Query about EA’s FIFA eTournament

Al Savoie is the Creative and Tech Director at Bannister Lake who recently worked with EA Sports to come up with way for gamer data to play out and hit the masses. The event is a marathon, taking place over 3 days with 128 players, on both Xbox and PS4 consoles.  Friday was a Swiss tournament round, with Saturday and Sunday being the Bracket Elimination Rounds. Here are some industry insights from his week in Barcelona.


Can you describe the client and what they needed to happen for this tournament?

Sure, but let me give you a little background first.

With eSports tournaments becoming more popular as an event, watched by millions around the globe, eSports productions want to try to match conventional broadcast quality programming.

They want to match broadcast production, similar to what you see in NBA or NFL live events. But unlike those conventional offerings that focus on one game, eSports had 511 games over the course of the tournament increasing production demand.  And keep in mind that each game is roughly twenty minutes in length so a lot of turnaround.

Camera, audio, lighting are pretty standard, but BOOMBOX Group needed a way to filter and moderate all those player stats and then display it in some way graphically.  They needed a tool to allow them to easily do this. In the past they were limited in how to display player stats with such a quick turnaround – it wasn’t easy to moderate.

For example on the Friday, the first day Swiss Bracket Round,  there was no way to display  gamer wins or losses, goals for or against for the 128 players over the 7 Rounds.  Since broadcast couldn’t focus on all the games at the same time, they needed a way to display that information for the viewers.  The Chameleon provided a solution to automatically populate player stats without a need for inputting manually.


The key idea behind BOOMBOX using Chameleon in this production was to assist in filtering and moderating data, to be used primarily in XPression on the Saturday and Sunday broadcasts, but also as a ticker using Chameleon’s own rendering engine.

Chameleon’s Query module was required here.  We needed to create APIs for XPression to easily search players based on a round and who they were playing against.  Data was to be entered manually on location by the tournament ops crew, and sent over to the Chameleon database using a custom reader written by Georg at BL.  Once in Chameleon,  we wrote our own queries to filter what we needed for XPression.

With XPression settled, they also wanted to add another layer, in the form of the Chameleon web player, as the primary graphics system on the Friday during the very complicated Swiss format elimination round.


How many staff were involved? How does it compare to other large scale live events that Bannister has been involved in?

Well, typically Bannister Lake participates in elections in terms of live events. Our solutions are usually for tickers and branding that exist on a network, 24-7.

What makes this interesting is that an election is very similar to a lot of eSport events, in this case the candidates are the gamers, all competing and vying for a spot in the finals. It requires up to the minute stats/results. Usually elections require a lot of manpower but Chameleon doesn’t. It was a two-man job from the outset for us. Our software is designed to be very efficient; not a lot of staff required.

As for production staff, it took the same amount of people to produce NHL game, for example. For broadcast professionals, they may feel like this type of production feels cheaper only because the play out is non traditional (Youtube/Twitch),  but one could argue that the amount of money is equal, if not more, than a produced NHL game. Most staff were working 12 for 14 hour days and there is a ton of work and back end effort being put into these games! On the day, using Chameleon, there were 6 production and social media staffers populating content. For a Canadian election, like the Canadian Global Television broadcast, it’s usually about twelve production staffers who will use the product.


So there were a lot of firsts for this EA eWorld Championship?

Yes. First time our Chameleon renderer was used in a live event.  For the event, it was the first time being able to aggregate such a vast amount of data. That data was used on our web output that circulated player stats throughout the tournament. They used tickers in the past but nothing like this. In fact, hosts were entering info themselves!  That’s the Millennial generation; instead of using Twitter, the talent used our system and created a sort of exclusive news aura, or a community, around the event.


What were some of the key benefits you told BOOMBOX about using Chameleon web as part of the production?

First, Chameleon UI being a browser based platform, made it easy for anyone to jump on and input/moderate data.  Second, our Chameleon renderer outputted data where they keyed the live video overlay on top.  Rather than spend thousands on a broadcast CG system, instead, they used a Chrome browser and a laptop.

Chameleon was a huge hit. The L-Bar Chameleon web ran throughout the whole weekend, displaying news, tweets, player cards and scores. Their social media team literally had a 15 minute tutorial on how to use Twitter in Chameleon, and they got it. The hosts were responsible for entering news using their iPads on the floor, with a moderation level by the EA executives.   They too only had a 15 min tutorial but got it quickly.  
EA,  Boombox and NCompass were extremely pleased with what we offered. It really helped elevate their production to another level.  One in which they now can’t go down from.   

What were some of the challenges trying to manage such a large team roster? There were a total of 128 players, correct? That’s almost as large as a world championship sporting event.

