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 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, 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 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.

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.  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