Author Archives: Georg Hentsch

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Bannister Lake Announces Deception Detection Algorithm™ for Chameleon

Fake news got you down? Chameleon‘s Deception Detection Algorithm™ makes fake news a thing of the past.

Nowadays, news departments are under threat. By the time appropriate fact checking has taken its course, the real, fake or undetectable news has timed out. Chameleon has solved this recent and past problem based on our researchers-in-residence Erwin Schrödinger’s and Werner Karl Heisenberg’s work on uncertainty principle.

The uncertainty principle is not readily apparent on the macroscopic scales of everyday experience. So it is helpful to demonstrate how it applies to more easily understood physical situations. Two alternative frameworks for quantum physics offer different explanations for the uncertainty principle. The wave mechanics picture of the uncertainty principle is more visually intuitive, but the more abstract matrix mechanics picture formulates it in a way that generalizes more easily.

Schrödinger and Heisenberg created the most common general form of the uncertainty principle to create a slightly stronger inequality, the Schrödinger uncertainty relation:

Using a quantum harmonic oscillator of characteristic angular frequency, the results are easily achieved:

The result for the news department is a nearly 100% success rate for filtering out fake news. And Chameleon makes it completely transparent.

For example, we put Chameleon’s Deception Detection Algorithm™ to test. Given the following Chameleon stories:

With one click of a button

we filter out all fake stories:

According to Schrödinger and Heisenberg, Bannister Lake’s applied use of uncertainty principle in the form of the elegant Deception Detection Algorithm™ is a revelation for today’s news department. Fake news is officially extinct.


Chameleon’s Deception Detection Algorithm will be released April 1st, 2017.


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Chameleon: How We Got Here

Destination: Chameleon

How we got here. 

Chameleon Family

Our two masterworks, Brando and Super Ticker, came about independently with different requirements and lead developers/designers. In common, we had a web-based interface based on our Flow framework and everything was database-centric. However, they were two unique products with their own focus, database schema and flow interface.

Destination Chameleon

Over time, there has been pressure from our customers to add ticker enhancements to Brando and branding enhancements to Super Ticker. We tried to avoid hacks along the way while doing our best to give each product as much flexibility as possible. We also moved in a direction where both products worked well together. Even on the graphics side, both Brando and Super Ticker could co-exist on the same CG and users could log onto both flows simultaneously even with the same credentials using LDAP or Google.

Our Chameleon effort was initially a way to build an html5 renderer for web-based, signage and inexpensive broadcast solutions. It morphed into an SDK giving us potential support for any CG to be plugged into the architecture with limited effort. That proved to be successful as we expanded support from html5 rendering to supporting Ross Video’s XPression, NewTek’s NDI and soon to be released, SDI support initially using the AJA SDK. And we’re hoping other CG vendors will come a calling.

Chameleon

Due to limited internal resources, Chameleon’s initial push was on the ticker side and in fact, the current flow/database is still Super Ticker. That’s going to change soon. We’re spawning a new flow/database schema which is tuned for Chameleon. And of course, that means it gets the branding treatment. So basically, this is our move in turning two products into one.

The more we looked at having everything under one roof, the possibilities kept growing. We could now have branding features using standard ticker data and vice versa.

For example, a ticker zone could show programming information right in the rundown. It could be showing weather, scores and what’s on next on the current channel or for all channels in the station group; all as part of a simple or complex rundown. On the branding side, a bug could show weather information for a city or a playlist of cities. Or a sponsored snipe that shows scores of all the major teams in your city. The possibilities are endless.

Although we’ve released Chameleon and it’s a great ticker product, the best is yet to come. Follow us as we make our big splash with Chameleon. It’ll be a game changer.


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Xpression w BL

8 Years of XPression

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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.

 

Ross Video Tick It

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.

 

 


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Welcome Stephanie Daye, Marketing and Communications Director

Bannister Lake is thrilled to announce the hiring of Stephanie Daye in the position of Marketing and Communications Director. With our upcoming product push of Chameleon, Stephanie will help us get the message out. No broadcaster should be without Chameleon and we feel Stephanie is in an excellent position to tell the world our story.

Stephanie comes to BL with a wealth of experience in the broadcast and communications industries. We’re so excited to having her as part of the team.


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Chameleon – Connecting Data and Graphics

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Long before this industry’s obsession with HTML5, IP and the cloud, broadcasters faced a significant challenge from the digital transition: data management across the workflow. The migration to 1s and 0s created a flow of data that must be properly managed.

Graphics has proven an especially challenging area – and one that now requires a vastly different approach. Broadcasters today are as invested in the scheduling and presentation of the content as in the graphical quality.