Well, it is a world sport championship event. Sure it’s still one venue with everyone in that one venue but we are still talking about over 500 individual games being played. On the Chameleon end we had to make sure the leagues were separated between XBox and PS4 consoles. After that we needed to log all 128 players with their qualifying stats and upcoming tournament stats. Since we aren’t using player names, we were using “gamer tags” who love to change their tags, often up to the night before…that’s about 25% that needed to match these new names with their qualifying stats and headshots.


What’s the future of data in eSport events?

We have two tournaments coming up and we want to continue to improve Chameleon and improve what we can offer our clients,  viewers and the gamers.  

Al Savoie is a graphics systems whiz who can answer and further questions

Email him at asavoie@bannisterlake.com



New Data Gifts. Just in Time for Christmas

With more content on all platforms, Bannister Lake made some changes to improve graphics for specialty networks who don’t want to do a lot of  heavy lifting. Chameleon’s new episode support adds a whole whack of data information for network programs.

To assist with the new episode features, media information happens quickly and the OMDB and TVDB readers are for networks who don’t have a lot of money to spend on promotion and marketing creative services. The service helps with word processing, transferring info to consumers who require automatic retrieval of film and television metadata.

Episodic info just got real, offering specific stats –  stars, character, plot, seasons, episodes, even ratings. Just have all metadata automatically slotted into snipes, banners and coming up next boards – without entering a single thing. For example, an upcoming SNL episode will air on your network this coming Saturday.  TVDB will pull that episode information, including the guest stars Tom Hanks and Lady Gaga.  Rather than have the graphics department enter that info manually and pushing it to master control, Chameleon will automatically populate your template into a “UP NEXT” board or “COMING UP IN FIVE” banner.

Good Things Come in 3s at Community

Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Litecoin and Ripple are now part of the financial data package in Community

Community Supports Cryptocurrency Quotes 

Bitcoin is on a tear right now, so we felt it and it’s other cryptocurrency pals deserved to be added to the current Community financial features list, right along with US and Canadian dollar information, for networks pulling currency data.

New Time Zone Shifting Support

A request we’ve had was to show a way to display content accurately based on a network’s location.  For example, sports scores; displaying accurate times for the same sports game playing in a lot of states or provinces won’t be an issue. Have a game airing in New York City at 7pm? Community Reader will automatically translate the correct time for your west coast server.  This goes for cross promotion of national live events, concerts, E-Sports and other time sensitive data.

Community Reader Supports Elections

Recent Stats from the Alabama Senate Race inside Community

The elections module isn’t just for major electoral races. It can also be used for local community businesses who want to create a story around featured events such as best restaurant polling, council and board members voting results, community fan favourite mascots.  With Community Reader Election support, the community could enter those results and provide networks or the region with the results.

Chameleon Support in Telestream’s Wirecast

With the growing trend of live streaming, producers are searching for various tools available to make their production switching workflow as smooth as possible.  Bannister Lake’s focus is its flagship product, Chameleon, our data and graphics platform.  Chameleon allows aggregation, moderation and distributing of any data type from news, elections, sports scores, traffic, weather, closings, alerts, etc… and distribute it back through an API or using it’s own graphics rendering engine.

At this years IBC, we discovered key features in Wirecast Pro that make the two platforms work together with very little effort. 


Chameleon HTML5 render isn’t restricted to any dimension or style.  The conventional means of using 16×9 isn’t necessary in the world of web, and therefore, custom graphics created using Chameleon’s rendering engine allow users to create graphics in whatever size they want.   This becomes useful in Wirecast’s production environment, where using their Web Display tool as a source, you can specify the dimensions of your graphics.  And an even more impressive feature, Wirecast supports HTML5’s alpha channel.

With Chameleon, users have a full on solution for tickers and branding.  Chameleon’s powerful branding tool can allow larger productions to schedule bugs, snipes and promo/sponsorship material during their broadcast.  And for 24/7 users of Wirecast, producers can integrate their programming lineup in Chameleon and have support for displaying upcoming content.  On the data side, Wirecast users of Chameleon, can display everything from social media content, news, elections and sports scores results in an automated continuous cycle, enhancing information for your viewers.  Essentially, Chameleon is an enhanced CG ticker/branding solution that works out of the box with Wirecast.

For commercial companies, looking for a package to distribute data while broadcasting their content, Chameleon and Wirecast is the ideal solution.

