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Video and Control Systems for Distance Learning, Part 2

Oct 28, 2010 10:37 AM, With Bennett Liles

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Editor’s note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.

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Video and Control Systems for Distance Learning, Part 1
Advanced Broadcast Solutions to outfitted the Washington State Bar Association for distance learning....

The Washington State Bar Association has a new Seattle conference center, but for a lot of their members getting there is a problem. The association called in Advanced Broadcast Solutions to outfit the place for distance learning, and Mark Siegel is here to complete his talk on how things went on the project.

Mark, thanks for being back with me for part two on the SVC podcast, and we were talking about the Washington State Bar Association’s conference facility out there in Seattle. The equipment they’ve got in there, they’re doing some distance learning and they’ve got a local group there and apparently they have some challenges not just in the distance learning part of it but for people being able to hear right there in the room. What did you do when you got in there to improve the audio situation?
That’s obviously probably one of the most important things. You can have a lot of interruptions visually and things, but as a participant, whether it be live or whether it be over the Internet, it’s very good to get a very clear message, so audio is very important. You go to a lot of conference facilities and the audio is at best fair. A lot of people don’t take the time to properly do it and very important for this client is to have very good audio as an attendee in the conference center. So we originally went in there, and prior to them signing the lease, we looked at the space and they asked us, “Well, what do you think we need to do to enhance this?” Well, we went in there and we swept the room and we plotted it out using EASE and a couple of other tools that we use to model the room; we did a complete model of the room. We asked them about placement of tables and desks and how the room was going to be used. And we also recommended some acoustical treatment to deaden the typically very hard walls, and they have an awful lot of glass in this room so we even got down to even recommending drapery-based product and blinds. So we modeled the room for them, we made some suggestions, and they really found the importance of doing it right, so we put in a very good Symmetric’s DSP processing system and we zoned out the room properly. And they have the capability of full EQ, so we balanced the room with a very nice product, and the customer understands how to use it, which is most important. [Timestamp: 2:41]

Yeah, you had to do some training with them to make sure they knew what they were doing with this stuff.
Well, it’s very important with any client. A tool is only as good as how well you know how to use the tool. Unfortunately most people in the broadcast industry probably only utilize 30 percent of the capability of a tool because unfortunately we are always under pressure, have to get things done, never have enough time, management never seems to give the operators enough training. In this facility, we probably had a full two weeks of training of all the various functions of the environment, so the people would have a successful product, and they understood their needs and they understood the potential capabilities of the tools that we were providing. [Timestamp: 3:20]

OK, so what are they doing with speakers in there? Are they using ceiling speakers? How does that work?
We actually modeled in some Electric Way ceiling-based speakers. I think in the room, the room’s 75[ft. by] maybe 125. I think we have 35 speakers in that room; it’s just all zoned out and well balanced. [Timestamp: 3:41]

What kind of mics are they using? Do they use lapel mics or a have you got a combination of different mics you’re picking them up with?
Yeah, we have a combination of what we would call zone mics, whether they be PZMs and/or lavaliere and wireless. Wireless is obviously always a challenge especially in downtown Seattle with our topography and density. It’s very difficult to do wireless in downtown Seattle. So we had some frequency agile Sennheiser; I believe they‘re series 2000 microphones, so the client understood the importance of putting in good microphone wireless and being able to scan those frequency in the events that everybody starts jumping all over them. [Timestamp: 4:18]

OK. Is this pretty much a one-way presentation from there to the local and web audience or is there any kind of audience interaction that happens?
It is basically a push model; however, the people that are viewing it via the Web have the capability of typing in text to inquire about questions. We did put in a couple of phone couplers that allow people to do some dial-in and ask some questions if they want to have the participants, obviously, voice their opinion. So there are some phone couplers coming into the system. [Timestamp: 4:49]

And that can always either add to or complicate things; as long as the host is making the presentation, they pretty much can have their ducks in a row, but when it comes to live interaction that can really throw some people off sometimes.
They were well-prepared; they rehearsed, [so to speak]. They’re use to doing that so they handle that workflow pretty well. [Timestamp: 5:08]

Now are the projectors and screens and all that controlled by the presenter or is everything controlled by the production crew?
Both, the presenter has the capability of obviously lowering the screens and has the capability through an AUX bus of actually switching through a little application that was actually built on a iPhone or an iPad so we can have that sitting at the podium, if you will, and the presenter has the capability of switching what they want going to the IMAG screens and even/or what is going out via program. But usually it is controlled through the control room, and the moderator or the presenter actually advances his presentation with a wireless hand clicker. [Timestamp: 5:55]

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