We’re looking to start a trial of a commercial lecture capture system and are presently on a one month free trial.
Progress has been slow. There was an initial hiccup when we had to configure our proxy server to allow the client software to communicate with the lecture capture server off campus. We lost a week while we sorted that out although the fix probably took only minutes. Our fault rather than the company’s.
In preparation for the trial I bought some wide angle webcams and some omni-directional boundary microphones.
All works fine in my office. I am able to record from multiple sources, video, separate mic, PowerPoint and desktop, upload them to the remote server and view the result all nicely bundled and synchronised. I have not tried editing yet.
This morning we tested in our main lecture theatre and a number of issues came to light. Some of which are undoubtedly due to my own ignorance. Nevertheless we will have to deal with them.
Test 1 – Recording from the podium PC.
The software had been installed prior to the test and I was able to log on to the service and record something.
The video camera did not allow us to adjust the zoom. This we wanted to do because the wide angle meant that having the cam on the podium and pointing it across the front of the projection wall took in a lot of the audience. I had hoped to avoid that as we would then have to get permission from them to be videoed. However, when we do want the record the audience and a speaker who likes to walk about at the front of the lecture theatre, it worked superbly.
The microphone did not work at all and we probably need the assistance of someone from IT Services. It certainly wasn’t a case of plugging it on and choosing it from a list of recording devices within the LC software (as is the case in my office).
Another issue is that in this particular room we probably do not need this microphone as most people use a wireless lapel mic as this connects to the PA system. What we need is a way of using that mic as our recording input. Job sent to IT Services.
USB ports. Ideally we want to plug in the webcam (maybe two) and a mic into USB ports on the podium PC. There is one USB port on the top of the podium (usually used for memory sticks) and only one on the front of the PC (in a cupboard beneath). This is usually used for a remote control presentation slide advancer. I can see that the lack of USB ports will be an issue. Maybe we need a powered USB hub.
The recording. Looking at the recording after it had been uploaded and processed revealed a problem. Some of my presentation slides had not been recorded, yet we can see from the video that they had been displayed. Need to investigate.
It also took quite a long time for the recoding to upload which made we wonder how this would work in practice. The lecturer probably just wants to log off and leave the room. It appears that he/she can’t. Need to find out how it works elsewhere.
Test 2 – Recording with a laptop.
We also wanted to test a mobile setup. We took along a laptop with the software installed, tripod, webcam and mic. Unfortunately we were not able to connect to the service over wifi. maybe our proxy fix does not extend to wifi connections. Will investigate.