The Communication Studio

Javits: Production Proposal


The newly-constructed Javits Convention Center along the Hudson River was to be the "Marketplace for the World". As such, it would be a showcase for new media information and presentation technology.

This was our proposal to provide an information management sytem and support services for their production challenges.

Author: John Vaughan





As a buyer of Textup you will receive system documentation manuals which describe each feature of Textup and provide step-by-step instructions for creating templates, updating text, integrating artwork and text into templates and maintaining Textup files.


The Style Guide is a document which is unique to this project and will be developed during the course of the database design and implementation effort. The Style Guide will contain documentation describing the design attributes which are supported by the NYCC system (in terms of both structural parameters of the database and screen design attributes).

The guidelines for structural parameters includes such things as: the use of cross-references, acceptable terminology for prompts, routing conventions, keywording policies, the invocation of software applications, policies regarding "gateways" to IP information, or a description of unique attributes within a given service (i.e. operational differences between the LOCATOR and COMING ATTRACTIONS).

The Style Guide will also contain guidelines for screen design, such as: the general use of colors and palette assignments, the format or "look" for each service, conventions for the physical placement of routing information or system prompts, and policies regarding utilization of the NYCC logo. The Style Guide is not meant to be a primer on NAPLPS screen design but rather a specific guide to database design for the NYCC. Nonetheless, it would also include technical guidelines for maintaining byte efficiencies in screen design as well as specific instructions for the effective integration of Textup and the Show utilities.


The updating requirements of each service will be reflected in an established schedule that will permit as much pre-production as possible. The Updating Schedule will reflect 1) which screens are expected to be updated, 2) what is the nature of the update, as well as 3) any routing changes which are due. The update procedures will reflect how each type of update is to be accomplished. For example, there may be several types of updates going on at once:


  • -Clip Art & Special Effects Modules
  • -Logos
  • -Illustrations
  • -Custom Screen Design
  • -Font Generation


  • -Textup Template Entry
  • -Textup Transaction
  • -Template Redesign & New Template Design


  • -Routing Parameters
  • -Screen Links to Applications
  • -Keywording
  • -Cross Referencing

The update procedures will detail by update type how it is to be performed by an operator. The transactions will be described line-by-line including sample screens and prompts with explanations of possible error messages. Some of the updates are expected to be VAX-VTX updates (routing parameters,screen links to applications, database copies, back-ups etc). IAV assumes that the documentation for these processes exists and can be referred to in our updating procedure document.


A Training Manual will be created to provide a basis for the initial training given to the NYCC staff responsible for maintaining the daily text changes and other normal maintenance routines. The Training Guide will then serve as a resource for training new employees. The Training Guide will be divided in sections by type of system function. Each section will have a set of instructional objectives the trainee is expected to learn. A step by step explanation of each process will be given and immediately followed by an example of the process. The examples will be a mix of scenarios presented in the guide itself and examples designed for direct hands-on training on the system. We have made the assumption that NYCC personnel will have some familarity with computer terminals and will have word processing skills as a pre-requisite.

Training on the use of frame creation software will be provided using the software's own training materials. This type of training is strictly hands-on and not classroom-oriented. Once the trainee has learned to use the frame creation software, then training on the use of the NYCC Database Style Guide is appropriate. Should you desire the development of a frame creation manual that is independent of that which is supplied with the frame creation software, we will provide you with a quote.


As with Textup (described above), you will receive a Show Utility description and usage manual.

Our general approach to documentation is that it should be written to the level of the End User and contain sufficient examples that cover common issues and questions. We also believe that documentation in this case must be planned collaboratively with both NYNEX and NYCC personnel. In order to accomplish this we would present an outline of each document and then, in a series of planning sessions, gather as much input as possible before writing the final draft for your review. This effort will be managed carefully because it is an area that tends to expand unnecessarily; no one ever finds 400-page documents useful, whether it is on paper or on screen.







In Phase 1, there will be two types of data required. The first is what has been called "inside data" (i.e."Coming Attractions"). The second is "information provider data" or "outside data" (i.e. templates, artwork, logos). In the second example IAV acts as the Information Provider.

