Middlebury

Digital Signage

Requirements for digital signage

  • A person to create & update the content.
  • A location that is accessible for your audience but where a TV and a delivery device can be securely mounted.
  • You must coordinate with facilities to:
    • Ensure the location you've chosen can support the weight of the TV and can accommodate the required power and cables. Power can cable requirements will differ, depending on your choice of device to deliver the content (see below).
    • Schedule the installation of the digital signage.
  • TV or monitor that's rated for commercial use such as 24/7 operation and supports power saving features. LIS can advise on TV size once the location of the sign is identified.
  • Device to deliver the content. Some options include:
    • a computer with wireless keyboard and mouse (recommended),
    • USB drive -- very simple, but with some caveats
    • DVD or Blu-ray player -- high quality but slow
    • commercial digital signage player -- expensive, more complex to purchase and configure
  • Software to create & update the content. Some options include:
    • PowerPoint - easiest to use, but comes with some caveats (read the next sections for more info)
    • any video editing software - high quality, slower and more complex to use
    • commercial digital signage software - expensive, more complex to purchase and configure

About the TV

Once a location for the sign is identified, LIS can recommend an appropriately sized TV that's rated for commercial use (such as 24/7 operation) and that supports power saving features. We recommend that you provide us with your index number so we can make the purchase. This way, we can more efficiently tag the screen, insert it into our inventory for security & budget tracking and we can better process the delivery, installation and configuration.

About the device to deliver the content

Computer

We recommend that a computer be purchased and installed near the TV. You should also think about whether a Mac or a PC is better for your digital signage needs - choose the operating system that the person who'll be updating the signage is most comfortable with. The computer should have the standard Microsoft Office software - there are no other special software requirements.

There are different physical requirements for the computer, depending on what location is chosen for it. Some location options for the computer:

  • Install the computer in a nearby room. The room must be secure from theft but accessible to the person who will create and update the content.
    • One HDMI (combined audio & video) wire will need to be run from the computer to the TV. HDMI wires have a length limit of 45 feet. For longer distances, different wires can be used with special transmitters, but this will increase the cost of the sign by $900.
    • A second (smaller) 16:9 computer monitor may be required if you cannot see the TV from where the computer is.
  • Install a small computer behind the TV using a secure mount
    • A secure wall mount is required ($40).
    • A wireless keyboard and mouse is recommended ($50). You will need the keyboard and mouse for a brief amount of time when you update the signage.
  • A shelf under the TV that can be used to securely install the computer.
    • A cable or mount is required to securely install the computer on the shelf ($40).
    • A wireless keyboard and mouse is recommended ($50) though wired ones can be used on the shelf. You will need the keyboard and mouse for a brief amount of time when you update the signage.

USB drive

Using a USB thumb-drive instead of a computer is possible but may be a bit challenging for the person who will be creating the content for the signs. The TVs cannot natively run a powerpoint slideshow from a USB-drive, but can show pictures or video files from a thumb drive. Powerpoint can export the slides to a USB thumb drive in two formats: as picture files or as a video file. Pros and cons of each approach are discussed below.

Exporting as a picture file

We've found that powerpoint for Windows cannot export the slides in the TV's maximum resolution (1920x1080). So if you use a Windows computer to create the signage, your signs will not fill the entire screens. However, we've found that powerpoint for Mac can successfully export the slides in the TV's maximum resolution. You can check the instructions below to see if you are comfortable with using a Mac to create the powerpoint.

Exporting as a video file

We've found that powerpoint for Windows can successfully create a video file that plays back on the TV in full screen. However, the quality of the video file exported from PowerPoint (480p) is less than the capabilities of the TV (1080p), so you won't be getting the maximum quality. If you're OK with this, you can review the instructions below for exporting a powerpoint as a video file.

You can also use a video editing software such as Apple iMovie or Windows MovieMaker to create your signage as a very high quality video file. This may be good for high profile signage that does not need to be updated, but it is a very slow process if your signage will need to change.

DVD or Blu-ray player

You can also use a DVD or Blu-ray player as a device for delivering the signage. For this, you will need to create a DVD or Blu-ray video of your signage. This may be good for high profile signage that does not need to be updated, but it is a very slow process if your signage will need to change.

Using PowerPoint on a Mac to Export Slides as Pictures

You will create your digital sign in powerpoint (just like creating a regular presentation) and you will export your slides as a series of JPG pictures that the TV can show without a computer. At the end of the process you will have two things: a powerpoint document that serves as your presentation source and a folder with JPG pictures created from the powerpoint document. The folder with pictures goes on a USB flash drive that can be connected directly to the TV without a computer. You keep the powerpoint document on your computer or server so you can easily make future updates. Note that any PowerPoint transitions, animations or video clips that you insert will not display on the TV. The TVs do support basic transitions such as cut, fade, dissolve.

  1. Login to a Mac that has powerpoint. You can use your own or one of the Macs in the Library.
  2. Check that PowerPoint is setup to create & export the slides at a resolution of 1920x1080:
    1. Click on the PowerPoint menu in the top left and click Preferences > Save
    2. Select the Save every slide option
    3. Set Height to 1920 and Width to 1080
  3. Create or update the slides as needed. Insert any pictures, shapes or text. Note that any transitions, animations or video clips that you insert will not display on the TV.
  4. Plug in the thumb drive
  5. Click File => Save as Pictures
    1. Under format choose JPEG
    2. Choose the flash drive and give the exported
  6. Connect the thumb drive to the TV.
  7. Use the TV remote to select the USB drive and select the folder with your pictures.
  8. Select the first picture and use the TV remote to set the TV to loop the pictures (Repeat All).
  9. You can also change the transition speed between slides to Short (~3 secs), Medium (~5 secs) or Long (~30 secs).
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