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Re: Smooth track transition

Posted: 27 Aug 2019 09:32
by radio42
Well, currently I am afraid that such global rules might break a lot of things.
E.g. many users do use various additional rules which would need to be taken into account, for example:
- they use explicit script-line filters (e.g. to select only tracks of a certain Genre etc.)
- they use the LeastTimesPlayed or LeastRecentlyPlayed modes
- they use smaller media libs which only contain a limited number of tracks
- they use day part rules or track restrictions
- they use extensive history options which also limit the number of available tracks
- they use the TryEnsureExactLength option to fill the hour with tracks best matching the total time
- etc.

Global rules like you describe might have the following side effect:
- NO track might satisfy ALL of those tempo AND previous rules - which one to violate? (I am sure, every user will want to define this on top)
As such, this will have a massive impact on your overall design and adds again a lot of complexity and logic to be implemented and I am very certain, that this is hard, if not impossible to configure.

Just take some of the above examples... we need to answer the following questions:
- do you prefer a smooth transition or a history violation?
- do you prefer a script-filter rule (e.g. select a certain Genre) or a smooth transition? Which Genre to pick instead?
- what to do, if no track is available to satisfy a smooth transition?
Just think off all these possibilities... the number of options to check is the Cartesian product of all possibilities ... which might be massive and in the end you still might not find a track matching all.

As such, it might sound simple to express the rules, but when looking into more detail it is not. And this is the reason, why I suggest to play with the already existing capabilities (i.e. script-filters and script rules) - it gives you and me a better feeling about the complexity.

On top (and this was the reason why I explicitly asked about Jingles) I know, that many stations do explicitly design Jingles to better perform those transitions; e.g. they have Jingles to explicitly transition from e.g. a slow outro tempo track to a fast intro tempo track or the other way around. This also needs to be taken into account.

Finally we are coming to a very philosophical question: Can (and want) you design a system which can automatically generate a 'perfect' sounding station in a totally automated way?
I have an opinion about this, e.g. sometimes you want to violate those 'smooth transitions' in order to add more dynamic and natural to you station sound... but of course all might have a different opinion on this one.
However, I assume you need to configure this as well.
To my feeling, the existing Script-Rules and Scriptline Filters can actually do a pretty good job already...

Re: Smooth track transition

Posted: 28 Aug 2019 08:13
by JWvanGulik
I think now we are getting to the real discussion. As you mention, transition jingles (e.g., Fast to Slow) are on the market BECAUSE radio stations NEED smooth transitions. And, as said before, all the major automation packages include such functionality. There are many fully automated radio stations who rely on these software packages to create the sound signature they prefer.

Having that said, I understand that it might not be easy to program all of this. And for smaller track libraries I can imagine that a radio station allows all tempi to be combined (see the pictures in my first post). The programming that I know of big automated radio stations use scripts that allows a great degree of freedom (like mine) to make sure all tracks can be selected random and have a chance of being played.

That brings me to another (off topic) question: I started my script design with the "random" setting, but I noticed that some tracks were played many more times than others, even a lot of tracks were not selected at all for a long time. I expected that played tracks are "flagged" and are not part of the random selection until all tracks are played. Meanwhile I changed to "LeastPlayed" setting, and this works, but in other packages this "flagging" works very well. Now my question is actually how tracks are selected in the "LeastPlayed" option; are they selected randomly within the group of number of times played?

Back to the smooth transition topic, I would like to answer some of your questions. Be aware that I use a music library of 1500 titles with an average of two tracks per artist (~750 unique artists).
- I prefer a history violation
- Script filter rule
- If no track is available violate the smooth transition setting

Again, the default setting could be to allow all tempi to be combined. This way no selection problems are added to the current limitations.

If you want to compete with the big automation packages and use the punchline "Radio Automation Solution" I don't think that you can avoid having this functionality included. Not to mention other stuff like gender and language.

Hope to have informed you sufficiently.

Best regards,

- JW

Re: Smooth track transition

Posted: 28 Aug 2019 09:06
by radio42
I have a slightly different opinion: transition jingles do exist, because with these you explicitly want to overrule those smooth transition rules you initially outlined! I.e. these do allow you to play from any tempo track to any other tempo track. And as such the smooth transition rules should probably not apply to transition Jingles - i.e. I assume, that there is a missing requirement, which is to define not only global transition rules which apply to ALL tracks or Jingles, but probably also define per track either special rules or exclude them from those global rules.