To view a sample of the html5 rendering, visit blcloud.net/chameleon

For information on Chameleon, contact sales@bannisterlake.com

E-Sports as a Content Game Changer

e-Sports:  Gaming as a Content Game Changer

It’s time to have a serious talk about how e-sports is changing the way people are consuming content. Endless news articles report on the “demise” of viewership on traditional cable networks but on the other end of the spectrum – where are viewers going?  Hopefully this article will give cable companies and other media professionals insight on this new breed of broadcasting.

Let’s examine two recent events –  King’s Cup 2017 and Overwatch World Cup 2017 where Alain Savoie, Creative and Technical Director for Bannister Lake, assisted with their live data and graphic needs.  The two events are great examples of how this new medium is disrupting content for a new type of viewership.  

The King’s Cup tournament is structured like a one off, a stand alone event where amateur players from around play for an opportunity to win $20k.  Some 200 players competed through multiple rounds to reach a final 8 tournament joined by pro players and celebrity Youtubers.  The highest amount of viewers were around 200,000 with about 1.5 million in total watching on the last day of the event.

Overwatch, was part of Blizzcon 2017.  World pro players have been competing for weeks and this event included the final 8, going head to head to win bragging rights.  The Anaheim Convention Arena, where this tournament took place, had about 8,000 people watching on location.  At Blizzcon however, there were an extra 2 stages where other streams and events were happening. 

It’s an area of media that is growing exponentially. Every year there are more subscription-based and knowledge-based gamers attending these events. The attendees have a lot of money to spare.  The most recent experience at BlizzCon witnessed roughly 26,000 people at $200 per ticket.   That amounts to $5 million dollars.  That figure doesn’t include the virtual tickets that were also purchased nor the sponsorship that were involved during the weekend.  And the sponsorship deals?  They are not small. The 2 day Overwatch World Cup was sponsored by T-Mobile.  Don’t forget the merchandise where it’s recommended you purchase online, ahead of time and pickup at the conference because, (as seen in the picture) the lines are long, snaking endlessly for what looks like a queue at your favorite Disney ride.

e-sports merchandise


Traditional vs e-Sports: Key Comparisons

There are No Rules!

The other factor to keep in mind is that the content creators for these events don’t care about the traditional rules of broadcasting.  No need for 1080i, or 2 minute commercials every 15 minutes.  Kings Cup was streaming at 1080p while Overwatch was at 720p.   Commercial breaks ranged between 2 minutes to 6 minutes depending on what was happening behind the scenes.   The broadcast doesn’t need to end at exactly hh:mm, that said, even gamers eventually tired out.   The production will always have requirements to get paid by their sponsorship partners, and therefore, frequencies of snipes and billboards vary on when to air it. 

Currently live non-sporting viewership is dropping and binge watching content is rising.  While the sporting events on traditional broadcasts still pull in large and relatively reliable numbers, people are still fascinated by live events and the same can be said for e-sports.   The idea of a community participating in a live worldwide event at the same time, still appeals to hardcore fans, while archives of the tournaments can be watched on YouTube post-event. Try to find a complete Superbowl or Stanley Cup finals on YouTube. e sports rights holders are less concerned about distribution partially because they are the distributor.

Production Costs? What Production Costs!

Putting on a live show used to be expensive, especially in manpower.  With the popularity of e-sports for the younger generation, the distribution means are not conventional and therefore viewership is generally lower.  So there’s this need to produce content at a more affordable rate while still offering the same level of quality product expected in high end sporting events.    Make no mistake, the event staging and tech was high end but behind the scenes the crews were generally leaner. 

The stages had their four to six professional cameras feeding the studio switcher.   They also had Go-Pros attached to the monitors of each player.   An immediate difference to conventional sports was the actual in-game videos.  Overwatch as an example, had a TD switch between all 12 players, allowing us to watch from the POV of the gamer.  The replay engines are 2nd to none.   For years EVS operators  in sports have been responsible for capturing and playing back highlight reels of a play.   In the e-sport world, some games do those highlight playbacks for you, with outstanding angles and exceptional render quality.

Deep Understanding – Know the Content!

One important observation to note is the knowledge base of the product by the viewers, who range between ages 12 to 40 years old, mostly males in their 20s.  One thing’s for sure –  they know their content.  Watching football, baseball, soccer, and hockey, most die-hard fans know enough stats but don’t necessarily need to know how to play the games. They have a rough idea of what’s going on.

Content and viewing games such as Overwatch, Clash of the Clans, Call of Duty, and like, demands a viewer’s undivided attention. There are different game plays, maneuvers, strategies, equipment, and stats that are not immediately obvious to newcomers.   The content is delivered and therefore ingested very quickly.  It’s easy to follow a baseball game, but it’s a lot harder following Overwatch.  

Who’s There? 

