James Fine, Telecine

June 21, 2017
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James Fine has been around the digital signage ecosystem since the earliest days. He founded Telecine in the mid-80s to do high-end video production for the corporate sector. By the mid-90s, he was getting into signage, putting networked screens in Quebec casinos.

We talk about the early days of the business - like spending $25,000 for 62-inch plasma displays for a retail job. That’s $25K PER display.

Things have changed, and both the industry and his business have grown. Telecine now does a turnkey solutions service for a variety of clients, and the work has won awards - notably for the great data-driven signage you’ll see if you visit a Bloomberg office.

Fine and Telecine are from Montreal, and one of the things we get into in this chat is why there are so many great creative shops coming out of that city.

We spoke last week at InfoComm.

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Susie Opare-Abetia, Wovenmedia

May 31, 2017
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I had a great chat recently with Susie Opare-Abetia, the CEO and Founder of Wovenmedia. Her company does all the heavy-lifting work to connect digital signage and place-based networks with video from major content producers like TV networks, movie studios and pro sports.

If you are in a big US retailer or in a health care environment that has screens, there’s a decent chance at least some of the material you’re seeing was aggregated, rights-cleared, QA’d and distributed by her now seven-year-old San Francisco company.

We get into a lot of things in this episode, from how the service got started and how it works for network operators, to what kind of material works with audiences and what doesn’t.

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Dan Dawson, Grand Visual

March 1, 2017
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The production and creative technology firm Grand Visual does some of the most interesting data-driven creative work you'll find in the digital signage and digital out of home industry, so I was really happy to learn co-founder Dan Dawson was available at ISE to chat for a few minutes.

Dawson is the Chief Creative Technology Officer at the London-based company, which has been around for more than a decade and works with some of the world's biggest brands - including Pepsi, Google, McDonald's and Virgin - on technology-driven media campaigns. You may remember things like the Green Giant showing up via augmented reality at Grand Central Station or flying saucers and aliens seen invading London through the lens of bus stop digital screens.

We get into a lot of things in our chat - the creative process, the technology, strategy, what works and what is just buzz. We talk about programmatic content and media targeting, and we get into how data is a really powerful tool for marketing and messaging.

 If you touch on creative, listen and learn from a master.

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ISE 2017 Bonus Episode

February 13, 2017
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This is a bonus edition. I did a pile of sit-down interviews last week in Amsterdam with different execs for full-length podcasts, and you will hear those over the next several weeks. I also did some stand-ups that are already live, with four already up. These are the other four.

I normally get these things properly sound-engineered but in the interests of speed to market, I did these ones myself - so apologies if the sound and levels are a little dodgy. And there's no music.

The interviews are with RED-V from Italy, Interactivescape from Germany, AirportLabs from Romania and NodeArk from Sweden.

There will still be a regular episode up on Wednesday, with Mike Tippets of Hughes.

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Special Episode: Chats From ISE 2017’s Exhibit Halls

February 7, 2017
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This is a special edition of 16:9 Podcasts - interviews recorded in and around the RAI Amsterdam at Integrated Systems Europe this week in Amsterdam.

I am doing a bunch of sit-down podcast recordings this week in and around the giant pro AV show, to be streamed in the coming weeks, but I also wanted to grab some quick interviews about things I see in my travels around the many exhibit halls here.

On this episode, you will hear from a series of companies, large and small, including Sony, Sharp, NodeArk and Condeco. These interviews were recorded today and I am posting this as I wait for the press room happy hour to start.

Oh, it has! Yay. 

I'm heading back home this weekend, and next week's podcast will be the normal format.

Also, look for a new 16:9 Projects Podcast, with Michael Tutton, coming this Friday.

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Sean Keathley, Adrenaline

February 1, 2017
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This week, we’re talking experience design with Sean Keathley, the president of Adrenaline, an Atlanta-based company that’s in the business of coming up with the strategy, the content and technologies to make spaces like banks, stores and hospitals really work.

Sean talks about the process involved in putting together a successful project, and he made me happy when he said projects they do start out by asking and getting answered from clients one big question: "Why?"

We get into some of the work the company has done with clients like eTrade and New Balance, and also explore how and where digital display technology works, or doesn’t.

We did this by Skype and we were both fighting raging head colds, which will explain some scratchy voices. Enjoy.

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Paul Vincent, Flexitive

January 25, 2017
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There’s been a lot of talk about how HTML5 is the future of digital signage content, and Paul Vincent knows more about that than just about anyone out there. He’s the founder and CEO of Flexitive, an online tool for building advertising and content using everything HTML5 brings to the table.

I first bumped into Paul three years ago at a tech trade show in Toronto. Since then, the product has evolved and matured, but it sums up like this: For something like $70 a month, content designers can use Flexitive to generate dozens of fully responsive ads and presentations - with motion, transitions and even video. You can produce a spot once, and the system will auto-generate different versions in different shapes and resolutions.

