Hornets slash scripting time by 50% with Shoflo

Emily Ladd

Emily Ladd

Senior Manager Event Presentation at Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte Hornets logo

“Shoflo has been great for us, even with me being hesitant at first to make the switch. I’ve definitely been proven wrong. It saves a lot of time and it saves a lot of stress too. All of our crew love it - we are really happy that we got it.”

Emily Ladd is the first to admit she was set in her ways when it came to preparing game-day scripts for the Charlotte Hornets.

On game days, Emily would tuck her paper Excel scripts into her back pocket along with a pen to scribble down last minute changes.  In days leading up to the game, the scripting process resembled a ping pong match played out over an Excel spreadsheet. Emily and her boss would pass the spreadsheet back and forth, each adding their own inputs and amendments.

Emily explains:

“I would build the initial scripts in Excel and would print it out and give it to my boss. He would make edits, give it back and I would go through and make those edits. We went through that process probably five or six times leading up to the game. Then we would do one final edit, right before the game, around noon, print it off for everybody and have our meeting. That was how we built scripts in the past.”

Emily and her team were given the support of the Hornets’ vice president to investigate a more efficient software-based scripting system. The team’s existing workflow and processes had been in place for years, but the Hornets wanted a system which would help the team work even more efficiently, giving them extra time to add even more excitement into every game.

“I love my job, so I don’t mind spending the time to make it our show as perfect as possible,” Emily says. “This is my tenth season here and I have been doing Excel from the minute I started. I was one of those hesitant people to start off with. I like having the hard copy in my pocket where I could write things down and I could run around and not worry about breaking a $100 piece of equipment.”

But having 10 seasons using Excel, it took Emily just one hour to learn how Shoflo works and use it to start writing her scripts.  Now, Emily has cut down her scripting time by 50 per cent. She knows her crew are following the show caller 100 per cent with Shoflo’s ShowCaller tracking feature. And she gets to leave work during daylight hours to spend time with her family.

Read on to find out how Shoflo helped the Charlotte Hornets to:

  • Adopt a more efficient scripting process that fit in their existing workflow
  • Get up to speed with a new software scripting process in just one hour
  • Fully utilized Show Caller tracking, ensuring the team is always on the same page
  • Demonstrate an ROI from just the first game of the season

The Charlotte Hornets production team watching the event closely on multiple monitors

Shoflo creates a more efficient scripting process to fit alongside the  Hornets’ successful game-day processes

When it came to adopting a new scripting software process, the Hornets had no plans to reinvent the wheel.

The team was keen to explore the time and efficiency savings that cloud-based scripting software could bring, but wanted the software to fit around their existing team dynamic. Their previous workflow had already resulted in great game-day experiences for fans. Ensuring this was retained - and enhanced - was one of the most important factors for Emily in choosing a scripting software package.

“We didn’t want to start from scratch. We have a good show and a good process. We did not want to tear that down and rebuild it. One good thing about Shoflo is that our workflow is relatively the same, just with a lot of the smaller things taken out of it. We can work on things simultaneously, so it helps in that regard, but, actually, we didn’t have to change a lot,” says Emily.

As well as improving the pre-game scripting process, Shoflo has helped Emily and her boss input even the smallest last-minute match day changes quickly and easily.

Emily says:

“I’ve worked with my boss now for six or seven seasons together so I can read him pretty well, I know when he’s going to either call a hot time out or audible something in. But at the same time, if we just need to input a name or whatever, with Shoflo I don’t even need to tell him when I’m making changes.  I can just say ‘Hey, this name’s in there now.” At the same time, everybody else can hear it and they know to go in and take a look. And now, we don’t have spelling problems unless I’ve put it in incorrectly and it’s my fault! We can even put in phonetic pronunciations and if we don’t know the name when we’re initially building the script. Having dynamic editing capabilities, even with just cells, is great.”

Shoflo helps the Hornets get up to speed with a new software scripting process in less than one hour

Emily had spent 10 seasons with the Hornets and had used Excel to build scripts for every game. Her team are also well established and had used Excel paper-based scripts for many seasons.

Shoflo’s easy-to-use system which resembles Excel but is more tailored towards building game scripts, helped Emily to start building and writing her scripts in less than one hour.

“Going from Excel to this, took some learning, just like anything would,” she explains. “But really, after you’ve spent 40 minutes to an hour, however long it takes, you to get used to it. Once you’ve figured it out, then it was smooth sailing from there.”

