Steve Francomano is the Vice President of Technical Services for Cramer, a brand experience agency that has been creating large-scale events for over thirty years. With three decades of experience in broadcast television and live event production, Steve brings a unique perspective to delivering exceptional live experiences. Understanding the demands of these experiences and Cramer’s global brands, led Steve to select and implement Shoflo to address critical challenges and opportunities for the entire Cramer team.
The Need for Version Control
Cramer needed a method to control which versions of its documents were being used in production. Between printed scripts, local files, emails and cloud storage, it was difficult to gauge which copy was the latest version.
“Collective sharing, contributing and viewing is so important today. When changes are made, my team needs to be able to quickly see and understand those changes and how they will affect the overall production.”
Steve adopted Shoflo as he needed his crew to be able to collaboratively edit and iterate on production documents in real time. Unlike Dropbox or Google Drive, Shoflo is real time so multiple users can be performing simultaneous edits. Shoflo’s real time environment enables the production team and the client to access and be working on the most recent version, without worrying about overwriting someone else’s work.
“If you can do that in real time, with everyone having access to the script, that is the key thing that makes the difference between the old analog way of printing paper with no version control and the way we do things today. That contribution is the key to success.”
Throughout his career, Steve has strived to stay on the cutting edge, but not bleeding edge, of technology. Bleeding edge technologies may be the newest but are not fully vetted, whereas cutting edge technologies are proven in the field.
“[Shoflo] created a software platform that allows us to do everything we did in excel but globally. I can’t even imagine going back to the way we were before.”
Cramer’s clients and employees were quick to reach 100% adoption of Shoflo. “It’s happened organically because it’s an intuitive program and people understand it.” When asked if there were any reasons not to use Shoflo one employee replied, “I can’t give you any.”
Last Minute Changes
Excel works well for formatting scripts in pre production but falls short in distributing the latest changes and a single change can have substantial downstream effects on timing, often disrupting inter-departmental interaction.
“We can change a video order with a click of a button. It’s so seamless. It could happen two seconds before your show and it doesn’t matter. Everyone sees the change in real time and says ‘I’m on board with that.’ “
Last second changes often cause crew members to lose their place, but Shoflo’s Show Caller Tracking makes sure everyone knows where they should be. If a crew member chooses to track along with the showcaller, their view update to the currently tracked row.
“When my crew is tracking me, everyone knows exactly where I am. It takes the guesswork out of it.”
Shoflo’s powerful cue timing features caters to both the broadcast and production industries and makes it easy to keep track of if a show is running behind.
“Timing and backtiming, the ability to adjust cues times, is powerful. No more guessing or figuring: Are we heavy? Are we light? The software does it for me.”
Cramer is driven by pre-production hours and with Shoflo, they have managed to reduce hours worked by 75%. This has translated into savings for Cramer’s clients and improved productivity for Cramer.
“Being efficient translates to greater ROI and makes us more competitive. By passing savings onto our clients, we become more competitive during the bidding process, and ultimately obtain more clients.”
Cramer has developed their own unique methods for building shows in Shoflo. They first create a base template that can re-use for all their shows. Cramer uses global highlighting to accentuate recurring elements and inserts graphics directly into their cues for quick reference. In addition to their unique formatting style, each of Cramer’s crew members are able to further customize their cue sheet to fit their needs without affecting other people’s views.
“Our department leads can create a look and feel that is most conducive to them. If I’m an L1 and don’t need the audio column, I can create a custom view that hides it, and instead adds a personal highlight on a cue that’s important to me.”
Clients often ask Cramer what they’re doing to operate to be more environmentally friendly. With Shoflo’s cloud platform, they no longer waste paper and ink printing thousands of copies of their scripts that would otherwise end up in the trash.
“We have clients ask about our green initiatives and we can say that we no longer print anything on our end anymore. We save thousands of pieces of paper and thousands in toner.”
Incorporating Shoflo into their workflow has made Cramer more efficient than ever before. Their team is more adaptable to the inevitable last-minute changes that come with event production and being able to truly collaborate in real time has made life easier for Cramer and its clients.
“What Shoflo has enabled us to do here as a company, be lean, be efficient, be productive, not waste time, get rid of confusion between documents, is mind blowing. We know we can manage more projects and take on more workload because we are becoming more efficient.”
Visit Cramer’s official website.