Phillies cut script building by 75% after switching to Shoflo mid-season

David Akers

David Akers

Manager, Electronic Display Systems

Teresa Leyden

Teresa Leyden

Manager, Entertainment

Sean Rainey

Sean Rainey

Manager, Video Production

“The trickle-down effect of what last minute changes can do to the operation is a scary, slippery slope. I can honestly say that I never really thought twice about it after having Shoflo,it’s such a tremendous help.

The Philadelphia Phillies mascot

 

The production team at The Philadelphia Phillies had inherited a scripting process which was no longer a fit.  With tasks duplicated and hours spent manning the printer, the team needed to bring their scripting process in line with their game day experience which includes video, multi-media and digital displays. And with last minute amendments and updates made by scribbling on paper scripts, the potential for mistakes had created unbearable pressure on team members.  The Phillies game day experience may have moved with the times, but their scripting process was still reliant on manual amendments to Excel and Word documents - along with email and print distribution to a 30-strong crew.

“It was archaic,” said Teresa Leyden, Manager of Entertainment for the Philadelphia Phillies. “Think of the most basic way of running scripts and that's what we were doing. We were using an Excel sheet and, as much as we could, we would cram onto one sheet, which wasn't always successful given the number of things we execute on a given night."

She adds: “It was very much on me to make sure that the run-of-show didn't have any hiccups, that I didn't have anything out of order, that timing was done properly. All of that was really on me to make sure it was consistent and correct.” Teresa believes the previous scripting process dated back to the early 1970s: “I don't think Excel is that old, but whatever typewriter provision you can think of, the process probably existed before that.”  Since adopting Shoflo, the Phillies have a single game day script for the different elements which can be updated by multiple users. This means more opportunities to catch and amend mistakes and more time for planning ahead.  Teresa explains: “Now everyone has access to this and can edit it as they see fit. So if I don't do something, if I miss something or do something out of order, someone else can catch it and tailor it the way they need it done.” Shoflo has also helped lower Teresa’s game day anxiety levels:

“My day-to-day shuffling of papers and persistent worrying have really diminished, if not totally eliminated.”

Read on to find out how Shoflo helped Phillies to:

  • Create a system which left less room for game day errors
  • Streamline the scripting process, allowing the production team to plan ahead
  • Move script elements around in an instant – keeping everyone on the same page
  • Reduce traffic into email inboxes while keeping team members up-to-date
  • Smoothly transition from a complex paper-based system to cloud-based scripting

 

Backstage view with the Philadelphia Phillies production team

 

Create a system which leaves less room for game day errors – reducing pressure on key production staff

Teresa is the author of the daily script timelines and PA scripts. On game days, she works on the field coordinating operations so all script elements happen as planned. Before adopting Shoflo, Teresa would have to print and distribute 30 paper scripts to the team. Despite making sure everything was “1000% correct” over multiple script editions and communication channels, game days were an anxious experience: “There’s a huge amount of issues that could potentially arise from all of that failure to be cohesive. The amount of room for error is just massive.” She added:

“When last minute changes come up, it's a scary thing because you just don't know who's going to get the message or not and who's still going to show up in the wrong place or at the wrong time because we changed said location, or we changed someone's name. The trickle-down effect of what last minute changes can do to the operation is a scary, slippery slope. This is why scripts would go out late. From an accountability standpoint, when it's your name at the bottom of that document, you're the one who could, quite frankly, be on the chopping block for something being wrong or something not being communicated. That really makes the coordination of it that much more difficult and scary.”

Shoflo has helped alleviate the fear of an element or update being missed. Teresa no longer spends game days with her fingers crossed, hoping nothing will go wrong.

“I can't say enough about how little I had to worry, the last month of the season when we had Shoflo, how much less I had to worry about making sure that whatever needed to be changed was changed properly on all the documents that I sent out, and all the people that needed to know. It’s a normal anxiety for this job, but I think it was way magnified with the previous system. I can honestly say that I never really thought twice about it after having Shoflo, it’s such a tremendous help.”

Streamline the scripting process, reducing duplication of tasks and implementing a system that allows the production team to plan ahead

Alongside Teresa’s Excel document, Manager of Video Production Sean Rainey would produce a Word document outlining his team’s script. This would include elements to be recorded around the ballpark to prepare for pre-games. The Video Production team’s script would cover the period from two hours before the start of the event to when the fans had left the stadium.  The Phillies previous scripting process was complex and left little room for forward planning. Sean would start scripting once he had received the Excel document from Teresa. It would take the team 45 minutes to finalize the script before being printed. Afterwards, Sean would call a production meeting with the crew.

“For me, one of our biggest things was the time. We ended up starting to spend way too much time on our scripts and we were e-mailing two scripts out. So I think condensing the scripts into one script was a goal for us, which we were able to accomplish. And then, being able to prepare a script in advance. At least start on it the night before and really get your timing down.”

For David Akers, Manager of the Electronic Display Systems, Shoflo creates a more streamlined scripting experience. 

“The nice thing about it is that, before, we were almost taking Teresa's script and duplicating it to put on our script. But now we don't have to do that anymore. Her part was her part, our part was our part, and they combined together into one cohesive document and we didn't have to do duplicate work. I got done that first night saying ‘Wow, I can't believe I'm done this quickly’ because I didn't have to do all the duplication.”