The system is mainly used for online advertising, but there’s no reason why it can’t be used for digital signage - and some companies in this business already do.

Flexitive is based in Toronto, but you’ll hear more than a trace of Kiwi in Paul. He’s originally from New Zealand.

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Phil Lenger, Show And Tell

November 23, 2016
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Phil Lenger of Show and Tell is a busy guy, but he slowed down long enough to sit recently for a chat in his company’s New York offices, near Penn Station.

He even offered a sip or two from one of the many, many bottles of seriously good bourbon he has stocked in the corner of Show and Tell’s meeting space.

But I behaved myself, and so did he. That allowed us to have a reasonably coherent talk about the background of his company, which definitely leads with creative but does a bunch more.

Show and Tell has for years and years developed and pushed content to many of the giant LED displays around Times Square. His team also manages some of them. But the company is in to a lot more than just spectacular ad displays, including retail.

One of the projects you may have seen in your travels is the Fashion Show Mall up by the Palazzo and Wynn in Las Vegas.  We had a good, frank talk about a lot of things, including the current state of much of what’s called digital signage creative.

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Michael Schneider, ESI Design

November 16, 2016
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I had a chance recently to tour the New York studio and offices for ESI Design, which has done some amazing experiential digital work in public spaces, as well as museums and in retail settings.

Michael Schneider is a senior experience designer and creative technologist at the company, and we spent time talking about the design process behind creating big, interesting and memorable digital canvases.

Among many, many projects through the years, ESI Design was the firm behind the giant fence board-like experience at the Wells Fargo office tower in Denver, and a sensor-driven ambient media wall in the lobby of a building in Washington, D.C.

To Schneider, and to the rest of the team at ESI, it’s not about the tech, it’s about the story.

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Brad Parler, Blinds.com

November 9, 2016
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A couple of years ago, an old industry friend, Raffi Vartian, said I really needed to see something. He sent me a link to a video, I watched it, and I sent back a note saying, "That’s FREAKING brilliant."

The video was for a corporate communications project at the Blinds.com offices in Houston, Texas, and it showed staff-facing messaging being done in a way I’d never seen. 

The guy behind that was and is Brad Parler, a video production geek who got an entry-level job at the company to pay the bills of his growing family. He was in sales, but stuck his hand up when the company decided to add digital signs through the facility. They needed to figure out how, and what to use for needed content.

What he came up with went over big, not only within the company, but around the signage industry. Now he’s getting asked to speak at conferences, and doing what he can to spread the gospel about the importance of populating screens with truly good, attention-grabbing, effective content.

We spoke recently by Skype.

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Chris Lydle, Google

October 19, 2016
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This week I am speaking with Chris Lydle, who is the global lead for digital signage and kiosk activity at Google
 
We had a lengthy, very open chat about the what the technology giant is doing in the relatively small and narrowly defined digital signage market, how its technology fits in, and where things are going.
 
He talks about the importance of partnerships to develop and mine opportunities for ChromeOS and the devices out there that run it. We get into Android. Eddystone beacons. And how Google has fixed some of the grief associated with activating its device management toolset.
 
Lydle is quite open in stressing Google has zero interest in developing a full, competitive content management system for signage, saying simply, it’s just not what we do.
 
We had the chat last month in the lobby of a Denver hotel, when we were both at the Four Winds conference. Great conversation, well worth a listen.
 

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Kurt Dupont, PresentationPoint

October 12, 2016
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We’re talking PowerPoint this week, the presentation software that has usually been regarded with abject horror by people who’ve been around the digital signage industry for years.

While using PowerPoint templates to generate slides for signage systems is the fast lane to mediocrity, that’s not what Belgium’s PresentationPoint does with its software.
 
For the last couple of decades, they’ve used software integrated with the Office application to display real time data from Excel, databases, and RSS feeds, and do dynamic charting.
 
They started years ago with airports - for flights and arrivals - but PresentationPoint is now used in piles of different use cases.
 
I spoke with owner and founder Kurt Dupont recently.

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Jim Nista, Insteo

August 31, 2016
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Jim Nista and I have had lotsa long, interesting talks over trade show cocktails in Las Vegas or Orlando about the state of the industry and what needs to happen, particularly as it relates to content. Unfortunately ... or perhaps fortunately, when I really think about it (hic) ... they were not recorded.

But the other day we got together virtually, and the CEO of Long Beach, CA-based content production shop Insteo chatted with me for a little more than 30 minutes about what Insteo is up to, and how it got there.

