High Quality, Cost Effective Digital Signage

We recently updated our digital signage at HPUMC.   I asked the two team members I work with (Big Props to Dexter and Ryan) who implemented our new solution to walk us through the process.  I’ll include the design process in this post, and link to the back end process.  Check the end of Dexter’s information for the link to Ryan’s explanation of the scripting for xml.

History

  • We have been using a proprietary system that included a server housed on-site, and required pretty pricey tech support for design / layout changes.
  • Our event scheduling system will output an xml feed, but they changed they way they did that, and it was a very cumbersome process to get an xml file containing our parsed data into our signage.
  • We needed an easy to use and inexpensive system to handle our signage needs.

Here’s an explanation of our process from Dexter Evans, our video producer:

Digital Signage for the Masses

THE GOAL
For the past three years we have been using a third party to help provide signage to our distributed televisions in the church. The recurring problem we had with this option was the amount of money being put in for this and level of difficulty to keep it maintained.
So we laid out a goal of finding something that would play our calendaring system (eventu), cheap, easy to maintain, and available for any platform.

THE BEGINNING

About three months ago we stumbled upon Eric Granata and his awesome vision for Digital Signage for cheap. Working in the church world the word cheap strikes the finest of tunes when looking for an option. So with a couple of emails and some phone calls with Eric his knowledge was passed on and I started running.

Let me give you a heads up on my knowledge of flash and digital signage; it doesn’t exist. So when I say I started running I meant to say I was an elephant running through molasses.

THE NEEDS

Here is what we needed for making this Signage a reality:

  • Flash Professional (to build and edit the signage)
  • Flash Player (a free download from Adobe)
  • Arsa’s Flash News Ticker Component ($50.00)
  • Slideshow Director ($60.00 and we are letting them host us also ($80.00/yr))
  • One computer w/ desired output needed (we are using both a mac mini and a dell hybrid)
  • Feedweaver (Free- we used this to display multiple rss feeds, weather, news on the lower feed in flash)
  • Scripting for Automation (“Free” (with some help Ryan Overton)

Realistically this can all be achieved for an upfront payment of under $1000 but if you have the computer and flash already it can be done for under $300

THE WORK
After a quick learning curve for flash this was all about selecting and adding the embed coding for the three needed areas.

The original file sent by Eric Granata of what he did at his church for signage

An enlarged view of the top area that when selected in flash points to the XML files.

An enlarged view of the bottom area that when selected in flash points to the XML files.

An enlarged view of the area used for slideshow pro

When embedding slideshow it was as simple as copying and pasting XML link given by slideshow into the XML file path


With all these components in place and working I added the design touch to make it our own.

A finished product keeping with a high contrast colors and a little texture to make it stick out more it is now ready for output and distribution

A snapshot of one of our monitors displaying the finished product

THE CONCLUSION
This is just a snapshot of my side of everything is made to the certain point were I handed it off to Ryan Overton and he made the automation of our calendaring system (eventu) to take a file from the Internet and turn it into a XML file were it works with the finished product (click here to see how he did it).
Eric on the other hand uses google calendar for his event list and it is much simpler than our eventu process (for more information click here).

On a side note all of us our more than willing to help with making your church/non-profit get a solution for digital signage. If you are indeed interested in making this a reality find me on twitter @dexdexterdex …

>Dex

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3 responses to “High Quality, Cost Effective Digital Signage

  1. Actually, for more details on how our signage solution works with Google Calendar, check this post: http://churchtechdump.com/post/334835206/roll-your-own-digital-signage-2-0

    The article linked to in your post is much older and shows a different solution running on a 1st Gen AppleTV.

    Also, your readers may be interested to know that tomorrow at 1:00 pm CST, MinistryCOM is hosting a webcast with myself and our DOC, Jeff Wilson. We’ll be talking about the solution as well as the work you guys did at HPUMC. Webcast will be here: http://ministrycom.org/live/

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