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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Ground Level   » Digital Announcing Machines (Page 1)

 
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Author Topic: Digital Announcing Machines
Jeffrey Hoover
Film Handler

Posts: 4
From: willits, ca, usa
Registered: Jul 2018


 - posted 07-25-2018 12:21 AM      Profile for Jeffrey Hoover   Author's Homepage   Email Jeffrey Hoover   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Are you using an announcing machine for your movie times? Interalia & Viking made the perfect machines. Long recording/message time & remote access. Our telephone provider is going to make all of our phone lines digital. It's the future, damn it. All the old machines require analog phone lines. Going to keep my analog lines for now(I had to insist) but realize that it won't last. I refuse to pay for a message service. VOIP is probably where it's at, like Skype. I should be able to record a movie times message on my laptop with VOIP, right? Has anyone found an app that will do the right thing? Anyone managing the movie times without a message service?

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Frank Cox
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1950
From: Melville Saskatchewan Canada
Registered: Apr 2011


 - posted 07-25-2018 12:54 AM      Profile for Frank Cox   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Cox   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I use a telephone service that comes with voicemail. While it's a regular phone line, I just don't have a telephone attached to it.

The voicemail is set to answer after one ring and it doesn't matter how many people call in at one time since it will never give a busy signal -- it just sends everyone to voicemail.

The only issue is that there's no way to turn off the incoming message recording function. I even asked the service supplier technical support and they said it's not possible. So my work-around is to keep repeating my outbound message until the outbound recording time runs out (two minutes, I think). And the last sentence in my announcement is always "This machine does not take messages."

People listening to the message assume that it is on an endless loop since it keeps repeating so they hang up before the two minutes are up.

There is an amazing number of people who phone that machine -- when I had my own answering machine on that line I used to have to replace it about once a year when it wore out. Now, I just wear out the phone company's machine instead.

I just call the voicemail access number every Thursday night and record next week's message. There's nothing more to it.

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12402
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 07-25-2018 12:47 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
We do the same thing here. I probably used a half-dozen different answering machines over the years, including one $250 one that I figured if I bought "the best," it would last longer. (Nope.)

Even digital machines would wear out -- the messages would start to sound garbled over time.

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Scott Norwood
Film God

Posts: 7973
From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 07-25-2018 01:10 PM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
To the original poster,regarding VOIP service--IP is the transport mechanism, but there is no such thing as a VOIP circuit. How does the phone circuit actually terminate at your location (probably fiber or a T1/T3 circuit)? Normally, you would have an ATA ("analog terminal adapter") to which you could connect a standard analog telephone set or answering machine. This works just like a POTS line as far as the phone or machine is concerned. There do exist digital telephone sets, but normally those are behind a PBX, not connected directly to the PSTN.

For a "movie times" line, I would personally go with the setup that Frank and Mike have, since it avoids busy signals and does not require owning and maintaining hardware.

For regular telephone service, POTS still has advantages over VOIP, such as lower latency (not important for an announcement line, but important for conversations), power provided by the CO (i.e. it works during power failures), and generally higher reliablity. It also works properly with E911 wervices. Additionally, POTS is a tariffed service, which means that you can use legal means to force the phone company to fix it if it breaks (unlike non-tariffed services, where they can legally just give you a refund and cancel the service). I would recommend that every business keep at least one POTS line for emergency use, if nothing else.

(By way of definitions, "POTS" means "plain old telephone service"--i.e. copper pairs provided directly from the subscriber location to the telephone company central office switch.)

