Date posted: September 8, 2014

Ross Brand-it becomes second Bannister Lake software solution specifically designed for Ross customers

Bannister Lake’s strategic relationship with Ross Video continues this week at IBC2014, as Ross introduces a new branding solution based on Bannister Lake’s broadcast automation software.  The out-of-the-box solution provides Ross with a solution that is simple to integrate, giving their customers an out-of-the-box on-air branding solution that is easy to use and navigate.

Called XPression Brand-it, the new solution brings the power of Bannister Lake’s Brando to the Ross Video XPression graphic production workflow. BL Brando is a data-rich, web-based software solution that simplifies how broadcasters dynamically incorporate and continuously update bugs, promos, snipes, sponsor messages, social media hashtags, and other branding elements within one or more program streams.

In the Ross Video workflow, Brand-it will help XPression users more efficiently create, schedule and manage unique branding content for multiple channels.  Configurations are available for both single-channel TV stations and multi-channel broadcast networks, ensuring a solution for broadcasters of any size and scale.

“The introduction of Brand-it extends the long-term relationship between Ross Video and Bannister Lake, following on the spring introduction of Tick-it, a Ross-branded ticker and branding solution based on Bannister Lake’s Super Ticker software,” said Georg Hentsch, president, Bannister Lake.  “The tight integration between Ross and Bannister Lake technology ensures that Ross customers have complete, highly interoperable solutions for automated on-air branding and graphics.”

Brand-it also supports an unlimited number of graphic designers and production schedulers depending on operational needs. Web-based content authoring tools also enable multiplatform, web-based content authoring for users across fixed and mobile devices, including traditional desktop workstations, laptops and tablets. This capability, along with tighter integration across traffic and automation systems, ensures that users can flexibly schedule branding content months in advance, or make on-the-fly changes up until moments before airtime.

Visitors to the Ross Video stand (9.C23) can see a full demonstration of XPression Brand-it at the IBC 2014 Show, taking place September 12-16 at the RAI Exhibition Centre in Amsterdam.

Date posted: August 20, 2014

New software solution broadens scope for innovative Super Ticker solutions, covering all operations from call letter stations to large multichannel networks

CAMBRIDGE, ON, Canada, August 20, 2014BL Super Ticker, the robust content management and playout solution from Bannister Lake, has long been a leading choice for lightning-fast delivery of on-air graphics and data in Canada.  Bannister Lake is now bringing the workflow experience of Super Ticker to a wider North American audience with BL Super Ticker Solo, a full version of the tried-and-true software in a single-channel only configuration.  BL Super Ticker Solo reduces the hardware but retains its predecessor’s powerful feature set.

An example of data output across on-air graphics via Bannister Lake’s Super Ticker Solo

The streamlined Super Ticker Solo boils down the multichannel approach for call letter stations and other single-channel TV operations.  While the original Super Ticker architecture networks a master server with multiple, and sometimes geographically distributed players, Super Ticker Solo localizes the creative power and data-flow flexibility within a compact, single-box solution—lowering the cost of entry for local TV stations, cable access channels and small broadcast networks.  Super Ticker Solo also keeps the clean, intuitive interface to maintain ease of use, as well as limitless output and independent content zones for a high-quality, engaging and professional on-air look that plays out across many consumer devices.

“Super Ticker Solo eliminates the server overhead of Super Ticker that, while very affordable for multichannel applications, is impractical for smaller broadcast and cable stations that don’t require more than one channel,” said Georg Hentsch, president, Bannister Lake.  “Super Ticker Solo reduces the footprint to a 3RU chassis that is simple to integrate.  Yet, it leverages the same powerful software to creatively and reliably produce, manage and playout anything from simple news tickers and lower-third data crawls; to active, dynamic graphics and animations across multiple screen zones.”

Call letter stations can still benefit from the multi-user capability that differentiates Super Ticker from competitive systems, allowing many operators to use Super Ticker Solo across the workflow for separate graphics creation and content management functions.  Production teams benefit from a similar blend of creativity and management through an ability to combine original editorial content with automated data retrieval.  This operational freedom enables users to reliably automate playout of up-to-date news feeds, stock tickers, sports scores, weather conditions and more, while mixing in unique branded content customized for specific viewing audiences—such as revenue-generating sponsor messages.

Collectively, Super Ticker and Super Ticker Solo cover the gamut from the most modest broadcast operations to the largest networks, with both versions able to dynamically scale output using a time-based, automated rundown; or enable users to manually shift gears to very specifically address quickly changing program needs.

