World Market Center Las Vegas, Part 1
Oct 14, 2008 11:13 AM,
By John W. DeWitt
CoSign, a Las Vegas interactive developer, manages 150 digital displays installed throughout World Market Center Las Vegas. Harris InfoCaster software delivers a mix of scheduled and live AV content.
This July, after a breakneck integration schedule dictated by construction of building C, World Market Center Las Vegas went live with a 150-screen digital-signage network and six wayfinding interactive kiosks—just in time for the summer 2008 Las Vegas Market. The signage network, managed by Las Vegas-based CoSign, employs Harris InfoCaster hardware and software for two distinct roles: providing live video and dynamic information to attendees of the semi-annual Las Vegas Market event and, during the rest of the year, serving customers of the Las Vegas Design Center located on the lower floors of World Market Center. SVC spoke with Robert Garity, founding partner and vice president of sales and marketing for CoSign, to learn more about the challenges of deploying and managing the center’s multipurpose signage network.
SVC: Explain CoSign’s role in developing and rolling out the digital signage network for World Market Center.
Garity: With the digital-signage system, we did a partial integration of the InfoCaster system into World Market Center A and B, where we replaced the previous digital-signage headend equipment—all the players and controls. We did this while Building C was under construction, and then we rolled out digital signage as well as our kiosks as part of the grand opening of World Market Center C.
What were some of the customer’s requirements for the signage network?
Garity: They wanted that “Fox TV look,” with ability to push live video and life crawls, using animated logos with very sophisticated presentation. During the Las Vegas Market, content is changing rapidly. Even the crawl is changing on a regular basis as well. And they wanted us to put some live video up during the show for special events. For example, one of the special events for guests of Las Vegas Market was a Rod Stewart concert. So we had live video running at the concert, and also people could watch the live video throughout the World Market Center buildings. InfoCaster handles live video really well, and gave us the ability to drop a logo box in the corner, build a template around the live video, and so on.
What made your timeline for the signage rollout so challenging?
Garity: We didn’t get into the facility until the mid-June to mid-July timeframe to do the network swap-out. That traditionally would be considered late. Building C was on a fast track. We were putting in much of the network controls and were at the mercy of the general contractor. But it went really smooth. I don’t know how much more smoothly it could have gone. We worked with Sting Systems in Las Vegas to integrate the monitors. They are a local company that handles all the World Market Center’s low voltage AV integration work, including all the surveillance, which the center has a lot of.
What other challenges did CoSign deal with in managing content on the signage network?
Garity: One of the more interesting parts of this job is that World Market Center sells advertising on the system to exhibitors, and there are about 1,500 of them. These exhibitors deliver content ranging in quality from HD video to giving us a few JPEGs to make something out of. Because the content comes in all different shapes and sizes, we had to work hard to make sure the little guy didn’t look horrible compared to the multinational furniture company.
Also, we’re on five different sizes and resolutions of monitors, so we had to pick the right goal resolution, which ended up being 1280×768.
What were some of the techniques you used to make poor content look professional?
Garity: We have a post-production facility in Sioux Falls, S.D., and one of the benefits of having a really good postproduction operation is they know how to fix bad content. They would create templates and borders around bad NTSC video so it would look attractive to the customers. Sometimes the border area might contain some text like the exhibitor space number. For example, we got a QuickTime video clip that looked good at first, until we realized it had a 10 frame-per-second rate, which made it herky jerky. But we had to work with that to make it look right. We think we made exhibitors feel like they got what they paid for.
Part 2 of our interview continues in the next issue of Digital Signage Update, when Garity will discuss the aggressive expansion planned over the next five years for World Market Center Las Vegas, including development and rollout of a sophisticated wayfinding kiosk system.