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Jeffrey Hoover
Film Handler

Posts: 4
From: willits, ca, usa
Registered: Jul 2018


 - posted 07-25-2018 01:48 PM      Profile for Jeffrey Hoover   Author's Homepage   Email Jeffrey Hoover   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks, Scott! A regular answering machine does not work for us. Digital Announcing Machines are used in hotels & schools & big businesses. I suspect they have been phased out in favor of an internet based solution. I have to find my announcing machines on ebay. My Interalia Voice gives me 4min of message time of which we use every second. I have been in contact with a couple Announcing Machine makers & they say I must have an analog line(POTS) to use their old machines. One suggests that my provider might supply a compatible digital to analog converter. But I see what you mean about putting an analog phone on a digital line. I have internet phone service at home & have a regular analog phone hooked up to it. I have a service guy coming to the theater tomorrow. AT&T absolutely insists that I digitize at least 1 of my 4 lines. Here is an article about the impending death of POTS: https://highspeedexperts.com/internet-providers/att-ending-pots/

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Frank Cox
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1950
From: Melville Saskatchewan Canada
Registered: Apr 2011


 - posted 07-25-2018 02:37 PM      Profile for Frank Cox   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Cox   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Don't lose sight of the fact that this announce-only phone line doesn't have to be present in your theatre (or anywhere else) since nobody will ever actually answer it. So even if a telephone provider doesn't serve the exact block that your theatre is located on, it doesn't matter.

I know that there's an extended outbound message option available with the voicemail service that I use; I'm pretty sure it said six minutes when I saw the write-up about that a while back.

If you have four lines for your announcement today, you could cut that back to just one since the voicemail will immediately pick up an unlimited number of simultaneous calls.

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Justin Hamaker
Film God

Posts: 2100
From: Lakeport, CA USA
Registered: Jan 2004


 - posted 07-25-2018 03:00 PM      Profile for Justin Hamaker   Author's Homepage   Email Justin Hamaker   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
My cinema uses a Tacacom CS-D49 for our recording, but we are down to just a single line because call volume has reduced so much - usually less than 200 calls for a weekend.

For our drive-in we ported the recording number over to a service with voicemail. This allows us to change the recording from anywhere and will answer all incoming calls with no busy signals. At some point we will do the same with our cinema recording, but we aren't there yet.

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Scott Norwood
Film God

Posts: 7973
From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 07-25-2018 03:26 PM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
To the original poster: I am willing to bet that a phone call to the local Public Utilities Commission will be enough to force AT&T to allow you to keep your POTS service. In most locations, the phone company cannot force subscribers to move to VOIP service. Since POTS is tariffed, it must be provided to any customer who wants it.

The ATA will work fine with an answering machine. The only potential limits on these are that not all will accept rotary signalling, and not all will support ringing multiple phones on the line, but neither of this is an issue with an answering device.

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Jeffrey Hoover
Film Handler

Posts: 4
From: willits, ca, usa
Registered: Jul 2018


 - posted 07-25-2018 06:42 PM      Profile for Jeffrey Hoover   Author's Homepage   Email Jeffrey Hoover   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I spotted the Viking AR-1 Single Line Receptionist. Up to 12min of message time! Allows remote recording. Better yet I can toss one of the lines going to my old 2 line machine. Save some money. Anyone have experience with this unit? The literature says it's good for movie theaters.

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Dennis Benjamin
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1421
From: Denton, MD
Registered: Feb 2002


 - posted 07-27-2018 10:52 AM      Profile for Dennis Benjamin   Author's Homepage   Email Dennis Benjamin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
We went to the Jacro Fone and Go system.

All the managers at our locations love it.

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Frank Angel
Film God

Posts: 5198
From: Brooklyn NY USA
Registered: Dec 1999


 - posted 08-09-2018 09:17 PM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I may have posted this before, but we use a VoIP service that we have been totally happy with. It's been rated best overall sound quality and I can vouch that for years now it has been consistently so close to the quality of copper-to-copper (what Scott calls POTS -- love the high tech sound of that!) that it is virtually indistinguishable from we old curmudgeons took for granted when we all were on POTS. Yah, it was expensive but it was also REALLY reliable. Seems like since we all started to worship at the alter of convenience, we now happily accept totally garbage audio from digital cell service providers; so many people now have abandoned their landlines entirely and ONLY use that crap digital service as their primary way of communicating. But then again, it probably doesn't matter how bad the audio is as those same folks probably communicate by texting anyway.

