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Video and Control Systems for Distance Learning, Part 1

Oct 14, 2010 11:49 AM, With Bennett Liles

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So they can do just about anything they want to do there. What are they doing primarily, a lot of Power Point and things like that?
The majority of the content is presentation-based. Whether they use Power Point or any PC application, they can run on computers. We just take that content as a DVI file into the system and mix it in as a video source. [Timestamp: 8:23]

And you used, I believe it was Panasonic AW-HE100s?
Yeah, that’s their fully integrated PTZ camera; [it’s] very nice, comes with a great optical lens on it, very smooth. That was one of the criteria that they had—very smooth pan tilt zoom, as what we would call on-air, moves rather than a get-to PTZ; very smooth transitions. [Timestamp: 8:45]

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And that’s going back, just like the other cameras, to a camera control unit in the central control room?
Yeah, it’s going into the control room; [they] have CCU, have full control over gain, GAMMA, NE, all the various settings that are required to adjust a camera properly for the proper light situation within the room. [Timestamp: 9:03]

Why did you go with those particular cameras? Did they have a certain feature you liked?
The fact that it is a fully integrated PTZ versus discrete pan tilt head, then a separate box camera, separate lens; it’s integrated into a very nice package. [Timestamp: 9:20]

How far from the presenters are these cameras? I mean, do you have to use special lenses to get past the audience? Are the cameras in the back of the room?
Well, actually not; the total depth of the room was about 80ft. There was beam running horizontal in the room. We were able to put the cameras about, I would say, 35ft. away from the presenter, which is optimal. We put the two manned cameras up on little pedestals off to the left and right side of the room and the PTZ sits 35ft. away from the presenter so we didn’t have to go to longer lenses, which is always a consideration. We were able to use very simple 13, 14, 17Xs lenses in the configuration and when putting in these types of systems, [that] is a huge consideration, which is camera placement and the lens that you choose. [Timestamp: 10:08]

Yeah, that can add or take away from what you are doing in there, I mean, if the cameras become the show in themselves. So where’s the control point for this? What’s the control room like in there?
The control room was designed to house three people. It’s directly at the back of the room. During these meetings, they have a moderator involved in the presentation so the moderator also sits in the control room. We put a big window glass at the back of the room so that the director, technical director-producer, can see very clearly everything that’s going on in the room and the moderator for the program. For example when a guest or someone that’s participating in the session wants to send in text questions to the presenter, that’s where all that information is compiled and moderated. [Timestamp: 10:54]

And the Broadcast Slate 100 switcher is what you used in there. Is there any other reason why you decided to go on that switcher?
Just for the value. Their two legacy cameras were SDI cameras; their new camera is an HD camera. The Slate has the capability of taking internally that those SD cameras and upconverting them to high definition. It’s also got a built-in scaler so all the PC graphics come in under a DVI port; they are in effect scaled to high-definition resolution. So in a sense, we are mixing a high-definition program output of these shows and feeding them to a VeiwCast encoder, and they are encoding using Flash and sending that out to the Web. They are also archiving the shows on Blu-ray DVD. [Timestamp: 11:45]

Yeah, the Broadcast Slate 100 sounds like the Swiss Army knife of all the video switchers. You have pretty much everything you need, particularly for a situation like this where you’re doing distance learning like this with a lot of different sources. So Mark, thanks very much for being here with me, and in part two I want to get into how they do some recording and playback and get into the audio side of this that you were talking about right at the beginning. But thanks again for being with me here for part one.
Thank you.

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