For many operators of electronic message centers, the selection of entry and exit modes is based entirely on his/her likes and dislikes. No thought is given to how these modes affect the length of the message. Mainly because it doesn’t matter how long the messages are, right?
If you are thinking this, you may be wrong. Timing is important in a large number of message center applications. The most common timing application is in the selling of advertising. These ads are almost always sold by time (5 seconds spots). The buyer of these ads usually wants an animation with text or too much text for the amount of time. Whichever the case you are required to display the text in as little time as possible yet keep it effective.
Even if you are not selling advertising, timing is still very important. Each message center, depending on its location., has a very specific viewing time. This time is shortened by obstructions and/or higher speed limits. You need to check the viewing time of your sign by actually getting in your car and driving by your sign. Start timing at the point that you can see(and read) the messages. Be sure you are driving the speed limit or the speed of the traffic(they may be different). You will find that short, to-the-point messages work well in all applications.
To help you create effective word messages that take the minimum amount of time, we have conducted a study. We typed the word SALE into a 16×64 matrix and assigned it one of 12 entry effect modes. This was done for each mode and saved to a separate file name. To figure the entry mode time we subtracted the hold time(and off-time if one is programmed). The resulting entry mode times are as follows:
No effect: 0 sec
Spell out: 0.4 sec
Zoom Up (or Down) 0.5 sec
Roll up (or Down) 0.5 sec
Unveil up (or Down) 1 sec
Unveil left (or right) 2.2 sec
Roll left (or right) 2.2 sec
Travel: 3.4 sec
As you can see some entry modes are better than others. Remember these times reflect entry mode only. Hold time and exit time(if used) must also be added to get the overall message run time. If you are using an off or blank time between messages this must also be added.
To get the most messages across in the least amount of time consider forgoing all entry and exit effects and removing blank time between messages entirely. Also, beware of scrolling text as it takes much longer to scroll a given message than present it on one or two frames or on multiple lines of a display without added effects. Scrolling messages are particularly bad for short viewing windows and high-speed traffic as there is not enough time for them to be viewed completely by most vehicle traffic in the time it takes for them to run.