The attendees also lineup to play games.  Rows of computers are setup for people to play the game and there are easily hour long line ups to play them.  

The majority of attendees were white males in their twenties, with a fair share of white females.  Plenty of Asian players as well but noticeably lacking were African American players.

e-sports gameplay

Assume that each of these attendees is going to go home and buy this game.  Therefore, there’s a large sum of money being made by the gaming industry.  Their goals with having the Championship matches streamed is to attract more viewers for higher ratings in sponsorship money which then also leads to merchandise sales and perhaps the sales in the game itself.  

As for the professional players, they’re well structured and organized.  There’s a committee for each team to select the players, there’s a captain on the team as well as a coach.  The players form strategies in the games and the hard-core fans know who they are and how they’ll play.  The pro-players aren’t kids arriving in sweatpants and t-shirts. They are sponsored and dressed in proper uniforms, representing their country. They take this very seriously.

Future of traditional cable and e-sports

Is there a future in cable and e-sports?  Will cable companies embrace this new medium?   They haven’t so far.   YouTube, Facebook and Twitch have.  Tellingly, that’s where the new generation is going for their consummation of content.   TBS stations are showcasing some redistributed content on occasion.  And there are some new streaming channels being created, dedicated for watching games. 

So what’s next? 

Since the medium is relatively new, there’s a lot of research and development still being made in how to distribute and display this content.  In the traditional sporting world, data and score bugs have been in the works for years, where in most cases these days, you can get data directly from the arena.  With e-sports, the game developers haven’t fully developed the integration with broadcasting in mind, so a lot of data and results and stats are manually being entered, or being transferred in a more manual method.

Games will eventually improve as well.   Virtual reality will eventually let viewers watch the game from inside the game as it’s being played.  Certain game styles may also develop stories to go along with the sports itself.   And although for now, some of these games are tournaments, there’s no reason why EA’s FIFA or MADDEN, won’t eventually include a year long season, with pro-teams, training facilities,  players, draftees, general managers, coaches and captains.   This also means camera crews, TD’s, audio techs, CG ops, EVS ops and others are needed to produce these events.   Even the Olympic and NCAA committees are discussing the possibilities of including these e-sports into their organizations. 

As for the production itself, foreign streams will become more important as e-sports isn’t necessarily regional, but rather international.  Conventionally, Olympics and International tournaments require the distribution be done by the destination country, e-sports tournaments are produced and distributed at the source.  So multiple language streams and data will increase viewership and therefore revenue, followed by the necessity to develop content for those streams.  

Baby Boomers as parents didn’t understand the appeal of Gen X’s fascination with Atari and Nintendo.  Those platforms generated millions of dollars and created the infrastructure that launched Millennial’s interest in gaming.  Gen Xers are creating at the same level as Millennials and will soon be overtaken by their interests so current generations shouldn’t ignore Millennials interests in this e-sports world.


The Glamorous Life of a CG Trainer

My wife always complains whenever I get to travel somewhere that sounds exotic.  Be it Japan, Bahamas, Brazil or Singapore, those who don’t travel for work assume that you arrive at your destination, dress down and hit the beaches. 

That is not the case. 

As I sit in at the Denver airport waiting for my 3rd connecting flight, watching travelers in a good mood, realizing that many of these people are excited to reach their destination.. as either, an adventure or relaxation awaits. 

My latest trip was to Fresno,  California for a two day training session at Valley PBS.   Being that I live in Halifax, roughly 6000km away from Fresno, my trip involved a stop in Montreal and San Francisco before reaching Fresno airport.   My journey started Monday at 4:30 am ATL (or… 00:30 PST), ending at around 6:00 pm PST (10:00pm ATL).  That’s what we call, a ‘paid travel day’ in the business.  Depending on internet services and your tools at hand, you may or may not be able to get some work done.  But you are away from home, and rightfully so, should be compensated for it. 

This 17 1/2 hour trek is nothing compared to the 30 to 40 hrs journeys that are done when traveling to Mumbai, Jakarta or Singapore.  

Luckily, for some of us frequent travelers, we get some perks for these long sacrifices.  We get priority boarding (which guarantees a spot for our carry-on luggage), we get some preferred seating, either with leg room or your choice of window or aisle.  Lounges and fast lanes at security are also very much worth it.  And if you’re in the Super Elite category, you also get a concierge that calls you with changes to your flight status or alternative routes.   It’s great getting treated like a king.   But that’s not always the case, as I’ll mention below. 

