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Ball State U Updates Production Studios to Digital

As part of a classroom renovation project, Ball State University has upgraded its video production systems. The teleplex initiative includes a transition to digital production in its three classroom studios that handle production services for distance learning courses.

As part of the upgrade, the Muncie, IN university chose the Broadcast Pix Slate 2100, a hybrid system that works in studios with both digital and analog gear.

The studios average 65 hours of live production each week, according to Michael Dalton, distance learning media manager. Dalton said the new system, which consists of hardware and software, contains multiple applications in one box. The deployment allowed the university to replace a switcher, character generator, still store, and clip store. "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," he added.

Dalton leads a staff of four directors. One director controls an entire production with the help of a student audio assistant. Each renovated classroom is equipped with four Sony BRC300 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.

When an instructor wants to run a DVD as part of a class, the clip can be played back live from the control room or captured and played back using Fluent Clip Store, which is part of the Slate system. Dalton said that some classes are repeated almost every semester, so the same video clips can be reused. The Slate's clip store makes that video quickly accessible during production.

Audio is mixed through a Yamaha O2R audio mixer, which is controlled through the Slate during video clip playback. Each room is equipped with both a PC and Mac, though instructors can also use their own laptops.

Classes are produced in standard definition, streamed live using Adobe Connect Web conferencing software, and archived online.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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