CIGI Digital Signage (2012)

Task

Integrate Christie Digital Micro-tiles System (MTS) and CISCO Digital Media Suite (DMS) systems.

Design and implement a workflow to manage the content displayed.

Design the content for the MTS and DMS.

Challenges

  • Allow for cross-platform deployment in a public space while keeping the closed office space secure.
  • Step outside the recommended rendered video spec to deliver dynamic content.
  • Design a workflow that any employee could easily be trained to use.
  • Design signs that promote the new brand of CIGI.

Approach

The MTS is built with three components.

  1. Micro-tile cube screens
  2. Micro-tile head unit (configures cube array)
  3. Mac Mini (drives content to the cube array)

The DMS is also built with three main components.

  1. Cisco Digital Media Management (DMM)
  2. Cisco Digital Media Player (DMP)
  3. Cisco LCD

The main difference between the two systems is that the MTS displays what ever the Mac Mini computer can throw at it, whereas the DMS system is more controlled and limited in the formats it can play and how it can play them.

micro_tiles

Determining how MTS and DMS can play together

The MTS will display any content the Mac Mini can handle. Christie Digital recommended playing pre-rendered video files through Video Lan Controller (VLC) software in full screen mode, but I saw a different kind of potential. I could develop a webpage that would render real-time information pulled from social media and the CIGI website alongside pre-rendered video and static graphics, then run the page in a Safari browser in full-screen mode.

The DMS has its own content server, the DMM. The DMM manages and distributes media to the DMP(s) that then display on the LCD screen(s). The DMP is limited to displaying MPEG video files, image files (JPEG, PNG) and Flash Lite 2.1 (SWF) files. The DMM can schedule content changes and what content to change to. On its own, this system works flawlessly. It gets a little tricky when you want to integrate it with a non-Cisco digital signage system such as MTS. The common element here is Flash Lite 3. Both systems can play files rendered in Flash Lite 3 and because the file format is dynamic, all that was needed was to design and develop a system that centralized the content so that both systems would access the same files, thus eliminating the need for two management systems.

Cross Platform Workflow

I started with designing the MTS content, keeping in mind that there would be a 16:9 window that would display content that would exist on both DMS and MTS.

This 16:9 window houses a Flash Lite 3 file that through AJAX references a PHP rendered XML file, that then tells the Flash file to display what ever content is scheduled in the MySQL database. This content for the time being would be a series of static 16:9 posters designed to promote events happening at CIGI and the Campus but can easily be changed to include video or still images. The Flash file does a simple cross-fade between posters when more than one poster is scheduled for the same time period.

The content server was assembled by the IT department and resides on a secure subnet. The server is Linux-based and runs Apache, PHP 5 and MySQL. Authorized users can log into the management site, upload and schedule content. Content can be assigned to any of the five Cisco screens in the Campus or the MTS in the CIGI lobby.

Signature Lecture Series (SLS)

The SLS poster design was built as a template with deployment speed in mind. Signs can be turned around in less than ten minutes if the event information is provided. Each event that CIGI hosts shares common information like venue, date/time, speaker, sponsor, QR code, Eventbrite link, webcast icon, and event topic. Speaker headshots are masked out and placed into the design.

Content Management