Okay! How to Create LG EZSign Templates!

Make a Custom Template for your LG EZSign system.

Make a Custom Template for your LG EZSign system.

Well, there have certainly been a lot of Google searches for this subject! For all of you sign designers who really want more control over the look (background) image of your LG EZSign 2.0 Software template selections, read on!

YES, you CAN create templates yourself. It is easy if you follow the tutorial outlined below, and start with one of the default templates in your LG EZSign Editor 2.0! As a sign designer, you already have all of the tools needed to execute this plan 🙂 And yes, if you want to make new templates to ADD to your collection for free, you can do that!

Here’s the process, and feel free to send an email if you need any clarifications. But I think this is pretty straightforward. As to why it works, it is simply because a .cts file is “calling out” the images. Don’t worry about programming language, just follow these steps:
LG EZSign Editor Screen 1
1) Open up your LG EZSign Program, and begin by selecting Make Content.

2) From the default templates that populate the next window, select a template based on the LAYOUT that you want. For my purposes, I am selecting a layout which does not include a large TV /Video zone. This one was for a dress shop, perhaps. Select a default LG EZSign  template for its layoutI am going to modify it to make it a travel theme for a photography safari.

Once you select a template that has the zones you desire, click “Next”.

This will show you the template and of course the text and images you can edit later. For now, we just want a project file we can safely change.

So, on the next screen, click the “Save LG_EZSign_Editor_save_your_template As” button. This will allow you to rename this file automatically, and save in the default folder assigned by the LG EZSign software.

LG_EZSign_Save_Your_Template

Make a note of this path- you will need it! Tip: Click any of the images in this blog to see a larger version.

Next step: Browse to this “saved content” folder and open up the current background images (there are two) to view and note their size. You should see dimensions of 1366px wide by 768px high. Also note the placement of any “boxes” or color blocks that became the background for a portion of text. Some templates also have a transparent block or zone for the TV display feed or video.

browse_to_LG_Content_FolderNote LG EZSign Template BackgroundsNote: There are always TWO background images for each template. This is because the screen will display the alternate background periodically to prevent “burn in” of the display. This is best practices! It also means you will likely want to modify TWO background images. I will show you one here.

Create or select a new image you want to use for the template background. Here’s my image with the elephants, courtesy of Pixabay.com, and to the left is the original background. old_template_new_custom_backgroundSave your new background with the same name as the old image, in the same folder. Basically, you have copied over the original, but don’t worry. The default template is still available in the library, as this folder is just your saved templates (duplicates with your edits).

LG Saved TemplatesOpen up your LG EZSign program again (it can be helpful to close when you have edited your content folder, to force the software to populate with the new images.) Click on “Recent Content” to find your new template. Click “Open” and select the template you named and saved at the start of this tutorial.

Don’t worry when you see the original thumbnail there with the old default background. Tutorial for Creating Custom LG EZSign Template backgrounds The file will automatically update with a new thumbnail after you preview the file. In many of these themes, there are two or more images that scroll or rotate through the playback of the sign. In my example, there are two image blocks, each of which features two images, for a total of four. Take a look and even replace the smaller jpg images that are part of the template. Those are simple to replace via the editor – just delete, click “+” plus sign to add a new image, browse to its location and insert.

Here’s what my work in progress looks like:

New Custom BackgroundNow I want to add something of a “header” where the grey bar was in the original background. See the image above. This is so that when the software editor places text in that location, there is a background that adds a little bit of definition.  I selected (again from Pixabay.com) a film strip image that I cropped to size, and nested into the top left corner of my elephant image. Again, I saved my new background with the same name, and opened in the EZSign editor. Voila! My new template is live! With just a few edits of text and color, I now have a custom Photographer’s Safari template for my LG EZSign system! (Of course, you will likely want to follow the same steps to make the second, alternate, background custom as well.) Here is the final result:

LG-EZSign_Custom_Template

Part 2: May Your Resolution Be Right

More fun with technology! If you are up to date, you have followed these posts for a while. Our Part 1 of this two-part series on resolution is very important if you plan to use the information provided here, so give it a good read.

