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Covering Live Events with Streaming Video at KAMU, Part 1

Jan 11, 2011 3:00 PM, With Bennett Liles

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You mentioned a visit by the president to the university, and I'm sure that was well-covered by KAMU. What do you do as far the distribution end of things like that? Does it go to a campus signage system or to classrooms as well as the local broadcast?
Well we have, particularly in the case of President Obama and other notable, I guess, speakers that visit, again having enough seats in one venue is a challenge so a lot of times the video that we do becomes for overflow so it is fed to other large audience venues and basically projected on large-screen projectors. But in a case of something like the president's visit, we'll of course broadcast that to the community on our television station. We also operate a campuswide cable TV network that feeds all of our dorm rooms, and I can't say every classroom, but feeds some number of classrooms that have display capabilities. Certainly there's common areas all throughout the campus that have access to the cable TV network. Oh and we also do Internet streaming as well, so we have quite a few venues for instance. [Timestamp: 10:34]

And you provide support for the various academic courses offered by the university?
We do. That is actually a fairly large area that we operate. A lot of that is closed, I'm going to call that closed circuit or inhouse, it's generally not seen by the community although on our station we do air some for-credit Texas A&M classes, which is something probably unique to us because of the size of the community; you wouldn't necessarily find that in Houston, for instance, but in College Station, this community … pretty much the university is this community and we actually do have high-definition studio productions that are for-credit college classes. [Timestamp: 11:02]

And it looks as though wherever you're going to go to cover these live events you're always taking the Streambox with you to get the signal back. Do you have students working in the production roles on these remotes or do you have full-time staff people?
Well, we have actually a combination. We certainly have some full-time staff in the various either production roles or technical roles to support our field work, but we do employ quite a few students. In a lot of cases, our grips and all of that is certainly guaranteed to be student workers and even camera operators for events. Maybe even audio operators are students in addition to the full-time staff that is there. [Timestamp: 12:03]

Now the Streambox is so quick and easy to set up and get working it would seem to be made to order for a situation where you may have some people who are in a learning experience on the production end of things and where you may be doing things on short notice.
Well, that was one of our thoughts. If you look back a few years, we've been doing broadcast video transmission on the campus since back in the '80s, taking advantage of a fairly large-scale fiber-optic network we have using basically some Grass Valley wavelength video transmission equipment which worked really, really well for us, but it was something that had a lot of lead time in. In other words, we had to establish the right point-to-point fiber path which from major venues that was in place but the spur-of-the-moment things were a real killer for us, whereas conceptually, at least now, all we need is a Ethernet jack on the wall, and those are pretty plentiful on our campus. [Timestamp: 13:04]

Alright, it sounds like you are able to travel light and stay mobile and respond when and wherever you have to to get something on the air for the university. Thanks very much for being here. It's Wayne Pecena from public television station KAMU at Texas A&M University using the Streambox encoder/decoder for covering live events, and in part two we'll get into your studio and control center, but thanks for being here for part one.
Thank you very much.

Thanks for joining us for the SVC podcast with Wayne Pecena of Texas A&M University. Show notes can be found on the website of Sound and Video Contractor magazine at Join us for part two as Wayne gives us the details on the KAMU control center next time on the SVC podcast.

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