The Buzz: Installation Spotlight: News Signage
Jun 9, 2009 12:00 PM, Staff Report
Newseum, Washington, D.C.
The network manager and 29 media players reside in the central equipment room (CER) with the rest of the infrastructure equipment, including video-distribution amplifiers from Thinklogical and a Peavey MediaMatrix Nion for audio routing and digital signal processing.
The InfoCaster systems comprise three equipment racks, with the routing, distribution, and signal processing equipment populating a fourth rack. Content is typically scheduled one to three weeks in advance, depending on the target audience. The displays on the public floors traditionally complement exhibits or serve as promotional tools for the food court and store, meaning that displays change rapidly and content is scheduled much closer to the born-on date. Upstairs on the conference levels, content can be scheduled several weeks in advance of meetings, often serving as welcome messages for external companies that book onsite conference and events. Video is often repurposed from main floor displays.
All scheduled content is delivered to the network manager in the CER and transferred to the appropriate media player just before going live. The players output DVI video and connect to DVI extenders within the Thinklogical distribution amplifiers. The DVI signals are converted to light and distributed over fiber to the assigned display screens where the signal is converted back to DVI for image generation on any of the 31 42in. Toshiba or six 24in. Samsung displays. The 42in. signs are 1920x1080 progressive, which refreshes HD images at 60 times per second for premium video quality.
Audio is treated as a separate entity from the signage, as is the distribution. When audio is used to complement an exhibit, a Peavey MediaMatrix Nion distributes audio from the CER over CobraNet to Dakota Audio loudspeakers that reside inside the display mounts. The directional mini-arrays give the Newseum engineering team flexibility on where to direct sound, which O’Connor says is critical to remaining unobtrusive.
“We’re very careful with how we use audio,” O’Connor says. “We don’t need a commercial coming out of nowhere in the middle of a Lincoln exhibit. The audio is equalized and routed within and from the Nion MediaMatrix, and there are amplifiers colocated with each speaker. The Dakotas are directional arrays that limit the audio to a tightly contained area and maintain the fidelity we need.”
The overall point of the signage network is to inform and entertain visitors while maintaining that consistent look and feel across the network. Operators laying out the pages take advantage of branding tools within the InfoCaster platform to create a similar background, using certain color schemes, fonts, and graphical elements for Newseum channel branding.
“One of the great things about InfoCaster is they can just drop the content directly into the appropriate regions of the display,” says Wil Conklin, director of sales at Noventri. “If the operators import videos, they just time out the sequence and then push it over to the network manager and players. They also use the TitleMotion capability within the InfoCaster software to create the titling and text animations for the signage.”
Noventri created a consistent signage environment around the public floors by installing the majority of the displays in portrait format, meaning the screens project at a greater height. Only five screens are installed in traditional landscape format for horizontal, TV-like viewing. These screens are situated above the two broadcast studios, and they often display live content that bypasses InfoCaster via a broadcast routing switcher.
“The entire network is very attention-grabbing, and Noventri did an outstanding job bringing all the signage elements together,” O’Connor says. “This has been a very organic process, and we’re still learning how to drive the bus. Very few companies have a department of digital signage, just as very few had dedicated web departments a decade ago. It will be interesting to watch everything evolve.”
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