Okay, ready?

HD Resolution (or Frame Size):

There are 2 standard HD video resolutions:  1280×720 and 1920×1080 (width x height).  Both are displayed in widescreen (16:9) image format and use square pixels (the tiny individual “dots” of color that collectively make up the full image).  In contrast, standard definition (SD) video is a single resolution of 720×480 (for NTSC), using different pixel aspect ratios (non-square) to create either widescreen (16:9) or standard (4:3) images.  The square pixel format yields a more consistent image on a variety of display types, whether it is a plasma screen, LCD, or LED TV (or computer monitor).

A third format exists, better known as HDV, that is common among consumer-oriented video cameras.  This format is 1440×1080, and uses a non-square pixel size to render a widescreen image.

 Now, factor in Progressive Scan (p) and Interlaced Scan (i) and entire world of bandwidth considerations comes into play. This post is just not big enough to cover the subject, so get the amazing Guide when you register to take the DSCE course. 

Here’s the scoop in a nutshell: In a perfect digital world, we could say that it would always be better to display full frames in a progressive scan format, since each frame is a complete picture … and since current technology is certainly capable of keeping up with huge amounts of bandwidth, why would there be a need to compromise?  Bandwidth is still an issue, however, especially in video transmitted over the Internet or through cellular service.  The other issue is that many consumer or “pro-sumer” video cameras can only record high-resolution (1920×1080) video in interlaced scan format, since the hardware can’t support the higher bandwidth required by progressive.  Don’t lose sleep over this – just use resources provided by your media house to guide in the right file rendering size.

The MP4/H.264/AVC format is capable of producing very high quality video in virtually any common resolution, including HD.  It has been almost universally adopted as the standard for streaming video … and HD video in general.  It is the preferred format for YouTube, Vimeo, and iTunes, and is the most common encoding method for commercial Blu Ray discs.  The H.264 codec can also be used to encode MOV files.  MP4 files can be played by the QuickTime Player on any Mac or Windows computer, the Windows Media Player on all Windows 7 based systems, and by most smart phones.  Most of the currently available digital signage systems are compatible, too … WooHoo!

Multi-tasking mp4For these reasons, we at LobbyPOP prefer to render final video as MP4 files, to ensure compatibility across the spectrum, whether it’s playing from a locally-controlled digital signage player, remotely controlled system, Blu Ray disc, or streaming via YouTube.  Of course, when the need arises, we can render in virtually any desired format … but generally speaking, an MP4 file will work for any computer or digital signage system. 

There are many further details that may be discussed in the future, such as the accompanying audio formats for video files, bitrates, encoding profiles, etc., but it is too much to cover in this installment.  Hopefully this crash course will help to gain an understanding of what HD video is all about.

For more: LobbyPOP provides an excellent Guide for LobbyPOP Pros and Digital Signage Certified Experts. Just sayin… 

 

Kiosk, You Ask?

We thank the Kiosk company for assisting with information on the subject of kiosks – a great product for many applications. KIOSK has many years of experience in working with customers to deploy small to medium to very large kiosk projects. They have found six factors to consider when choosing and deploying kiosks for your intended purpose. By no means is this list inclusive of everything -This is a summary of those six considerations:

1)  The Hardware Solution –

You want a kiosk that is build to ADA guidelines and UL specs. And you should choose a form and design that fits your environment, brand and size requirements. In addition, the enclosure and structure should be inviting. There is no reason in today’s market that you should sacrifice esthetics or durability. Every option imaginable is available!

2)  The Application –

Think about your experience when you check in at the airport. Your kiosk operation should be that simple! 2-3 buttons, a clear touchscreen, and simple graphic elements. Who will develop the content and application? You may be able to do that in-house, but there are several companies that do nothing but help companies develop applications, tie in with existing systems/databases and help remotely manage the kiosk.

3) Remote Monitoring/Reporting –

Without remote monitoring/reporting – how will you know what people are doing on the kiosk? Will you know if one of your 2500 screens is down? What about the screen saver- can it be updated to play store specials as they become available?

