For live broadcast, it’s hard enough staying on top of new content on an hourly basis without having to deal with equipment failures. And when Dan Stark, Chief Engineer of NBC station KTVH Helena, Montana, took over a newly purchased news station he experienced possibly the worst equipment failure for live TV – teleprompter software malfunction.
“I’m in charge of a couple of TV stations and we purchased [KTVH] 6 months ago,” commented Stark. “It had old software and since we had initial budget constraints after the station purchase, we ended up taking the built-in software that came as a freebie with the Newsroom Computer System (NRCS). Unfortunately, we had a few issues right off the bat; we had sluggish USB controllers, the software didn’t work with many caption encoders, and it would crash every time we needed it. In the end, we didn’t have prompting or captioning for a week.”
For more accurate and reliable software, Stark chose to use Autoscript’s versatile WinPlus Newsroom Prompting software to prompt and provide data for closed captioning. The WinPlus News package is a teleprompting application that is both Unicode compliant – supporting any foreign language that works with Windows – and compatible with all leading Newsroom systems including Ross Inception, AP ENPS, and Avid i-News, to name a few.
“I needed something I knew would work. Our other station, KRTV, has had Autoscript for as long as I can remember, so we knew WinPlus would work and had good controllers. At KTVH, the talent prompts themselves, primarily with a foot pedal. Once the show starts, they are on their own – it either works or it’s a wreck. Some of KRTV’s talent use Autoscript’s wireless hand controller, but the prompting options that came with the NRCS didn’t even have a wireless hand controller available,” said Stark.
Autoscript was able to ship WinPlus urgently to get KTVH back up and running. With WinPlus now incorporated into his workflow, the NRCS creates the on-air rundowns and then activates them into WinPlus when they’re ready. From there, the prompt feed from WinPlus goes to three on-camera units in the studio and the data content gets delivered to the Link Electronics caption encoder for the closed captioning. With the great reliability that WinPlus provides, Stark can focus on the bigger picture without worrying about software malfunctions.
“When I’m thinking about investing in a teleprompting system, I ask three questions: 1) is it legally compliant with the FCC’s regulations, 2) is it reliable, and 3) does it function so that the talent can easily see what they’re doing without being distracted from controlling it. For me, Autoscript achieves all three flawlessly.”
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