Request for PVC usage scenarios

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ksolsen
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Request for PVC usage scenarios

Postby ksolsen » Sun Feb 26, 2012 11:15 pm

PVC users:

Hi - this is Kurt Olsen, product manager at Church HQ for video communications. I have been requested to gather some examples of the ways PVC is being used by ecclesiastical leaders. This is for an informational packet going to several General Authorities who are involved in oversight of our products.

If you are willing to share, please post some examples of how you are using PVC - the type of meetings, who's involved, benefits you are realizing, etc.

Thank you!
Kurt Olsen - Product Manager at Church HQ for Digital Presentation (Personal Video Conferencing, Meetinghouse Webcast, Conference Rooms, Video Conference Endpoints, Meetinghouse Digital Content)

harddrive
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Postby harddrive » Mon Feb 27, 2012 7:12 am

Kurt, the Suitland Maryland Stake Presidency is slow in adopting the use of technology. they want to test it out and make sure that they have it stable before rolling it out on a larger scale. currently the stake presidency is using it for some stake presidency meetings. A few days ago, the stake presidents were meeting without the clerk or the exec sec. They needed them for a question and they used PVC to talk to them face to face. I was told that there was an echo, but I wasn't on it to determine why.

They are looking to start using it for high council meetings.

I personally have done a couple of things with PVC in the last couple of months. The first on is that there is a Maryland Single Adult Coordinating Council (SACC), which is made up of the Baltimore and Washington DC North Missions, which has 10 stakes. A member of the stake presidency, a high councilman and the single adult rep make up the committee. I used my PVC room, as I am the stake technology specialist, to host the meeting. I had single adult reps from the area, high councilman and a councilor in the stake presidency. I also had the telephone audio bridge in at the same time. it went well.

Then on 19 Feb, I held another meeting of a single adult conference committee. We had single adult reps, a high councilman and others. I again connected to an audio conference bridge. It worked well, but there are a few things to work out. We plan on using it more for these meetings and hopefully we will get people in the outlying areas of the SACC to participate.

I also did a couple of other things this weekend for stake conference. First, I tested it with the leadership session of stake conference. I had one bishop's counselor who couldn't attend, so I gave him the link to my room and he was able to watch/listen to it while he was traveling to his destination. The second person was a bishop and he planned to be in town for the meeting, but his flight from SLC got canceled and was scheduled on another flight that would get him to the meeting, but it would be late. So he got his account and I told him that it would be in my room. he used his 3G connection and was able to pull it up on his laptop. So while he was on his way to the meeting he was listening to what was going on. I saw him in the hallway when he go to the building and it was going fine and he was being trained.

The second one was the guy that was out of town on business. He wanted to listen to the general session of conference since he was going to be out of the area where it was being broadcast. So I had my laptop and was able to take the sound from on of the TV's that was showing the broadcast and pipe it into my laptop and used PVC for him to listen to conference. I couldn't hook up video for him. I was able to get the microphone input down low enough for him to here it clearly. But he listened to the same talks that we heard. My laptop was using wireless.

To help you out with other thoughts, one of our main goals in the Suitland Stake is to be able to broadcast talks from different buildings during stake conference. I can see PVC allowing us to do just that. I like the real time feedback if I make a change to the audio on the Osprey 260e card that we are using. I can see this being used for future leadership training so that there is two way conversations, so everyone doesn't have to travel to the stake center, especially if they have long drives. I also have been suggesting to a few high councilman that they can use it to conduct leadership training each month. This way they don't have to travel to the buildings to do it.

Suitland Stake is on board, but rolling it out slowly. I can keep you informed with what we are doing as we go forward.

I look forward to hearing what comes of this meeting.

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johnshaw
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Postby johnshaw » Mon Feb 27, 2012 7:29 am

Kurt,

In the Liberty Missouri Stake, our Stake Presidency is in full throttle to encourage Senior Couples to go on Missions. Last week we held a fireside with the following:

1) 3 couples of recently returned Senior Couples were seated on the stand
2) 3 couples currently serving in (Russia, SLC, and a recently called Mission President (who was called while serving a senior couples mission) who was visiting his sister in Idaho) were on PVC projected in the chapel
3) A DVD was created with several grand children of those on the stand and those on PVC talking about how great and fun it was with Grandparents on a mission (it was shared using desktop sharing with those viewing PVC

We had some difficulties with PVC, mostly because of the variety of people on the system, the very tricky thing was getting the chapel sound into the PVC audio, with wireless mic's etc... but I had it all running through a mixer into the laptop, we ended up having a separate phone conference because of audio issues (I've since discovered that my laptop is the culprit on sound) But the event was tremendous we were able to see and hear those serving on a mission.

One issue I had was that I couldn't figure out how to have more than 3 conference sessions showing, and I couldn't set them statically, so sometimes we were watching ourselves and 2 of the couples, or all 3 of the couples, etc... it might just be my inexperience, but I wish there was a way to set the positions of those on the conference permanently.

ksolsen
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Postby ksolsen » Mon Feb 27, 2012 10:45 pm

@HardDrive: thank you very much for your response. These are some great examples which I will definitely include.

