“Simulcasting” at HMC
In my quest to become acquainted with unique technology use at each of the 5C’s, I attended HMC’s Bite of Learning Speaker Series presentation on Simulcasting. Simulcasting, as Instructional Media Specialist James Sadler calls it, is made possible by a Full Duplex audio and video communication system. It works by connecting the projection, video and sound system in Shanahan Center with satellite auditoriums and nearby classrooms so that presentations can be made beyond Shanahan’s capacity of 300 seats. James says of the system, “Our simulcasting system is very effective in connecting multiple rooms together. With it, the audience can feel as though they are in the same room as the presenter by interacting in real time.”
The Simulcasting system’s most impressive feature is how dynamic it is. Any media that the presenter displays on the boards, projector screens, or through the speakers, is not excluded from any viewer’s experience. High definition, directional cameras in Shanahan Center and Projectors in satellite rooms are managed by AV technicians in the control booth through easy-to-use software. Somewhat like the multi-cam capabilities of a digital editing platform, the technician switches the projection system in outlying rooms back and forth between video of the speaker and the media they are presenting, in real time.
The Simulcast replaces a 48 point video switch—a potentially messy and difficult to maintain system that would have required hard wiring through the infrastructure of the building. Unlike a hardwired system, the Duplex has independent components which James can replace or upgrade at any time, enabling efficient expansion. Additionally, James says that it’s cost effective. “Because the majority of the equipment is already used for HMC’s Lecture Capture System, the costs were relatively low.” To install a similar system from scratch might have cost the college tens of thousands in hardware alone.
Though a system like this can be costly and requires at least two technicians to run the equipment and software, a more modest version has the potential to connect classrooms on a smaller scale. I’m imagining hybrid or intersected courses taught by multiple faculty members who collaborate across disciplines; courses that intermittently converge separate but related fields presented by specialized faculty on a dynamic schedule. While individual culture and science courses take place simultaneously in separate rooms, for example, they could potentially tune in to each other’s lectures on pertinent topic days. As I’m certain that something like this is already taking place somewhere at the 5 Cs, I’m all ears to anyone who’d love to share this work with the DH community.