4) Service –

Think about the warranty, and who actually owns the hardware. If a service call is needed, do you need to outsource on-site maintenance where an outside tech will service the kiosk? You may want to keep spare parts on hand for common replacements.

5) The Kiosk Project –

What is the intended purpose of your kiosks? Decide on 2 or 3 priorities at least initially – you can always add on later. What does a good pilot program look like?  Number of stores? What types of stores?  What’s the budget for the pilot?  The MOST important part of the pilot is determining you success criteria.  What is the budget and who will own the kiosks? It may make sense to lease the hardware.

6) Employee Involvement –

Employees can sometimes feel intimidated or threatened by the kiosk. We’ve seen examples where a kiosk is placed in an existing environment without much employee involvement and the program will fail. 

So, in summary, a kiosk is a great tool and resource, useful for in-store surveys, product descriptions and applications, and guidance for customers. The most important moments in the life of the kiosk campaign are those before it is installed. When you think kiosk, think ASK – the questions above will help guide you to the right answers for you.

How About Color, Contrast and Brightness?

If you’ve been following our posts, you will know that CLEVR is a great acronym to remember when designing digital signage. CLEVR stands for Conspicuity, Legibility, Visibility and Readability – sound principles for those who design content for electronic digital signage. As we learned, these factors are weighted differently according to the application, whether it is a textbook, or a digital print sign, or dynamic signage.

We now want to tackle something that is less the purview of the content designer, and more the responsibility of the display specifier. When it comes to Color, Contrast, and Brightness, you should aim high – as in high contrast, high resolution, and great color rendering. What does this mean for your screens? Are there general rules to follow?  We have been following the plasma / LCD debate for years. One thing for certain is, there is no one right answer. We can, however, give you a decision tree to aid in your selection of screen type, and other features! Follow along here:

Plasma televisions were the first to really change the landscape of modern televisions. Providing large screens at depths fewer than 5 inches, they are easily hung on walls. Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) televisions operate by placing a bulb in the TV that generates light. The light is then passed through millions of red, green or blue liquid crystals where an electric current is applied to turn the colors on and off providing the correct color on the screen.

When comparing Plasma TVs vs LCD TVs we first see two advantages that Plasma TVs have over LCD. The biggest advantage is the size of the television. Plasma televisions can be well over 50 inches, currently as large as 103 inches. LCD TVs are normally less than 50 inches.

Additionally, Plasma should provide a slightly better viewing angle of about 90 degrees compared to the an LCD of about 60 degrees. If you have a wide room that requires viewing the television from areas that are not centered in front of the TV, either of these options will work.

LCD televisions have one advantage over Plasma displays — they are bright, making them an excellent choice for areas where you cannot limit the lighting. The more expensive LCD televisions now have very good response times that are comparable to the other technologies. However the lower end LCD televisions do not. Look for response times below 12 milliseconds with the better TVs around 6-8 milliseconds. Anything higher then 12 milliseconds, you may want to think twice if you are going to watch action video.

Plasmas can be susceptible to the “Burn In” effect. The Burn in effect is what happens when an outline of an image remains on the screen even after the image is gone. This can happen when you have the same shape on a screen for long periods of time. Screens that display the same thing often like stock tickers can cause this. In most cases this will not impact users. And some of the new Plasma televisions have what is called white wash to clear the Burn In, but using this can decrease the life of the Plasma. Today, plasma screens can offer extremely long life – in commercial units – and non-glare surfaces. LobbyPOP professionals offer these advanced features in the units they sell.

So, now why haven’t we yet discussed brightness and color, and contrast (difference between the darkest dark and lightest white), clarity (clean lines, not jagged, around images), etc. Reason for this omission is that the difference in these areas depends on the price and manufacturer of the television, more than on the display technology. Both plasma and LCD perform well in these areas, though you will find the high-end qualities at a better price in the plasma product line – especially when it comes to contrast ratios. Bottom line is that both technologies make for excellent televisions.

There are some differences, which may lead you to one or the other for client digital signage locations, and the Plasma verses LCD decision diagram below should help with those differences.

