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Portable Multimedia Lab at Wilmington University


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Russ Lichterman, Wilmington University's Multimedia Manager,, shares how to build a portable multimedia lab on a budget.
Today’s students want dynamic course content – and the best way to deliver it is via video. Scholarly research shows that students get are more engaged and grades improve when they consume video and multimedia content created by their instructors. Unfortunately smart classrooms, multimedia workspaces, and television production studios don’t come cheap. Often our technical wants are bigger than our available budgets, and video and multimedia equipment choices can be intimidating. Further, lack of specific technical experience can lead to all-in-one solutions that are feature-limited and not cost effective. This “un-session” will be a hands-on demonstration of Wilmington University’s portable multimedia lab – a multi-input HD video production solution for guest speakers, high end lecture capture, event production, and more. The modular components, HD workflow, and equipment procurement will be covered, and include a frank and open discussion about costs and budgets, and how to save money by understanding video and multimedia technology better. This session will be as open as possible for the layperson, but some technical knowledge about video and multimedia will be helpful.

This presentation was first shared at the 2016 Northeast e-Learning Consortium,

Published in: Technology
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Portable Multimedia Lab at Wilmington University

  1. 1. Portable Multimedia Lab PHOTO OPTION
  2. 2. The Current Standard: Newtek Tricaster •The Tricaster has been popular with educational productions due to it’s low-cost and turnkey nature •The most equivalent Tricaster is the Tricaster Mini (previously only available in HDMI) •New version will feature SDI inputs
  3. 3. The Current Standard: Newtek Tricaster • Source: – 5/6/16
  4. 4. Tricaster Mini Pros: •Much cheaper than “professional” studio switching/recording gear •All-in-one turnkey “studio-in-a-box” •Built with educational use in mind (not necessarily the depth of knowledge/skill of TV professionals) •Includes built-in streaming encoder software
  5. 5. Tricaster Mini Cons: •Existing models of the mini are HDMI only (SDI coming with next model) •All-in-one box does not allow for user expansion (adding internal hard drives to a non-hard drive model voids the warranty) •Software driven switching/encoding can be prone to issues/crashing/etc. •Pay a premium for a turnkey solution with little expandability
  6. 6. Our Alternative: Build our own! •Portable multimedia lab built around the Datavideo SE-1200mu switcher.
  7. 7. Faculty Development Day – 10/17/15
  8. 8. Winter Commencement– 2/7/16
  9. 9. Wilmusic Fest– 4/30/16
  10. 10. Multimedia Lab Pros: •Price! Less than half of the cost of the nearest equivalent Tricaster Mini •Modular construction allows for upgrading/expanding/servicing/replacing parts if needed •Professional SDI workflow (but includes consumer HDMI options if needed.) •Hardware-based workflow provides greater reliability (Software is limited to control interface) •Firmware updates and features still being rolled out
  11. 11. Multimedia Lab Cons: •Learning curve – significant time and knowledge is needed for assembly and configuration •Different components all from different companies if tech support is needed •Datavideo switcher supports only up to 1080i •Modular components take more time to troubleshoot as compared to all-in-one turnkey solutions •No native network (IP) camera support •Limited internal audio controls
  12. 12. Cost Breakdown Datavideo SE-1200MU 6 Input HD Digital Video Switcher* $1,469.00 X-Keys XK-60 USB Programmable Keyboard $191.00 8U Ultimate Strength Series Roto-Rack $155.85 DAC-70 SD/HD/3G-SDI Up/Down/Cross Converter (2x) $980.00 Patch cables - 6x 1.5 foot & 10x 3 foot $86.80 Universal patch bay w/ 16 knockouts $36.00 10 SDI jacks $45.50 4 HDMI jacks $51.76 HDSDI video distribution amplifier (1 in 8 out) $170.00 Atomos Ronin HDSDI recorder $970.00 Sandisk 480gb Extreme Pro SSD $266.98 Teradek VidiU Live Encoder** $699.00 Furman Power Conditioner $54.00 *This switcher needs to be controlled by a PC **There are other, cheaper live encoding options as well $5,175.89
  13. 13. Multimedia Lab vs. Tricaster Mini •Similar functionality (chromakey, DSK, still store, HD recording, SDI workflow) •Tricaster Mini has more functions (network camera inputs, built-in live streaming, robust audio mixing, built-in digital media players) •Multimedia lab is a hardware-based workflow using traditional, professional grade gear.
  14. 14. Multimedia Lab vs. Tricaster Mini •Cost-comparison – Our solution is less than half of the cost of the most comparable Tricaster Mini: $5,175.89 vs. $11,995 •Features are comparable, especially considering WilmU use-cases.
  15. 15. Someday… $499…but backordered. 
  16. 16. Thanks!