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Technology trends – digital signage for theatres

TFA looks at the role of a digital signage network in the theatre. When integrated carefully, a network can make the time spent before shows more interesting for the audience.

TFA looks at the role of a digital signage network in the theatre. When integrated carefully, a network can make the time spent before shows more interesting for the audience.

Norwich Theatre Royal is open seven days a week and has up to three shows a day. The theatre can hold around 1300 theatregoers who range from school children or occasional visitors through to seasoned spectators, such as the Friends of Norwich Theatre.

Norwich Theatre Royal wanted to make the time spent before the shows more interesting for their audiences by informing them of the variety of activities around the building during the day, such as functions, meetings, art exhibitions, schools’ tours etc. They also wanted to build their relationships with local businesses through their sponsorship.

It was felt that by installing prominently located screens and a digital signage network, all of the above priorities would be achieved. ONELAN’s Net-Top-Boxes (NTBs) were chosen as the digital signage solution, due to their flexible scaling options and the layout designs available. The ONELAN NTBs allow a screen to be divided up into different zones, which allow different media formats to be shown.

The Theatre decided to keep a simple format of JPEG images and scrolling text. To reach such a large audience base, the location of the screens was considered very important. In this instance it was decided the key visual points were a variety of front of house locations and in the function rooms.

These positions were chosen due to the high footfall through these areas. In total, seven screens were sited throughout the venue. Five screens were placed front of house; two in the main entrance near the restaurant, one in the corridor leading to the lower stalls and two in the foyer area to the upper stalls near the bar. These screens keep theatre-goers updated on special effects in the show which might affect them, tell them when the show will finish, who the cast is and make them aware of the facilities at the theatre such as food and drink offers.

A further two were placed; one in each of the function rooms. The ONELAN system allowed the Theatre to welcome people to the numerous events held at the venue, direct them to the appropriate room and acknowledge and promote their supporters. Once in the function rooms the plasma screens could then be used for their own presentations or show DVDs in the room and have it go back to the ONELAN welcome afterwards.

The ONELAN Digital Signage solution has been well received by all the stakeholders, and has been a benefit to all concerned. Audiences have been kept up-to-date, local businesses have gained exposure and the Theatre has been able to update the information instantaneously with no messy crossing out or extra bits of paper.

“The ONELAN system offers us a new facility to welcome people to the theatre and to give them the information they need about the performance or the event they are attending,” said Jane Claridge, general manager, Norwich Theatre Royal. “At the same time we can recognise and thank our sponsors, promote forthcoming productions and make special announcements. The system is flexible enough to show a variety of media and can be scheduled to show the relevant information at the appropriate time.

“It’s ability to be time sensitive is extremely useful for us and we can see ways to use it more and more in response to the ever-changing functions of the building at the various times of day and night.”

A digital signage show worthy of a standing ovation.