Plasma vs LCD for Digital Signage - LobbyPOP Blog
Decision Tree for Dynamic Signage Display Selection

Imagery is Worth a Thousand Milliseconds

From Wikipedia: A millisecond (from milli- and second; abbreviation: ms) is a thousandth (1/1,000) of a second.[1]

When we look at dynamic digital signage, it is vitally important that we know the standards when it comes to frames per second in the world of A/V. To create the illusion of motion, video (just as with film movies) consists of a series of images displayed in rapid succession.  Each single image is referred to as a Frame.  The number of frames displayed per second is the Frame Rate.  Ranging from 24 Frames Per Second (FPS) to more than 60, each video rendering standard has a purpose and appropriate set of applications. This is a long subject for a later post.

What is important to know is that the images on your digital display, especially those incorporating “motion” and transforming from one context to another, are relaying far more information than any set of words could ever reproduce. Why is this? It is closely linked to the nature of the left and right hemispheres of our brains.

The main theme to emerge… is that there appear to be two modes of thinking, verbal and nonverbal, represented rather separately in left and right hemispheres respectively and that our education system, … and modern society discriminate against the right hemisphere. –Roger Sperry (1973) 

 “… now that computers can emulate many of the sequential skills of the brain’s left hemisphere – the part that sees the individual trees in a forest –… it’s time for our imaginative right brain, which sees the entire forest all at once, to take center stage.”  – Dan Pink, NY Times, April 6, 2008, “Let Computers Compute. It’s the Age of the Right Brain”

You might say that we have entered the Age of Dynamic Digital Signage. Each of us, you, me, our audience, all have the capacity to absorb untold millions of bits of information in one gulp, so to speak, via our Right Brain attributes, as we look at an image, a scene, or a face. The Left Brain, on the other hand – the younger, less primal brain – needs to immediatly judge and sort, pocketing bits of data and filing each into a mental file folder based on its qualities. This entire subject comprises the material of tomes, millions of pages of research devoted to the amazing conversation and unique languages of the left and right brains.

All you need to know is that pictures really do convey a thousand words. What a boon for digital signage! The medium that is best able to convey mood, feeling, subliminal connection, brand building, and appeal to the senses is electronic digital signage! Combine music, the engaging montage of images in support of a product message, and you are finally able to hold attention, lift sales and build your brand’s appeal.

…“The era of ‘left brain’ dominance—and the Information Age it engendered —Is giving way to a new world in which ‘right brain’ qualities— inventiveness, empathy, meaning— will govern.” —Dan Pink, A Whole New Mind.

 Building Brands with Digital SignageInventiveness… empathy… meaning. These are qualities that should be imbued within your digital content design. LobbyPOP is gifted with a talented team of dedicated and creative humans who use technology – audio and visual elements – to create powerful messaging that goes far beyond what digital print alone could ever achieve. You are invited to visit the LobbyPOP YouTube channel to experience some of the magic.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”  — Albert Einstein

Next post: How About Color, Contrast and Brightness?

 

Part 4: CLEVR Readability for Dynamic Digital Signs

If you are following this series, you know we are talking about the science behind good sign design, and how this applies to digital sign content as well. In our first post, we reviewed content considerations as  a whole. This brought us to Part 1, CLEVR acronym for Conspicuity, Legibility, Visibility and Readability. We reviewed Conspicuity and what it means in the application called Dynamic Signage. Part 2 discussed Legibility, and how this relates to dynamic content for digital sign systems. Visibility and a great tip for improved dynamic signage was presented in Part 3. If you haven’t read up on the premise, do so with the links above.

And now, to complete the series, Readability is our subject today!

A readable display allows people to quickly and accurately recognize and understand information, in particular, alphanumeric characters. The message should be clear and unambiguous. In traditional sign design, a few words to convey important information is all that is required. The same can be applied to dynamic signage. Again, these displays are not television. It is not a seated audience, for the most part, watching the screen with no other distractions. In an ideal world, there would be nothing but the screen. In reality, there is likely to be other signage, noise, people milling around, and multiple distractions. The dynamic display message, therefore, should be built much like static signage.

