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

The Display Wars are Over… Sort Of

Remember back in early 2010 when we compared Plasma screens and LCD display technology? Well, that post covered a lot of ground, and the decision-tree is still a valid and great tool. But now we have a third horse in the race, and it looks like a triple-crown winner… if price is no object. LED-lit LCD screens are almost perfect.

The difference between plasma and LCD wavered for some time, with each offering different economic and visual benefits depending on the model, price, and time in the life cycle of HDTVs. But in the past couple of years, with the advent of increasingly sophisticated LED backlighting, we finally have a true winner. With its unmatched energy efficiency, LED-based LCD is the best flat-panel HDTV technology. Unfortunately, it’s also generally the most expensive. — CNET Technologies, June 2011

Okay all you traditional (digital print, routing, illuminated channel letter) sign professionals, here’s something you are familiar with: Cold Cathode and LED. Yup. It’s here, too, in dynamic digital signage. Traditional LCD HDTVs use cold cathode fluorescent lights (CCFLs) to illuminate the screen. CCFLs are similar to the fluorescent lights you might see in your lamps and overhead light fixtures. They use a charged gas to produce light. LED-LCD screens, like their name implies, use light emitting diodes (LEDs) to illuminate the display.

LED LCD BrightSo what are the advantages when it comes to digital signs? Well, as you might have guessed, LED-LCD is thinner, brighter, and the contrast ratios are out of this world.

For this advantage, LED HDTVs command a premium; for all major HDTV manufacturers, LED-backlit HDTVs can cost a few hundred dollars more than CCFL-backlit HDTVs of the same size. Generally, plasma HDTVs tend to be the least expensive, priced at equal to or slightly less than CCFL-backlit HDTVs. However, that savings means the screen will be thicker and much more power-hungry, even if it does offer as good a picture as an LED-backlit HDTV.

How good the picture looks, especially if you’re a videophile or a cinema fanatic, is the most vital aspect of any HDTV. Specifically, peak white and black levels determine how detailed a picture can look on a screen. Historically, plasma HDTVs have produced the best black levels, but the domination of plasma in this field, however, is over. The current PC Magazine Editors’ Choice HDTV, the LED-based LG Infinia 47LW5600, puts out only 0.01 cd/m2, the best level we can measure.  Of course it’s an LG – one of LobbyPOP’s favorite brands!

So, you if you recall that decision tree of our LCD-Plasma comparison post, then consider this your update. If energy consumption is important, you will be looking at LCD, of one kind or another. If price is most important, you will be looking at plasma for the larger sizes. If quality, however, is your mantra, and price is no object, then the new LED-LCD screens will be your pick. But always, always, always choose a commercial screen and NOT a consumer model for your sign systems.

It bears more than a mention here: Commercial screens have what it takes to get the job done, vs consumer screens that pale in comparison.

The main differences are:

  • Commercial units have MORE modes of Video/Picture selection.
  • Commercial units have “Adaptive Picture Mode” and consumer units does not.
  • Commercial units allow for PC inputs, which few consumer models offer.
  • Commercial units have more Decorder formats.
  • Commercial unit has actual HDMI in with HDCP. Most consumer units have HDMI  In, as DVI with Adapter.   This is a pretty big difference.
  • Often, commercial units have separate antenna in and separate cable in (more versatility).  The consumer units usually have a single antenna/cable input.
  • Commercial units come with a two- or three-year warranty on-site. If you use a consumer model for a commercial sign application, you void the warranty.
  • Commercial models have heat management systems to accommodate continuous operation. Consumer models are not built for 24-hour operation.

Well, you get the picture! (Pun intended 😉 )

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!

Part 1: CLEVR is a Clever Acronym for Digital Design

We mentioned in our previous post that sign industry professionals use the science of signs when creating a communications vehicle for their clients. These same principles should be applied to your dynamic digital content as well. The four considerations are known as Conspicuity, Legibility, Visibility and Readability. We like an acronym to help recall these four design factors: CLEVR. It really is more than clever 😉

Just what are these four factors, when you analyze them?  Today’s post gives you a framework for understanding these principles, as we tackle each one in this blog series.

For communication to take place, a message must be conveyed. Just like speech, or signing, a physical sign exists to communicate a message. This is considered commercial speech. Let’s look at Conspicuity!

Lake in ForestIf you were to shout out a math answer in a forest, a teacher thousands of miles away will never know you had the right answer- this relates to “visibility.” If you were standing in front of the professor, and then relayed the test answer with a language you made up that morning, the professor will still not know if you answered correctly or not. This relates to “readability” in the typographic world. If you are speaking clearly, but at a low volume while a jet passes overhead at 120 decibels, your voice will not stand out. This is akin to a sign that is not conspicuous.

The same policies holds true for dynamic digital signs: Your sign’s message must be noticed, and then, it must clearly communicate. This entails conspicuity, legibility, visibility, and readability.  For the sign industry, “conspicuity and readability” have become synonymous with sufficiency in size, height, placement, and illumination to allow the message to be seen, read and comprehended.

Today we’ll focus on Conspicuity (no pun intended!). Conspicuity is the “quality of a character or symbol that makes it separately visible from its surroundings” (Sanders and McCormick, 1993). Typographic research on conspicuity has mostly been concerned with the effect of underlining, change of typesize and so on, using eye-movement and comprehensibility measurements.

A sign placed in an empty room may meet all the criteria for visibility, legibility (letters and/or graphics can be easily differentiated), and readability (the legend in totality conveys a meaningful or understandable message to the viewer.). Now, place that same sign in the urban environment, where it competes visually with other signs, telephone poles, street lights, bus shelters, flags, banners, and right-of-way landscaping, it can be essentially invisible.  In other words, conspicuity has to do with the context in which the sign appears. 

In the case of dynamic digital signage, often though not always seen indoors, the unit placed on a wall or kiosk is not going to find too much competition for attention in its natural environment. With its internal illumination, and motion aptitude, the dynamic sign is unlikely to suffer from inconspicuousness.  

It should be easy to understand, therefore, that CLEVR is evaluated according to the application.  Within a textbook, for example, conspicuous text is not the aim. Legible and readable content is of great importance. The CLEVR science, according to the criteria of legibility, readability, and conspicuity, will be reviewed here with interior dynamic digital content application in mind.

Next posting: Let’s look at Legibility (no pun intended!)