Bannister Lake Integrates MPEG-DASH Streaming Protocol Into Chameleon Data Aggregation Workflow

Bannister Lake announced today that MPEG dynamic adaptive streaming over HTTP (DASH) video content is now fully supported through its flagship Chameleon data management product. Responding to high market demand for the integration of the popular streaming format, Bannister Lake has added DASH playback support in the Chameleon Web Server and has integrated the streaming standard as a media material within its design tool, Chameleon Designer. Utilizing Chameleon Designer, users can build sophisticated graphic templates that incorporate multiple real-time and static data sources.

The combination of DASH and Chameleon helps ensure that over-the-top (OTT) operators can take full advantage of the streaming standard’s ability to adapt to changing network conditions while providing superior quality playback and simultaneously displaying timely, real-time data content. As the broadcast industry moves toward streaming and new distribution models that include multiple devices, the incorporation of the DASH streaming protocol into television technology solutions has become an industry priority. DASH has quickly become a favored international standard and is widely supported on virtually all platforms.

“At Bannister Lake we see the integration of the DASH live streaming protocol as an important development milestone for our Chameleon product,” said Georg Hentsch, president, Bannister Lake. “Streaming content has become an important part of the broadcast business, and we are well positioned to support this growing market.”

OTT is quickly gaining traction with viewers, and by combining real-time and static data content with live streamed content, network operators can generate new storytelling and business opportunities. Using Chameleon, producers can create exciting news, financial, sports, and weather offerings that combine a highly advanced adaptive live streaming solution with best-in-class data management, aggregation, and visualization.

With the inclusion of DASH, Chameleon can support multiple concurrent streams of live or pre-recorded content, allowing OTT operators to switch between different streams. This feature provides enormous flexibility for media organizations to quickly and affordably launch multiple national, regional, and localized versions of streamed services. 

Bannister Lake and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Extend Real-Time Data to Fuel Fan Engagement

MLSE VIP suite screen displaying game data aggregated and managed by Bannister Lake’s Chameleon

Bannister Lake announced today that long-time client Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) has enhanced its real-time data offerings to sports fans using Bannister Lake’s data management solution. Real-time NBA, NHL, and MLSE-generated in-house data is now being displayed in all the suites located in Scotiabank Arena.

Screens in the suites display real-time game statistics providing fans with a deeper understanding of the game and allowing them to track the performance of their favorite teams and players. MLSE ingests the data directly from the leagues, aggregates and manages the content through Chameleon, and then distributes it to the venue’s signage system. Fans are exposed to targeted advertising along with game statistics populated within an overlaid L-Bar graphic.

“Bannister Lake now helps our venue effectively manage real-time data content and make it readily available in Scotiabank Arena,” said David August, director of venue technology, MLSE. “Chameleon makes it easy to ingest, aggregate, and customize all kinds of data feeds without the need to write custom code.”

MLSE displays real-time sports data using Chameleon in multiple locations within Scotiabank Arena. End-zone screens located at either end of the venue display game scores from around the NBA and NHL, and the main scoreboard screen displays specific team and player stats based on game action.

MLSE uses Chameleon’s built-in RESTful API to reformat data and make it available to multiple digital signage platforms and graphics engines used to render data content. Chameleon allows MLSE staff to direct specific content to specific endpoints, granting them unlimited possibilities to customize the presentation.

“MLSE is another great example of a client who has fully embraced Chameleon and sees the incredible value of real-time data for impacting audiences,” said Georg Hentsch, president, Bannister Lake. “We are excited to push the boundaries with MLSE and work together on new data applications.”

MLSE is currently testing new data use cases powered by Chameleon including corporate digital signage and entry-gate wait times.

Bannister Lake Provides On-Air QR Code Functionality to Canada’s ‘Today’s Shopping Choice’

Bannister Lake announced today that it has successfully added QR codes to “Today’s Shopping Choice” (TSC, tsc.ca) on-air graphic presentation, creating exciting new purchase possibilities for viewers. Bannister Lake has a long-standing relationship with the popular home shopping broadcaster, having created and implemented software solutions that are integral to the channel’s production workflow.

Bannister Lake’s established BL XPF Generator solution automatically pulls all the visual assets associated with the featured products that are scheduled during a specific TSC segment and in turn generates a Ross XPression graphic sequence that can be taken to air instantly. By adding QR codes to the asset mix through Bannister Lake software, TSC can drive additional sales while providing audiences with supplementary product information.