In Phase 2, there will be an expansion of "inside data", but the central source for that information will still be the NYCC. "Outside data" will also expand both in terms of the volume of data, and in terms of the number and categories of information providers. In addition to IAV, we will have NYNEX as a source of classified ads, possibly Reuters as a source of news materials, various publishers as sources for the entertainment guides, and so on.

Regardless of the source, the initial medium of storage and transmission of data will be paper. However, the capture of the information must be made in a pre-designed format or template. By its nature a production system is a self-documenting system and screens must be laid out on grids or templates before they are drawn or typed on screen. Information providers must have paper records with which they must verify that the screen reflects their service.


IAV will create the database in an environment that will permit on-line updates of pre-produced screens. These screens will contain pre-defined areas for the insertion of text by NYCC personnel on site who will call up the screens using Textup and insert the current data. IAV will provide update entry personnel to coordinate this process and will provide editorial direction. All of IAV's work will be created and delivered electronically. In Phase 2, we anticipate working in the same facility with NYNEX's classified ads personnel to minimize the time it will take to create the display ads and get approval prior to system update. In working with other information providers as NYNEX contracts to obtain the various information sources, we hope that a series of guidelines will be followed with respect to entry formats, style, design, color, adherence to schedule, and expiration dates. In addition, we would welcome the electronic receipt of data, provided that the formatting issues have been adequately addressed.


The efficiency of the database design is a function of the schedule which creates and maintains it. All items created new for entry into the database must be scheduled well in advance, primarily for quality control purposes. All items requiring modification must be scheduled with appropriate timing. This includes error corrections. A Master Schedule will be maintained for all information providers detailing the type of data expected and the key due dates including lead time for corrections. We consider this to be a critical activity that requires coordination between our Database Manager, Context Integrator, Context Manager and Information Provider Coordinator. The Master Schedule is the heart of the control process which allows us to manage the who, what, when, where and how in the production process.


IAV - in concert with NYNEX - will advise the contracted Information Providers with regard to style, formats, and scheduling requirements. We anticipate the process of coordinating the flow of information among the various information providers to follow a similar path with several control points.

The following flow chart assumes the I.P. has been informed of the required formats and is now ready to send information.



Explanations of Personnel Categories


a) Content Integration: This is the major editorial management job. This function staff by one experienced person keeps track of the daily editorial work load and delegates assignments for update or entry. The person monitors style book guidelines for text materials and works closely with NYCC staff.

b) Update/Entry: This function is two-fold; first text entry using both word processing and Textup and secondly, updating the remote VIS data base with finished screens. The requirement is for experienced word processors preferably with some publishing experience. We plan to have two full-time persons in addition to the NYCC staff.

c) Foreign Language Translation: Although in Phase 2, we intend to contract with a translation service, we will require one multi-lingual staff person to coordinate the production.


a) Context Management: This function is responsible for the actual design of the services, the art direction and the technical integration required for an efficient, flexible and appealing service. This critical role will be filled by John Vaughan.


a) Database Management: This function is responsible for quality control and tracking what is in the pre-production database and the VIS database. All scheduled updates and releases of services for VIS are controlled by this function. We will require one experienced supervisory level person for this position.

b) Routing Continuity: In Phase 2, the logical structure of the services will grow more complex, while we are aware of the requirement to produce a broad versus deep service, we feel the control of the routing parameters is key to a successful service. The maintenance of linkages and cross-references as well as the performance of quality control are part of this position.


a) Customized Software: This technical position will be responsible for designing and writing specifications for the software architecture required by VAX-VTX, frame creation software, Textup, file conversions etc. This senior level systems programmer will work closely with the Blue Hill staff.

The per diem cost of this position is $

b) New Applications Development: This function will write any necessary modifications or service interfaces as required for efficient customization and software integration.