I arrived in Fresno, a lovely town in mid-central California.  There are no beaches.   You prefer having your hotel close to where you work, so that you don’t spend any time in traffic or you can sleep in as you will most certainly be jet lagged.  Depending on the city, you may be staying in sketchy area, where the local homeless immediately target the unfamiliar, semi-well dressed.   There are cases (such as my trip to Venezuela and El Salvador) you get an escort, who drives you around, and warns you not to go to certain places on your own.  Besides, I can’t speak every language out there; I personally know French and a little bit of Spanish.  

Therefore, you arrive at your hotel, and it’s late, and you’re tired after traveling for 17 hours… and you’re hungry.  But it’s only 6pm.  So, rather than go to, yet another restaurant, trying to eat something relatively healthy, you succumb to the exhaustion and order delivered pizza.   Besides, your call tomorrow is for 9am. 

It’s 4am PST and I’m wide awake.  5 hours before I need to go into work.  I could try to keep sleeping, but you’re also only there for 2 days, so adapting to this timezone will only make it more complicated when you travel back home. 

Yes, I’ll likely have some breakfast at the nearby Denny’s, because the hotel’s restaurant is terribly over-priced.  You’re thinking, “over-priced? who cares! the company will pay for it.”  While yes, that is correct, at the same time you want to keep both your clients happy.  And by both, I mean, the client you’re training, and the company that hired you to do the training in the first place.   It’s a fine line where, you want to have comfortable meals, but at the same time, caviar and lobsters won’t get you called back. 

Honestly, the best part, is the training itself.  The actual work.  When you work with a good product, it’s all the more easier.   But the people are the best part.   At every location I’ve ever been to… nearly a hundred stations, meeting at least 2-3 people per station, every single one of them have been receptive, respectful and appreciative.  Some I still keep in contact on a regular basis.   The customer realizes how you’ve traveled such a far distance, only to show them how to use their new toy.   The customer may get overwhelmed with new learning material, but in the end, they see a product which translates into progress and improvement for their network. 

My day is still a 9-5 however (in some cases longer, and in other cases, can be shorter), so by the time I’m finished, I’m still tired (in this case, it’s 9pm AST).  My wife’s bugging me about stuff… whether it’s our daughter not doing homework, or the internet doesn’t work, or there’s a burnt light bulb that needs replacing, my chore becomes video chatting with them to appease their stress.    Away a week per month ain’t too bad, but more than that, the family gets lonely. 

This repeats the following day.  And I do admit, that in some cases, I have added an extra day to my stay depending on the locations.  Brazil as an example, I arrived early and visited Copacabana. Japan, I checked Mount Fiji and Amsterdam, I took a day trip to Bruges.   It’s a good perk that comes out of pocket, but worth it if you’re away at a far distance.  And of course, you need to collect some souvenirs for your partner, seething jealously at home. 

Alas, it’s time to go home.  But as I mentioned earlier, it doesn’t always go smoothly.  

Again to appease your clients, some flights may take a different route, with different airlines,  so the prices are a little lower.  That was the case this past week in Fresno.  Rather than flying through San Francisco, my flight path was Fresno, Denver, Boston, finishing in Halifax. 

My departure time was 8:30 am PST.  I had a meeting with a new potential customer out of Montreal, at 7 am PST, so I decided to head to the airport early, go through security, grab some breakfast and be ready for my call at 7am (10am EST).  The call went great for the record, but while on the call I missed the announcement saying that my flight to Denver was delayed.  

Queue the California fires.  Some things you have no control over, such as nature.  Others, you get refunded if it’s the airlines’ fault.   My plane was delayed due to mechanical issues, which meant I was going to get some vouchers.  Alternatively, there was a 2nd flight leaving an hour later, but that too was delayed due to the fires happening in California.   I was a lucky one, since flights to San Francisco were altogether canceled.  


That said, my flight left 3 hours late.   Which meant I missed all my connecting flights.  The next available one was 11:30 pm MST.  In other words, stuck at the Denver airport for 9 hours with $30 in vouchers.  And you get the terrible red eye seat too.. the one where you’re in the middle and the seat won’t recline because you’re in the emergency exit aisle.   

I had a decent airport meal for $20… the other $10 voucher, I passed along to a single mother with kids so she can feed them McDonald’s.  Besides, I have lounge access where they serve you crackers and cheese and cookies.  (Those who know me, know I don’t drink… but if I did, there’s some wine and liquor there waiting for you too)  (picture is proof for my wife that I’m actually at an airport, and not hanging out with some girlfriends.)



Walking the halls of the Denver airport at 11:00 pm is eerie.  Stores are closed.  Cleaners vacuuming. 

I got home on Friday at 1pm.  A trek that took 27 hours from the time I left the hotel room.   Exhausted, I still have light bulbs to replace and help supervise homework.   Tomorrow is mowing the lawn.   And next Monday, it may start all over again.  





