An upgraded distance learning control room is operated by student audio assistant Mary Whitaker and Tommy Fix, the control room director and media technician.
Ball State University, a state university in Muncie, Ind., has renovated its three distance learning classroom studios with Broadcast Pix Slate video production systems.
Ball State’s installation of video system Broadcast Pix, which is located in Billerica, Mass. and which produces integrated live video production systems, is part of the university’s overall upgrade of its distance learning facilities, which includes a transition to a digital production environment.
As part of the upgrade, two large classrooms housed in the Ball Communication Building were renovated in the summer of 2009. Renovations for a third classroom at the Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities, a residential high school for gifted high school juniors and seniors that is housed on the Ball State campus, were completed during the summer of 2010. With seating for 24 students, the newly renovated classroom at the Indiana Academy is the smallest of the three, but it shares the same AV infrastructure.
Currently, the university offers a variety of distance learning courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as advanced placement courses for high school students offered through the Indiana Academy. Among the three classrooms, the university averages 65 hours of live production each week, says Michael Dalton, distance learning media manager.
“The Broadcast Pix system allowed us to replace our switcher, CG, still store, and clip store with one box,” Dalton said. “Our control rooms are kind of compact, so having everything in the one frame saved us a lot of space. And just being able to get a lot of functionality out of one box saved us a lot of money.”
Jim Scott, Ball State’s senior broadcast engineer, oversaw the upgrade design and installation efforts, and he said the Slates are user friendly and have been very reliable. Plus, by using the Slate’s built-in Fluent Multi-View, Ball State was able to purchase one large LCD monitor for each control room and save the expense of upgrading multiple monitors. In addition, generally, one director controls an entire production, with the help of a student audio assistant.
Each renovated distance learning classroom is equipped with four Sony BCR-300 robotic video cameras, which are controlled through the Slate. Two cameras are positioned in the back of the classroom, with another in the front and the fourth suspended from the ceiling and used as a document camera.
If an instructor has a DVD, it can be played back live from the control room – or if the instructor provides the DVD in advance, clips can be captured and played back using Fluent Clip Store. Dalton said that some classes are repeated almost every semester, so the same video clips are reused. With Fluent Clip Store, those clips are easily accessed during productions. Slate’s built-in Inscriber CG is also used to slate each production.
Audio is mixed through a Yamaha O2R V2 audio mixer, which is controlled through the Slate automatically during video clip playback. Dalton said each room is also equipped with both a PC and Mac, so PowerPoint or other data presentations can be used as sources for the Slate switcher, though instructors can also use their own laptops if needed. Classes are produced in standard definition, streamed live using Adobe Connect Web conferencing software, and archived online.