Query with Alain Savoie

Alain Savoie is our Creative and Technical Director at Bannister Lake and our first volunteer to participate in our summer long series: Query with…   Where every other week I’ll ask one of our staffers ten questions, to help our clients better understand masters behind the curtains.

Before we begin, what’s your primarily role with Bannister Lake?

I think the best way to answer that is, I’m that bridge between the developers and the clients.  I usually partake in the creative design work, assist in building their graphic layouts and connect those scenes with our products.  I do some training and installing, and some support work where I can.   Basically, I try to make our product look good, which is fairly easy to do since the products speaks for themselves.


  1. Place where you are the happiest?


On vacation.. Which is rare.  I enjoy the beach relaxing or sightseeing ancient/historical locations.   Specifically war areas or wonders of the world.


  1. Who are some of your biggest life and career influencers?


Life always comes down to family and close friends.  When I need advice I know who to turn to.  As for career, my Media high-school teacher gave me a long leash, which in turn allowed me to make a project that got me into college, which in turn got me my first job.   Beyond that, just going with gut instincts.   


  1. Who or what made you want to get into this field?


As all things in life, a lot of it was accidental.   The music program in high school got canceled in grade 11, which left me with an open elective.  I took Media.   While in college, my main focus was graphics, and animation, though I did enjoy the control room environment.    Out of college, I was offered a job to help launch two digital stations Leafs and Raptors TV, as graphic designer and CG operator.  Because of the nature of the network being short in staff, I got my hands dirty in many aspects of the station.  Understanding Master Control systems, to various control room positions.  Eventually those skills led me to become a good consultant trainer in the broadcast field.


  1. What’s your vision for Bannister Lake?


A lot of it is dependant on the team.   We have an excellent group of developers that surprise me weekly with features.  My responsibility is to figure out ways of utilizing their innovative tools in a creative way.  Bannister Lake needs to keep up with the ever changing industry, and I believe we’re in a good position to take on the big players and the small ones alike.  


  1. If you could describe yourself in one word, what would that word be?


Problem solver.  I know, it’s 2 words, but that’s what best describes me.  With regards to broadcasting, I feel like I have a good ability to dissect a situation relatively quickly and come up with a solution to the problem.  


  1. Where do you see broadcast industry moving within the next year? Next 2 years?


You hear about cord cutting and IP TV.  This isn’t new to anyone.  For years I’ve been a cord cutter myself, and believe in broadcasting with no borders.  At the same time, hyper local is still important.  I care if an event happens near where I live, where as it’s less important if it’s hundreds of kilometers away.  Therefore, localized news, data, sports all important, while enjoying well produced content regardless of where it originates.  


  1. What one piece of tech can you not live without and why?


Hate to say it, but smartphone.   As I travel a lot, the top 2 things you need would be Passport and phone.   From transferring money, to getting directions.  Or simply entertainment.   In the past, without a smartphone, you would need to carry so much.  Today, not so much.  


  1. If you were stranded on an island what fictitious person or thing would be on it?


 Pizza oven, a deck of cards and Kate Beckinsale.  (you said fictitious right? )


  1. Favorite meal/snack while you work?  


Crispers, BBQ, and some cheese… grapes maybe.   Which I will now get.  Or Mini Pizzas.    And Georg got me on Soda Stream.


  1. One song that describes the soundtrack of your life so far?


This answer would change daily.    For now, let’s go with a whole soundtrack… Empire Strikes Back by John Williams.


8 Years of XPression

Our CG Journey.


As we approach our 8th anniversary of being Ross Video XPression developers, I reflect upon how we got here.


Up until 2009, all of our broadcast graphics development had been on the Inscriber platform using the RTX api. It had served us well but there were concerns about whether the Inscriber platform was keeping up technically. Also, with the acquisition of Inscriber by Leitch and then Harris, there were worries about Inscriber’s future.


In 2008, we started our investigation into an alternative CG. We had a close look at many of the leading CGs and even a few obscure ones, some of which have faded into the sunset. They were all fine but Francis and I were never satisfied with the programming api to those CGs.

