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Digital Signage Advertising: Meeting HD's Demands

Aug 17, 2007
When I think about digital signage, I'm sometimes reminded of the perpetually hungry, ever-growing plant from the musical "Little Shop of Horrors." You might remember that unusual flora. It's the talking, singing Venus Flytrap on steroids that constantly demands"Feed Me!" I can't help but think of that giant man-eating plant, because its appetite for flesh was as large and insatiable as that of digital signage for content.

Content is the currency of digital signage. Without it, digital signage would be about as appealing as looking at a dimly lit mirror. So, it's imperative that digital signage users source, create and schedule enough of the right kinds of content to attract and hold the interest of their audiences till they've delivered their intended message.

Not an easy task under normal conditions, the job is even harder when high definition is added to the equation. The appeal of HD content on a digital sign is straightforward. High definition television's ability to reproduce enough picture detail to convey a previously unattainable sense of realism is powerful. Sports fans who watch their favorite teams in HD never want to go back to their ordinary TVs, and nature buffs who tune into Discovery HD Theater can feel overwhelmed at times by the Mother Nature's majesty.

Transplant that HD realism to a retail digital signage network, for example, where marketers want to create a specific mood or portray their merchandise in the best possible light. Under those circumstances, understanding the allure of high definition to digital signage marketers is as clear as an HD image itself.

However, the issue of sourcing HD content -particularly video originated in high definition- is significantly less clear. While it seems that every week another press announcement trumpets the arrival of a new TV channel or cable network in HD, the reality is the video production industry is still in a transition period between conventional television and HDTV. HD content can be shot for your digital signage needs, but there is a strong demand for HD production services and limited supply -so be prepared. On a positive note, those content creators who wish to shoot their own HD digital signage content have a broad selection of relatively affordable camcorders from which to choose.

Another source of HD content is your company's film library. Remember continuous-tone film is a high-resolution -or at the risk of confusing things "high definition"- medium. Film can be transferred to HD video, and depending on your project, doing so might make sense.

Upconverting standard definition television to HDTV is an option as well. Depending on how you intend to use the content, this may be an entirely suitable solution for your HD content needs. While it may not be ideal, upconverting select content has significant advantages over shooting original HD material in terms of cost, speed and opportunity. Remember, many programs you're ooing and ahhing at today on your HDTV may include sequences that have been upconverted from standard definition footage. That's especially likely to be the case for historical file footage.

If you're not looking for original HD content, you're options are a little broader. Cable, satellite, and even Telco TV services make a variety of channels and networks available in high definition. It is even possible to turn a computer with a USB 2.0 port and a USB device that's an ATSC tuner along with a loop antenna into an HD receiver/digital video recorder for terrestrial (over-the-air) broadcast HDTV content. While I specifically am not advocating unauthorized use of copyrighted material, the availability of the USB HDTV tuner and recorder does increase your flexibility and options.

Feeding digital signage's insatiable appetite for content has never been easy, and HD makes the task even more troublesome. But you are not without options. Originating HD content, transferring existing film assets to HD and upconverting ordinary video content to high definition are starting points. With time, HD production capabilities will become so prevalent that creating high definition content will be taken for granted. Until that time point, creative digital signage content pros will assess their resources and employ the options that make sense today.
About the Author
David Little is a digital signage authority with 20 years of experience helping professionals use technology to expand their marketing messages with alternative media . Visit http://www.keywesttechnology.com and find how you can expand your marketing horizons.
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