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Case Study: Courting the Streaming Audience with TriCaster

You'll rarely see cameras in the courtrooms in New York, because the law bans cameras from most state courts, especially the criminal courts. But one court that is exempt from the ban is the New York State Court of Appeals, and there video has long been embraced as a valuable communications tool. They've been videotaping court sessions since the early 1980s, and they've been Webcasting select cases for about four years.

Composed of a Chief Judge and six Associate Judges, the Court of Appeals is New York's highest appellate court. Like the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, they are selective about the cases they choose to hear, usually picking cases with far-reaching implications. For example, a recent case that drew plenty of media attention dealt with the way the state of New York distributes tax money to school districts. Due to the importance of these cases, there is great demand that the information emanating from this court be shared. What better way to share than via video streams over the Internet?

With a historic event approaching this past spring, the New York State Court of Appeals had an opportunity to show off their online savvy, while at the same time trying out NewTek's new TriCaster. The court was scheduled to hold a session in Buffalo, the first time since the 19th century that the court has convened in the area of upstate New York still known as the "Niagara Frontier."

The event was intended to be what the court's public information officer Gary Spencer calls "an outreach thing." The court had traveled outside of Albany for the first time in more than a century in 1993 when it held a session in Brooklyn. "We were a big hit in Brooklyn," says Spencer. And so the court decided to reach out again, this time to the people of upstate New York.

Naturally, the court's IT staff feels at home in the Albany court house (Appeals Hall), where they have sophisticated technology infrastructure and all the equipment they need for video production and streaming. But the place where they were scheduled to go on April 14, 2005—Buffalo's historic Old County Hall—had no technology newer than electric lighting.

And so the Appeals Court's administrative staff decided to get a specialist to take the show on the road. They hired veteran producer/director Douglas Green of MultiMagic, Inc. in Holley, NY to manage the event. Green decided this was an opportune time to try out his new NewTek TriCaster.

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