@JohnShaw: again, thank you for responding. I love the idea of the mission fireside with participants from the field! Very creative. It is true that making audio work in a large hall like a chapel is considerably more tricky. I've personally spent a lot of time on this setup with a project I was in charge of in 2009 related to using PVC for priesthood leadership conferences conducted by the Brethren. I'll get some info posted on the PVC wiki on this site to give you some additional ideas.

The issue with keeping the same number of participants on the screen is valid. The system automatically switches based on how much bandwidth and CPU processing power you have. So if you are going from 2 to 3 and back to 2 again, it may mean that the Internet bandwidth to your building is fluctuating (probably based on usage in the local neighborhood). Unfortunately, not much you can do about that. But there are a couple of things you can do:

- Make sure no one else in the building is using Internet bandwidth. If you have a bunch of people on iPads using bandwidth, that takes away from PVC performance. I would suggest disconnecting all other Internet connections - to the family history center, if you have one, and even to the wireless access point(s) in your building.
- As implied in the previous point, always use a wired connection for PVC, not wireless. If necessary, run a long cable from your network switch/router to the location of your PVC PC. Turn off your wireless radio on your PC to ensure that Windows 7 isn't still defaulting to a wireless connection (which it will do).
- Plug your laptop into power to ensure maximum CPU performance.
- You can set a maximum number of participants that you see. The layout button (leftmost on the top of the screen that show video participants) lets you specify a maximum number of people on screen. So, in your case, to prevent switching from 2 to 3 to 2, you could set it at 2 so that that's the most you see. However, the views will change - the system automatically switches to show whomever is currently speaking in one of the active windows. And there currently isn't a way to lock a given participant into a certain spot on the screen.

Thanks again.
Kurt Olsen - Product Manager at Church HQ for Digital Presentation (Personal Video Conferencing, Meetinghouse Webcast, Conference Rooms, Video Conference Endpoints, Meetinghouse Digital Content)

gyoungberg
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Postby gyoungberg » Tue Mar 06, 2012 3:33 pm

I guess I'll chime in on this. Here in the Weiser Idaho Stake we've been using Skype for most of a year now and are just starting to test the water with PVC. The uses of the two, however, should be substantially the same. Our stake is spread out over about a 3 hour drive from one end to the other, with the stake building about 15 minutes from one side of the stake. We initially began using video conferencing to save travel time for a Stake Presidency coucilor and two high councilors who lived at the far edge of the stake. After a few successful events, we opened up our scope a bit. Several callings have been issued via video conferencing. Our stake president has done interviews for eclesiastical endorsements with a few youth heading to BYU. We held a bishopric training meeting where four of the 10 bishoprics met in their own offices and joined the meeting in the stake high council room via the video conferencing system. I tried to join a high council meeting while waiting in an airport one night, but that didn't work too good (other issues.) We've also joined a few youth into a Stake Youth Committee meeting when they weren't able to find an adult who could drive them down. Overall, it's saved hundreds, if not thousands, of hours and dollars in fuel and wear & tear on vehicles. And we don't underestimate the value of the reduced risk of all those late night drives.

Then finally, just this Sunday, we held our first large two way meeting with Stake Priesthood Leadership Meeting. We had about 200 men in the Stake building chapel and about 30 men 2 1/2 hours away in their building's Relief Society room. It was a little tricky, so I'll tell a little bit about how we did it. Sound in the stake center chapel was a bit of a trick, but with 3 wireless microphones into a mixer into a crab box we were able to get good sound into the house system, then we used one of the hearing impaired receivers to pipe that house sound (line-in, not microphone) into the computer to send out to the remote building. We used a camcorder with DVDriver (google it) and a firewire connector to have better control over the video than through a standard webcam. We used a powered VGA splitter to put a monitor on the front chapel bench for those presenting to see, and a projector to a screen on the side of the chapel by the clerk's desk for the local congregation to see the remote group. At the remote location we just used a laptop connected to a large flat panel disply via HDMI and a ClearChat 50. I don't remember if they ultimately used the monitor speakers or the Chat50 speakers. We had some sound feedback issues, but I just kept my finger on the mute button to minimize problems when no one from the remote building was speaking. Overall it was a great success and I doubt it will be too long before the Stake President wants to try it with a full stake conference meeting. I was surprised how little it really cost to pull this off.

I'm excited to move away from Skype and move more fully into PVC. We tried it when it was first released to us and found it to have much better video, but much poorer audio. We figured that of the two, audio was more important. We just purchased our first Chat50 a few weeks ago and have been impressed with it's performance. A couple more of them might help us make the move more quickly.

Thanks for your hard work in making this possible and available!

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Postby ksolsen » Wed Mar 07, 2012 12:48 pm

@gyoungberg: Thank you! This is great information. Sounds like you've done some pretty advanced work with the chapel arrangement.