TSC viewers scan the QR code with their smartphones and are taken to a corresponding webpage to learn more about the product and make the purchase. This provides an additional path to purchase and is welcomed by tech-savvy viewers. 

“QR codes are an important complement to the existing solution at TSC and a great example of our clients realizing the flexibility of our software,” said D’Arcy Pickering, vice president, sales, Bannister Lake. “We are always looking at ways our clients can engage more viewers and generate additional revenue.”

Bannister Lake has previously worked with TSC developing and implementing BL Macros, a custom solution that allows operators to call up special supporting graphics as required. These graphics include countdown timers, items sold, items remaining, and available sizes.

Bannister Lake’s custom solutions provide broadcasters and event producers with new opportunities to use data and graphics in innovative ways. As real-time data experts with strong development skills in database, APIs, and applications, Bannister Lake designs, builds, and implements bespoke software solutions that create more efficient workflows, engage audiences, and monetize data.

Bannister Lake Announces Partnership With Election Data Provider Decision Desk HQ

Bannister Lake is pleased to announce that it is partnering with Washington, D.C.-based election data provider Decision Desk HQ (DDHQ) to provide U.S. election data and analysis. DDHQ is a leader in election data collection and reporting, providing results solutions that are up to the second, competitively priced, and accurate.

Bannister Lake has developed and implemented a parser for DDHQ election returns that ingests results data directly into its industry-leading Chameleon data aggregation and management solution. Within Chameleon, producers and analysts can track results, identify voting trends, make race calls, or use DDHQ supplied calls. Producers can then generate graphic playlists and use Chameleon’s RESTful API to distribute data and render graphics through popular broadcast graphic engines or through Chameleon’s HTML 5 renderer.

Broadcasters and online media organizations will be able to use the combination of DDHQ data and Bannister Lake’s Chameleon software to produce exceptional election coverage. DDHQ data includes results for senate, congress, governor, and down ballot races, as well as presidential primaries and the presidency.

Of special interest to local broadcast outlets, DDHQ is the only service to collect and report election results for county and local offices. This includes judges, supervisors, town and school boards in addition to ballot propositions and referendum questions. Bannister Lake is an established leader in managing election data. The company’s Elector software is used by leading Canadian broadcasters to cover elections while Chameleon is equipped with a robust election module geared toward U.S. and other styles of elections.

“Bannister Lake, with its Chameleon software and proven track record with broadcasters across the United States and Canada is a natural fit for DDHQ data,” said Drew McCoy, president, DDHQ. “The product will allow broadcasters in any market, and online services, the ability to produce highly visual election coverage featuring graphics populated with up to the second results. We look forward to working with them, their clients and our partners to provide cutting-edge national, state, and local election coverage in 2020 and in the future.”

“Clients are looking for an alternative to current election data providers and require a robust election data management solution that can generate spectacular graphics,” said Georg Hentsch, president, Bannister Lake. “The combination of Chameleon and DDHQ data provides a cost-effective and editorially powerful solution for any organization covering the upcoming elections.”

Bannister Lake will be making DDHQ election data available within a variety of solutions, including broadcast graphic engines, web widgets, on-set interactive touch screen displays and as customized social media content. Together, the companies will provide election producers with a wide variety of data solutions to reach audiences on any platform.  

Real-Time Data: Digital Signage’s Secret Weapon

Published in Digital Signage Connection

Digital signage networks are only effective if audiences pay attention to content. That means eye-catching, on-brand design, relevant information and content that gets refreshed regularly. In an ideal world, a team of content creators, marketers and communications professionals will be working around the clock ensuring that the network has the most up-to-date content and that the business and communications objectives of the network are consistently being met. In reality, signage networks depend on sophisticated content management systems that use automation to both update content and set rules and parameters to ensure that content is being programmed consistently.

This is where real-time data feeds play a vital role to ensure audiences are presented with the most important content. Data tickers are a common ingredient in digital signage presentations. News, stock data, sports scores and weather have become an expected and appreciated part of digital signage in many cases. But real-time data can do so much more and transcend virtually every sector of the signage industry. Real-time data from multiple internal and external sources can be used to raise the editorial bar and be put to work to keep audiences engaged and connected.