Wait -- that's not what I wanted to post -- the POF got the better of me (Pissed Old Fart). What I was saying about Ooma is that the cost of that awesome VoIP service is, believe it or not, FREE. You just pay the local and state taxes; for real. We pay about 6 bucks a month! The only upfront cost is their modem which they call the Telo device. It costs $100, but the service itself is just the cost of local and state taxes.

Like Frank C. says, you can't disable it from accepting a message from the caller, but we do exactly what he said -- just loop the recording so it plays more than once and the caller won't sit there and listen to the repeating message, and if they do, just add that line at the end of the last go-round. I believe the outgoing message recording time is up to 5 min. If you are not a massive multiplex with a gazillion titles, it should work well.

Also for free, if you don't think your voice is quite up to "professional" quality and you want a more professional announcer for your outgoing message, we use a program that generates a fairly natural sounding computer-generated voice from text input (Text-2-Voice) to make our recordings when our professional announcer is not on hand. Normally that T2V software costs a pretty penny, but you can go to a site that lets you use it for free. You can hear the result on our announce-only line here: 718-951-4600

First we go here to take advantage of the T2V software: https://www.americangreetings.com/detail?prodId=prod3173900; don't he fooled by the monkey -- just type in the text box and choose a voice type, male or female. We almost always go with Julie, but have used Daniel with the English accent once in awhile just for a hoot. Julie sounds the most natural and has the best inflections.

Record the V2T playback (while being entertained by the talking monkey) with your favorite computer recording program
-- we use Free Audio Video Recorder to record and edit. You may need to assemble two or more recorded clips together as the program only allows a short paragraph of 600 words at a time to be spoken. Edit to your liking -- we add some attention chimes and a replay cue -- and then dump it in your outgoing message. We use a simple direct box interface from the output from the computer to a standard old landline phone to record the outgoing message. Works like a charm.

Oh, and I believe Ooma allows you to pick your own phone number, within limitations; if you are lucky, you can possibly get a good mnemonic (endings like 1234 or 4000, etc) or at least match your local area code and exchange so people don't think they are calling long distance.

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Dave Bird
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 742
From: Perth, Ontario, Canada
Registered: Jun 2000


 - posted 08-10-2018 09:06 AM      Profile for Dave Bird   Author's Homepage   Email Dave Bird   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Another inadvertent victim of our renovations at the drive-in this year is that our phone line got severed and we haven't had one in months (it rings and rings and rings). Our attendance is up this year, so I couldn't say if it's affected us or not. If we do reconnect, not sure we'll bother anymore with the message. We do have an inexpensive remotely-accessible machine which blocks the ability to leave messages though. I kind of want the line back, since it's how the kids phone tech support when needed, kind of don't want it back because the actual wire is in the way between our new booth and "screen 2".

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Frank Angel
Film God

Posts: 5198
From: Brooklyn NY USA
Registered: Dec 1999


 - posted 08-10-2018 12:19 PM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Dave, why not switch to VoIP -- they'll port over that landline number so you won't need to publicise a new number and then you won't have that pesky cable to deal with.

You would be ok with phone number for patrons to call to get your program information? True, perhaps a good percentage of patrons get event information from our website and Facebook page, but I wouldn't want to give up the phone schedule completely. We still get quite a number of calls on that line. I am afraid that if we kill it, that may increase the calls to the Box Office number which we certainly DON'T want to happen.

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12402
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 08-10-2018 12:48 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
We used to get pretty constant phone calls asking "what's playing." We still get some, but FAR fewer than ever before - now they look at the website with their phones. So as important as an answering system is, I'd say an up-to-date, easy-to-read website is probably more important these days.

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Frank Cox
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1950
From: Melville Saskatchewan Canada
Registered: Apr 2011


 - posted 08-10-2018 01:41 PM      Profile for Frank Cox   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Cox   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
And an app.

I hear people recommending that to their friends all the time.

"Just install the theatre app on your phone."

The app really isn't different from the website, but lots of people seem to prefer it for whatever reason. I guess it's because you don't have to go to the website -- just load the app and you've got it.

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