CueTimer 3: New options for viewing timers

The upcoming v.3 version of CueTimer has more options for how the timers can be shown: 

– Hide hours when the counter is less than one hour
will show hours only when the timer is above one hour. So 70 minutes will still be 01:10:00, but later the countdown will be shown as 50:00 (50 minutes left)

– Sum hours into the minutes field
will show 1 hour and 10 minutes as 70:00. The hour-field will not be shown, hours are summed into the minutes. In our example that is 60 + 10 minutes. 

From earlier versions we can also hide hours completely, and hide unnecessary zeros ahead of numbers, so that you can get 0:05:04 instead of 00:05:04.

Optimise your countdown-timer display

When you use a big display for the timer, placed in front of the presenter, then its easy to make the timer visible:

But sometimes you don’t have space for a big monitor like this on the front of the stage. What if the stage is crowded with decorations, and you need to place the stage-timer further back in the room? Or the display needs to show a lot of other things besides the timer, meaning the timer needs to be smaller? Then it’s time to become creative.

By removing the hours, you can use a larger font-size for the text and still stay inside the boundaries of the display. Looking at the image below, you see that the text has the same size on both the 24″ and the 15″ screen. This means that you can use smaller displays for your timers and still get the same visibility.

You can also add more distance with similar results. From our calculations we found that with a 16:9 display, removing the hours lets you have the timer-screen 60% further away with the same visibility as the one showing hours.

Perhaps the display 3,2 meter away is placed next to a camera that the presenter talks into. This could be a teleprompter screen, or a small monitor mounted on the camera-stand. Another solution I have seen is to move the timer-monitor to the back wall of the room, but then you probably need a bigger monitor as well.

Hiding hours vs. summing hours into minutes field

In the scenario above, hiding hours will work perfectly fine if the duration is less than one hour. The challenge is what to do when the countdown-timer has more than 1 hour left. With the new option of summing hours, you still use the same space with values up to 99 minutes. This means that you get same timer-visibility also for longer countdowns. 

Displaying 01:15:03 with the option of summing hours into the minute-field

If you need lots of countdowns larger than 99 minutes, then this option may not be the best, unless you make the counter a little bit smaller to make space for the extra digits. (now you have room for countdowns up to 999 minutes, which should be enough for most scenarios)
But in my experience from working with events,  most timers are below 99 minutes anyway, because you can’t go on for too long without having a break or changing the topic. Therefore, I think the new option to sum hours into the minute-field can work great for presenters. 

Example of a schedule of speakers where all timers are below 99 minutes

Other ways to improve the visibility of the timer

Use fonts with high visibility
Bold fonts generally work better. CueTimer uses Verdana Bold by default, but you can use any font installed on your computer. 

Remove unessesary elements
In the example above for the small screen, we remove the name to have more space of the timer and the progress-bar

Optimize placement and use the whole screen
There is no reason to have lots of space on the edges of the screen. In CueTimer you can move the elements around and set the size to make your perfect timer-screen.

High contrast between the timer and background
For maximum visibility, use white text with black background, or opposite. If you want to use a background-image, make sure that the image has opposite brightness to the text (dark/light)
– CueTimer tip: You can adjust the opacity of the background-image to make it less visible. Then the image will blend in with the background color. 
– Tip 2: Use drop-shadow on the text to blend it better in with the background

Please note that some of the options discussed here for CueTimer are only available for the local outputs (HDMI/NDI/Preview).

Optimising the overlay timer

Powerpoint Presenter-view on Mac with a CueTimer timer-window on top. (center left)

The same principles apply when the timer is a part of a screen with other content. Having too many elements on the timer-window can make the whole screen less organized, and removing the hours can be a good idea.
Read more on how you can place a timer on top of presentations

Notice how much more visible the CueTimer countdown is compared to the default Powerpoint-timer placed in the top left corner. This is what you get for choosing a dedicated timer-solution like CueTimer.

CueTimer version 3 – coming soon

In addition to the new options for removing hours, version 3 of CueTimer also adds update-notifications and auto-updates. This allows us to bring updates more seamlessly to the user, and will be important as we continue to develop our software. 

Expected release is the end of February/beginning of March 2024. For now, we have a beta-version Windows available here:

Download CueTimer Windows 3 beta

Read more about CueTimer