Southern California Sign Blog

Los Angeles Signs | All About Electronic Message Centers

Posted by Julie and Chris Ramirez on Fri, Mar 25, 2011 @ 07:03 AM

The Electronic Message Center Market

EMC Summary


• The term “electronic message center” (EMC) encompasses vast differences in scale and sophistication.


• Products may be designed for interior or exterior applications and may range from one-line monochrome text and time & temperature units to full-color billboards and video walls.


• EMC screens are configured in a matrix of individually addressable light source “pixels”. The closer the “pitch” (distance between pixels) the higher resolution the screen is capable of.

• The most common light source for EMC pixels are LEDs. Common monochrome colors are red, amber and green; full color pixels are made up of red, green and blue (RGB) LED clusters.


• Messages and images are usually controlled through manufacturer’s proprietary software, which may be connected to a network that controls multiple units.


• Access to the EMC market requires investments in technical training, equipment and licensing.

• License requirements differ in all cities, but most locations require a permit.

• An electrician’s license is necessary to connect to primary power.

• Installations are subject to inspection by the authority having jurisdiction.


• EMC installation involves building a robust support structure. 


• EMCs are regulated through local sign codes and city ordinances and range from outright bans in some locations to various restrictions on size, brightness and change frequency.


• EMC variables: color, resolution, viewing distances, viewing angles, all of which affect readability.


• The EMC Supply Chain

• Most manufacturers sell directly to sign companies or end users.

• Products are not generally available through distributors. 


• EMC Manufacturer Resources

• Product information

• Installation guidance

• Sales leads

• Technical training

• End-user support


• Leading EMC Manufacturers in the US (2010)

• Adaptive Micro Systems

• Daktronics

• Grandwell Industries

• HiTech LED Display

• Mitsubishi

• Optec

• Salescaster

• Sony

• Trans-Lux

• Wagner ZipVision

• Watchfire (by Time-O-Matic)

• YESCO (Young Electric Sign Co.)

The Sign Studio is a proud Partner with the above listed Manufacturers and hope this information will be helpful to you.  If you have any further questions or would like to see a Demo of an Electronic Message Center, please give us a call at (818) 843-9200 or send us an e-mail at  



EMC Final

Topics: Electronic Message Centers, LED Message Centers

Signs Los Angeles | Are Your Channel Letters UL Approved?

Posted by Julie and Chris Ramirez on Mon, Mar 21, 2011 @ 07:03 AM

Illuminated Store Front Channel Letters May Look Alike But Do You Know What You Are Getting?


 Channel Letter

Illuminated store front Channel Letters may look alike but do you know what you are really getting?

At The Sign Studio each channel letter is fabricated to UL specifications.  Why is this important? Simple, it assures the customer their illuminated 3D letter above their store front is safe and built to last. Drive around at night, see burned out signage, flickering neon and broken plexi faces. The average customer is unaware what they are truly getting for the price they are being quoted, after-all all letters appear to look the same from the outside when first installed BUT the big difference is the way in which the sign letters are manufactured.

What materials will be used in the fabrication of your electrical sign letter? The Sign Studio uses heavy gauge aluminum where some competitors use cheap paint lock metal which start to rust the day it goes up ( ever see brown rusty streaks coming off a letter on the building? that's paint lock metal ), secondly what thickness is the acrylic pan channel letter face? Thin sheets of plastic are half the price of standard but one may not tell until the weather changes because plexi expands and contracts as climates get colder or hotter thus cheap plastic faces crack quick. What about the lighting ? Is it 2 rows of 12mm Neon or 1 row of 8 mm Neon? What about the transformers, are they used or rebuilt? Even wiring cost differ greatly. Thus next time you are in the market for Channel Letters, whether plastic faces, led lit, Open Face Neon or even Halo reverse lit, it is always good to ask if your getting UL letters. Look for the sticker (is it real), ask the shop for their UL number and always be suspicious of low prices. You may find your sign letters look good the first few weeks but when costly service calls happen your original cost rise fast, so when you are looking to get your business name in lights, contact The Sign Studio at (818) 843-9200 or send us an e-mail at

Remember, know your image will be well lit when the sun goes down with properly fabricated UL letters, you will get what you pay for at


Topics: Channel Letters, UL Approved Signs, Illuminated Letters

Signs Los Angeles | Outline On The Vehicle Wrap Industry

Posted by Julie and Chris Ramirez on Fri, Mar 18, 2011 @ 07:03 AM

Is the World of Vehicle Wraps complicated?  Is this something you want to get into or would you rather  hire an experienced professional Sign Company to do your vehicle advertising for you?



