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Beyond the Classroom: How Schools are Bringing Live Productions to the Community
Posted on Wednesday, March 1, 2023
Beyond the Classroom: How Schools are Bringing Live Productions to the Community

March 1, 2023 - As technology continues to evolve and become more accessible, schools are finding new ways to engage with their communities beyond the traditional classroom setting. One exciting trend in recent years has been the use of live production technology to bring school events and performances to audiences both inside and outside the school. With high-quality audio and video equipment, schools can now produce professional-level broadcasts of concerts, plays, sporting events, and other performances that allow remote viewers to experience the excitement of these events in real time.

This approach not only enhances community engagement but also provides valuable learning opportunities for students interested in broadcasting, media production, and related fields. In this article, we will explore some of the ways that schools are using live production technology to bring their events beyond the classroom and into the wider community.

Here is a list of educational spaces discuss in our blog post:

1.Video Services Lab or Broadcast Media Room

Uses include broadcasting school board meetings and community events. Often used for student-run morning broadcasts. In higher education, these spaces are used for intern meetings and career building.

2.Production Studios

Uses include student training in the broadcast club. Video creation for student and teacher projects. 

3.Staged Auditoriums

Uses include theatrical performances are often recorded and broadcast in stage areas. School presentations and town halls are often recorded and live-streamed for remote students and parent viewing. 

4.School Sports

Uses include recording videos for students and coaches to use to improve sports analytics. Broadcasting school sports for parents to watch from home, especially for away games. 

Video Services Lab and Broadcast Media Rooms

Educational spaces known as Video Services Labs or Broadcast Media Rooms are becoming increasingly popular in primary and secondary schools, as well as higher education institutions. These audio-visual (AV) labs provide a space for students to learn about video production and broadcasting while also serving practical purposes such as broadcasting school board meetings and community events. In higher education, these spaces are being utilized for presenting research materials, conducting intern meetings, and career building. Additionally, some universities are even using broadcast media rooms to recruit new students by creating high-quality promotional videos that showcase their campus and academic programs. As technology continues to advance, it's likely that we'll see more educational spaces like these in the future.

One of the key features of Video Services Labs or Broadcast Media Rooms is their flexibility in serving a variety of needs. These spaces can be used as conference rooms, faculty development areas, or traditional production studios depending on the specific needs of the institution. In addition to broadcasting school board meetings and community events, these rooms are also being utilized for distance learning, staff development, and other 1-to-1 or 1-to-many presentations. With the ability to switch between various setups and configurations quickly, these spaces can adapt to changing needs with ease. This makes them an ideal investment for educational institutions looking to provide high-quality video services while maximizing their resources.

When you are planning out a space like this, ease of use is generally a top priority because users need to be able to quickly customize their needs. In spaces like this, a cloud-based video communications software solution such as Zoom Room or Microsoft Teams environment is an ideal part of the system allowing users to easily connect the audio and video from the room to the cloud and other users. The audio-video connection diagram shown above outlines how a video production computer can be set up with multiple audio-visual resources including PTZ cameras, joystick controllers, and existing camcorders for video. This system would assume an audio system is also connected to the virtual production computer via a USB connection. These audio and video connections can then be used with lecture capture software, distance learning, and video communications such as Zoom and Teams. 

Video Production Studios

The next logical step beyond Video Services Labs or Broadcast Media Rooms is the full-blown production studio. These studios require a higher level of equipment and expertise to produce broadcast-level content. When working with a school to select equipment for a production studio, it's important to consider the specific needs of the institution. One key piece of equipment to consider is a PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) camera, which can provide high-quality video footage while also allowing for remote control operation. When selecting a PTZ camera for studio use, it's important to consider factors such as resolution, frame rate, zoom capabilities, and low-light performance. Additionally, it's important to ensure that the camera is compatible with other equipment in the studio setup such as lighting, microphones, and editing software. By carefully considering these factors and working with an experienced AV specialist, schools can create a highly functional and effective production studio for their students and staff.

Some of the technology shown in the audio-visual connection diagram above include a dedicated video switcher, tally lights, PTZ cameras, and a joystick controller. In this diagram, Network Device Interface (NDI) is used as a core connection technology that leverages the Local Area Network (LAN). NDI can be used as a simple way to add multiple cameras, manage Tally Lights, and display video content on a confidence monitor. In this sample diagram, a NewTek TriCaster is used as an IP-based video switcher which is connected to the LAN. Each PTZOptics NDI-enabled camera is capable of sending FullHD (1080p) or even UltraHD (4Kp) video to the TriCaster for video switching. Each camera also includes a Tally Light which allows the on-camera talent the ability to quickly see which camera is either live or "up-next" in preview. NDI video decoders are used to convert the IP-based NDI video into an HDMI video output that can power a display and show low-latency video from the production to other areas of the production studio or school campus. 

The Auditorium and Stage Performances

There are many cool things that can be done around a school with a live production studio at its core. One obvious place to utilize such a studio is in the staged auditorium, which is a key venue for events such as plays, concerts, and assemblies. The configuration of cameras used in an auditorium will differ depending on whether it's a secondary school or higher education institution. In secondary schools, it's common to have fixed cameras placed throughout the auditorium to capture wide shots and close-ups of the stage. On the other hand, higher education institutions may opt for more advanced camera configurations such as robotic cameras mounted on tracks or cranes to provide dynamic and engaging footage of performances. Regardless of the specific setup chosen, having a live production studio at the center allows for seamless switching between camera feeds and real-time editing to create high-quality recordings of school events that can be shared with students, families, and the broader community.







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