Audio-Visual Needs for Houses of Worship

What does a house of worship need in order to maintain its relevance and secure its future? One major answer lies in the presentation of services and how they connect to the congregation. It used to be that new technology was seen as inappropriate for houses of worship, however, the outside world is increasingly throwing that philosophy to the curb. People have become accustomed to high-quality audio and visual presentations in most facets of their lives – at home with their entertainment systems, at work with projects and presentations, even at the grocery store self-checkout screen. So why should their religious experience be any different? In demand are churches and other houses of worship in which the choir can be clearly heard, the sound is mixed at a professional level, and the lighting evokes the right atmosphere for the service.

Audio

Arguably the most important piece of equipment in the house of worship, a quality audio system is critical to ensure that every word and note is heard from speakers, singers, and musicians. Zeo Systems has extensive options and designs to make the sound perfect even in large and spacious or small and cozy halls.

Video

It is nearly a requirement to install large screens with live video capabilities for very large houses of worship. Congregations want to be able to see and connect with the speaker and witness, as well as hear, the emotions in his or her voice. Zeo Systems’ video experts take into consideration the needs of the building and the congregation and can install screens in accord with existing or future audio and lighting designs.

Lighting

Proper lighting can evoke atmosphere in the building and also bring out emotion in the congregation. Lighting can be installed pre-programmed in a way that highlights predefined areas like pulpits and sitting areas. Lighting can also automatically adjust for other ceremonies like weddings and funerals. One of our main goals in a house of worship is to make all audio-visual equipment practically invisible, and our technicians pride themselves on performing this step of the installation process.

Zeo Systems is available to do house of worship audio-visual installations throughout the Northeast, focusing on the region of Greater Philadelphia. To speak with a technician, please call (215) 956-0328.

Explaining Microphones and Their Uses

As if by magic, cardioid microphones can pick up what they are aimed at, but reject sounds to the side and rear.

For example, talk into a cardioid mic from all sides while listening to its output. Your reproduced voice will be loudest when you talk into the front of the mic and softest when you talk into the rear.

Because they discriminate against sounds to the sides and rear, cardioid designs help reject unwanted sounds such as room acoustics (reverberation), feedback or leakage. For this reason, they’re the most popular microphone choice.

How do they work? In other words, how do you make a mic directional?

Start by making it omnidirectional. Take a mic transducer, made of a diaphragm and some hardware that changes diaphragm motion into a signal.

Then put this transducer in the end of a sealed can, so that incoming sound contacts the diaphragm only on its front surface.

Sound from the front presses on the front of the diaphragm and makes a signal. Sound from the side or rear bends around to the front of the mic.

This sound also presses on the front of the diaphragm and makes a signal. So the mic responds the same to sounds from all directions. In other words, it has an omnidirectional polar pattern (“omni” means “all”).

Note that the omni mic becomes directional at high frequencies. That’s because the mic housing blocks high frequencies that arrive off-axis.

Now suppose we put some holes in the can behind the diaphragm. We carefully size these holes and add acoustic damping such as felt or foam to create an acoustic phase-shift network.

Some of the sound wave travels to the front of the diaphragm, outside the mic. The sound travel time, from the rear port location to the front, we will call T.

Some sound also enters the rear ports and is delayed. If the delay inside the mic is set the same as the delay outside the mic, sounds arrive at the front and rear of the diaphragm at the same time, in phase.

Sounds push on opposite sides of the diaphragm, also in phase. The diaphragm cannot move, so sounds from the rear make a very weak signal. Rear sounds cancel out. You have created a cardioid polar pattern.

Sounds coming from the front do not cancel out. Why? Frontal sound waves travel to the rear ports during time T. Inside the mic, the phase-shift network further delays the sound by time T. The total delay is 2T. Since there is a big delay or phase shift between the signals at the diaphragm’s front and rear, a frontal sound makes a strong signal.

High frequencies do not reach the rear of the diaphragm because they are filtered out by the rear port’s RLC filter. The cardioid mic is directional at high frequencies because its housing blocks high frequencies off-axis.