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Date posted: August 6, 2014

New BL Brando 2.0 software enhances how broadcasters create, schedule and manage branding elements for single and multichannel playout architectures

CAMBRIDGE, ON, Canada, August 6, 2014 — Graphics automation specialist Bannister Lake has released the second generation of BL Brando, a data-rich, web-based software solution that simplifies how broadcasters dynamically incorporate and continuously update bugs, promos, snipes, sponsor messages, social media hashtags, and other branding elements within one or more program streams.

As the market leading solution in Canada, Brando has enhanced how the largest Canadian broadcasters create, schedule and manage unique branding content for multiple channels.  The second-generation Brando release extends its reach across the workflow—including tighter integration with traffic and automation systems—and adds an alternate version tailored for single-channel operations.  Called BL Brando Solo, this single-box solution includes all the power of Brando while reducing the cost and infrastructure for U.S. call letter stations and TV operations that only require branding for one channel.

The second-generation of BL Brando includes two versions: one for larger broadcast networks, and a second lighter version, BL Brando Solo, for single-channel TV operations

Importantly, the new single and multi-channel configurations both retain the trademark ease of use that differentiates the initial Brando release from competitive automated branding solutions. This covers everything from graphics design, data integration and scheduling triggers to more advanced workflow-centric applications, such as direct support for editing resources; and reconciliation of content and scheduling changes between graphics and master control.  The latter feature, which automates publishing of such changes across the workflow, is especially useful for branding elements like sponsor messages and cross-channel promotions that are associated with monetization.

“Many graphics automation solutions, particularly for branding, require that end users communicate changes to the supplier in order to accommodate updates and expansions, increasing costs and implementation times,” said Georg Hentsch, president, Bannister Lake.  “Brando eliminates that complexity at the end user level by integrating tools that simplify how end users can make adjustments as branding requirements evolve.  This ensures that our customers can optimize their branding workflows for ongoing use without hindering progress or affecting the bottom line.”

As with the initial Brando release, the new version also supports an unlimited number of graphic designers and production schedulers depending on operational needs. Web-based content authoring tools also enable multiplatform, web-based content authoring for users across fixed and mobile devices, including traditional desktop workstations, laptops and tablets.  This ensures that users can flexibly schedule content months in advance, or make on-the-fly changes up until moments before airtime.

A complete list of new Brando features for the second-generation release can be found at:  http://bannisterlake.com/Products/Brando/Brando2.0

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Date posted: June 3, 2014

BL Elector helps broadcasters like Shaw Media strategize news coverage throughout the election lifecycle

On June 12, Bannister Lake will enable Canadian broadcast and cable networks in Ontario, including Shaw Media’s Global Toronto, to deliver real-time, on-air results from the 41st Provincial Election with BL Elector, a unique software-based solution that intelligently manages the constant flow of voting data reported on live television.

At its core, BL Elector is a web-based, database-driven content management solution that maximizes flow for on-air production staff, allowing multiple operators to populate data from many election feeds within on-air graphics. For election night coverage, BL Elector excels in delivering up-to-date information to viewers in a visually appealing manner, while giving talent, producers and administrators easy access to a wealth of candidate and election information.

However, for broadcasters like Global Toronto, the value of BL Elector extends well beyond driving data and graphics for election night results.

“Too many election products only focus on election night events, but BL Elector is a go-to source for data aggregation throughout election season,” said Gerry Belec, director, technology and design for Global News, Shaw Media. “For the past several weeks, we’ve built an election bible with extensive detail on candidates and ridings using BL Elector, while pulling forward past election information to use as historical and comparison data. Post-election, we can call up statistics and use them to build analysis.  And on election night, we can pump live, up-to-the-minute data right into the broadcast and website.”

Reliable and easy to use, BL Elector seamlessly automates up-to-date election information as votes are tallied and reported – pulling feeds from any available election source. Direct integration with graphics systems ensures clean layouts of real-time, BL Elector-driven data for pre-designed templates across multiple screen zones. Graphics playlists can be organized into unlimited groups of regions, ridings, parties, charts and maps. In larger elections, operators can break down data from many regions into smaller subsets, enhancing the local element for viewers following county-by-county races, for example.

For customers like Shaw Media—which uses BL Elector across all of its TV stations and its website—the solution provides richer benefits through its blending of automated and manually entered content. This enables operators to innovate custom editorial, highlighting detail around live polling, close races, landslides, major swings and other electoral riding developments.

“You have to be prepared with content to put the election into context,” said Belec.  “If one candidate is well ahead, we can easily pull up a bio and find out everything there is to know about the candidate in the system.  As live data comes in, we can highlight how that candidate is performing against the competitor.  BL Elector helps us automate as much of the process as possible while giving us freedom to drive our editorial.”