Nista has had, like many small companies in this sector, a few twists and turns and bumps on the journey, but things have started to straighten and smooth out pretty nicely in the last year - as he's got the company focused on a variation of a business model that's worked for other companies. Insteo does subscription content - but not the news, weather, sports and entertainment feeds that have been well established by other companies, notably podcast sponsor Screenfeed.

Insteo's content store doesn't offer that stuff - instead focusing on dynamic HTML5-driven templates and update tools that allow small businesses to get screens in their business places that are running contextually relevant content. That may be project status notices for an engineering company, or it might be product menus for a marijuana dispensary.

Jim has been around web services since the days when he had to explain to customers why they'd want a website. He's one of the most knowledgeable guys in the business when it comes to the future of content, and well worth a listen.

There are now 20 episodes of Sixteen:Nine. This podcast is absolutely free. To subscribe and have this stuff just show up on your phone, like it was  magic or something: iTunes * Google Play * RSS

 
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Brian Fitzpatrick, Revel Media Group

August 24, 2016
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Every so often I bump into a company that's stayed well out of the spotlight, kept its collective heads down, and built up a thriving business - while competitors were unaware the company even exists.

Consider Revel Media Group, which is based in the greater Salt Lake City area. Revel is a digital signage solutions provider that leads with content, and since starting up about six years ago, has seen triple digit growth, year after year.

The company was started by Brian Fitzpatrick and a business partner, with Brian having cashed out of a business he built installing and managing very high-end home theatre and home automation systems for stinking rich people.

What Revel does is, effectively, creative and content management as a service. Customers pay a set fee, and get as much creative as they need, turned around as fast as 24-hours. It's not for major brands. But for retailers who have a lot to say and sell, it's a cost and timing model that resonates for them.

We spoke at Seneca's partner conference outside Syracuse, NY earlier in August.

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Vincent Encontre, Intuilab

July 13, 2016
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This week, I am speaking with Vincent Encontre, the CEO of the Toulouse, France-based interactive software firm Intuilab, which has a great product for reducing the time, cost and complications of getting interactive touchscreen projects together.

Encontre talks about the company's roots, servicing companies like Airbus, and how it pivoted into interactive digital. We spend a lot of time talking about the product, which is designed to allow people with zero coding chops to produce and publish slick multi-touch applications. We also talk about the process of building interactive screen experiences, and how to do it well.

We spoke last month in a Las Vegas Convention Center hallway, on the first exhibit hall morning for InfoComm. As with most of my InfoComm interviews (still three more on the way), it gets a little noisy in the background.

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Jeremy Gavin, Screenfeed

June 22, 2016
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Jeremy Gavin, the founder of Screenfeed, sat down with me in an empty conference room at InfoComm earlier this month.

Jeremy runs a Minneapolis company that generates great-looking, ready-made content feeds for digital signage networks. Screenfeed, in many ways, reinvented the whole approach to subscription content - moving the business off scrolling tickers and rolling headlines, to a much more visual, curated approach.

It's been very successful and Screenfeed has network clients around the world. Jeremy walked me through how and why he started Screenfeed, and some interesting new research that shows subscription content attracts viewers and drives recall for digital signage messaging. 

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Randy Dearborn, MGM Resorts International

June 15, 2016
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Randy Dearborn has been running digital signage networks since 1993, starting with a skunkworks set-up at Treasure Island in Las Vegas and building that up to a network that now covers 22,000 screens across the MGM Resorts International portfolio. 

He's that company's Vice President of Multimedia & Guest Technology, which puts him in charge of just about any screen you see inside or outside of an MGM property in Las Vegas and beyond. Randy talks about how he applies technology, and how everything he and his team do is based on data and measurement.

Randy is also the current chairman of the Digital Signage Federation, and we talk about where the DSF is at, and where the industry is going.

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Stephen Randall, Monster Media

May 11, 2016
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Stephen Randall is the EVP Social and Mobile at the out of home media firm Monster Media. Randall was doing mobile operating systems before they were ever called smart, as a co-founder of Symbian. He then started LocaModa, which was doing visualizations of user-generated content as far back as 2005, before social media was even a thing.

In this podcast we talk about a lot of things, and spend considerable time exploring the LocaModa patent portfolio that Monster bought and is now working with companies to license. Randall explains how his company is not a troll, but a busy media firm just protecting well-established patents. He explains how the patents applies, and how things will play out for companies that are doing work that infringes on that intellectual property.


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Nanxi Liu, Enplug

May 6, 2016
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Nanxi Liu, the CEO of Enplug, a Los Angeles-based digital signage CMS company she started with a group of new friends after she graduated from Cal-Berkeley ... just four years ago..

Nanxi talks about being a Millennial Asian CEO in an industry mostly run by middle aged white guys, growing a company in a rental house in Belair, and how Enplug now has something akin to franchise offices in places like Nigeria, Slovakia and Australia.


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