How about a bi-directional ribbon mic? The ribbon is fully open to sound on its front and rear. Sounds from the front and rear experience a phase shift as they travel around the ribbon, so you get an output signal.

But sounds from the side press equally on the front and rear of the ribbon, in phase. The ribbon cannot move, so you get a weak output from side sounds.

By changing the delay of the rear ports, you can get almost any pattern between bidirectional and cardioid, such as supercardioid or hypercardioid. Each of these two patterns has a rear lobe that is in opposite polarity with the front lobe.

There’s a lot to know about microphones. For more information, please visit us at ZeoProductions.net.

Finding the Right Audio-Visual Professional

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The quality of sound in your house of worship is relative to the quality of your services. Having the right connection gin the audio-visual industry is crucial, and most houses of worship have strong business relationships with an audio-visual integrator who knows your system and works to refine your sound capabilities.
If you’re looking for an audio-visual professional, finding the right one can be and daunting task. Where do you meet someone in the industry? And who can you trust to do quality work at honest prices? This checklist will hopefully give you some of the answers you need:

1. Check and Verify Your Contractor’s License
In order to install sound systems, various states require low-voltage licenses. The first step you should take is to check with your state’s commerce department and verify that your prospective contractor’s license is in good standing. Simply perform a web search for “State Commerce Dept. of [your state].”
2. Networking
Ask officials at other venues and houses of worship who installed their audio systems and if there is anyone they would recommend. Local businesses and schools would also be good resources for finding a recommended professional.
3. Phone Test
Once you’ve gathered some names of reputable audio-visual professionals. Give them a call. Do they answer right away or return your voice mail within a short amount of time? Do they take the time to explain their services to you over the phone or in a thoughtful email? Every house of worship is different and each audio-visual job is therefore customized. A professional who shows you’re a personal touch in communicating is more likely to show that same personal touch in his audio-visual work.
4. Check their Credentials
After contacting your list of professionals, ask the following questions: Do any of the candidates hold certifications in A/V technology? Do they attend industry trade shows on a regular basis (every 2-3 years is a good start)? How long have they been in business? Do their references check out?
5. Get Some Quotes
Ask each company to quote some church sound systems on your wish list. Do they provide a detailed, itemized quote or is it just a dollar figure? Pricing opens up another complex conversation, but let’s keep it simple: Is this local professional offering more value than an Internet wholesaler? In most cases, he/she will see the sale through and make sure the product is being used properly, and a slightly higher price for the aforementioned personal touch is worth the investment in the long run.
6. Do You Work Well Together?
Finally, ask yourself if the audio/video integrator will work well with you and the other leadership at the church. Again, personality can go a long way.
To carry your message, you must build from a healthy foundation and that includes a good relationship with your A/V specialist. Work on building one today and you’re well on your way to the best sound system for your church.

Building Your Church’s Audio-Visual Team

Assembling a team of audio and visual technicians for a small church can be quite the challenge. Usually most technicians are volunteers, there is not much feedback until something goes wrong, and the team experiences a lot of turnover. Below are some strategies designed to assemble and retain a team of talented church audio and visual technicians.

Dealing with volunteers who have gone through training or who are going through training to become paid technicians is a good place to start. Their volunteer work at your church presents the possibility of community networking and securing opportunities for their careers.

Vision/Expectations: When meeting with new volunteers, be sure to communicate your goals, vision, and commitment requirements. If you and a volunteer come to an agreement for moving forward, you should place them on a one-month trial period for orientation and training. After the completion of this trial period, you should meet with the volunteer to review progress and decide whether or not to keep them on your team.

Team Structure: Rely on structure and empower your team leader to oversee all aspects of your audio-visual capabilities and presentation. Your team leader is responsible for orientation and training while reporting to the Technical Director. Depending on the amount of equipment your church needs, scheduling your team in rotating shifts might be the best way to keep organized and spread out the workload. Make sure that volunteers have enough responsibility to be truly involved with their work, but not too much as to burn them out. A good rule of thumb is to have volunteers serve two to three times per month.

