University of North Carolina Wilmington TV

University of North Carolina Wilmington
University of North Carolina Wilmington chooses EMINENCE-HD2 digital video server for H.264 High-Definition Solution
Hooked on the highly efficient encoding that H.264 provides, UNCW TV chooses LEIGHTRONIX video server for cable channels
Technical Producer, Chip Bobbert
After doing extensive research, the technical producer for the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Chip Bobbert, chose the EMINENCE-HD2 because it is a true hardware-based H.264 digital video server solution.

The University of North Carolina Wilmington offers students the unique opportunity to produce and broadcast programming on two closed circuit campus channels. While providing these channels in standard definition (SD) for students proved sufficient for a while, it wasn’t long before complaints started coming in about content on the channel not being displayed in high-definition (HD), according to the university’s technical producer, Chip Bobbert.

“The need for HD came straight from our students,” Bobbert said. “We had a lot of popularity with our student channel and we had a need to deliver HD content and that was really the next logical step.”

“H.264 is extremely important to us because it’s really a true value codec,” Bobbert said. “It allows us to operate at the same quality as other HD codecs while requiring substantially fewer resources in terms of data storage which can be very expensive. There is a substantial savings in the bandwidth that is required to move an H.264 file, and a substantial savings in the capacity of size of that video.”

The benefits of the increased storage capacity that H.264 HD video provides has also been helpful to students on a college budget.

“Other HD options would have a rate of one terabyte for a couple of hours of footage,” Bobbert said. “Now we are dealing with 10 to 12 Gigs for a feature length movie. There would be no way that we’d be able to afford that storage backbone and a typical student definitely just doesn’t have the money to go out and buy a class of storage that can support the bandwidth necessary to play pro resolution uncompressed and DNxHD, to where as they can afford to have the storage capability even in a laptop to carry around several hours of H.264 video.”

The product also matched Bobbert’s requirement to find a true hardware-based product that was developed as a quality broadcast solution.

“We found the EMINENCE-HD2 was really the only hardware product on the market that we saw that was both a control system and an effective H.264 playout server. We looked around extensively and everything else was either a soft product, was very limited in terms of control, or a little bit weak in other ways,” he said. “The other thing is in today’s world there’s really a decline in the quality of engineering. We see quite the opposite with LEIGHTRONIX. It seems like each generation of products is better engineered than the generation before. With LEIGHTRONIX I get a secure hardware appliance that’s been purpose built and engineered to do exactly what I want it to do.”

The EMINENCE-HD2 has impressed Bobbert in terms of the overall control functionality and its ease-of-use saying, “The learning curve was pretty near zero.”
Having been broadcasting content in SD for some time, another thing that attracted the university to the EMINENCE-HD2 was its ability to broadcast their previously produced SD content.

“We really like that the EMINENCE-HD2 isn’t just an HD product but it’s also an SD product,” Bobbert said. “It has the advantage of being a great transition product for us because we can bring in the 90 percent of our content that’s standard definition. While everything we’ve made within the last year is HD, we’re still able to bring our SD content with us.”

Having made the switch to HD, and especially an H.264 solution, Bobbert is pleased with the ability to keep produced content as close to its native format as possible.

“We are big believers that you should try to use the same codec the whole way through,” Bobbert said.

Keeping things in their native formats has also proved to be very valuable for the students producing content for the campus channels.

“A lot of these new cameras that we are using are H.264 cameras. So all of the cameras that we’ve purchased the last few years allow our videos to be natively recorded in an H.264 format,” Bobbert said. “With the popularity of the DSLR cinematography we’re finding that H.264 is the primary codec used in those and that’s clearly important to our film department.”

Outside of the advantages associated with H.264 in regards to the EMINENCE-HD2, Bobbert has been very impressed with the product’s functionality when it comes to control saying, “It’s not just a playout system, it’s also a controllable system.”

Bobbert was particularly impressed with the product’s ease-of-use and low learning curve when it came to training students.

“The learning curve was pretty near zero,” he said. “We had budgeted about 40 hours of training to get the students and other staff up to speed. We ended up spending about 90 minutes on a training session to get them going. It was pretty straight forward.”

Having purchased and worked with other LEIGHTRONIX products before implementing the university’s now HD solution, Bobbert knew that he’d get a value based product.

“The number one thing that keeps me coming back to LEIGHTRONIX is the value,” he said. “There is definitely a value factor that they meet that simply isn’t there with many other companies. For instance, maintenance and support is a big one. And with LEIGHTRONIX, maintenance and support is absolutely top-notch.”

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