Real-time data is everywhere; from manufacturing processes to retail analytics to sales statistics. Fast, slow and static data is present across the many sectors where signage is installed. However, much of that data is confined to spreadsheets and proprietary databases and isn’t shared via signage systems. If that data could be ingested, managed, visualized and distributed strategically, communicators would discover an incredibly powerful and automated content type that could have immediate benefits. The fear many communicators have is getting a handle on all that data content and being able to “cherry pick” what is relevant and what is not before distributing it to the proper endpoints. Communicators are also used as tools that visualize data in simple ways; line drawings, basic pie charts and bar graphs not appreciating that there are other ways to display data that take advantage of innovative design and have more engaging outcomes.

On a technical level, signage companies that want to incorporate real-time data sources are required to create a huge library of readers and create custom code to handle integration. This has traditionally been a huge headache. The problem lies with different data feeds having their own unique structure and a general lack of consistency. An alternate approach would be to use readers to ingest real-time data into a centralized database and then apply a standardized set of software tools to manage the data. These tools would be used to moderate, edit, schedule and trigger data according to parameters predetermined by the communications team. The feeds can then be fully customized editorially, reformatted technically and strategically distributed through an API.

In this scenario, dozens of real-time data feeds could be handled simultaneously, and various combinations of the data content would find their way on to select displays that made the most sense from a communications and business perspective. This approach to real-time data is well established in the broadcast industry. Television stations and networks that work with news, elections, sports and financial data select content that they deem important to their audiences, leveraging automation and graphics to keep the information relevant and current. For example, a sports producer who needs to illustrate the top rookies in the MLB with high batting averages will use a data query to “pull out” those statistics from an enormous pool of baseball data. The query can then populate a graphic template that is quickly put to air. The same process can be applied to digital signage, where big data needs to be dissected to reveal a trend or a new business opportunity.

An example from the digital signage industry is the recent U.S. Open Tennis Championship in Flushing Meadows, New York. Multiple video displays of every size and shape throughout the tennis facility were populated with specific data content. The screens were used to keep fans up to date, promote sponsorships and add a heightened level of fan engagement. Producers strategically directed content to specific screens to accomplish specific editorial requirements.

Real-time driven signage at the US Open Tennis Championships

For example, outside the practice courts, producers would display upcoming matches, player biographies, tennis news, schedules and brackets, while the screens located outside the main stadium would display subsets of the live-action data; scoring, serve speeds, number of aces and unforced errors and other game specific data. Producers have come to understand that the signage displays are most engaging and effective when the live data content is relevant and highly targeted. To accomplish this, they employ the same tools that broadcasters use to aggregate, manage, visualize and distribute real-time data.

Across the multiple sectors that digital signage serves, professional communicators and digital signage system providers can leverage the power of real-time data. It is the most effective way to keep screens refreshed, leverage automated processes and keep audiences engaged. Digital signage operators need to get over their fear of big data and seek out solutions that both give them control over data content and foster new business and communications opportunities for their clients and end users.

Bannister Lake Delivers Cross-Platform and Innovative Graphic Solutions for Canadian Federal Election Coverage

Bannister Lake played an essential role providing Canadian broadcast and online audiences with live election results during the Oct. 21 national election. In addition to providing the editorial tools to producers, Bannister Lake enabled decision desks and graphic operators to identify key races, declare winners, and organize graphic playlists. The company also devised and implemented on-set touchscreen mapping widgets and social-media solutions.

This marks the 18th time Corus Entertainment’s Global Television Network has used Bannister Lake solutions to drive election coverage. Elector software was used to aggregate and manage election results and populate graphics that were rendered by four different engines: HTML5, Avid/Orad, Ross XPression, and Vizrt. This provided Global Television with multiple options to visualize election results and present them in exciting new ways. Graphics appeared as full frame, as part of the broadcast’s unique video wall, as regional L-bars, as augmented reality elements, and as online winner cards that were tweeted out.

The broadcast’s touch-enabled HTML5-based widgets proved to be a distinctive storytelling device. The solution allowed hosts to blend real-time data with demographics information on electoral district maps and walk viewers through trends and analysis. Since the solution was built entirely in HTML5, editorial and cosmetic changes could be executed quickly without reliance on other hardware or software systems.

“Having Bannister Lake data available on various endpoints meant we had maximum flexibility to tell the election night story,” said Gerry Belec, director news technology and operations, Global News. “Once again Bannister Lake ensured that both our editorial and production teams had the data and the tools to execute a great election night broadcast.”