• Full and partial vehicle wraps have become a cost-effective means of advertising. Vehicle wraps can be a creative business endeavor with a Vehicle Wraps Summary.


• Vehicle wraps can be a creative business endeavor with a reasonable potential for profit.


• Establishing a wraps business requires investments in equipment, supplies, shop space, education and time.


• Wraps production process involves design, print and installation.


• The learning curve is significantly less with a background in graphic arts, web design, wide-format printing or advertising.


• Specific wraps training is available at various locations and industry trade shows, as well as from equipment and vinyl manufacturers and experienced professionals. Training involves design and layout, basic procedures and various methods and approaches of the installation process, followed by practice and individual experimentation.


• Equipment:

• Computer

• Suitable graphics software

• Inkjet printer

• Laminator

• Squeegee and miscellaneous hand tools


• Supplies

• Media (predominantly vinyl, but advances are being made in other materials)

• Laminate

• Ink


• Popular installed digital inkjet printing equipment:

• Roland VP-540 54"

• Mimaki JV33-160 64"

• Mutoh ValueJet 64"

• HP 9000s 64"

• Roland SP-540V

• Mimaki JV3 54"


• Laminator Choices

• Laminator should be at least the same size as the printer to completely laminate the vinyl.

• Laminator manufacturers:


• Neschen/Seal




• Ink Choices

• Solvent inks

• Mild solvent inks

• UV-curable inks


• Vinyl Choices

• Specialized products are manufactured for wrap applications

• Evaluate consistency, quality, durability, performance, cost, compatibility and removability.

• Check reports and reviews about issues with bubbling, printing and cracking.

• Evaluate vinyl manufacturer’s warranty

• Avoid calendared vinyl

• Experiment with matte or reflective vinyl.

• Manufacturers of vinyl wrap media:

• 3M

• Arlon

• Avery

• LG Hausys

• Mactac

• Oracal


• Pricing Guidelines

• Costs of equipment and materials as well as rent, labor, taxes and insurance expenses must be factored into the overall pricing method.

• Other pricing factors: square footage of material; design and production time; installation time; customer’s budget.

• Price wraps to be competitive, yet profitable.

• Market pricing largely dictates prices

• Key is to run the operation efficiently.

• Consider overhead costs.

• The design setup is a separate charge.

• Print setup may be a separate charge.

• Installation may be a separate charge.

• Pricing software helps automate estimating, but it’s important to account for vehicle square footage, material type and other variables.


• Educate customers and potential customers regarding:

• What is the wrap going to advertise?

• Investment cost per month and comparative value to billboard or Yellow Pages

• Work within a realistic customer budget.

• Consider partial wrap alternatives for smaller budgets.

• Inform customer about the expected life of the media and your company's policies about the wrap media warranty. 

• Present your customer with a wrap “care sheet”


• Wrap Production Workflows:

• Evaluate the vehicle

• Inspect the paint

• Assess body contours and accessories

• Photograph and measure the vehicle

• Take direct shots (not at angles) to help accurately scale the graphics

• Photograph each side, hood, rear, roof and bumpers

• Measure exact height and width of sides, hood, rear, roof and bumpers

• Determine installation requirements. Consider extreme curves, rivets, door handles and other protruding parts that impact the amount of materials involved in printing and installation time.

• Design around extreme areas to save time on installation.

• Secure signed approval and deposit before printing and installation.

• Quality of printing and lamination is critical.

• Install without noticeable seams, bubbles or other imperfections.

• Many available wrap media products can be repositioned for best visual alignment and to help remove bubbles during installation.


• An attractive wrap is also an advertisement for your business.


• Establishing a wraps business requires investments in equipment, supplies, shop space, education and time.


• Wraps production process involves design, print and installation.


• The learning curve is significantly less with a background in graphic arts, web design, wide-format printing or advertising.



If you have any questions, please feel free to call us at (818) 843-9200 or send us an e-mail at
Wrap Pictures resized 600

Topics: Vehicle Wraps, Vehicle Graphics, Advertising

Los Angele Signs | Do I need a Site Survey or Sign Permits?

Posted by Julie and Chris Ramirez on Mon, Mar 14, 2011 @ 07:03 AM

Do I need Sign Permits? Yes.  Sign Permits are required in the State of California. 

Although all Cities in The State of California require sign permits, each City varies with different requirments and Codes. 