Training: A good team is built with passionate people who want to be part of the organization, and proper training allows you to highlight these people. Pairing new volunteers with experienced veterans for the trial period allows for observation and then actual practice. The final step in training should be to allow the trainee to teach a lesson to someone else, as teaching reinforces learning and existing knowledge.

Community: Community is vital and monthly community nights can serve to build professional relationships between paid and volunteer personnel as well as those outside the church audio-visual team. Having a sense of belonging to a team unites people in your ministry. People recognize the value of being included and the value having a leader whom they can approach. Building relationships with your team gives you personal and professional leverage.

A Quick History of Live Sound Systems

Amplified sound for live music and events did not come about from a demand for fidelity. Traditionally, promoters thought of lighting and image as having priority over sound quality, and sound budgets were often 10% or less of the of the full cost of the production. (Indeed, even today’s audiences go to see their favorite performers.)
With the births of the electric guitar, amplifier, and rock n roll within a fifteen year window in the mid-twentieth century, a perfect storm conspired to allow the younger generation to unleash loud music upon the world. As sound system design was still in its infancy, most available amplifiers were not powerful enough to handle the loud volumes being blasted through them, quickly distorting the sound – exactly what the rock musicians of the 1960s wanted. Promoters then learned that audiences will come to a concert even if they can’t hear the performance, (and as long as the headliner as a big enough name.) Case in point was The Beatles’ 1964 world tour. The band played mainly through small 12” house PA speakers driven by 100 Watt amps. This set up was easily drowned out by the screaming audience and helped to turn the band away from live performances.
As The Beatles had encountered, most PA systems in the 1960s were comprised of stacks of 12” speakers. Because of the heavy rotation of bands, most venues only had two 4×12 speaker stacks on the stage. The speakers themselves were the product of the more conservative, softer 1940s and 50s music trends. The speakers had been designed for country, gospel, and jazz; not the hard-driving sound of rock n roll. Indeed some manufacturers were so anti-rock n roll that they would void warranties on equipment that had been run at full power or threaten to sever dealership lines with retailers who catered to rock musicians. But by the late 1960s, successful rock n roll bands kept attracting larger and larger audiences, prompting manufacturers to develop larger audio systems.
The result was two differing schools of though and audio design. The first was the line-source PA system which consists of large speaker columns placed throughout an arena and directed straight at the audience. The philosophy behind this setup was for all members of the audience to be able to hear the music at the same volume throughout the venue. This sacrificed dynamic fidelity and realism, failing to reflect the true sound production happening on stage while allowing the entire audience to hear equivalently in large environments. An alternative philosophy developed and placed emphasis on dynamic fidelity and clarity by amplifying each individual instrument and voice through separate sound systems. This setup required huge walls of speakers to share the stage with the band, and while great clarity could be achieved, inexperienced roadies were notorious for misaiming the speakers, causing jumbled sound.
Audio systems began to migrate from the floor to the ceiling by the 1980s in the form of ceiling clusters, allowing for more floor space for staging and allowing for greater fidelity because the sound comes from a single source. The result was a scaling down in size for onstage instrument amplifiers and an increased complexity for onstage monitor speakers.
By the 1990s, the development of larger, more powerful line-source speakers allowed promoters to book ever larger events. Originally, line-source speaker systems were confined to small stacks that had to be placed in many locations around the venue. They were also highly inefficient and were barely used outside of live concerts. Other media venues, such as movie theaters, had viewed line-source speakers as unacceptable and instead favored carefully designed and calibrated horn systems. However, the growth of larger, cheaper power combined with improved rigging technology, line-source speaker systems became dominant in providing audio to large venues while increasing sound fidelity.
Constant improvements and innovations to designs and techniques are bringing us into a new age of audio technology. Larger and clearer sound systems are now used for festivals teeming with audiences ranging into the hundreds of thousands. As the live music and events industry continues its evolution, Zeo Systems will stand prepared to deliver the latest technological advancements in audio to our clients.

