Lowell Area Schools

CTN Van and Station
Lowell Area Schools looks to LEIGHTRONIX for easy-to-operate solution to record, broadcast, and stream locally produced digital media content
A solution that integrates the station’s workflow means more time focused on producing new programming for this all-volunteer staff
Ralph Salmeron, manager of the Community Television Network in Ann Arbor
Chris Mokma is just one of the several students who volunteers his time at the public access channel operated out of Lowell Area Schools to provide localized video programming for broadcasting and streaming.

Lowell Area Schools was first introduced to LEIGHTRONIX when the school district took over the community’s public access station in 2008. Having previously worked with the MINI-T-PRO™ controller from the company, Station Manager Al Eckman knew LEIGHTRONIX was a company he could trust for a reliable upgraded solution. What he didn’t know, before heading to the company’s Web site for a new video server, was how much time could be saved by going with the automated workflow of the UltraNEXUS™ video server/automation controller.

“Because of the product’s ease-of-use in terms of scheduling programming, we’ve been able to increase the amount of programming that we place on the public access channel,” Eckman said. “We like to spend a lot of our time producing local events.”

The video server’s ability to receive digital media content from the PEGvault-SD™ digital video encoder, and automatically transfer encoded files to the station’s LEIGHTRONIX-hosted streaming video-on-demand site, PEG Central®, has also meant more time focused on producing quality programming for viewers.

“We’re able to take the PEGvault-SD with us to events we’re capturing—for instance, a football game,” Eckman said. “We’ll record to the PEGvault-SD during the event and then bring it back to our room and plug it in. Almost immediately we can put it up on the public access channel and then we can also send it to PEG Central, where viewers can watch it at any time, from any where.”

PEG Central, a more recent add-on to the public access station’s workflow, has provided Lowell area residents with a second way to access the locally produced content.

“Because of the ease-of-use of the system, and because our local government wanted to show more transparency, we purchased PEG Central as an add-on to our system,” Eckman said. “Now the public can stay informed a little bit easier about what’s happening within their community.”

CTN's equipment rack
Station Manager Al Eckman relies on the automation of the UltraNEXUS and its ability to integrate with the station's recording and streaming video-on-demand solution to save time in the studio.
Government Programmer Courtney Stewart uses the WinLGX software interface
The station utilizes PEG Central’s file folder feature to allow viewers to easily navigate through categories to specific videos of interest.

The ability to gradually integrate new products into the station’s workflow, helping to better communicate with viewers as the station’s budget allows, is part of what makes choosing a LEIGHTRONIX solution smart.

“You can start with one piece of equipment with LEIGHTRONIX and expand,” Eckman said. “Someone just starting out in public access would want to get the UltraNEXUS. But then they could add on by getting the PEGvault-SD, and then add to that by getting PEG Central for video-on-demand. Eventually, and this is what we’re headed towards, they could purchase the PEGstream-SD™ and PEG Stream™ to offer live streaming to viewers. So you can start at whatever level you want, and add on as monies or grants come your way. Every product and service integrates with the UltraNEXUS. LEIGHTRONIX is more of a full package.”

The station also utilizes TOTAL INFO®, the dynamic content delivery service for NEXUS® series digital video servers. The service provides information on local weather and metro traffic, along with up-to-date news, sports, financials, and daily trivia, plus works as a fully automated addition to the station’s message board.

“That in itself adds a lot of credibility to our channel,” Eckman said. “Having constant up-to-date, relevant information really adds a lot to our regular programming.”

Eckman, along with each of the students who help to produce programming, work entirely on a volunteer basis. This fact made it even more important to find a video server solution that makes the most out of every volunteer hour. The UltraNEXUS proved to be a great fit for the station based on its time saving features.

“One of the things is drag and drop scheduling,” Eckman said. “You drag over a file, fill out a couple of pieces of information, how long it’s going to run, and what time you want it to start. It’s just that easy.”

Automatic error checking within the system also helps Eckman when scheduling things in a hurry.

“If somehow I’ve made a mistake in my scheduling of a program, the WinLGX sofware prompts me and lets me know I already have something scheduled at that time,” he said. “If it weren’t for that, I would have scheduled two programs for the same time a few times by now.”

The UltraNEXUS also allows Eckman to log into the system from anywhere using its Web interface.

“I like being able to access and work especially on slides from my residence,” Eckman said. “In just a few minutes I can add, edit, or delete slides, or I can put up emergency messaging all through WebNEXUS™.”

The station’s PEG Central streaming video-on-demand site even allows viewers to save time when visiting looking for a specific sporting event, meeting, event, or concert.

“I really like the file folder concept,” Eckman said. “Viewers can go to our PEG Central site, and navigate to videos of interest by browsing through a list of file folders.”

The site also offers a keyword search option to allow viewers to find specific videos of interest. Dynamic statistics on the administration interface are also offered so the station can evaluate which videos are being watched by viewers the most.

Aside from the features within the station’s record, broadcast, and streaming solution, Eckman is happy to continue business with a company he can trust.

“I felt right away that LEIGHTRONIX was a company I wanted to do business with,” Eckman said. “When checking in with other users, I found that they had a very good reputation for being a reliable company selling reliable products and services.”

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Lowell Area School's story

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