As said, when you say "a great degree of freedom", this is not really true, as with all the other competing rules, you often limit your selection in such a way, that people do not recognize, that they contradict this freedom - in the end, they are wondering, why certain tracks are less picked; which is mostly a result of all the rules established ;-)

... also note, that I don't really like or want to compete with other BIG system, as they cost BIG as well. You are still free to invest into a BIG scheduling system and use this back to back with ProppFrexx as a play out automation system. However, I still believe, that they don't do a better job ;-)

ProppFrexx has various classification options, beside different media libs, you can use fields like Style, Mood, Commend, Grouping etc. to specify things like gender, language etc. And I doubt, that there will ever be a rule which say: don't play a 'French' track after an 'Italian' ;-)

The 'Random' mode is really a native random mode. A track is selected completely randomly out of the total number of tracks available in the media lib. The tracks are not 'flagged'. Used tracks are however placed into the history. See here for details:

If the system would work in the way you described it, this would be the 'Sequential' mode - which wouldn't work again for smooth transition rules ;-)

The 'LeastTimesPlayed' resp. 'LeastRecentlyPlayed' modes use an entry statistic with a 'PlayCounter' resp. 'PlayedDate' value. To ensure a minimum of randomness of these modes, the entries with the same PlayCounter are randomized resp. entries with the same PlayedDate are randomized within a group of 6 hours (1/4th of a day accuracy).
Note, that these modes (esp. the 'LeastTimesPlayed') have a bias towards newly added tracks.

Re: Smooth track transition

Posted: 28 Aug 2019 10:52
by JWvanGulik
This will be my last comment to this topic. From my long radio automation experience I dare to say that this function is necessary in any automation system that wants to have customers in the radio automation business.
A few last comments. Language is not to choose a French track after an Italian track, but is important to make sure that not two Italian tracks are played after each other. Gender identification could be important if you don't want to have three tracks with a female singer in a row. This by the way is a similar requirement as the smooth transition requirement, because you don't want to specify gender in your script for each track. It should also be a general rule setting in the system. Transition jingles exist ONLY to make sure smooth transitions are possible. With jingles like F-F, F-M, F-S, etc. the automation systems is able to choose the right transition. If you only have F-F jingles, the system would fail on the transmission requirements. So, opposite of your statement, the reason transition jingles exist is just because of smooth transition automation.
Thanks for your explanation about the difference between LeastTimes and LeastRecent. This randomization within the LeastTimes is the best option if you want to make sure all tracks are played, without having the same playlist on each Monday (as an example).

Re: Smooth track transition

Posted: 28 Aug 2019 11:06
by radio42
Which I started to implement and asked for testing... as said, you might use the 'Script-Rules' to do so. This is NOT a per track or script-line option, but a general rules option - maybe you haven't discovered it yet?
The 'other' user seems to have started to use it and replied:
moogwill wrote:
26 Aug 2019 09:05
I just add my first rule using the track end/start indicators as a condition, a few hours ago now... that's perfect. thanks.
nice work as usual.

Re: Smooth track transition

Posted: 28 Aug 2019 13:12
by JWvanGulik
OK. I think I don't know what a Script-Rule is yet. I'll look into it tonight, and come back to you with my experiences.

Re: Smooth track transition

Posted: 28 Aug 2019 19:00
by JWvanGulik
Right, at home and the beta version installed. Indeed I see the start and end tempo in the Track Data tab. I have chosen for the following values:

- Very Slow: 1
- Slow: 50
- Medium: 100
- Fast: 150
- Very Fast: 200

Now I've started with filling in the values for the tracks and started a new test script to see what is possible. I created two tracks (without jingles for now) and looked into the possibilities in the script editor. It is possible to select a "Tempo Start" for a track, but what I actually want is something like: "If Tempo End of previous track is 100 then Tempo Start is between 50 and 250" This way I can create five script lines with all the possible combinations that are allowed, and copy these lines to all tracks. But as far as I can see, it is not possible to define a script line for the "previous track". Please advise how to solve this.

- JW

Re: Smooth track transition

Posted: 28 Aug 2019 19:06
by JWvanGulik
Oh, forgot to ask. Is the Cue-in Offset in the Event Data tab the solution for a negative cue point (earlier start of track) as requested in a different topic?

Re: Smooth track transition

Posted: 28 Aug 2019 19:56
by radio42
Yes, that is exactly what you asked for (CueInOfdset, must be negative).

When you have edited your tacks, go to the Script Editor and click on the Script-Rules button in the middle/bottom. Here you can specify rules for the previous track and for the current track plus an action, eg. Suspend.

Re: Smooth track transition

Posted: 28 Aug 2019 20:38
by JWvanGulik
Hi Bernd, I'm very sorry but I cannot find the button. Do you have a screenshot for me? Or a detailed description?