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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

Setting up the Webcast

The main production facility houses the IT infrastructure and the news station while the sports studio is located up the street at the Mattamy Centre. All are connected through fiber optics. Each facility has a 72x72 video router and a large DANTE audio-over-IP network. These facilities are interconnected so the feeds can be mixed and matched as needed.

In the new setups, a camera and microphone produce an HD-SDI output with embedded audio, which goes through an SDI-to-HDMI converter to the Monarch HD (Figure 4, below). The setup is similar for both the news and sports studios; only the delivery destinations differ, either a Wowza server or CDN. In both environments, the HDMI output from the Monarch HD is fed to a 24-inch standard flat panel to monitor the feed and make sure it is working. Monarch HD provides the option to save files to a variety of recording media types including a shared network drive, USB drive or SD card; so it is easy to store recordings in a way that works for everyone.

Figure 4. Ryerson University uses the Matrox Monarch HD H.264 encoder for news and sports webcasts. Click the image to see it at full size.

News webcasts are done at 4 Mbps and routinely recorded on SD cards with an average filesize of less than 4 GB for the one-hour show. Professors can revisit their journalism students’ news segments at the end of the semester for grading purposes.

The Ryerson Rams Athletic Club uses Monarch HD to provide live streams of sporting events to Stretch Internet, a CDN platform for athletic webcasts from universities across Canada. The live webcasts are also available from the Ryerson Rams web page. Coaches use Monarch HD’s high quality MP4 recordings to review performance post-game.

Seeing the Results

Monarch HD is the H.264 encoder of choice for Ryerson’s webcasting requirements now because of its operator-friendliness and consistent high quality stream. Ayromlou’s biggest benefit has been peace of mind.

For the technical team, simplicity is key. “We can just log in from a web interface, configure the device for whatever output, be it a CDN or a Wowza server on campus, and basically tell the student or faculty member to ‘push this button, wait for the blue light, and off you go,’” says Ayromlou. By saving the Monarch HD preconfigured settings as profiles, students simply switch between them depending on the need--streaming, recording, or testing. The reliability of the Monarch HD means students can now focus on their webcast, and not on technical details.

“In webcasting you need something solid and that has been our experience with the Monarch HD,” he affirms. “Because the Monarch HD is hardware, it really has not had any hiccups. It guarantees that the stream will continually webcast in the same quality.”

Future Plans

For the technical team at FCAD, plans to purchase the recently introduced Monarch HDX streaming and recording device are already in the works. Monarch HDX provides even more workflow flexibility featuring 3G-SDI and HDMI inputs with frame synchronization to compensate for unstable sources. Two independent H.264 encoders provide redundancy or can be set to stream and/or record using individual settings, plus an additional, dedicated H.264 encoder provides remote preview of the input.

The Slaight Radio Institute, which is currently under construction, will be the future home of the SpiritLive radio station with two simultaneous 24/7 student-produced channels broadcasting audio and video streams. Matrox Monarch HDX units will produce the media streams for the stations and simultaneous record broadcasts to a network so students will have easy and immediate access to archival versions of their productions. With webcasting becoming more and more a part of everyday university life, anything seems possible now that Ryerson has the right devices for the job.

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