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Ryerson Journalism School and Rams Sports Club Leverage Matrox Monarch HD for Live Webcasts

Journalism students, sports teams deliver frequent live webcasts using Monarch HD for encoding and archiving

Located in the heart of downtown Toronto, Ryerson University is one of the largest media universities in North America. With a mandate for hands-on experience, it is a leader in career-focused education with a commitment to community engagement.

Webcasting is important at Ryerson. Every day at noon, journalism students turn into budding news reporters and put together a webcast that covers current affairs on campus and around the city.

The university’s athletic club, the Ryerson Rams, webcasts all of their sports games, such as hockey and basketball, from the Mattamy Athletic Centre (the former Maple Leaf Gardens). The games draw online viewers on and off campus.

As webcasting needs expanded, the university chose Matrox Monarch HD to provide a simpler, more efficient setup (Figure 1, below).


Figure 1. Ryerson University journalism students webcast a daily news program using Matrox Monarch HD.

The Challenge

Ryerson’s Faculty of Communication Arts and Design (FCAD) comprises multiple disciplines with nine schools including the RTA School of Media, the School of Journalism and others. Systems designer Many Ayromlou is a member of the FCAD Operations Technology Support (OTS) group responsible for setting up equipment and providing technical support to the entire faculty.

As part of their studies, students from the School of Journalism contribute to Ryersonian TV, a one-hour daily news webcast. Ayromlou needed to find a way for students to easily record and webcast news segments live and to switch between segments without interruption. The technical team was also tasked to help the newly introduced sports webcasting program live stream Ryerson Rams events from the Mattamy Athletic Centre (Figure 2, below).


Figure 2. Ryerson Rams sporting events are webcast live from the Mattamy Athletic Centre using Matrox Monarch HD.

The computer-based system then in place did not provide the desired ease-of-use and stability. Someone had to configure the settings on the computer just before going live and the technical team had to constantly train new students to do this. Issues such as forgetting the password would cause panic, creating a stressful situation for everyone involved. If the problem required reconfiguration, the technical team had to initiate a tedious remote desktop session to find out which settings needed adjustment.

To complicate matters further, the live stream would sometimes fail if several programs were running on the computer. For Ayromlou, this was unacceptable: “In a webcasting environment you can’t afford to have encoder issues or dead time.”

Finding the Solution

The stability and straightforward design of the Matrox Monarch HD H.264 encoder proved to the Ryerson technical team that it was the ideal solution. Other devices they looked at required extensive configuration at webcast time because the settings could not be locked in. Since the studios at Ryerson University (Figure 3, below) are a learning environment and students need to start live streaming at a predetermined time, everything needs to be set up in advance.


Figure 3. Ryersonian TV is webcast from the Ryerson RTA School of Media television studio using Matrox Monarch HD.

Monarch HD’s pre-configurable settings let the technical team create profiles for different needs far in advance, eliminating the stress of last-minute adjustments. They simply log into the Monarch HD Command Center webpage, select a profile and the unit is ready to go. The fact that the Monarch HD appliance is a hardware device solely dedicated to recording and streaming and cannot run additional programs means that it is, in Ayromlou’s words, “bulletproof.”

According to Ayromlou, he no longer has to spend his time training students and solving technical problems, “The main thing we like about the Monarch HD is the fact that it’s easy and can be operated by just about anybody.”

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