Query with Danny Ljubisic



This summer, every couple weeks, we ask one of our staff members 10 questions. This week we chat with Danny Ljubisic, Director of Business Development, Project Management. 


  1. What’s your background? Field of study at University?

University of Waterloo, BA & Sheridan College, CS Diploma


  1. How long have you been in the business? How has it shaped you as a director of business development?

20 years in the business. Broadcast television is pretty much everywhere in the world, yet no one does it the same way, anywhere. This has taught me that you have to listen to the customer/market more than I tell them about what I have to offer/sell.


  1. What’s one of your biggest challenges as a project manager?

Translating. Oh, it’s all in English (most of the time), but as a Project Manager you have to understand what the customer needs & wants. Translate that from their jargon to something developers can understand. Then back again, translating the tech we developed into a user friendly way to show/train the customer.


  1. Who or what influenced you, helped make the decision to enter broadcast tech industry?

Co-op placement had me hooked. I had no idea there was so much that went on in the background, so to speak, in order to deliver a television signal. While I was on the software side of things (more than the electrical engineering side), I was hooked on learning more – haven’t looked back since.


  1. Do you have a favorite mentor?

My dad.


  1. What do you see as one of the most defining changes in the broadcast industry and how do you bring that change to the business?

One can only comment on ‘most defining’ so far. Once I thought the move to HD was the defining moment in the industry and that was trumped with the move to digital from analog. As of now I think it would have to be the move to IP delivery. Watching what you want, when you want on almost any device. And with this change we at Bannister Lake bring you Chameleon with HTML5 output support.


  1. You are a people person, can you share one of your most memorable moments with a client?

I was in the middle east providing some training and ended up doing some additional demos as well. At one customer site, I spent some time with some very young engineers, fresh out of school & yet they were the ones that kept things running. Anyway, after talking about how to code different colors/textures through our API, they asked if they could ask me a non-related question. They asked if I’d seen a black & white TV signal. I tell them I had. Then they ask why in the world we ever invented B&W television when we have color? We came to realize that they had only seen color TV. It was only at school that they were exposed to B&W and never considered that B&W was first, until we figured out how to do color.

Might seem like a pointless story, but I learned so much from this little lark. The world is a massive place and what is right, even normal, in one place isn’t in another. We assume too much about others and often that assumption is based on our own narrow perspectives. We need to challenge ourselves to keep an open and positive mind in everything you do, always.

  1. If you could take 3 things with you on an island, what would they be?
  • canoe/boat
  • paddles/oar
  • life-jacket

(note I don’t plan on staying on that island) 

  1. What one piece of tech could you not live without?

My android phone. It’s really become everything. It’s my music player, portable entertainment not to mention I work from it when travelling to the point where I almost don’t need to bring a laptop.


  1. Morning or night person? When are you most productive?

I’m most productive under pressure. Doesn’t matter if it’s morning, noon or night. That doesn’t mean I go forever, but when there is a show, deadline, training, anything … I get kicked into high gear, I love it.


Dog Days of 2017

It’s the dog days of 2017, and while 1/4 of our team is away on vacation at any given time, we thought we’d improve on some of our current operations. 

One that we really wanted to improve on was the speed and reliability of our website.  Previously, we had our servers and domain names spread out a bit all over the place.  But with our recent addition of Chameleon cloud running on Amazon Web Services, we felt that migrating everything to a single location, with natural redundancies, was the right way to go.    And we weren’t wrong!

The first thing that is most noticeable to our customers is the speed of our sites.  Whether it’s bannisterlake.com or our cloud instances.  Load up time has drastically been improved.  And for us folks, updating things behind the scenes, updating plugins and composing posts and pages are a lot easier to accomplish.  

Just check out our server speeds now: 

Another big improvement is our support for SSL or HTTPS… or secure website.  Again, using AWS, our site along with our cloud services are all secured now, making it safer for our customers but also, giving google some warm and fuzzies in the hope of improving our SEO (search). 

Couple that with LDAP login support and Google Login support, and we’ve made our products safer and easier to use for our customers. 

News 12 Traffic and Weather launched a few weeks ago using Tick-it and Brand-it.  CTV News Channel launched as well using Super Ticker and Brando.  

Groundbreaking livestream debuts tonight

Meanwhile, MLB.com twitter series The Dugout has started their summer series, utilizing Chameleon Cloud’s social media tools for their 3 hour weekly show.  Be sure to catch it on Wednesday’s 8PM ET


We’re also in preparation for IBC where we will showcase Chameleon to the European market.   We will located at the Ontario booth 2.A46


Query with Francis Chan

This summer, every couple weeks, we ask one of our staff members 10 questions. This week we chat with Francis Chan, Director of Software Development.


