get it running and publishing. But once it's up and running; very simple to maintain and schedule.


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Richard Herd
Re: Digital signage? Anyone with expertise?
on Jul 3, 2014 at 4:52:23 pm

Sorry I didn't see this before now.

I ran all the digital signage for Caesar's Entertainment in Northern Nevada from 2006 - 2010; four properties, dozens of screens, two servers, and so on...making all of the creative. It was a very fun job.

There is so much to say I don't even know where to begin, but here was my vendor: http://www.alphavideo.com/signage/ Talk to Lance Hutchinson, and tell him I said hi, please :)

He's really easy to find on Linked In and is super awesome. They have many packages and Lance knows about everything there is to know, with great service.


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Todd Terry
Re: Digital signage? Anyone with expertise?
on Jul 3, 2014 at 5:43:58 pm

Thanks... will pass all this along.

FORTUNATELY I'm just the go-between messenger and otherwise completely uninvolved with this project. The more I hear about it, the happier I am that I'm not in on it. It does indeed sound like one of the Clients from Hell stories.

Thanks all, and for those of us here in The Colonies, have a great July 4th. Remember... sparklers burn at 2,000°! Safety first!

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Cristina Sing
Re: Digital signage? Anyone with expertise?
on Oct 27, 2016 at 7:54:25 am

Hi Todd, it seems that your problem is basically the software. You mentioned that your better half is having a hard time dealing with the installed digital signage. I suggest you first contact the provider of the signage regarding the software, they should assign a technician to teach your better half how to use the software for the digital signage. However, if it turns out that they are of little help, you can go ahead and reach out to another provider, you can enquire if their software can be compatible with the already installed signages.

Digital Signage


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Todd Terry
Re: Digital signage? Anyone with expertise?
on Oct 27, 2016 at 2:15:51 pm

Thanks Cristina...

This is a very old post, though. The problem was solved and we haven't even heard from this client in more than two years. Which is probably a good thing.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Peter John
Re: Digital signage? Anyone with expertise?
on Nov 28, 2016 at 5:05:43 pm

Hi..i am new to digital marketing domain. I think screen Manufacturers own digital signage software is often a non profitable add on, and can only be operated in earnest by the programmer who made it. Unless that you are doing something very simple that does not need regular updating, forget it. However, EZsign does come with comprehensive promotional websites from LG and how to vidoes + templates.


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Todd Terry
Re: Digital signage? Anyone with expertise?
on Nov 28, 2016 at 5:35:14 pm

Curious as to why a brand-new COW member would respond to a dead two-year-old thread by simply posting nothing but a paragraph copied directly from Mads' earlier post??

At any rate this issue was long since resolved.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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