Few events in a university student’s experience are more highly-anticipated than their graduation ceremony. For graduates, there’s nothing quite like receiving a diploma and getting to toss your mortarboard in the air to celebrate the culmination of years’ worth of coursework, staying up all night studying, and making memories with friends. While University of North Florida (UNF) students work tirelessly to be able to walk across the stage on graduation day, the Matrox Monarch HD encoder works just as hard to support them behind the scenes in order to provide high-quality recordings of their lectures and live streams of their commencement ceremonies.
Situated amid a nature preserve in Jacksonville, Florida, UNF boasts 53 undergraduate, 28 graduate, and seven doctoral degree programs organized into six different academic colleges, along with active student clubs, organizations, and a successful athletic program. For the university, being able to provide distance-learning opportunities and stream their commencement ceremony for those unable to attend were the natural next steps in expanding the university’s reach. To accomplish these goals, the university needed to find an encoding appliance that would be compact enough to transport where needed, while also generating professional-quality, H.264-encoded video for recordings and live streams.
Recruiting only the best
When she was first asked to design a distance learning facility for UNF, the university’s senior broadcast engineering technologist, Elaine Poppell turned to Matrox. Years later, when searching for a portable, flexible streaming and recording solution for commencement ceremonies, the long-time user of Matrox’s video and graphics products happened upon a YouTube video featuring Monarch HD. “I knew we had to have this product,” she said. “I looked at everything available at the time, but it was the Monarch HD that stood out above the rest.” Between the Monarch HD’s ability to stream and record resolutions up to 1080p30 and its robust, compact form factor, the choice was clear.
UNF’s distance learning facility now includes a dedicated classroom equipped with PTZ cameras, broadcast equipment, and lecture capture software and hardware – including the Monarch HD streaming and recording appliance – which has been added to the setup.
Supporting students through video
UNF has created a video-friendly environment that enhances students’ experiences from the beginning of their university careers until their very last day at the commencement ceremony. In order to record distance learning classes, between two and three SDI cameras are set up around the lecture hall. During the class, the cameras capture video and send it to a switcher, meanwhile audio captured by microphones is sent to an audio mixer. These feeds are then sent to the Monarch HD encoder. Once recorded at 960x540p by Monarch HD, the files are uploaded to UNF’s preferred learning management system (LMS), Canvas, for students to view at their convenience.
For larger productions, such as the university’s commencement ceremonies, five SDI cameras are set up to cover views of the audience, stage, speakers, and more. The video from the cameras is sent to a video mixer, which then sends feeds to multiple destinations, including Monarch HD and the jumbotron at the ceremony. The video fed to Monarch HD is streamed at 720x480p and at 1,200 Mbps – using RTMP – to Discover Video’s Arcas video distribution platform, where students’ friends and family can tune in to watch the live stream of the ceremony.
This infrastructure enables UNF to easily and affordably provide high-quality lecture capture video and stream its commencement ceremonies in real time with quality results regardless of resolution.