  1. What do you do at BL? What’s your chief project?

I work mainly on a number of things. Some of which are Score bugs, Elections player, Still Store, Flow and custom projects. Currently, my main project is Zeus, which is an extension of the Still Store project. Where Still Store plays out images and some video clips, Zeus will focus on video clip play out.

  1. Can you pinpoint when you decided to go into software development?

Although I was interested in software development early on in my university days, it wasn’t the main focus. I had intended to pursue IC (integrated circuit) development but realized that it didn’t feed my need for fast feedback. So after finishing university I decided to pursue programming as a career instead.

  1. What’s a genuine perk that people wouldn’t know about the job, as a software developer?

There are actually a number of perks. One is that you get to see what you are producing work pretty quickly (or not). That’s what I meant about fast feedback. Another perk is that all you really need is for your work is a good laptop and internet – which means you can pretty much work anywhere you like and don’t really have to be ‘stuck’ in a single environment.

  1. What motivates you?

I think we will keep improving the workflow for our customers. It’s always been a client-driven company with the primary goal of improving the day-to-day operations of our customers, and I think we’ll keep that focus.

  1. Have any favorite songs that help you get things done during your day?

I really don’t listen to music when I work. However, I do enjoy pop songs from the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s.



  1. Who or what influenced you during your early years? Was it a movie? A tech leader? A teacher?

There hasn’t been really any one thing that influenced me. I had always had a curiosity about how things worked when I was young – tearing things apart to see what was inside and how it was put together. That really pushed me to be an engineer but software development was ultimately more satisfying.

  1. Have a fantasy project that you would love to work on?

I would actually like to work on a video game but that’s not what BL is about so the next best thing is working with output graphics like in the Elections Player or Zeus!

  1. Any predictions as to where the industry will be heading within the next five years?

For the broadcast industry, it’s definitely OTT or rather OTT becoming the norm.

  1. How do you see Bannister Lake’s role in your future prediction(s)?

BL will have a hand in helping broadcast companies transition to delivering content over internet. On top of that, the large amount of data that is required to coordinate and drive broadcast output will always be a focus at BL – perhaps even more so in the future. BL has always strived to provide software to sensibly manage multiple sources of data, control information and output content (videos/audio/images).

  1. Finally, what’s the one thing you would change about the industry?

I wouldn’t know what to change – what I’d like to see is that BL products get more exposure and used more!


Query With Pete Shields

Pete Shields is the Executive Producer of News 12 in New York.

With 5 stations the company looks to Pete and his team to quickly process data on a daily basis for over 3 million subscribers.

News 12 Traffic and Weather Channels  regional hyper-local television channels owned and operated by News 12 Networks (Altice USA), the first, largest and most watched regional news provider in the US.  They recently updated their 5 traffic and weather stations using Ross Xpression, powered by Bannister Lake’s OEM product Brand-it and Tick-it, a network branding and automated news ticker solution.

Bannister Lake sat down with News 12’s Pete Shields to talk about Brand-it and Tick-it.

Bannister Lake

Good afternoon. How are things going?  I know News 12 launched your new look early last week, and I wanted to get your take on Brand-it and Tick-it?

Pete Shields

So far our experience has been excellent. Honestly our working relationship with Bannister Lake so far has been unparalleled. The customer service has been awesome. Al and Georg have been incredibly receptive regarding any changes that we were requesting.  We had a joke here at the office; we actually asked for something and the next morning the new software version was waiting for us.


That’s good. When you are dealing with a larger company sometimes you kind of get lost in the shuffle.


It’s been an absolutely incredible service experience. I highly recommend them to anybody who is looking for a ticker solution.


Good to know. Can I ask, how you are using the service?


What we’ve done is created an info bar for our five regional traffic and weather channels. So we are using it to update automated traffic and weather data/information 24/7.  We are actually doing it through a mix of graphics.  We also have animated sponsorship logos so the entire thing works interactively to pull in the right information and get the playlists the way we want. The most important factor was to not bury people in certain topics but to allow them to move freely between different pieces of editorial content and have it all work well with the sponsorship opportunities.


Can I call you in a few months for more information regarding how your sponsorship platform works?


Absolutely. The two reasons we were able to sell this service to our management was, first, that it replaced a couple of services that were at end of life which was going to be equal in cost Brand-it and Tick-it so purchasing this with the added flexibility fit our budget. Second, Brand-it and Tick-it’s animation capabilities.  We were working with still graphics only and wanted to overhaul the look, add content, and ever so importantly, add value to sponsorship opportunities.  So to answer your question, we’ve only begun with the new sponsorship opportunity because we just launched but our sales team is optimistic and excited by what we are now able to do.


