The hardest part about designing a TV studio was finding the right mix of technology to ease-of-use. Before I ordered anything, I spent a lot of time visiting other schools and looking at their solutions. The problem I frequently saw was that a school would go to a professional company who would provide the exact right kit any small, professional TV studio would need.
The trouble with this is that schools don’t need the same kit as a professional TV studio. We don’t need £4500 cameras, or high-end editing systems. We don’t need High Defintion video. Not when we’re going to compress it to 640 pixels wide in order to share it on a VLE or stream it into every classroom.
Professional studio companies will happily supply this level of equipment because it gives the students access to the same kit they would use if they get jobs in the media. That’s the excuse…sorry reason. But this stuff is sooooo complex you have to train the students how to use it, and let’s face it, it’s also really, really expensive.
The Newtek Tricaster is a fabulous video switcher and can produce incredibly clever greenscreens, but it’s cheapest educational price is nearly £8,000! That’s £1,000 more than the entire studio I fitted!
Fortunately, during my research…umm…”quest”*…I visited Sunderland’s City Learning Centre and was introduced to the Edirol LVS-400
This Video Switcher is a hardware “box” that allows you to change between 4 different video inputs and greenscreen/bluescreen one video source (such as your camera) over the top of another (such as a computer running powerpoint) . And it does it for the amazingly cheap price of £786. Yeah, I know it doesn’t sound that cheap but it is one tenth the cost of the Tricaster!
The real benefit of the Edirol though is training time is two minutes – 60 seconds of which involve telling the children not to idly flick the lever up and down. I’ve given up on trying to stop the teaching staff.
Rather than spending your time training students in equipment you yourself will barely know how to use, the Edirol provides an easy greenscreen solution allowing you to spend your time encouraging the shy kids, getting others to spend more time on the presentations and generally just enjoying the experience.
* Which wasn’t just an excuse to spend sometime out of school – just like you reading this blog isn’t just a bit of distraction during work 🙂 )