Belec adds that Bannister Lake’s multiplatform approach ensures that BL Elector centrally drives all data for on-air, web and mobile targets—as well as virtual sets inside the studio—to maximize efficiency across the production workflow.  He points to constant evolution of the software as an additional benefit, noting a just-added rehearsal tool that allows production staff to simulate and prepare for various outcome scenarios.

“For more than a decade, BL Elector has been the leading choice for bilingual (English and French) on-air election results for federal, provincial and municipal elections across Canada, giving broadcasters a competitive edge in strategizing election coverage,” said Georg Hentsch, president, Bannister Lake.  “It is ideally suited for today’s broadcast and cable networks, reliably filtering, finding and reporting data across non-stop, high-pressure on-air scenarios.  Most importantly, it gives our customers like Shaw Media the control to highlight races and election data that is relevant to their viewers.”

Date posted: April 29, 2014

EDINA 16 is Comcast’s first HD PEG channel in Minnesota

Edina Community Channel 16 in Minnesota recently became the state’s first Public Access-Educational-Government (PEG) channel to broadcast in HD on Comcast cable systems, with technology from Tightrope Media Systems supporting the transition and new production workflow.

Run by City of Edina’s Communications and Technology Services Department, the Emmy-Award winning station, known as EDINA 16, produces multiple HD/SD PEG channels.  Content is stored on four Tightrope Cablecast SX server and automation systems, with programs like the biweekly Agenda: Edina news program and Beyond the Badge, a monthly show about public safety in Edina, playing to air according to the station’s schedule.

EDINA 16’s mission is ambitious, featuring live coverage of the City of Edina’s City Council and Planning Commission meetings mixed with news and public affairs programs.  Local residents can access programming on Comcast Channel 813 (HD) and Channel 16 (SD).

“Our Cablecast SX systems are the lynchpin of our operation,” said Scott Denfeld, video production coordinator for Edina Channel 16.  “They enable us to schedule and deliver professional broadcast quality channels with a very lean staff and limited budget.  It allows us to keep our citizens informed and engaged in their local government and community.”

The staff gets a lot of mileage out of their Cablecast systems.  The City of Edina bought two HD and two SD Cablecast SX systems last summer when Comcast decided to entrust them with the public access and educational channels of this franchise’s PEG initiative — known as Southwest Community TV.  Responsibility for government channels within that initiative was assumed by each of the respective municipalities.  However, the nearby community of Eden Prairie asked Edina to produce its local government channel.

The EDINA 16 operation has grown bigger as a result.  In addition to Eden Prairie’s HD government access channel, the staff also produces Public Access Channel 15 and Educational Channel 14 serving five Minneapolis suburban communities — viewable live on their local Comcast cable systems.  Government content produced for EDINA 16 is also available on-demand at The City of Edina’s website and YouTube channel.

Denfeld stresses that all of this expansion would not have been possible without the flexibility and reliability of Cablecast.

“Cablecast’s ease of use and operation includes automation software to schedule live and repeat shows with drag and drop ease, and its Front Door user interface gives us Web-browser based remote monitoring and control of all four Cablecast servers,” Denfeld added.  “With 4 TB of storage and support for popular formats like H.264, MPEG 2/4, QuickTime, AVI, and WMV, we’re able to schedule and playout shows to our broadcast and web outlets in a reliable, streamlined workflow.”

According to Denfeld, Edina’s City Manager Scott Neal and Communications and Technology Services Director Jennifer Bennerotte have “a big creative vision” for this local Public Access/Education/Government initiative.  As Chair of the Southwest Cable Commission, which oversees the franchise area’s PEG programs such as EDINA 16, Neal also played a key role in the selection of the Tightrope Cablecast system and supporting gear.

The four Cablecast systems reside in two seven-foot tall equipment racks in a refurbished storage room in Edina City Hall.  The modest facility includes multiple cameras and a portable video production system with green-screen backdrop that can be set up in the Council Chambers.

“Tightrope’s Cablecast has helped us turn a City Hall storage room into a fully functioning, multi-channel HD/SD broadcast television facility complete with automated scheduling and web-based remote access,” Denfeld said.

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Date posted: January 16, 2014

BL Score Bug Go delivers portable and affordable score bug graphics when space and budgets are tight

Bannister Lake announces the immediate availability of BL Score Bug Go, a compact, cost-effective, lightweight professional score bug solution for live broadcast sports and in-house venue stadium, arena, and park production.  This uncompromising carry-on package provides support for HD-SDI output of real-time scoring and game status, helping production teams generate high quality turnkey score bug graphics from a portable system at a fraction of the price.