Of course. You need time.


It’s difficult to track right now with the sponsorship but we feel we are starting in a good place after what we spent to replace the equipment that, quite simply, wasn’t as flexible.


And Tick-it and Brand-it are ever evolving platforms. The software is constantly being developed. You’ll get updates from Ross and Bannister Lake, with additional features to show you how to monetize.


Yeah we had talked about that. That was one of the things that I was getting at too is that we also suggested a number of features. An incredible number of features over the last 3 months. The Bannister Lake team was so responsive each time we requested a feature, new versions of the software was available to us so quickly, performing exactly the way we wanted those new features to act.


With assistance from clients such as yourself, that’s how we can improve on our products. Every package has to suit a particular style of production.


I have other vendors. We ask for feature upgrades and we are on a list and we may or may not make it to the next release. With Bannister Lake we weren’t even waiting for a release. It was the next morning! It was like alright – load it up!


We like to be responsive. Historically, the company operates as a hybrid – responsively tech based but also service based. We’ll get in touch in 6 months to see how it’s evolving. Best of luck.


Great. You too.

Elector Used by Global TV for 2 Thrill-a-Minute Elections in May

May has been an exciting month for us here at Bannister Lake. Our election software, Elector, was used by Global TV for two incredibly dramatic and historic elections. On May 9th, we had the British Columbia General Election which produced a thrill-a-minute result where 2 major parties and a minor party were able to produce an unlikely minority government. Throughout the evening, we kept flipping between the Liberals and NDP gaining a majority and a minority lead in both directions. That with the Greens only contesting in 3 ridings. How was that possible? When I finally packed it in around 2am ET, there was a tie between the Liberals and NDP. By morning while Elector kept chugging along, the Liberals took it by a minority.

Next up, the May 30th Nova Scotia General Election with the polls looking like the Conservatives might spoil the Liberal’s hopes for another majority win. Early results had the Conservatives leading the way but after an hour of results, the Liberals took an edge. From there on, we were in another flipping mood where we were seeing Liberal minority move to Liberal majority and back. When I packed it in around midnight ET, it was a Liberal minority lead. I woke up in the morning while Elector was cranking away to a narrow Liberal majority win.

Elector started out with an emphasis on generating all the graphics for a standard election broadcast. But over time, it has become an editorial tool helping talent make sense of the election, mathematicians make calls, producers show the ridings graphics that matter at any particular time, augmented reality show information and graphics, news department show breaking news and websites provide the most up-to-date data.

Our web interface to Elector, Flow, is what pulls it all together. At any particular time, we may have large numbers of users using the data in different ways. And with Flow’s user classes, each type of user sees things tuned to their needs and editing privileges. Flow lets us compile the details about ridings, candidates and parties. It also has support for historical elections giving the users a way to see past election data to provide a historical perspective.

Elector has a collection of tools that work together to generate valuable insights into the real-time election results. It starts with as much of the results from the previous election as is available. From there we add information about current candidates indicating which ones are candidates of interest for reasons such as being a star candidate, a subject of a media scandal or an independent with a chance, etc. Predictions for the results in each riding are also added on a party basis. As the results start to come in, Elector goes to work to help mine the entire collection of past, present and predictions for interesting results. While users are reviewing the individual riding results in the Results Summary page the Interesting Agent is busy identifying interesting events such as an incumbent losing, close races and a party taking the lead in a riding they were not expected to win. As these events are identified they are presented to users of Elector via quick popups that identify the interesting events for the riding. As the results accumulate, Elector highlights each riding which may be ready to declare a candidate elected. An analyst can quickly popup the detailed riding results allowing them to make the final call and elect the candidate right there on the summary results page.

I’m always thrilled when I see our users utilizing our software. For example, David Akin, Global TV’s Chief Political Correspondent posted screenshots of Flow on twitter throughout the evening. He was using the screenshots to describe some of the riding results.

Elections are a hectic and scary event for all news departments. It often requires a small army to pull it off. Elector, which got its start from a New Brunswick election in 2006, has come a long way. Not only does it include all the editorial, watchlists and number crunching tools in Flow but it has a rehearsal tool providing a way for teams to test different scenarios pre-election, a RESTful api making the data available to other sources like websites and virtual devices and data parsers which are tuned for the quickest and most accurate results.

Special thanks to Gerry Belec and Deb Zinck at Global TV for all the great suggestions, feedback and patience which has made Elector a success.