At the Cable Public Affairs Channel (CPAC) studios in Ottawa, Bannister Lake integrated election result feeds from the Canadian Press and producers fully utilized Elector to filter and display results. CPAC took full advantage of Elector’s advanced capabilities to filter regions and quickly identify important developments such as incumbents or high-profile candidates losing or being re-elected. In turn, CPAC could quickly create graphic playlists for use on-air.

“Elector race software gave us the ability to parse the incoming results quickly and zero in on important voting trends,” said Steve Rifkin, manager digital content, CPAC. “This allowed us to instantly deliver results to our audience.” 

“Over the years we have developed a deep understanding of election data and know that producers require a straightforward approach to pull insights out of results data,” said Georg Hentsch, president, Bannister Lake. “It is always satisfying to see broadcasters using our tools in innovative ways to reach Canadians on such an important event.”

Bannister Lake’s Elector software is Canada’s trusted election-data solution, providing broadcasters with the widest and most complete variety of tools to analyze, filter, and display election results. For U.S. and other style of elections, the company’s Chameleon product comes equipped with an election module suitable for aggregating and managing results and displaying graphics.

Bannister Lake’s Elector Software to Play Key Role Keeping Canadians Informed for Upcoming Election Day Coverage

Canadians go to the polls on October 21 and once again Bannister Lake is providing two national broadcasters with complete election management solutions. Bannister Lake clients Global Television and CPAC, the Cable Public Affairs Channel, (Canada’s version of C-Span) will be using the company’s Elector software to produce election night coverage. Elector allows producers to instantly see and track real-time results, take advantage of advanced filtering to zero in on specific races, make race calls and quickly and accurately create graphic playlists for broadcast. 

Elector features a multi-user, web-based user interface making the product accessible to production teams anywhere. Producers and analysts can quickly and accurately spot voting trends and translate those trends into powerful graphic presentations. Graphics can then be dragged and dropped and organized into playlists in preparation for broadcast. Elector’s Restful API can be used to strategically distribute real-time data content to online destinations, widgets, mobile devices and augmented reality and virtual reality systems.

“Election night is an important opportunity to not only bring audiences up-to-the second results but to use that data to identify regional, demographic and historic shifts, and present it all with spectacular graphics,” said Georg Hentsch, president, Bannister Lake. “Elector provides production teams with the tools to easily reveal those trends and clearly communicate to viewers how results are unfolding.”

Elector is an election results solution engineered and designed exclusively for Canadian elections; however, Bannister Lake’s popular Chameleon data management product includes an election module that supports U.S. and any other election process. Like Elector, Chameleon election data can feed multiple broadcast graphic engines, online, mobile and other broadcast visualization systems. Bannister Lake is expanding its election offerings with data driven web widgets that allow online users to customize data to specific electoral districts to access local information and analysis.

In addition to Elector, Bannister Lake will provide Global and CPAC with a variety of professional services, including coordination with the Canadian Media Election Consortium to ensure results data is fully optimized for the Elector product.

 

 

 

 

 

Bannister Lake’s Chameleon Data Management Solution Powers Hamilton, Ontario-Based Cable 14’s New On-Air Look

Bannister Lake announced today that Cable 14, serving Hamilton, Ontario and surrounding communities, has successfully implemented the company’s Chameleon data management and aggregation solution to control and visualize data content on its broadcasts. Cable 14’s mission is to showcase and promote the local area and to keep viewers informed of local news, sports, and events.

Bannister Lake contributed to Cable 14’s important mission by developing and adding new data readers covering the Canadian University Football League and Ontario Hockey League. Bannister Lake also improved the channel’s ability to manage and visualize Twitter-based content as well as local traffic cameras.

Chameleon’s automation features played a key role in simplifying and streamlining the management of data feeds to help ensure content was continuously refreshed and that stale content automatically expired. Chameleon’s integration with Cable 14’s traffic system now allows the station to provide automated “Coming Up Next” snipes and billboards to promote upcoming programming.

“The Cable 14 implementation underlines our unique abilities to not only develop and read a wide variety of data feeds, but to also allow our clients to take full advantage of automation to optimize those feeds to meet their editorial objectives,” said Danny Ljubisic, director of business development and project management, Bannister Lake. “We were able to deliver this solution to Cable 14 in record time and ensure that their launch was successful.”

Cable 14’s new on-air presentation integrates social media and other local news sources to deliver compelling, hyper-local information that can only be found on its broadcasts. It also includes up-to-date sports scores and schedules from both local and professional sports teams and leagues. 