3D

3D
Carol R. Emmens

3D was patented as early as the 1890’s but the early movies were not very good and the need to wear 3D glasses limited their success. For decades, movies shown in 3D have been in and out of vogue. They reached their golden age in the 50’s with movies like “It Came from Outer Space.”

Then they faded in popularity until the 1980’s when they were in favor again but only for a short while. In 2009 they aroused new interest when the 3D blockbuster movie science fiction movie “Avatar” premiered to critical acclaim and enormous box office success.

The 3D in movie theaters is one type; there are additional types of 3D for the home, corporate and educational markets and a variety of 3D projectors, televisions, cameras, and 3D-Ready equipment.

For film fans, it is possible to watch 3D movies at home but the true benefits of 3D are in education and business. 3D is finding its way into K-12 classrooms as well as in college and university lecture halls; for example, 3D is used in history, geography and archeology classes to views the ruins of ancient Greece in depth. In science classes throughout the US students are in awe as they don their 3D glasses to study lessons on topics such as the galaxy.

Generally, K-12 students learn faster, achieve higher test scores and accept 3D technology faster than adults. When teachers see the results of using 3D they become less apprehensive about it. Anecdotally teachers have reported that students with ADHD are more attentive and learn faster when 3D materials were used instead of traditional video.
In the fields of science and medicine 3D is extremely useful. Medical students use 3D to view human dissection and it helps them understand the body more easily than from a 2D image so donning the glasses is not a problem. Companies such as Cyber-Anatomy are developing and distributing curriculum materials and more and more companies are planning to do the same.
Many teachers and professors create their own videos. Using a dual-lens camera, it is possible to shoot in 3D as the lenses record two videos at the same time. Video-editing software programs that can handle 3D are available but note that they are not universal.
In business there are hundreds if not thousands of uses for 3D; for example, architects, designers and engineers use 3D CAD to design their projects and it eliminates the necessity of making physical models.

3D is associated with entertainment but it is much, much more and the use of 3D grows daily as the cost of equipment comes down and the amount of content on the market goes up.

There are 3D caveats. If you plan to buy or rent 3D equipment, keep in mind that an inexpensive DLP 3D-ready is NOT the same as 3D. They are not compatible with the 3D specification used on 3D Blu-ray players, broadcast 3D or set-top boxes. The resolution is a maximum of 1280×720 so it is necessary to use a computer equipped with a Quad Buffered PC Graphics card such as NVIDIA’s 3D Vision system.

To watch 3D, glasses are necessary but 3D glasses are not universal. Because there are different types of 3D, there are different types of glasses. It worth noting that using the glasses generally keeps the viewer focused on the movie or materials, but on the negative side a small percentage of people get a headache watching 3D if it flickers.

There are two types of glasses: passive or active. Passive glasses are similar to sunglasses and considerably less expensive than active glasses, which range in cost from $75-$150.

The cost of the glasses affects the type of 3D equipment that is purchased in venues such as pubs, clubs and malls. They have large public audiences so it is vital to them to have cost effective solutions. Passive 3D glasses do not require batteries so they are inexpensive but there is a catch – a “silver” projection screen is needed.

If you want to see zombies coming at you, if you want to travel through space and explore the world in depth, if you want to enhance your classes or your business applications, 3D is for you. But there are many factors to consider. For assistance in selecting your 3D system and its accessories, call Zeo Systems to discuss the options and the costs.

LED Technology: How It Applies To You

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By: Carol Emmens

LED, which stands for light emitting diode, is a technology used in scores of products and is well-known for its use in specialty IT and audiovisual equipment as well as everyday products such as light bulbs. LED displays are used in a wide variety of ways and their popularity is exploding. But note that home flat screen televisions, often described as LED’s, are actually LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) televisions with LED back lights. Large format LED displays (video walls) are made up of modular tiles which are locked together so that they are seamless. They are extremely versatile:

  • They can be any size.
  • They can be curved.
  • They can be flown.
  • They can be on stands.
  • They can be used indoors.
  • They can be used outdoors.

