School District of
"It's not something that you have to have a bachelor's degree in computer science to run."
–Brett Berg (Coordinator of 21st Century Learning
and Public Information)
Janesville, WI—Twice a month the School District of Janesville hosts board meetings for which interest and attendance is very high. Prior to seven months ago, those who wanted to see what happened at these meetings had to be in attendance or wait for it to be broadcast on the school's cable channel. For those outside of Janesville or without the correct cable provider, the second option was not available.
The School District of Janesville increased availability and production quality of these meetings by purchasing a video communications system from LEIGHTRONIX, at the heart of which is PolyOptix™, the digital video recording and multi-camera control system.
Without a team with the technical knowledge of a typical broadcast station, the School District of Janesville was looking for a solution that was simple to use but still generated a high quality product. The PolyOptix system is simple enough to be run by a single operator, provides a professional end result, and is designed specifically for meetings. The system consists of three cameras, a switcher, and the PEGvault-SD™ digital video recorder, all controlled by a simple web-based control interface.
Using the control interface, Janesville schools has preset over 30 camera views for the board meetings. Although Janesville has only preset views for their board meetings, the PolyOptix system allows users to create different presets for innumerable meetings. Once the presets have been established, running the camera system is as simple as clicking a button. Pictures and names of people that attend the meetings can be added through the control interface. Once the meeting begins, the operator simply clicks the name or picture of the person they want a camera to focus in on.
"For a majority of the things we want to do it's absolutely perfect," Brett Berg, Coordinator of 21st Century Learning and Public Information said. "And much easier than what we had before. Before we had security cameras that were retro-fitted with a joystick control. Compared to what we had, (PolyOptix) is amazing."
Berg added that the final product looks much more professional than their previous solution. The PolyOptix control interface does not switch to a camera until the panning and zooming is complete, making for a smooth transition without sloppy or jarring movements.
"It's much smoother with the web interface, especially with the multiple cameras that are preset. There isn't any lag or down time so for us it's really, really nice," Berg said. "Before, you would actually see the camera panning from one location to the other, but now you'll go to one view that's been preset and you'll have a camera move into position while another is still on so you'll never have that down time or lagging."
"Whatever is being shown over the projector during board meetings is then shown directly through the computer onto the cable channel as well," Berg said "You don't have to have a camera that points on the screen, so it's shown much cleaner. We might have a small font size in a PowerPoint presentation, and if you have a camera pointed directly on the screen it gets distorted and blurry, but by using the fourth input through the computer it's much clearer and easier for people to read at home."
Reaching viewers at home has also become easier due to Janesville schools' utilization of multiple LEIGHTRONIX products. Not only did the school district acquire the PolyOptix system seven months ago, but they completed an entire system overhaul with LEIGHTRONIX products, also purchasing an UltraNEXUS™ video server, PEG Central® streaming video-on-demand service, and combining the PEGstream-SD™ video encoder with the PEG Stream™ live streaming service. With these tools, Janesville schools has successfully automated their broadcast channel and expanded their reach to the Internet.
Prior to updating their system, a school employee would have to burn each meeting to a DVD, manually load it in a DVD player, and press play when they wanted the meeting to air. This limited the frequency of their playback.
"We were getting a lot of negative feedback from the community because we could only show our videos at nine o'clock in the morning and then again at one o'clock in the afternoon on certain days of the week," Berg said. "We've had the cable channel for 15 to 20 years, it's just never been utilized and it's a very positive and powerful tool that we can start to use now."
Now their meetings are automatically pushed from the PolyOptix system to their UltraNEXUS video server for scheduled broadcasting. The meeting can then be scheduled to run at any time days in advance, allowing them to play the content more frequently without a staff member needing to be present to manually start the playback.
While fully utilizing their cable channel, the school district also wanted to make their meetings available to viewers on the Internet. Using PEG Central, the videos are easily made available for on-demand viewing on the School District of Janesville's PEG Central page.
The school district also added the PEG Stream service with the PEGstream-SD live streaming encoder. Janesville schools has not yet utilized PEG Stream but is excited to use it in the future to put a live feed of their cable channel on their website.
"You have to live within the city limits and have Charter Communications as your cable provider to get our channel, so that's the big thing for us with PEG Stream. We have a lot of people who live outside of that area so now they'll be able to access the cable channel over the Internet." Berg said. "Now, you can be in California and still be able to see these videos on-demand and on our website."
PolyOptix integrates seamlessly with their broadcast and streaming workflow with its ability to automatically transfer recorded files to the station's UltraNEXUS and PEG Central video-on-demand site. For Berg this feature is an asset he uses regularly, and something he finds to be extremely simple.
"Most of our board meetings get done by nine or nine thirty and I usually get an email confirmation (that the video has been loaded to PEG Central) by ten," Berg said. "It's been very, very fast and publishing the video is very simple to do too."
Ease of Use
Berg has been most impressed with the ease of use of their LEIGHTRONIX system solution. This was important to the School District of Janesville because they needed to train their own staff members, who have varying levels of technical experience, on how to use the video communications system.
"We liked the ease of use for the entire system because we want to have more than one person who is trained on it, so that was really beneficial for us too," Berg said. "It's not something that you have to have a bachelor's degree in computer science to run. There was a little bit of a learning curve because it's new but it was something that didn't take very long at all for people to get up to speed on."
With the ease of use, quality of output, and enhanced capabilities, the system overhaul and incorporation of PolyOptix has left the staff, town, and school district of Janesville very happy.
"We've been very pleased," Berg said. "We're probably six or seven months into it and the comments we've received from our community have been very, very positive, the quality of the cameras have been very good, and we're able to do a lot of things now."
Janesville wanted to overhaul their video communications system and add a multi-camera system that was high-quality and easy to use.
How It Works
The three camera control system allows Janesville to preset pan-tilt-zoom cameras to specific views, and use buttons on a simple web-based interface to control the cameras during an event. The system also automatically captures and records the meeting for broadcast or streaming.
In Their Words
"Now, you can be in California and still be able to see these videos on-demand."
Learning and Public Information, School District of Janesville
"We're probably six or seven months into it and the comments we've received from our community have been very, very positive, the quality of the cameras have been very good, and we're able to do a lot of things now."
Learning and Public Information, School District of Janesville
At a Glance
- Name: School District of Janesville
- Employment: The School District of Janesville is the second largest employer in Janesville (as of 2011).
- Origin: Janesville was settled in 1835 and named for early settler Henry Janes.
- Ski Champs: Janesville's Traxler Park is home to the 17 time water ski U.S National Champions, the Rock Aqua Jays.
- Nickname: Janesville is also known as "Wisconsin's Park Place" and "City of Parks" due to its 2,590 acre park system that includes 64 parks.
- Peace Pole: Janesville is the home of the world's tallest peace pole, which stands at 52 feet in Peace Park.
- Famous Residents:
- Paul Ryan–2012 Republican vice presidential candidate
- Daniel Hale Williams–first African American cardiologist, performed one of the first successful open-heart surgeries, and founded the first non-segregated hospital in the United States
- Ella Wheeler Wilcox–poet: "laugh and the world laughs with you; Weep, and you weep alone."
- Tim Davis–drummer and co-founder of The Steve Miller Band
- Tucker Fredrick–2006 and 2010 U.S. Olympic speedskater
- Gloria Foster–female actor, played The Oracle in The Matrix and The Matrix Reloaded
- Stan Fox–race car driver, eight starts at the Indianapolis 500