“As we kick off our 50th broadcast season, Cable 14 continues to evolve and deliver to cable television subscribers the best local content available on television and online,” said Bill Custers, senior manager, broadcast for Cable 14. “Cable 14 has been, is, and always will be, about Hamilton. This innovative, fresh look, facilitated by the Bannister Lake team, enables us to continue to exceed the expectations of our viewers every single hour.”

Bannister Lake’s Chameleon data management and aggregation solution is used by broadcasters, signage operators, and event producers to control and display a wide variety of diverse data feeds including news, sports, elections, financial, and wagering content.

 

 

 

Bannister Lake’s Chameleon: The Other Canadian Champion at the 2019 US Open Tennis Championships

Bianca Andreescu’s spectacular win at the US Open Tennis Championships was an exciting moment for women’s tennis and for the entire country of Canada. As Canadians, we are thrilled for Bianca and excited to have handled the complexities of data management and aggregation for the US Open for the second straight year.

Bannister Lake’s Chameleon is the engine behind organizing the massive number of XML files and graphics that were strategically distributed and visualized on over 20 different video displays located throughout the Billy Jean King National Tennis Center. The various screens were viewed by a record number of 737,872 fans who attended this year’s event.

Real-time data on this scale presents enormous challenges. Bannister Lake’s technical and creative director, Al Savoie and the Bannister Lake development team were faced with reading and ingesting a wide variety of live data feeds from various sources, in various formats, including a new scoring system. The feeds then had to be organized within the Chameleon database and using the solution’s RESTful API distributed to specific screens-all of which had different editorial requirements, various graphical layouts and different dimensions. Some screens were formatted in portrait, some were ribbons, some landscape, and new this year were fascia displays courtside in the Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Outside of practice courts producers would display upcoming schedules, player biographies, schedules and brackets, however the screens located outside the main stadiums could display subsets of the live action data; serve speeds, number of aces, unforced errors and other game specific data. Producers have come to understand that the signage displays are most engaging and effective when the live data content is relevant and targeted. Due to the nature of the competition, content was often substituted updated and versioned depending on events. Chameleon’s unique strength is the ability to utilize its query and RESTful functionality in tandem, to organize data to create datasets that have a specific editorial function.

Live Chameleon data was quickly called up using a “match ID” system that Savoie was instrumental in developing. This would confirm that the correct headshots, bios and stats would quickly and automatically be loaded with a simple match ID entry. This dramatically sped up workflows, eased pressure on operators in the control room and ensured consistent editorial accuracy.

Like Bianca, Bannister Lake looks forward to the challenges at next year’s US Open and are confident we’ll once again both perform like champions.

 

Bannister Lake’s Chameleon Closings Module Utilizes Web Connectivity to Alert Viewers

As the school year kicks off, Bannister Lake is ensuring that audiences across all platforms are properly and consistently informed about school closings. The Closings module within Bannister Lake’s Chameleon data management solution works in concert with the company’s Community cloud-based public access portal to make it easier for local television and community information channels to aggregate and distribute closing alerts to their viewers. When inclement weather, emergency situations, or labor disruptions arise, Closings provides schools, houses of worship, community centers, and other institutions the ability to quickly alert the public of cancellations or schedule changes.

The Closings module is included with Chameleon and enables broadcasters to group and playlist sets of institutions by type or geographic region. This capability allows tickers and other graphics to display organized sets of impacted institutions to inform audiences more effectively. A status function within Closings allows institutions to quickly and easily update their status when conditions change, ensuring that viewers are always kept up to date.

The Community portal is also included with Chameleon and provides an easy-to-use and secure gateway for institutions to enter predetermined closure-related details for broadcast. In addition, Google Sheets can be used to create a collaborative closings notification workflow that can be shared across an entire campus, or with a multi-location institution, spread over a large geographic area that requires a centralized management process.

“Chameleon’s Closings and Community modules work in tandem to deliver crucial closing information to viewers,” said Georg Hentsch, president, Bannister Lake. “We’ve developed a solution that allows broadcasters and the public to join forces and get this specific kind of news on the air quickly and accurately.”

Chameleon’s on-board RESTful API allows users to create subsets and reformat closings data and distribute content to web pages, mobile devices, and digital signage systems. Data can also drive custom web widgets to take advantage of animation and mapping to improve the dissemination and presentation of information to reach more viewers online.

Beyond Closings, Community can also be used to drive a variety of hyper-local content types that originate with viewers, including local sports scores, community events calendars, and public service announcements.