This turnkey solution packs exceptional power given its compact laptop-sized form factor featuring Bannister Lake’s scoring and game status solution and a sophisticated graphics and animations engine.  A Thunderbolt™-enabled laptop bundled with an AJA Io XT external video interface device offers:

  • Full uncompressed HD and SD 4:2:2 and 4:4:4 capable video capture and playback
  • Built-in support for HD clips and audio
  • Switchable reference and LTC inputs and outputs

BL Auto Pilot™ support additionally provides direct data connectivity to arena scoreboard controllers and radar guns for instantaneous and automated game data.

Bannister Lake’s sport-centric interface turns operators into power users. Operator hot keys offer instant in-game access to score, sponsor, and clock updates, and game exceptions and infractions such as penalties, flags, and substitutions.

“The Score Bug Go solution is the right score bug solution at the right price,” stated Georg Hentsch, President of Bannister Lake. “Between its full HD SDI key and fill and the solution’s $15K price tag, every broadcaster and venue can be a major league player with stunning, cutting-edge score bug output.”

BL Score Bug Go is available and shipping now through Bannister Lake as well as authorized resellers.

Date posted: November 21, 2013

BL Snow Day offers a simple, cost-effective way to generate and deliver school and community notices across many systems and devices

Bannister Lake announces the availability of BL Snow Day, a new cost-effective school closures and local community events solution for broadcasters, schools, municipalities and digital signage networks.

BL Snow Day’s simplified web-based workflow provides an unlimited number of content moderators the ability to pre-schedule content for future play out and set automatic story expiration. Automation and editorial tools enable staff to manage community events, local news stories, images, and video content and organize it into reusable topics and playlists ready for broadcast.

In broadcast, BL Snow Day helps local TV stations generate and broadcast real-time critical school closures and bus cancellations or delays due to inclement weather on any platform, including digital signage, web, and mobile.   BL Snow Day also provides a simple toolset for on-campus information, allowing K-12 schools and universities to share early dismissal details across campus TV systems and digital signage networks.

Additionally, municipalities can use BL Snow Day to broadcast school closing and community event information across town hall systems, and offer it as a shared resource for the entire community.  This allows local broadcasters, schools, and fire and police departments to centrally access and use the system.

Above all, BL Snow Day is quick to deploy, providing end users and systems integrators with an uncomplicated platform that is simple to install and easy to learn.  Any system that can read an RSS, XML, ODBC, or JSON feed can immediately integrate BL Snow Day output, which gets new customers up and running quickly.

“Your school closure solution shouldn’t be complicated to install, integrate or operate when you’re looking to share local information with your viewers quickly and efficiently,” stated Pete Challinger, VP U.S. Business Development at Bannister Lake. “BL Snow Day is easy to integrate and easy to learn. It eliminates your manual copy and paste workflows, and it offers good value for call letter stations, schools and government agencies looking to add closure coverage or update their existing systems.”

BL Snow Day is available as an enterprise server 1RU chassis solution, a secure cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution, and a lightweight, solid-state, portable Nano turnkey solution that fits in the palm of the hand.

Date posted: November 6, 2013

Portland, Maine’s community television network CTN operates on a modest budget like most non-profit, public access TV stations.  The station delivers on its mission to support, strengthen and enrich the local community with help from a lean, dedicated staff; and a cost-efficient, reliable workflow featuring Tightrope Media Systems server and automation technology.

Viewed locally on Time Warner Cable systems, CTN uses Tightrope Cablecast solutions to support two on-air channels and video-on-demand content at its website.  Originally installed several years ago to simplify scheduling and multichannel playout, the station now automates on-air branding and has enhanced remote access through recent Cablecast upgrades.

CTN5 engineer Bill Blood checks out his Tightrope Cablecast server.

“Cablecast is the core of our ingest and playout operation, as we use it to program both stations and update our website,” said Tom Handel, executive director for CTN.  “But we really like Tightrope’s ability to deliver new updates that enhance the system at very reasonable costs.”

The latest enhancements include a new video overlay feature that integrates channel branding within CTN’s Cablecast SX video servers.  This allows CTN to generate lower corner station bugs and high-quality text crawls to promote upcoming programs.  Selectable fonts and speed, as well as support for background and foreground images, allow CTN staff to customize insertions as needed.

The Cablecast (bottom) and Carousel servers at CTN5

“Our new video overlay feature brings this functionality to many public access and community TV stations for the first time,” said Steve Israelsky, broadcast solutions lead, Tightrope Media Systems.  “Traditionally, channel branding and other video overlay requires transitional downstream keying hardware that is quite expensive and often not within the budgets of these stations.  Our Cablecast customers like CTN can now achieve this functionality with a simple and low-cost software upgrade.”