Because of their versatility, LED’s are extremely popular for these video walls. Whether they are used as a wall or as individual displays, they are seen at live events ranging from commencements to concerts to corporate meetings. Typically LED displays are specified as indoor or outdoor displays. Indoor models are generally higher in resolution but less bright. But keep in mind the resolution is not comparable to a flat screen television or projector since they are designed to be viewed from a distance.

Unlike LCD’s, outdoor LED displays can be seen even in the sunlight and they are weather resistant; the level of weather resistance is measured as an Ingress Protection (IP) number. LED displays are universal; they are used on stage, in stadiums, educational institutions, and corporations. Given the dramatic impact they make, LED displays are very cost effective for advertisers, entertainers, and exhibiters.

Lights

LED lights, like LED displays, are widely used for audiovisual effects and are used both indoors and outdoors. They range from small stand- alone lights to complex systems of multiple lights that perform multiple functions in multiple locations. LED lights can be used in numerous ways:

  • To highlight or pin spot an area.
  • To flood an entire wall of a façade or stage.
  • To create a light show.
  • To highlight a landmark or a work of art.

Because LED lights can change colors or create a scene, they are a cost effective way to transform a space. LED lights are used to set the mood for special social occasions such as weddings, bar mitzvahs or holiday parties and they are used to light up dance floors in trendy nightclubs. They are a “must have” for DJ’s.

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LED lights help corporations brand their products and display their logos. They are often a critical component of marketing campaigns and can be customized for important clients. Compared to the neon signs of yesteryear, LED lighting is more energy efficient, is longer lasting, and is better for the environment. Plus, it is appreciably more reliable. Consequently, LED lighting has become the standard for signs and exhibits, providing unsurpassed colors and mixing to create all types of images.

LED lights or “drapes” can be triggered or controlled to change the brightness, the color, and the content. They can display built-in patterns and/or they can fade.  LED lights can be pre-programmed for an event, presentation or show whether it’s a rock performance or a theatrical play. It can be spectacular – or it can be calming and serene.

Your imagination is the only limit to what LED displays or LED lights can do for you. For help in assessing your needs for LED lighting, with rentals or installation, call Zeo Systems; let our experience guide you to the right LED solution(s) for you.

Uses and Impact of Video Walls on Your Business

By: Carol Emmons

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A video wall is an example of digital signage.  A video wall consists of multiple monitors, cubes, projectors or panels that are tiled together. Most often they are tiled tightly together to form one large image, but they are sometimes tiled loosely or into several separate sections for multiple images and messages or unique results, especially for performances.

Typically, video wall displays have detailed, high resolution content which makes them engaging and powerful and they receive a lot of attention. Because of the impact and increasing affordability of video walls, they are growing in popularity and they are used in a wide variety of ways:

A flexible tool, video walls can help brand a product, encourage collaboration and interactivity in venues ranging from lobbies, museums, and zoos, to sports and entertainment arenas and shopping malls  – to name a few. They are placed in high traffic areas to attract the most attention.  A video wall can be used indoors or out; it can be flat or curved, and it can be designed for permanent or temporary displays. In short, their uses are almost limitless and your video wall can be as complex and creative as you want.

A very important step when you decide to utilize or install a video wall is to define your goals.  All successful audiovisual systems require a clear set plan of action and results desired. A complete video wall system requires a number of components with a wide range of options available for each, starting with the selection of the type of display. An enormous range of technologies, resolutions and sizes are available on the market today and can make selecting one bewildering. A video wall can be designed with LCD’s, LED’s, cubes or projectors.  Each has its own unique characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages so you need to understand the inherent strengths and weaknesses of each. What is an ideal type of display for one environment is often a disaster in others.

Do you want one image, called a blending, over all the screens? If so, the image has to be as close to seamless as possible and a very narrow bezel (frame) is vital to avoid lines running through the image or text. High resolution keeps the image sharp. Does your video wall require a touch screen to engage the viewer or to provide information? How many touch points are desired? The number can range from one to 32.  Do you want to allow multiple users to simultaneously interact with video wall without affecting other users?