The per diem cost of this position (estimated at 30 man-days in Phase 1) is $

c) Installation/Service Testing: This function is the complement of applications development and will be responsible for installing and testing software.


a) Executive Management: This function will provide day-to-day project planning, management and supervision of all functional areas to assure contract compliance. This position will be staff by Claudia Colbert.

b) Clerical Support: Our intention is to staff one full-time clerical person from a temporary agency.

c) Information Provider Coordinator: This position will be responsible for supervising the receipt of I.P. data, and general coordination in conjunction with NYNEX personnel. We now estimate the requirements in this area will grow from 1/2 time (30 man-days) to two persons.

d) Training of NYCC Personnel: We plan to bring on staff the trainer as needed. We have estimated 30 man-days per phase. Senior level staff in place will supplement this task. @newpage SOME OBSERVATIONS ON THE PRODUCTION PROCESS AND PRICING

The design process proposed by TCS has substantial implications for determining the cost of unit-screen production. We have broken the database production process down into several discrete areas of responsibility (which must also necessarily overlap, if we are to produce an effectively integrated set of services).

The TCS Production Process: Screen Design Stage


The client communicates their desires for the "look" and "feel" of the service, which is to be interpreted by the IAV Production Team. At critical points in the process, the client reviews and approves those design parameters of the service, which are then imbedded in Textup Templates and recorded in the Style Guide documentation. This stage of the process is handled primarily by the Info Provider Coordinator, and should be completed early on, but will have a substantial impact on initial developmental costs. We can expect the "drag" on the production process which necessarily occurs at this stage will diminish as the system evolves and NYCC feels comfortable with its shape.


Skilled, NAPLPS-knowledgable TCS designers create templates to be used with the Textup Entry/Update and Font Handler software. We will use the Template technique to support the screen production and update process at all levels of the system, except perhaps the very high-end "advertising art" custom screens. Applications include: standard info screens, calendars, maps, system messages, signage, and templates for user-entered messaging. Because it "packages" the NAPLPS graphics in the template, Textup allows people with only simple keyboard skills to update and edit screens by entering their own text (ala word processing), merging "clip art", or merging pre-existing ASCII text files. We assume to provide automated updating of newswire-type ASCII services in phase 2. Although relatively expensive to create, a large and sophisticated database can be maintained on the basis of a relatively few templates. And the templates - once produced - are extremely inexpensive and easy to update.


Re-useable "Clip Art" in the form of logos, icons, custom fonts and illustrations can be created by a combination of computergraphic artists and camera digitization. Although each piece of clip art is individually relatively expensive to produce, its cost is amortized out over the number of times that it can be re-used. In combination with the Textup software, a clip art image library can be manipulated by a NAPLPS-naive "non-artist" type with fundamental keyboard skills. @newpage CUSTOM ARTWORK PRODUCTION "One-time-only" custom artwork (such as advertising art) can be produced by computergraphic artists and through camera digitization. This is the most expensive "per-screen" cost because it requires artist input from end to end.


Using the Textup and Font Handler technique, it is possible to execute daily updates rapidly and inexpensively by using people with secretarial skills to perform the input of graphically sophisticated screens (at secretarial - rather than at artist - rates). Even greater cost efficiencies can be achieved as the process becomes automated.

The TCS Production Process assumes subtantial screen creation costs in the early stage of this project, as we expect that both NYCC and NYNEX will be involved in influencing the "look" and "feel" of the various services, and this will necessarily cause some redundancy of effort on the part of the Production Team. In addition, we will be producing the basic elements of the Image Library (icon sets, NYCC logos, maps, templates, etc.). This is a sizeable task in itself, but - once formalized - the Image Library will allow us to accomplish most of the ongoing screen production and updating tasks easily and quickly.

"New" screen production tasks will include such things as:

1) building new templates (and possibly also new icon sets) for new service areas

2) expanding the logo library (for new shows and new clients)

3) building new font sets

4) custom artwork ("handmade" illustrations, advertising art)

We feel that, using Textup, the ongoing/update tasks are - once defined and formalized - relatively easy and inexpensive to execute.

The "new" production tasks, and especially "custom" artwork are more time-consuming, artist-intensive, and expensive.