We continued our search during our annual visit to NAB in 2009. D’Arcy and Francis raved about a CG being shown in the Ross booth which came about from an acquisition of Media Refinery. I finally popped by the booth an hour before the final bell and was given a demo by my old friend Hans. Within minutes, I knew we had found our CG.



I look back at all the software, both products and custom, we have developed which use XPression. With pride, we identify ourselves as XPression developers. And we thank Ross Video for keeping XPression on the top of the charts. Unlike most acquisitions, Ross poured resources into XPression and the product continues to evolve.

It’s easy to take for granted but BL wishes to thank Ross Video for their support of XPression. BL will continue to ride the XPR wave forever.

Help!! I need somebody…

Most people aren’t familiar with our site.  But, did you know we have a pretty good wiki!?

It was recently revamped to make it easier for users to find what they’re looking for.  And our developers frequently update the site whenever there are new features added.

Producers have Content Controls and Broadcast Controls.  Designers have Scene Tags information for objects and animation tags.

If you can’t find something, let us know.  It may be because we’ve misplaced it, or it’s too hard to find and we’ll need to fix it.


Community and Content Groups


Content Group Support

We’ve recently added a much requested feature in Super Ticker and Community:  Content Group Admin.   Essentially this means as a system Admin you can assign an Admin to a content group, which in turn will allow for that admin to create a series of user accounts for that specific content group.   This is especially useful with Community.  Along with this new feature, we’ve modified security groups to restrict what users are allowed to see.

Content Groups have also been updated across the board in anticipation for the big Community update.  All modules will support content groups in the near future.



WDAY in Fresno is about to start their winter season and one of the requests they had was to have over 300 users for each of their School Districts.  Hence, when there’s a snow storm and the schools are closed, the School district administrator can log onto Community and update their School Districts’ status.

After a status update, our new Community Reader will automatically update your own instance of Super Ticker, therefore, ready for broadcast.

Finally, the new update isn’t only limited to Closings, but also Events, Stories and Scores.

Instructions on how to use this new Module is found here.


Query and Google


A couple weeks ago, Georg posted an article with new support for Google Login, Sheets (Scores and Closings) and Calendar.   Follow the links to view our wiki page offering step by step instructions on how to utilize these new features.


In addition to Google API, standard Query templates have been added when updating Super Ticker.  I’ve also added some Query samples on our wiki for you to use and test.   Query is also supported in our Blade Module.


Brando BXF support


A (Protrack by Myers Info Systems) reader was recently requested.  BXF is the supported format.  Brando already read many other traffic file formats, but BXF is one of the industry leading formats.  With this new reader, Brando finally covers almost 90% of all types of traffic data, making it compatible with virtually any broadcast master control traffic systems.


For more information fill out a Request A Quote or contact sales@localhost

Bannister Lake Meets Google

by Georg Hentsch

Here on The Lake, we rely on Google to get us through the day: Drive, Communities, Hangouts, Calendar, Gmail, Search, YouTube, Play and Photos. We may even have one of the most enthusiastic Google Evangelists imaginable; I won’t name names. So, it’s no surprise we’re always looking for opportunities to use Google in our software.

So, we’re proud to announce these Google api projects:

  • Google login support
  • Google Calendar support for Super Ticker
  • Google Sheets support for Super Ticker

On top of our LDAP support in Flow, we’ve added Google login support which is especially attractive for cloud users. No more dealing with yet another login/password. It even has the benefit of bypassing the login screen if the user is already logged into Google. We’re initially supporting this in Super Ticker and Community but it’ll find its way into Brando.

For Google Calendars, we’ve taken the standardization approach by supporting RFC 2445 also known as iCalendar. Since Google Calendars also support this standard, we can now read any publicly shared Google Calendar into our Events data type. This opens up 1000s of public calendars for our customers to use in Super Ticker.