There are applications that call for 3D video walls such as molecular modeling, engineering, and simulations. Is your display compatible with the graphics cards you want to use? For video walls the software is as critical to the design as the hardware.  All video walls are software based; many have software built in that can fulfill your needs but others require a network based software controller.

Installation presents its own series of challenges in mounting, power, and cooling. Video walls can also be subject to heating problems. Does the video wall have heat sensors and cooling fans that come on automatically when needed? Where the video wall will be installed impacts your decision making as well. Is the infrastructure in place  to hold the weight?  Is the installation hardware integrated as it is for the Chauvet® MVP models (which our Production division has in inventory for rent) or do you need to buy it separately?

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Is a mission critical 24/7 application that requires a redundant power supply module that provides continuous operation even in the event of a power failure required?.Even the number of power outlets and their locations comes into play. There are video walls that do not require the power to be behind the display and that can handle multiple devices. That reduces the rack space and the number of outlets needed and helps reduce the costs.
A video wall is an excellent way to communicate, enhance your presentation and make an impact, but it takes a sufficient budget and level of commitment to the project. We have alerted you to only a few of the questions that need to be answered before you install one. Zeo Systems expert technicians are  capable of designing, installing and servicing your video wall or if your needs are for a single event, our Production division can provide a rental from our in house inventory as an alternative. Give us a call.

Is Your House of Worship Ready to Make the AV Leap?

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By: Carol R. Emmens

Mega-churches, those having 2000 seats or more, have been in the forefront of using audiovisual systems for dramatic effect in their services. Their music systems rival those of performing arts centers and rock tours, featuring state of the art projectors, multiple large screens and stage lighting. But now smaller churches, especially “satellite” churches, synagogues and numerous houses of worship (HOW) of all sizes are utilizing AV to inform and engage their congregants. Is your house of worship ready to add AV systems or to upgrade the ones you have?

State of the art AV/IT is important because houses of worship are trying to attract congregants especially the millennials. Attracting and keeping congregants is a multi-fold, ongoing project. For example, the younger generations often view an organ as old-fashioned. Planning to implement a more contemporary slant to your worship service? If so, the electric guitars, synthesizers and drums require speakers that can handle the more ‘rock’ type sounds that will be incorporated. There are also congregants who prefer a more traditional service. Does your audio system handle that as well?

And they are not the only audio issues; high cathedral ceilings often make intelligibility an issue. The congregants want to hear and understand the sermons, prayers, and announcements; consequently a house of worship needs several types of microphones.  And even though not required by law as in other public buildings, having assistive listening devices available for your older congregants may be a worthwhile investment.

Does your house of worship have a website? With the astounding proliferation of social media, it is the best and most cost effective way to post events whether it’s a potluck dinner, Bible study, or discussion of the Torah. Often a website is less expensive than print media and more accessible. Before attending a service the vast majority of people “visit” the house of worship online and they expect to find clear, concise information about the style(s) of worship, children’s programs, and schedules.

But people want much more when they visit a website – they are accustomed to the “wow” factors of social media. Do you have the ability to post video? Do you have a link to Facebook? Do you have a YouTube™ account? Who will produce the video and what equipment do you own? It is not enough to use your smartphone or iPad camera to record a video; the congregants do not expect the quality of a high-definition Hollywood movie, neither to they want to see a choppy, poorly lit video that screams “amateur.”

Once the congregants arrive at the house of worship they want the same AV technology they have in their offices, educational institutions and homes. They want to read the words to a hymn on a large screen, and sometimes they will need to see and hear the service or wedding ceremony in an overflow room. Hundreds, even thousands, of handicapped and senior congregants who cannot attend the house of worship want to see what they are missing on their flat screen televisions or tablets in the comfort of their living rooms while they sip a cup of coffee.

To achieve all the AV/IT goals of today, the systems are complex and intertwined; for example, the camera lights cannot wash out the screen(s); the speakers cannot transmit feedback – and these are only two potential problems.  All components must work together as a whole to complete the desired presentation.

