A cost-effective, professional newsroom computer system.
Baobab Productions has been in business for 15 years but their news and production software, called LineupNX, goes back even further.
It was first used in a network TV newsroom in 1985 at a time when desktop computers were still in their infancy in most television news operations. The original version was written by the station’s science reporter (who later founded Baobab Productions) at the request of the Senior Producer. He was anxious to take some of the stress out of lining up the early and late evening newscasts.
In 1999, after a decade in university and college journalism and broadcast schools, the program was re-written for the Windows operating system. Since then LineupNX has continued to grow in capacity while maintaining its original value-for-money proposition.
“LineupNX is very capable yet has a very small memory footprint,” says Baobab Productions CEO, David Mowbray. “So it runs on modest computers and still let users have their NLE or audio editor running too. Small is beautiful has been part of our design philosophy for almost 25 years.” Institutions that invest in LineupNX do not need servers or fast computers with a lot of memory and the software itself is priced very competitively with free upgrades for at least two years.
The clean interface uses the rundown as a gateway to all other elements in the program production process. Scripts for packages can be written in Word, WordPerfect, Open Office Writer, or with Windows WordPad, while teleprompter copy is written with the pop-up, two-column editor. Notes, package scripts, teleprompter copy, keys and supers follow the story from entry in the future-file to archive after the show has aired. The software takes care of filenames and locations.
One very useful feature for the classroom is the built-in, RSS news feed module. This lets teachers simulate access to international wire services in class without the necessity of wire service subscriptions, lines or equipment.
Another area where the program meets the requirements of a learning environment is the way it lets students take different roles in the production process. The program adjusts its feature set to match the role, so reporters and writers have access to some functions, production staff to others, editors and producers yet others. The teacher has control over all of the program’s many settings and options and the comprehensive user guide, tutorials and examples give the teacher an easy base for lesson planning.
LineupNX even has a built-in email system to automatically send outlooks and rundowns to a mailing list. The list could include staff at other schools in the district or school board officials who might want to know what will be on the show.
The creators of LineupNX say they go the extra mile to ensure the program will do what users want. For example says Mowbray, a recent client that pre-recorded and syndicated several daily magazine shows needed a way to keep and adjust rundowns for shows that were assembled over several days. “We developed a system to nest rundowns, versions of the rundown that reflect the progress of the production as it is recorded,” says Mowbray. “Parent and child rundowns let the production team easily step up and down through the recording history of the episode. We designed this feature with direct involvement from the producers. We weren’t finished until they were happy.”
Similarly when Rhodes University in South Africa asked for a draft print mode for teleprompter copy in order to save paper – scarce and costly in a developing country university, the LineupNX programmers responded overnight, providing the university with an updated module for the next class. The journalism professor at Rhodes wanted each student in the class to follow the script from their desks as the show went to air. Large type, narrow column, teleprompter copy was reserved for talent and control room staff.
A full-featured demonstration version of LineupNX is available to bona fide schools, television stations and production organizations. You can read more about LineupNX on the Baobab Productions website at www.baobab.net/lineupnx