How to create immersive digital signage on a budget [+ VIDEO]

Are you looking to create an immersive digital signage experience on a budget? That’s not a problem! Forget the expensive super-computers and fancy software. You can make people stop and engage with your content, simply by using the players, CMS and web cameras that you already have in place. The affordable content creation process is what expert Jim Nista from Nista Digital Content refers to as “low budget immersion”.

So, what is immersive digital signage?

For digital signage, “immersive” often describes interactive content that changes based on, or in response to, what people around the screen are doing. Viewers, in effect, impact and become a part of the on-screen story, triggering content by, for example, walking up to the screen, making a certain movement or gesture, or by interacting with an item in a showcase. This kind of content isn’t simply produced to prompt a specific interaction, but to create an experience and lasting impression, whether that’s for a brand, product, or work environment. In Nista’s words, the point is to create “a sense of emotion” or “a sense of experience.”  It’s to create “generative art” or “immersive art” to “entice people to pay attention” or “at least feel something.” Without such visual and emotional engagement, you’re otherwise left with nothing more than “background digital signage” or “wallpaper digital signage” that no-one’s interested in viewing.

What is low budget immersion?

Low budget immersion enables you to transform your existing video walls into real showpieces. You can take your inspiration from half a million-dollar visual digital art installations and use your existing digital signage equipment to create something close to it. Instead of using expensive unique software systems, such as TouchDesigner, and custom cameras on multiple PCs with heavy-duty GPUs, you can create something that’s almost as visually rich with regular cameras and BrightSign Media Players. You just need an extra layer of HTML on top of your existing software tools. 

Low versus high budget immersion

The effects of this kind of budget solution can, Nista, argues, actually be more impactful than expensive immersion, because it enables customers to interact with live content. Costly immersive digital signage may generate great art, but it is often rendered out in a thirty second video loop. Conversely, low budget immersion projects, created simply by using a regular camera on top of a screen, can produce immersive content rendered on the fly, and that lives within the content management system (CMS) being used. It is this live content – not predefined, not heavily edited, which makes the material itself and the interactions with it more unique and exhilarating for people. All the processing is done live within the media player, which also makes it a much more accessible way to create show-stopping content. 

So, what kind of immersive experiences can you create?

Low budget immersion projects can produce unique experiences for a whole host of sectors. Nista points to the success of “step and repeat” digital art – that is, the creation of a repeating on-screen image that’s triggered when people approach the screen. This is often used in nightclubs and for live events to transform dead space into additional fun zones. The effect of immersion doesn’t have to be over the top. It can be something subtle and used by businesses in their workplace environments. It could, for example, be as simple as a welcome message appearing on-screen when employees walk through their department’s doors.

Whatever the requested art, it has to, insists, Nista, go the distance. Its appeal has to endure and ensure the maximum return on investment. With developments, such as AI, low budget immersion projects are already offering even greater value for money, enabling content to be produced more efficiently and effectively and within much faster time frames. This is, according to Nista, why AI tools are only an advantage for content creators.

Tune into the latest Digital Signage Explored episode with Jim Nista to find out more about how to create low budget immersion projects and what kind of impact you can make here.