Our team of engineers will ensure that the best structural design is implemented. This includes design and specification for all sign components, including face decoration, lighting, structure, metal fabrication and painting. We will offer help with manufacturing suggestions, valued engineering and installation methods. We will find a solution for any technical issue.


Our company is aware of local municipal codes and city ordinances and will not fabricate or install any project until all the necessary permits have been issued. The Sign Studio Inc. will prepare and manage all paperwork involved in the permitting process. All costs associated with the permits (i.e. man-hours, city fees, etc.) will be added in the estimate upon request.


After a thorough examination of the property and surroundings we can determine where signs are needed at the site for identification and directional purposes. We will take accurate measurements, photos, determine if there is electrical access and local code information. Our goal is to find the most visibility & access of your sign to increase the volume of traffic that passes your location every 24 hours.


At The Sign Studio Inc. we understand that a creative and marketable sign is necessary to attract the targeted audience. Our company's award winning design team incorporates all logos and related material into the sign it builds for the prospective client. They work close together with our engineers and production managers to assure a satisfactory and effective sign design.

If you have any questions, please call The Sign Studio at (818) 843-9200 or send us an e-mail at


Topics: Sign Site Survey, Sign Permit Survey, Sign Design and Engineering

Los Angeles Signs | Let's Talk.....Logo Concept and Design

Posted by Julie and Chris Ramirez on Fri, Mar 11, 2011 @ 07:03 AM


Creating a logo for a business or company is a critical aspect of communicating a first impression to the right audience. The design must convey the correct feel of the company and should be direct and immediate, by translating and simplifying the essence of the business into the simplest of terms. If a logo concept seems weak or cheap, people may have that same association with the company.

How The Sign Studio Creates a Strong Logo Design?

There are many schools of thinking in the approach to logo design and creation. We strongly believe you will first have to know the business that you are designing for and the audience that they want to attract. Research, research, research!

We like to stay away from visual clichés. Example, a musical note as an icon for a piano store is a bit too obvious, but sometimes this cannot be avoided (or is the best solution altogether) and needs to be accepted and dealt with creatively.

McDonald's logo could have went with a juicy burger next to the name, but instead they took the first initial "M" and created an icon that was both simple and visually pleasing to look at as an asymmetrical element. Burger King, conversely, took the other route and put their number one product right into the logo, a stylized hamburger. The design is sharp and immediate. Without any gradients, it utilizes the boldness and contrast of flat colors to stand out and be noticed in a professional yet fun way.

Once a concept is preliminarily talked about and research has been done, we sketch out the designs and create pencil sketches. We then design in a vector-based illustration program, typically Adobe Illustrator or FLEXI. The initial layouts are created in black and white and once approved, color designs/samples are produced for Customer review and approval.

Creating an effective logo from concept to finish is always a challenge that we like to take on with new and interesting clients.

The Sign Studio is a full service design team with an on-site Art Director for all your needs. Feel free to call us (818) 843-9200 or send us an e-mail with any questions at


Topics: Logo Concept, Sign Design & Layout, Logo Design

Los Angeles Signs | What it Means to Be Bonded, Licensed & Insured.

Posted by Julie and Chris Ramirez on Mon, Mar 7, 2011 @ 07:03 AM


Whenever a company offers its services, it's generally quick to note that it's bonded, licensed, and insured (when it applies and if they are) but are you certain what that actually means? You should only hire someone if they're bonded, licensed (if applicable) and insured. Often times someone who isn't will be cheaper, but you will have to accept all of the responsibility if something bad happens and, as Murphy's Law clearly states - if something bad can happen, it will.


Being bonded means that a bonding company has secured money that is available to the consumer in the event they file a claim against the company. The secured money is in the control of the state, a bond, and not under the control of the company. Let's say that you hire a sign company to install some signs and they never show up and you can't get a hold of them and they have the signs or you have hired them to do some other work and they don't finish it? Well, you would file a claim against the company and, after an investigation, would be paid out by this bond. A company that is bonded means that a bonding company has funds.


For certain professions, a license is necessary to show that you're competent and permitted to conduct business in the city, municipality, or state in which the license was issued. For example, home improvement contractors will have to be licensed to perform certain types of work and that license number will be printed on every advertisement they print. You can take that license number and look up their performance at the Contractors State Board.


This is probably the most commonly understood of the three (second to being licensed) and this refers to what happens if someone gets hurt on the job. Let's say a company is installing your sign and an employee falls and hurts him or herself. If the company isn't insured, then the claim gets filed against your insurance (bad). If the company is insured, then the claim gets filed against their own insurance.