This has gradually shifted the focus from hardware-centric systems to software-defined workflows that leverage richer data. Most graphics systems will read an RSS feed or database, however it is the relationship to data that is key to powering diverse on-air presentations.

Open Standards

Alongside the evolution to software-centric workflows, several open web-based technologies and standards have simplified how graphics designers and other production staff perform their tasks.

One such example is WebGL, an open API for rendering 2D and 3D graphics without plug-ins within any modern web browser, mobile device and OTT platforms such as AppleTV and Chromecast. WebGL falls under the umbrella of the open HTML5 platform, which encompasses improved JavaScript language along with richer APIs, mobile capabilities and multimedia support. The freedom associated with this evolution allows a software designer to use DirectX or OpenGL to manage 3D graphics, 2D graphics and dynamic animations within the browser. This simplifies what previously would require intensive knowledge of the latest hardware driver from a vendor like NVIDIA or ATI to make the software functional, while removing the previously required costs and complexity of specialized hardware.

Instead, vendors like Bannister Lake can now extract these APIs to the web browser, and leverage the capabilities that HTML5 and other modern web standards have established to simplify graphics rendering and display.

Tight Integration

Such is the case with Bannister Lake’s Chameleon, a real-time graphics and data engine that can populate content (news bulletins, scores, weather, elections, closings, events, stock quotes, social media, etc) across multiple platforms – notably live television, digital signage, mobile and the web. For playout, Chameleon supports all WebGL supported browsers, NewTek’s Network Device Interface (NDI) protocol, native SDI support, SDI converters and existing character generators.

The graphics system allows users to aggregate and manage automated data feeds from third-party providers; and merge that data with locally created content and community-submitted information. It builds on that foundation with new graphics creation tools and hybrid playout capabilities, while also accommodating the scheduling and placement of associated data. The result is a tightly integrated graphics and data engine to serve an array of distribution channels.

Establishing and working within a Chameleon workflow is simple and intuitive. The installer takes less than five minutes to install and configure. Operators use the built-in intuitive engine to create connections to data sources.

Operators can customize the look of each output. This includes dynamic, multi-zone layouts with animations, imported images, and text with customized fonts; content can overlap or exist in one or more defined zones. The data is then pushed to the central web server and married with the graphics.

HTML5

Operators subsequently receive a template to approve and submit for publishing. The built-in software player module ultimately delivers the content to consumer platforms (or a third party CG), further reducing hardware dependence around conversion and playout needs. This includes rendering of the player’s output directly, via WebGL, within HTML5 web pages.

Chameleon’s built-in intelligence ensures the information shows up as desired and on schedule. The system uses a custom-naming convention allowing operators to name objects and map content to the database. As an example, this name-mapping process between objects and the associated data enables users to decide what temperature will show up where and when.

HTML5 and Other Playouts

Chameleon includes an API-based web service to support machine-to-machine interoperability over a network. The API is also IP-based so graphics and data can work together. Data moves bi-directionally between rendering and the database using the JSON format. The result is that the web service supports HTML5, NDI and CG rendering, and in the near future, native SDI rendering.

The tight coupling between the data and its sources further enhances the flexibility of content presentation. A new topic or parameters are added to a workflow through a schema, which is shared between the web service and the player. This ensures both sides – one for entering, one for consuming – can leverage the same data without third-party involvement. As new data enters the workflow, conversions for on-air or online presentation are automatically created.

worlkflow-chameleon-overview

The NDI support opens new possibilities for live production workflows, and enables real-time graphics and alpha channel playout to other NDI-enabled systems. A broadcaster can push the same or targeted content to web platforms and TV sets, including those capable of receiving NDI streams.

The goal of Chameleon is to break down the traditional walls between graphics production and data aggregation – giving broadcasters and other users the freedom of where they can deliver their content.


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Bannister Lake Enhances Traffic System Integration in Brando Multi-Channel Branding Software

bxf support

 

CAMBRIDGE, ON, Canada, November 9, 2016 – Bannister Lake has vastly expanded the integration possibilities between its powerful Brando branding automation solution and third-party traffic and billing systems with the addition of support for the Broadcast Exchange Format (BXF Support), the SMPTE standard that streamlines interoperability and data exchange in broadcast and production workflows.

Brando takes the complexity out of advanced branding across any number of channels, making it fast and simple for broadcasters to set up, manage and continually enhance both internal and sponsored promotions and campaigns. Brando enables users to easily map dynamic branding and informational elements — including promos, bumpers, next boards, content ratings and more — to their program schedule through an intuitive, web-based interface. Brando delivers exceptional ROI, paying for itself quickly by enabling broadcasters to offer lucrative, additional advertising placements such as sponsored bugs and snipes without the need for more staff or systems.