This means the concept of readability takes on great importance. If you have only a few minutes to engage your viewer, you should make certain your message is readable – that the message is conveyed quickly and clearly. While we love our HD content, LobbyPOP always includes on-screen text and clear voice-over in bite-sized chunks to assure no part of the message is obscured or lost. Text is often white with a pin-line outline, to assure it shows clearly on any motion background.

Dynamic Signage displays are alphanumeric displays, using letters and numbers, along with graphic images and sound, to convey messages. The contrast ratio for the characters is an important element in readabiliy and legibility.

ReadabilityIn their book, Human Factors in Simple and Complex Systems, Robert W. Proctor, Trisha Van Zandt explain that under optimal conditions, for black text on a white background, the font stock width-to-height ratio is ideally 1:6 to 1:8. For white characters on a black field, the optimal ratio is 1:8 to 1:10. Thinner lines for white on black images are required because of a phenomenon called radiation or sparkle. This is where the light color “bleeds” together due to the contrast -the eye’s reaction.

Keeping the core message concise, and the entire message in a ten to fifteen second clip, is a good rule of thumb. This does not mean that a 30-second spot is not desirable. On the contrary, the core message can be emphasized and repeated in ways that assure readability and recognition. This is the heart of all advertising: Repetition. So whereas traditional static signs can be read several times over in the space of a few seconds, thereby assuring a point is communicated, a dynamic sign can enhance this and “force” repetition upon the viewer by repeating the same points in slightly different ways, with supporting information in concert, much like bullet points in a presentation. 

How many words? How much information per minute? We have validated that seven words or less for the core messaging, and up to eight supporting messages within a 60-second spot can be read and comprehended.  So go forth and multiply your advertising!

Next post: The Power of Imagery – why this is in the wheelhouse of dynamic digital signage!

Part 3: CLEVR Visibility for Digital Content Design

If you are following this series, you know we are talking about the science behind good sign design, and how this applies to digital sign content as well. In our first post, we reviewed content considerations as  a whole. This brought us to Part 1, CLEVR acronym for Conspicuity, Legibility, Visibility and Readability. We reviewed Conspicuity and what it means in the application called Dynamic Signage. Part 2 discussed Legibility, and how this relates to dynamic content for digital sign systems. If you haven’t read up on the premise, do so with the links above.

Today we are examining Visibility, one of the key elements guiding good sign placement and design. This is perhaps one of the most overlooked factors in digital sign system development. As we create stunning graphics, clever messaging, and build meaningful news and live feeds into our dynamic signage, then make sure our sign is conspicuously placed in its new location, we are not looking at visibility the way that traditional sign professionals do.

Visibility is characterized much as you would expect: It is the aspect of “being visible” period. When a sign first becomes visible, you may not yet be able to read or hear the content. You can see the screen flickering in that bright blue fashion indicating an exciting message. With on-premise signage, you can see the illuminated beacon of the Golden Arches in time to cut across three lanes and safely grab a burger. Back a block or two, you couldn’t read the daily specials – all that mattered at that distance was that the sign was visible.

Too often, digital sign screens are placed where you can’t see them until you enter the immediate zone in which they are displayed. This may be appropriate where a touchscreen is used, for instance, to determine the right mattress to purchase, as you stand in the bedding department of the box store. But when signs are to be used for creating awareness of products, guiding shoppers through your facility, or for advising of coming events, these displays are often a few feet lower than they should be. This is likely a phenomenon that comes from the deep hold that our living room television has on society. It is hard to separate digital signage from television, at least in our minds. We are conditioned to expect the screen to be at eye level.

Making Signs VisibleWhat eye-level means for a digital display is that the dress racks, or the cubicle walls, or simply masses of people are blocking visibility of the screens. By installing the screens overhead, instead of at eye level, we achieve maximum reach, better engagement, and more attention. This is the Visibility Factor that LobbyPOP classes address.

For a good example, think of airport signs that show your gate, and your luggage carousels.  These are overhead, visible from far down the corridor.  Want to do a better job with dynamic digital signage? Consider installing more of these screens six feet or higher. Might mean a larger screen is in order, but is that really such a bad thing?

Next and final post in this series: Readability! CLEVR!