In summary, it's important that anyone you work with is licensed, bonded, and insured. There's no reason why you should have to work with someone who isn't all three, unless being licensed doesn't apply. Once you know that they are, research and confirm that they are being truthful and are actually bonded.

The Sign Studio is a fully insured, bonded and licensed Sign Electrical Contractor Company in the State of California with a Commercial General Liability Insurance policy of $2,000,000 by The Hartford. Specific numbers and policy photocopies are available upon request. We are proud to have a 0 occurrence rating for any Workers' Comp. claim.

If you have any questions or need a licensed contractor to do your installations, please give us a call at (818) 843-9200 or send us an e-mail at

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Topics: Licensed Sign Contractor's, C45, Licensed Sign Company

Los Angeles Signs | Does a Sign Co. need a Contractor's License?

Posted by Julie and Chris Ramirez on Fri, Mar 4, 2011 @ 07:03 AM

Does a Sign Company need to have a Contractor's License to Install your sign?


It is unlawful in the State of California to install any sign without a Contractor's License. For everyone out there who does not have a contractor's license or hires someone without one, the Contractor's State License Board has been setting up sting operations to catch unlicensed operators.

Consumers need to check for phony contractors or they can be held responsible for any injuries or damages. All License numbers can be checked on-line at Proof of workers' compensation insurance should also be provided. Check carefully that a phony contractor is not using someone else's license and insurance. In reality, you likely won't pay any more by hiring a licensed contractor who provides the added assurance that you'll be protected from liability if a worker is hurt or anything goes awry during the project.

California State License Board provides many helpful consumer publications that can be downloaded or ordered from:, or by calling 1-800-321-CSLB (2752).

CSLB urges consumers to remember the following tips when hiring a contractor:

  • Be especially hesitant when approached by someone offering services door-to-door.
  • Verify the contractor's license by checking online or via CSLB's automated phone system, and ask to see a photo ID to make sure you're dealing with the correct person.
  • Don't pay more than 50% down. Don't pay in cash, and don't let the payments get ahead of the work.
  • Check references, and get a written contract before your project begins.

The Sign Studio not only has their Contractor's License but they also have their C-45 Electrical Sign License.  If you have any questions or need a licensed contractor to do your installations, please give us a call at (818) 843-9200 or send us an e-mail at

Need Quote

Topics: Sign Contractor's License, C45 Contractor's License, Sign Installation

Los Angeles Signs | Electronic Display Signs - All you need to know!

Posted by Julie and Chris Ramirez on Wed, Mar 2, 2011 @ 06:03 AM


Electronic Display Signage, LED Signage, Message Centers

What is an LED?
A light emitting diode (LED) is a tiny, electronic semiconductor that converts electric energy into visible light. The chemical compound used within an LED determines its color, brightness and power efficiency. Unlike incandescent lamps, LEDs have no filaments that can burn out or fail.

What is a pixel?
Pixel is short for picture element. Pixels are points of light that illuminate together to form letters, words, graphics, animation, and video images. A pixel can be made up of a single LED, multiple LEDs of the same color or multiple LEDs of different colors. A pixel is the smallest element of the electronic display system that can be individually controlled. It can be turned off or on at various brightness levels.

What is resolution?
Resolution is the basic measurement of how much information a screen shows based on the total number of pixels within the display area and is a significant factor in determining image quality. Pixel pitch (center-to-center spacing between display pixels) and the display's physical dimensions help to determine resolution.

What is a module?
An LED module is a combination of parts that form the building blocks of LED video displays, message centers and dynamic message signs.

What is a digit?
A digit is a numeric symbol with seven segment bars. Each segment uses discrete LEDs to produce a value between 0-9. Scoreboards, timing systems and price displays use digits to display information.

What are viewing angles?
LED displays are at their brightest when viewed "head on" and slowly decrease in brightness as the viewing angle increases. The viewing angles of an LED display - both horizontal and vertical - are the angles at which the intensity has dropped 50 percent from the direct "head on" brightness.

What are viewing distances?
Viewing distances are calculated based on the display type and the distance from the display. Each display will have a minimum and a maximum viewing distance that may vary based on application and intended use. For example, a large character will have a longer viewing distance while a small character will have a shorter viewing distance. We use 50 feet for every one inch of character distance as a general point of reference.

If you have any questions or if you need further information, please call The Sign Studio at (818) 843-9200 or send us an e-mail at


Electronic Display Signage, LED Signage, Message Centers

Topics: LED Message Centers, LED Displays, Electronic Display Signs