Also known as SMPTE-2021, BXF provides a standardized approach for the exchange of data including schedule information, as-run logs and more. The addition of BXF support complements Brando’s rapid, interactive scheduling capabilities and existing, vendor-specific traffic system integrations with standards-based program schedule retrieval and as-run log publishing. Brando can automatically import BXF-compliant scheduling data, and export BXF-formatted as-runs through its BLADE (Bannister Lake Active Data Exchange) API.

“Brando has always made it quick and easy for users to manually enter and augment program information with efficient tools such as recurrent scheduling, but direct integration with traffic systems minimizes effort and errors,” said Georg Hentsch, president, Bannister Lake. “Those benefits are particularly significant when we have customers managing upwards of 20 channels on a single Brando installation. Brando already supports a selection of proprietary data formats, but the addition of BXF support enables interoperability with many more traffic systems without custom development, and gives our customers the future-proof confidence of a standards-based approach.”

BrandoScreenCapture

Brando tightly integrates with Ross Video’s Xpression motion graphics system in a template-based workflow that streamlines branding asset creation, dynamically updating graphics with timely program and promotional data whenever the branding element is shown. Branding events can be triggered through broadcast automation systems or manually, making Brando ideal for both pre-recorded and live programming workflows. The software supports an unlimited number of channels in a single on-premises server or cloud-based installation, including efficient cross-channel promotion capabilities. Brando can also be combined with Bannister Lake’s Super Ticker data aggregation solution, enabling sophisticated, data-rich broadcasts that mix program video with both in-house branding and external data feeds such as news, weather, scores and stock quotes.

The new BXF support is available immediately on new Brando systems and as a free upgrade for existing customers with active maintenance agreements.


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Bannister Lake Powers Financial Broadcast Graphics for Live Video Network Cheddar

CAMBRIDGE, ON, Canada, October 5, 2016 – Bannister Lake, a leading provider of broadcast data aggregation and graphics solutions, today announced that the company’s software is powering financial graphics generation for live news and entertainment company Cheddar.

Cheddar is a live and on-demand video news network focused on covering the most innovative products, technologies, and services transforming people’s lives. The network covers this news through the lens of the companies and executives driving these changes. Cheddar broadcasts from Post 10 on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange, the Sprint Flatiron Building Store, and NASDAQ Marketsite. Aligning with the viewing preferences of millennial audiences, Cheddar is available through social media platforms, over-the-top (OTT) services, mobile apps, and online on its website, cheddar.com. Complementing its flagship Facebook Live streams, Cheddar announced a partnership earlier this month to bring exclusive, live ‘Closing Bell’ coverage to Twitter.

Seeking to expand and enrich its live, on-air graphics capabilities, Cheddar selected software from Bannister Lake to drive financial data management and graphics creation in conjunction with a Ross Xpression broadcast system. Seamlessly bridging Xpression with the Xignite Market Data Cloud, Cheddar’s chosen financial data provider, the Bannister Lake software gives Cheddar’s operators an easy-to-use interface to create and display up-to-the-second stock charts within their live broadcasts. Bannister Lake also generates Cheddar’s on-screen, real-time, crawling stock ticker from Xignite data, while an array of additional features allows Cheddar to trigger lower-third graphics, sequence elements into playlists, and define distinct layouts for the network’s various shows.

“The Bannister Lake software makes it easy for us to call up stock quotes and quickly create live charts for our broadcasts,” said Peter Gorenstein, chief content officer at Cheddar. “That ease and speed are critical, since financial data is time-sensitive. So many graphics solutions are inflexible, expensive, and confusing or complicated to work with. The combination of Bannister Lake software with Ross Xpression has given us the ease of use, reliability and flexibility we need as we expand our brand, programming and reach.”

Gorenstein’s satisfaction with Bannister Lake goes deeper than the software itself. “In a broadcast production environment, there is always a lot of integration required between many varying systems and components, and Bannister Lake has been tremendous in helping with that as our infrastructure evolved,” he added. “They have been responsive, met all of our deadlines, and have been a great partner all around.”

“Cheddar is a great example of the evolution of broadcasting, as new media companies emerge with a focus on the latest distribution platforms to fit the shifting viewing habits of their target audiences,” said Georg Hentsch, president, Bannister Lake. “Our solutions enable efficient, data-driven graphics workflows for any size of media enterprise on any platform, from online broadcasting start-ups to the largest traditional networks. We’re excited to be chosen by Cheddar and to be playing an important role in the growth and success of their innovative content offerings.”


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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.


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The New Data Types Are Coming!

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.

content control

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:

queries

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.


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