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Case Study Bateaux London


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									                                                                                        Turning Points Ltd
CASE STUDY: Bateaux London / Catamaran Cruisers
 In early 2004 Bateaux London, the largest sight seeing cruise operator on the river Thames, approached Turning Points
 for a completely automatic GPS-driven commentary system. Bateaux London had three main aims: to re-assign human
 operators from commentary delivery duties to revenue-generating ones, to achieve a greater consistency of commentary
 experience across the fleet and to take control of the recorded commentary resource which had hitherto been dispersed
 between audio hardware suppliers, recording studios, translation companies and the like.

 Bateaux London’s fleet employed a variety of different commentary methods
 ranging from a skipper’s live commentary to recorded commentaries in several
 languages delivered via the public address system and multi-channel wireless
 radio headsets. The recorded commentaries were stored in mp3 format on a
 standard PC and were triggered by a human operator as each relevant Point of
 Interest approached.

 Whilst a communicative skipper can provide an excellent and flexible
 commentary there are, nevertheless, some limitations. Not all skippers make
 good guides; some are very reluctant to speak and their primary role is to steer
 the vessel safely through its course. On a busy waterway such as the river
 Thames, commentary delivery can become a dangerous distraction. Making the
 same trip day in day out inevitably leads to variable standards of commentary
 performance and such a ‘live’ commentary can only be given in a single
 language and in a single voice.

 The human-activated recorded commentary system had its drawbacks too. In determining when to hit the play button for
 each new commentary, the crew member would be listening only to the English language commentary playing over the
 public address system. Their action took no account of the other language commentaries playing to listeners on their
 headsets and which would be cut abruptly when the crew member pressed ‘play’. Also, the manual ‘triggering’ of events
 always resulted in abrupt and uncomfortable audio shifts between a new commentary and the play-out music of any
 preceding commentary.

 In 2004 Turning Points installed its Soundscape commentary system on Bateaux London’s circular cruises. It kept the
 same PCs that had been operated by the circular cruise crew members and in practical terms made use of all of the
 vessel’s existing audio equipment and merely replaced the human operator but in doing so it was also able to address
 some longer-standing issues:

                                            between trips the system was programmed to deliver a looped promotional
                                             commentary which informs newly arriving passengers of the services
                                             available on board, the variety of other cruises available from Bateaux
                                             London and Catamaran Cruisers and the different languages in which
                                             commentaries are available. This message fades out the moment that the
                                             vessel begins its journey
                                            a passenger safety message which plays automatically the moment the vessel
                                             moves away from its berth
                                            no new commentary plays until all language versions of its predecessor have
                                             played through to the end (or have reached a designated pause point)
                                            based on incoming (GPS) speed and direction data, the system determines
                                             whether there is enough time to play any given commentary satisfactorily.
                                             This is invaluable for applications where tidal fluctuations or other external
                                             factors may impact upon a vessels speed.
                                            an unlimited number of languages can now be stored on the system, selected
                                             on the basis of whether or not they are required for a particular trip.
                                            a ‘Thank You and Farewell’ message which plays automatically on the vessel’s
                                             return approach to the pier. Again, this message reminds passengers of the
                                             other types of cruise available.

 Towards the end of the 2003 season Turning Points was asked to produce additional commentaries in order to take in new
 landmarks along the river-front. For the 2005 season Bateaux London extended its use of the Soundscape system and
 commissioned Turning Points to produce a new commentary for its lunchtime cruise. The new commentary system also
 provides for the smooth fading in and out of background music in-between commentaries. Most recently Turning Points
 has produced commentaries in Russian and Mandarin Chinese for the circular cruise.

 Turning Points Ltd
 Building 304
 Kent Science Park
 ME9 8PX
 United Kingdom
 Tel: (+44) 1795 411535

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