CTN has also upgraded its Cablecast system to simplify remote access, allowing Handel and other staff members to easily access the servers over the internet.  This enables the CTN staff to make scheduling changes from home, or switch to bulletin board feeds in the event of an after-hours technical problem at the station.  Tightrope’s Carousel digital signage server supports all live on-air bulletin board feeds.

Collectively, these enhancements streamline the workflow at CTN, helping a small staff operate in a very productive manner across all technical phases.

“The drag and drop nature of Cablecast already makes the system easy to operate when it comes to media ingest, scheduling and playout, but the ongoing enhancements have helped us better manage operations against budget-related staff cuts,” said Handel.  “We are saving about 20 hours a week in labor.”

Date posted: October 22, 2013

Sportsnet is capitalizing on the tight integration between Bannister Lake’s Super Ticker solution and Ross Video’s XPression platform for its broadcast channels including Sportsnet 360, Ontario, ONE, Pacific, West, East, and World.

XPression is Ross Video’s next-generation real-time motion graphics platform for 2D and 3D workflows. Together, XPression and Super Ticker provide Sportsnet with a robust, multi-channel, multi-user, and multi-platform content management and broadcast solution that delivers diverse sports coverage. Sportsnet’s eye-catching graphics include breaking news, highlights, scores, statistics, analysis, and more in a fast-paced format 24 hours a day, every day of the week.

BL Super Ticker offers Sportsnet the ultimate centralized workflow experience: simultaneous collaboration coupled with a clean, intuitive interface, limitless output, and independent content zones.

Sportsnet’s stunning graphics highlight in-game statistics, total and favorite game odds, and news stories with media and video for each sport through GPI commands and Super Ticker automation triggering,” said Georg Hentsch, President of Banister Lake. “Our ‘design once and repurpose often model’ empowers graphics teams to design in a flexible environment and populate entire shows for reuse across regions.”

XPression’s intuitive template-based workflows and Super Ticker’s content reuse model completely separates graphics creation from content management for dynamic graphics updates. Sportsnet is free to blend automated and manually entered content together for custom editorial without restrictions, and distribute content easily to multiple output devices, including broadcast players, web, and mobile.

Date posted: September 26, 2013

Seasoned executive makes worldwide company growth a priority

IP audio and control specialist Barix ushers in a new era with the appointment of Ronni Guggenheim as CEO.  Based in Zurich, Mr. Guggenheim takes the reins on October 1 — and he has big plans for the company.

“Barix has a stellar reputation as an IP technology pioneer and a very solid technology core, the majority of which is hardware-driven,” said Guggenheim.  “We have an opportunity to increase market share by building a broader ecosystem with a stronger software focus.”

Guggenheim certainly understands technology, with recent leadership roles at Minicom Digital Signage and ComQi, a leading global digital signage technology supplier.  The latter company formed through a merger between Minicom Digital Signage and EnQii, an effort which Guggenheim drove and executed.  He brings additional leadership experience to Barix as former managing partner and CEO of neXius AG, where he drove strategy development and execution for hardware and software technology companies.

Guggenheim will leverage his proven leadership skills and business sense, along with a history of sales and marketing expertise, to take Barix to the next level — an exciting proposition for Barix founder Johannes G. Rietschel.

Rietschel has served as CEO of Barix since its inception in 2001, and will remain with the company as executive chairman and CTO.  This will allow him to focus on his visionary and technology development skills as he relinquishes the daily operations and business strategy to Mr. Guggenheim.

“Barix has achieved excellent growth for 12 years, but we have reached a size where we need different entrepreneurial skillsets,” said Rietschel.  “I will remain involved in the overall company vision but am getting back to focusing on technology, and ensuring we have the best to offer for our customers.  Ronni brings the experience we need to build stronger sales channels and strategic focus worldwide.  And I will work with him to guarantee greater acceleration of Barix’s success.”

Guggenheim’s digital signage experience is an ideal complement to Barix’s strategy in the retail and business space, where the company has a strong reputation and global customer base for in-store audio solutions.  Guggenheim will bring an overall stronger vertical focus to the company, which also supplies technology solutions to the broadcast, security, entertainment and professional AV/installation markets.  He will also further invest in relationships with existing OEM and channel partnerships, while paving the way for new alliances.

“At Barix, we have a well-developed, well-defined and established company that will break through to a new phase of revenue growth by building on the successes of our existing team — a team we will continue to rely on heavily,” he said.  “We’ll quickly bring better clarity to our vertical and geographical focus, and we expect exponential development of the company as a result.”

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