For Sean, real-time changes with Shoflo are a real time saver – and a vast improvement on their previous Excel-based process.

“Real-time changes are a no-brainer for the people that see this script, especially for captioning. It isn’t three different phone calls, it's just ‘Hey, check the updated script.’ So, for me, it's time, it's preparation, and it's the ability to make changes in real-time.”

Sean Rainey, Manager, Video Production

The Phillies scoreboard

Move script elements around in an instant – and know that your team is on the same page

Shoflo has reduced David Akers’ scripting time by at least 75%. And, like Teresa, it has also boosted his confidence that updates and amendments are sure to be seen and acted upon.  The Electronic Display Team’s script is short, just a couple of pages long with few changes. While the content frequently remains the same, it often switches positions within the script. Using Shoflo, David can copy segments from one position in the script to another. He explains:

“Just for a producer, when I was moving all the different features around, it was pretty easy to just move them, copy and paste them down in the next position, to get it ready for that night. What would take a couple hours or maybe an hour, was cut down to 10 to 15 minutes for us to update our script, which was really nice.”

“Our score board crew, especially the audio guys, are always watching the audio cues. So whenever we needed to move stuff around during the game, it’s pretty easy to just move it to a different position. Before using Shoflo, most people were kneeling to update the physical paper script and scratching everything off. You just have to guess and hope that, when you move something, somebody remembers that it's a couple of things later. With cloud-based scripting we can move things down and people can keep up to date with that version of Shoflo.”

David Akers, Manager, Electronic Display Systems

Reduce traffic into email inboxes while keeping team members up-to-date with every change

The Phillies previous scripting system would frequently result in information overload. Teresa would send a lot of emails, generate a lot of paper  - and follow these up with a lot of apologies. She explained: “With the old scripting process, the goal was always to send the script out once, just once for the game. But, inevitably, you had a version which was emailed out maybe three or four times on a really, really bad, bad day where the gods are against us.”

“It just killed me to send that email out again and say ‘Sorry, this person's name is now this.’ I really, really tried not to do that. It’s something that you really don't want to do unless the change is that necessary that you want to bring that much attention to that many people.”

To avoid bombarding the 30 person team with emails, Teresa often had to make a judgement call. “If we had any kind of changes, I really tried to go with the core group of people that really, really needed to know first before I made it a big email.” Using Shoflo means that Teresa and Sean no longer worry that making minor detail changes in the script will result in a time-wasting paper and email trail. Moving a segment so that it starts two minutes later than its original timeframe is an easy change to make using real-time scripting software. Under the previous system, that two-minute change could cost the team at least 10 minutes in extra work with Teresa having to generate, then circulate another script change email.

Philadelphia Phillies mascot being filmed by cameraman

Make a smooth mid-season transition from a complex paper-based system to cloud-based scripting

The Phillies made the switch from email and printer overload to Shoflo in the mid 2016 season.  Brian Mauger with the Shoflo team created a script for the Phillies based on a previous edition, which meant the content was familiar. Teresa was apprehensive about how the team would adapt to the new system, but praised the support she received from Shoflo to smooth the transition. Teresa explained:

“It was from one home stand to the next that we made the transition. So I had a good week to play around with Shoflo and really get comfortable with it before I had to really put it into practice that first game. But that was not without a pickup. So, Brian, thank you for being on call for 24 hours prior to that game. I blew up his computer a good four or five hours before the game with tons of questions that I hadn't fielded yet or figured out yet!  

My personal concern was always sending out an email, or two emails rather, with attachments into that universe and pressing send and everyone just accepting how it's always been. Sending out to that same list a link rather than an attachment and trying to quickly and tersely explain how it worked and how to follow along, was the scarier part for me. It ended up being an unfounded worry because I got very little feedback and the feedback I did get was positive. It actually turned out to be much easier than I had anticipated.”

For David Akers, the shock didn’t lie in adopting a new system, it was the immediate reduction in time taken to input his elements into the script. He said: “Once I got past those things, I almost got done and said ‘Oh, all right I'm done.’ It wasn't a big long process like it had been before. We deal with the pre-game starts, then Teresa does her pre-game spot where we do the first balls and the anthem and then we go back into our faded vision script again, where we'd go through all of our sponsor ads.” Crowd of Phillies fans watching a baseball game

The mid-season leap from paper to cloud-based scripting didn't disrupt the team’s everyday activity either, as David explains:

“Baseball has the most games of any sport, so we don't get multiple games to try and spend a lot of time on our script. From the night prior to the next game we have to get in, get our script done, get ready, play the game. So it was really nice that we were able to do that without very much trouble and that it was a very quick process to go from one script to the next.”

With Teresa, Sean and David now able to input their separate elements into the same script, there’s no overlap and less room for mistakes to creep in. Stress levels are lower and the team are focused on improving scripts rather than avoiding mistakes.  Sean says: “I think the biggest thing that helped us was really showing us what our scripts were and then showing us what they could be. And then us taking a look at that and it really fitting into our workflow helped us out tremendously.”