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Sound Mill X3 - User's Guide
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Announcements with Music Programming

About Announcements

The Automator provides several methods for injecting Announcements (pre-recorded audio messages) into music programming. You build a script with Play Steps and mark it as Announcements (one of several types of announcements below). The music programming is suspended for the duration of the announcement.

You mark a Script as Announcements by checking one of the checkboxes in the Special Processing > Process as Announcements section of the Script Editor (Figure 2 below).


Announcement Types
    See complete descriptions and instructions in the sections below.
  1. Insert Announcements (Insert Announcements) - The Automator inserts one announcement after each music track finishes playing. You can set the Insert Frequency to insert after every two music tracks, or three, and so on.
  2. Interval Announcements (Interval Announcements) - The Automator plays one announcement at regular intervals (ex. every 5 minutes).
  3. Standard Announcements (Standard Announcements)
    • Offset Timed Announcements (Offset Timed Announcements) - Each announcement is played when a time offset expires (ex. 5 minutes after the script is started). Each announcement can and should have a different offset. Each announcement is played one time.
    • Scheduled Announcements (Scheduled Announcements) - Each announcement is played at a specific time of day.

Announcements Cycling

One announcement is selected at a time in sequential order. When the last announcement has played, the cycle begins again from the first announcement. Thus, the number of announcements does not need to match the number of music tracks.


Adding 'Dead Air' Padding To Announcements

You can also automatically force all announcements to have a Pre-Delay and/or Post-Delay which will add 'dead air' padding between the music and the announcement (see Announcements/Preemptive Play - Delay Defaults settings in the Sound Item Options. It provides a less abrupt transition between the music and the announcements.


Exclude Announcements from Auto-Fades

If you are using Auto-Fades for the music programming, you may want to exclude your Announcements from Auto-Fade behavior. Do this by checking the option Exclude Announcements/Preempt Sound Items from Auto-Fades in the Sound Item Options.


Clearing Announcements

Everytime you run an Announcements Script, its Play Steps get added to the stack of Announcements. That may or may not suit your needs. If you want an Announcements Script to replace (not add to) any existing set of announcements, you need to execute a Clear Announcements Step.


Disallow Concurrent Sounds

In general, when you are playing music tracks, you never want them to play over each other (concurrent play). To avoid that, in the Automation Options dialog, check the Automator ignores the Sound List Editor 'Allow Concurrent Sounds' option.

General Implementation for Announcements with Music Programming

You will create three Scripts: 1) A Master Script to run the other two; 2) A Script to hold the music playlist; 3) A Script containing the announcements you want to inject.


Instructions
  1. Music Playlist Script (Music Playlist Script) - Create a Script (My-Playlist) that has sequential Play Steps for each music track.
  2. Announcements Script (Announcements Script) - Create a Script (My-Announcements) that has Play Steps for each announcement track. (see specific instructions below based on announcement type.)
  3. Master Script (Master Script) - Create a Script that has a Run-Script Steps for each of the scripts above (see Listing 1). Important: The Run-Script My-Announcements Step MUST COME BEFORE the Run-Script My-Playlist Step. That puts the announcements on a stack before the music playlist starts executing.
  4. In Case of Scheduled Steps (In Case of Scheduled Steps) - If your My-Announcements Script has Scheduled Steps (to play at a Time Of Day), you must Enable the Schedule on the Master Script. Otherwise, the Scheduler will not add it to the Schedule Plan when the Scheduler is started. To make the Master Script run immediately whenever you start the Scheduler, set its schedule to Time Period = 24 Hours.

How to Run It

To start the programming, simply run the Master Script. If you have Scheduled Announcements Steps, you need to start the Scheduler instead which will in turn start the Master Script.

Listing 1. Master Script
Script Name: Pre-show Music Master

Steps:
1. Run Script (My-Announcements)
2. Run Script (My-Playlist)

Insert Announcements


Behavior

Announcements are inserted between sequential playing music tracks; one announcement after each music track ends. Announcements selection is cycled. You can set the Insert Frequency so an announcement plays every two music tracks, or every three, and so on. Also see Announcements Cycling above.


Instructions
  1. Create a Script with Play Steps for each of your announcement Sound Items.
  2. Mark the Script as Announcements. Check the Insert Announcements checkbox the Script Editor (Figure 2).
  3. Set the Insert Frequency to the desired number by clicking the Frequency edit button. (Figure 2).
  4. Now Follow the General Implementation above.

Interval Announcements


Behavior

One announcement is played at a regular Time Interval that you pick (ex. every 5 minutes) by suspending any currently playing music track. When the Announcement ends, the music track is resumed. Announcements selection is cycled. (see Announcements Cycling above). If the Script is paused, no announcements are lost during the pause. If you pause the Script, Interval Announcements will suspend until the script is resumed.


Instructions
  1. Create a Script with Play Steps for each of your announcement Sound Items.
  2. Mark the Script as Announcements. Check the Interval Announcements checkbox the Script Editor (Figure 2).
  3. Set the Time Interval with the adjacent time edit button Figure 2).
  4. Now Follow the General Implementation above.

Offset Timed - Standard Announcements


Behavior

Each announcement Step is timed to play at an time Offset from the run start of a Script. For example, if the containing Script starts at 1:00PM, and the Step Offset is 5 minutes, the announcement will play at 1:05PM. These announcements will play only once, each time the containing Script is run. If the Script is set to Repeat or Loop continously, the announcements will play at their specified offset from the start of each repeat sequence.

The Announcement type is much more labor intensive to setup than Interval Announcements. Generally, use Offset Timed when you want announcements to play at irregular times. If you want to play announcements at regular intervals (ex every 5 minutes), it is much easier to use Interval Announcements.


Instructions
  1. Create a Script with Play Steps for each of your announcement Sound Items.
  2. Mark the Script as Announcements. Check the Standard Announcements checkbox the Script Editor (Figure 2).
  3. Edit each Step to assign it an Offset Time. (see Step Editor )
  4. Now Follow the General Implementation above.

Warning: Non-Timed Standard Announcements

If you forget to enable an offset time or a scheduled time (Time Of Day) to a Standard Announcement Step, it will default to execute as a Sequenital Step. Script validation will flag this as a warning. It is not a critical error but is not a logical setup for Announcements.

Scheduled - Standard Announcements


Behavior

Each announcement Step is scheduled for a Time Of Day and played by the Scheduler. (ex. 8:00PM )


Instructions
  1. Create a Script with Play Steps for each of your announcement Sound Items.
  2. Mark the Script as Announcements. Check the Standard Announcements checkbox the Script Editor (Figure 2).
  3. Edit each Step to assign it a Schedule Time. (see Step Editor )
  4. Now Follow the General Implementation above.

Also see Warning: Non-Timed Standard Announcements above.

Announcements Visibility

Given the General Implementation above using three Scripts (Listing 1), it's important to understand Announcements Visibility between Scripts. When you run the Master Script, it creates a thread. Consider the Master thread as the blue area in Figure 1. The Master Script spawns the My-Announcements and My-Playlist Scripts within the Master thread (by using Run Script Steps). That gives the Master thread visibility to all three Scripts and thus visibility to the Announcements. The Scheduler also creates it's own main thread (similar to the Master Script thread).

If you instead run the My-Announcements and My-Playlist Scripts by selecting the each script in the Automator and clicking the Run button, they would each run in their own separate threads. And in that case, the announcements would have no visibility to the playlist and announcements behavior will not work properly.

Figure 1. Scripts Thread Visibility
Figure 1. Scripts Thread Visibility

General Tips for Announcements


Announcements Tips
Figure 2.  Script Editor
Figure 2. Script Editor