Wednesday, 28 November 2012

2012: Janet Maylie's Acting for the Camera Studio

I've been working with Janet Maylie at the School of Music, Theater and Dance for a few years.  I initially did the final installation of a video system for the Acting for the Camera TV studio as the Walgreen Drama Center was first opening up.  Since then I have worked with Janet to enable her to post her students' video clips on CTools, and to assist her, as she has become more comfortable with the technology, to move into doing multi-camera shoots.

The system as delivered to the Walgreen Center was based around a Sony AnyCast like the one in the photo.

Video files were recorded to an external drive, which had to be formatted as EXT3, a UNIX format.  We had to install special drivers on Janet's iMac so she could read the drive and copy files to her desktop.  That setup would sometimes get flaky for her, too.

The Sony cameras were decent enough, with CCUs and studio packs for remote focus & zoom and a top-mounted monitor.  And decent studio tripods with wheels.

Most recently, I've been consulting with Janet and the department Chair about what it would take to move the studio up into High Definition.  They decided to take the first step in that direction this week by purchasing a 55" Samsung LED flat screen display to replace the 42" Sony CRT they have been using.

I made sure they understood that the big CRT, while seeming like a technological dinosaur, was still the very best tool for watching the video clips they are creating in their Standard Def NTSC studio.  Playing those clips back on a display that is optimized for HDTV content means they will look different - and possibly not as good.  They are OK with trying it out, and if Janet really does not like how they look they can continue to use the big CRT until they do upgrade to HD.  The flat panel is VERY easy to store.

This purchase of a flat screen ultimately led to an entire upgrade to take the studio to HD, although Janet did go back to her CRT until the HD move happened.  TEL Systems of Ann Arbor provided the equipment and integration, with close consultation from me.

It includes:
  • 1 Roland VR-4HD Multi-Format AV mixer 
  • 1 Panasonic AG-UMR10 Recorder and SD cards
  • 3 Panasonic AJPX270 Camcorder with Lens 

The beauty of this system is that the recorder puts the files right onto an SD card, and it also has SDI in & out.  The Roland AV mixer outputs SDI, and the output of the recorder gets changed to HDMI to feed the large flat panel display.

The Roland mixer handles the audio as well as the video, just like the Sony AnyCast did, so it is a familiar interface for Janet to use.

The big screen is supplemented by a set of Leon speakers, directly wired into it in place off its internal speakers.

And the whole system is built into a podium and so has a small footprint.  It all slides easily in and out of the storage closet in the studio.

Here is what Janet had to say when I interviewed her about the creating the final system.


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