The first step to incorporating audiovisual technology is to define your goals for each aspect of the project and determine the budget. In addition, it is typically difficult to install audiovisual equipment in a house of worship. It is possible an engineer will need to provide an analysis of the structural integrity of the facility, e.g. is it possible to hang heavy speakers from the beams or do they need to be reinforced? There are many factors to take into account: Is the electricity adequate? Is the network up to par? Is there storage space for components that don’t need to be seen?

The cost of audiovisual equipment has declined and manufacturers have brought new products into the market to address the needs of the house of worship clients. But generally a HOW relies on volunteers for everything from baking cookies to maintaining the website to operating the AV/IT systems. That places an emphasis on installing systems that are easy to use and easy to control. Controls range from pushing a button to amplify a microphone to handheld remotes to iPad systems that control all the equipment with a few clicks.

The components of an audiovisual systemaudio, display, lighting, recording – need to be robust, flexible and seamlessly integrated. That takes working with an experienced audiovisual company at every stage of the project. Call on Zeo Systems for a free consultation to help you set your goals and meet them.

Digital Signage Demands Attention

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By: Carol R. Emmens

Digital signage  (digital displays of information or video) fulfills the needs of all types of corporations and businesses, educational institutions, houses of worship, bars and restaurants, retail stores, and hospitals; it is used everywhere from airports to zoos and everyplace in between: hallways, lobbies, classrooms –  even at gas pumps and in elevators. The proliferation of digital signage has occurred because the associated costs have come down, it is a quick and efficient way to communicate in real time, and it saves the costs of printing.  Digital signage has enormous potential communication applications:

  • Post schedules of meetings, events, works assignments, menus
  • Share news, stock prices, traffic reports, sports results and information
  • Recognize achievements and milestones
  • Warn about severe weather and security threats
  • Sell a product or service

And those are only a few of its uses.

 As the costs come down and the quality goes up, there’s no better time than the present to consider the addition of a digital signage display to your current signage or an addition or upgrade to your current digital signage display(s). But, prior to any decision, there are many questions that you have to answer.

First, what are your goals? They will impact the design and content of the digital display and every decision you make about the hardware and the software for it. Content is king and it affects every decision beginning with the design: a single display, multiple displays, a video wall?  In turn, the type of digital signage determines the flat screen display specifications such as the resolution, the size, and the number. It also determines the appropriate location within your business or venue to be seen by the greatest number of viewers to have the maximum impact and to avoid problems such as washout of the images due to bright sunlight.

The greatest challenge digital signage presents is in creating it or adapting it from existing printed materials or PowerPoint presentations. For example, if the content exits, is it “digital ready” or does it need to be reformatted to ensure that it fits the display in the correct resolution and that the text is a color and size that can be read easily. Do you have writers and graphic designers in house who are available to adapt or create the content?

What software will you use and where will that software and the content reside? Who will have access to it? Will it be on your network or in a cloud? Determine the role of your IT department. Is it desirable to do more than display static messages?  Do you want to display messages or information in real time? Do you want to access the internal network and/or outside sources of information such as Reuther’s or the Weather Channel? Do you need IP-addressable displays? Social media grows in importance every day. Do you want to integrate it and if so, how difficult will it be do it?

For many digital signage displays, it is no longer enough to deliver information; the information needs to engage the viewer – it needs a “wow” factor such as video or audio. Is the location suitable for an audio zone that will immerse the viewer without blasting the speech, sounds or music throughout the room, lobby or store?

Do you need an interactive display? For example, retail stores are especially under pressure to make sure that the digital signage displays deliver a positive “return on investment” (ROI). Their displays MUST be innovative, eye catching and engaging.  They were among the first users to adopt interactive displays and the pixel density of 4K, which is four-times the resolution of HD, and allows up to eight quadrants in the display and they, in turn, offer ways to have up to 32 interactive touch points. Today it is possible to see how you look in a new hair style, try on glasses or clothes, even see what it would look like to decorate or paint a room with digital signage.

The questions we raised are the tip of the iceberg, but digital signage does not have to be a daunting task if you partner with an experienced audiovisual company.  Zeo Systems has a successful track record designing, installing and supporting digital signage systems that are extremely effective and affordable. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your digital signage needs.