Finally, we’re using the Google api for Sheets to read sheets into standard data types like scores and closings. We’ll follow that up to also support reading sheets into our Custom data type giving us a way to contain basically anything.

What’s next? I’m sure our in-house Google Evangelist will push us into more Google projects and our products will be the better for it.

The New Data Types Are Coming!

Included data

Our customers have always pushed us to provide containers that can store their unique data requirements. Take a sports score. At one point, it was enough to show the teams, score and status. But over time, customers wanted to show ball possession, the count, shots on goal, team rankings, standings and records.

We solved “Creeping Featuritis” simply and expansively: dynamic fields. And added dynamic fields to all data types.

This made it possible to contain anything using one of the existing data types. However, what also happened is we ended up hacking stories because that became the most common container for storing those “custom” data types.

So, what better way to solve a custom data type than to create a custom data type. Look for a new icon in that Content Control in the near future called Custom. It’ll be similar to stories without the story. It’ll have a way of organizing using topics and playlists as in stories but custom gives dynamic fields preferential treatment. No longer do you have to open a dialog to see them. They are given primetime.

Custom is a great way to store anything you can dream up. It’ll get all the other great data treatment like rundown, BLADE and Query support.

Query you say? What is that? Have you ever wanted to create a playlist of all close election races where incumbents are losing, scores of games in progress, stocks that are tanking or stories that include a certain keyword? That’s what we call dynamic playlists and they were essentially impossible to do until now.

We’ve added a new Query data type which is essentially a database query. If you can dream it, it can be described in SQL. And these queries also get the full data treatment: rundowns & BLADE. Here are some examples:

The reason Query is dynamic is because the actual SQL gets executed at runtime. So, when in a rundown for a player, the player executes the Query as late as possible. Same for BLADE: the query gets executes on the api call.

What’s more, Query can be shared among all Super Ticker users. If you have a Query you think is useful to others, you can publish it. Once published, users can see and deploy the query. As you’d expect, once deployed, the query can be fiddled as required. The main reason for publish/deploy of Queries is we can’t expect all users to be SQL experts. But that being said, we do provide a Query Wizard to make life easier for those less than hardcore users.

With Custom’s and Query’s inauguration, we say farewell to Ski Reports. We’re phasing that oddball out. If you want Ski Reports, use Custom!

Also, look for big enhancements to some of our other data types like Closings, Events, Media and Weather but I’ll save that for a future blog.

Intro to the blog world

This blog is dedicated to our loyal customers who have used or are thinking of using any of our Bannister Lake products.

Every couple of weeks or so, we will provide tips and tricks, as well as updates and road-maps of our products.  It might be more frequent than that especially if we have something we’re excited to share with you.

So lets start.

Super Ticker

Our month of September has been busy.  Our developers have added a few features this past month for Super Ticker.

We’ve added a community module to Super Ticker which will soon read content from our Community Instances.

Yes, but Al, what does this mean???

It means with the upcoming winter season, you can assign accounts to school boards to populate school closures.  Or same with stores for the holiday season.  Community hockey teams can input the game’s results so that the data can be shared to media outlets or websites. It’s a great way to share important community data.

Click HERE for more information about Community.
http://community.bannisterlake.com  is currently LIVE.
For your free account, please email sales@localhost

Google Sheets

Do you want to manually insert score results from various leagues and games at once from a single shared location?  You can do so using Super Ticker, but it may become a hassle with all the clicking. An alternative is to use our new Google Sheets Score Reader.   This reader will link to any google sheet using our Scores Template and make it easy for production, or sports producers to enter results.

For more information, check out our wiki.

For more information on getting an update for Super Ticker, contact sales@localhost

A significant feature was added to Brando.  Some advanced BLADE features were added, which allows you to create a Query based on a channel in your database.  From there, an xml can be generated, allowing you to populate any CG system or Website with scheduling content.  The XML will dynamically update based on the time of day, so you will always be aware of what show is coming up next and on which channel.

For more information fill out a Request A Quote or contact sales@localhost