Emily says the transition was relatively easy. She added that educating the team on adopting the system to run alongside the existing management structure was as important as actually training people to use new software.

“We’ve been fortunate enough to have relatively the same crew ever since I’ve been here, so they’ve been ingrained with ‘This is what our script looks like and this is how our show is.’ So, it took a little convincing, but they quickly adapted and they’re all on board now.”

Shoflo event production software on a Charlotte Hornetts monitor

Today, Emily uses Shoflo to manage the initial scripting process, then invites the different team members to add their updates and corrections to suit the Hornets’ workflow.

“[With Excel] Our Partnerships Team, would go in and kind of sniper my scripts and say ‘You’ve got this wrong.’ And I would say ‘Well, it’s not done yet, you’ll just have to wait until we get it finalized.’ Now I can just send them the link and say ‘Here’s the final script.’ Then they can go through and see if we’ve missed anything.”

“They were a little scared when they knew they couldn’t go in and sniper us – and I say that with love! It definitely wasn’t overwhelming, you just have to talk everybody through it and tell them it’s going to be OK.”

The Hornets make full use of Shoflo’s ShowCaller feature, ensuring the team is always on the same page on game days

Shoflo’s ShowCaller tracking feature helps ensure that the Hornets’ event crew  stay 100 per cent focused on whatever is happening at that moment within the script. Using this feature, there’s less room for mistakes and missed opportunities because the caller has jumped from one element to another or a last-minute order change is required.  ShowCaller tracking automatically advances the scripts of following crew members so they align exactly with the show caller’s script as it moves forward through the cues. This feature helps all of the event crew to stay on the same page, even if the unexpected does happen.

The game-day script for the Charlotte Hornets involves a lot of shifting elements. In addition to the script changes, team members are spread out across the stadium in the control room or tunnel.

Emily explains how ShowCaller tracking helps improve communication across the whole team: “When it comes to tracking, most of the time, probably 80 per cent of our games, I’m in the production corner managing everything, getting everything off the floor and my boss is at the score table. He’s the one everyone’s primarily tracking.”

“Our TV control room will be tracking him. Everybody in my tunnel’s tracking him, I’m the only one that doesn’t turn it on because I have to go through and make edits and inputs as he’s going. So, I work ahead of him a little bit. But you can still see where he is with that little blue button that goes around.”

Using ShowCaller tracking means Emily can ensure crew members stay up-to-date with last minute changes – no matter which element they work on or which part of the stadium they are located.

Emily says:

“We’ve also got a TV monitor in the tunnel, which our DJ really likes. We’ve got three DJs, so when we change things around all the time. They’re probably the last on the list to find out that we’ve changed something. It’s like ‘I don’t need your instrumental here, I need something else.’ Being able to see this [using ShowCaller tracking] is really great, just knowing wherever he is in the script is helpful all around.”

Backstage view with the Charlotte Hornets production team

Shoflo helps the Hornets demonstrate return on investment from a zero software budget, right from the very first game

The Hornets events team had no budget for scripting software. But they were fortunate that senior management were supportive of their need to improve the process, giving the team more time to focus on the game-day experience.

Emily explains:

“When you are doing anything for free and you have to consider paying it from now on, you have to get a handful of people involved. However, given this was a top-down initiative from our VP, he was aware that we were going to have to put some budget dollars towards it. They gave us the lead to figure out which system we wanted to go with because we were the ones that were going to be using it…We were fortunate, in that regard, that they were aware it wasn’t going to come for 100 bucks.”

The investment has been worthwhile. The scripting process now takes less than half the time taken by the previous Excel-based system:

“We’ve been able to really streamline our edit process and my boss can even go in and make some of his own edits. He doesn’t have to go through me. With Excel, once you open a document, it’s whoever is opens up that document goes in and make the edits. With Shoflo he’ll just go in make those changes, then tell me he’s done it.”

The ease of moving script elements around has meant the Hornets can create an even more entertaining show for their fans. “Being able to live change everything and have that dynamic element of everything automatically shifting around is probably the biggest benefit when we’re within our show,” says Emily.  For Emily, one of the biggest benefits of swapping Excel for Shoflo happens outside of the show and stadium. It’s about getting to go home, put her feet up and relax at a reasonable hour:

“We can really get out of here on a semi-normal basis and when the daylight’s still showing!”

Charlotte Hornets using Shoflo in the sound booth