My experience between Skype and PVC matches yours: Skype generally has performed better on audio, and worse on video. I do expect PVC/Vidyo to improve on the audio side very soon. We should be upgrading to a new version of the client within the next 30 days, and the key new feature of that release is improved audio. I've spoken at length to Vidyo (including their CEO) many times about the need to improve their audio, and they have been very focused on improving it. So hopefully we'll continue to make progress in that area.

Glad you like the Chat 50's. They have worked very well for us - it's definitely my top recommendation for an audio device for PVC. Full disclosure: I used to work for ClearOne, and was actually in charge of the marketing launch of the Chat 50. So while I might tend to have some bias, here at Church HQ we really have tested as many products as we can, and the Chat 50 simply has performed the best in its category. I did recently purchase some Jabra Speak 410 USB speakerphones, and they look pretty good as well. I have heard they will suddenly start producing echo in the middle of a long call - haven't personally observed that, but plan to do more testing.
Kurt Olsen - Product Manager at Church HQ for Digital Presentation (Personal Video Conferencing, Meetinghouse Webcast, Conference Rooms, Video Conference Endpoints, Meetinghouse Digital Content)

gyoungberg
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Postby gyoungberg » Fri Mar 09, 2012 9:07 am

Wonderful news! I'm now anxiously looking forward to the next version of PVC/Vidyo. I was hoping there was something in the works. When we first started using Skype, we purchased a couple of VEC CM-1000 Omni-Directional stereo conference microphones and an Andrea USB adapter. These have provided excellent sound from the high council room.
During the meeting in the chapel, I learned a lesson that might be helpful also. When we first tested the setup, I took the sound from the remote location and ran it to a powered speaker behind the projection screen. It worked really well with very little to no feedback issues, but I was curious to see if I could mix it into the house sound. So I fed it into the mixer with the microphones so that it was mixed into the house sound. I felt pretty clever, but when things got noisier with a full house on both sides I started to have more echo problems and had to stay more alert on the mute button. I think I liked it better with the amplified speaker behind the projection screen. It made the sound feel more natural, like it was coming from those speaking at the remote location. It would be better mixed with the house sound if it were a bigger meeting.

To the original purpose of the thread, I just learned that our stake presidency used video conferencing for a Stake Auditor's review meeting last night and were happy with the results. Saved another 10 hours driving between the 2 that joined in with Skype.

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Postby ksolsen » Mon Mar 12, 2012 11:10 am

Thanks. I've actually had the exact same experience with PVC and audio in the chapel. Sending the far-side audio to powered speakers has given me better results than routing it to the PA system. It's really asking too much of the simple echo cancelers (Chat 50 hardware, or PVC or Skype software) to fully cancel echo in a large hall like that, particularly since the audio coming out of multiple ceiling speakers is arriving at the microphone at slightly different times. The more complex echo cancelers (such as a ClearOne Converge Pro) are built to handle that scenario nicely, but that's beyond the budget and know-how of the average person. So the single-source powered speaker scenario does tend to work much better.
Kurt Olsen - Product Manager at Church HQ for Digital Presentation (Personal Video Conferencing, Meetinghouse Webcast, Conference Rooms, Video Conference Endpoints, Meetinghouse Digital Content)

talbotje
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Postby talbotje » Tue May 08, 2012 10:37 am

As a new Stake Presidency, we in the Jackson Mississippi Stake have been using PVC for occasional Presidency Meetings and I was also able to join in on a Stake PEC meeting from a hotel room while I was out of town on a business trip. Currently, we're just using our own personal laptops equipped with built-in webcams.

We are exploring purchasing a video conference setup for our High Council Room as several of our High Councilors, Bishoprics and Branch Presidencies would benefit greatly from not having to drive up to 2 hours to the Stake Center for PEC and training meetings. We are exploring options for the proper equipment to carry this out. I note on the LDSTech blog pages that the Polycom VSX6000 system is recommended for High Council Room setups. I would appreciate hearing from others about using this system (or something similar) with PVC and what has worked well (or not). The main application we seek is to allow Bishoprics, Branch Presidencies and other Stake leaders such as HC'ers and Stake Aux. leaders to be able to participate in Stake meetings from their local meetinghouse where they have fast internet and a webcam-equiped PC. Our Stake has 13 units and, due to distance, each has their own building. Being able to hold such meetings virtually will save much time and cost and also increase participation. Any advice would be much appreciated, particularly with regards to the equipment needed, including the number of microphones to cover a long (30+ foot) HC room.

Thanks!
Cary Talbot
1st C. Jackson Mississippi Stake Presidency

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johnshaw
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Postby johnshaw » Tue May 08, 2012 10:53 am

Cary,

It might be worth our getting our heads together, I'm at that stage as well in our stake, Liberty, Missouri, we have 13 units with a bunch of 2 hour travel time HC's. Our thought is exactly like yours... a couple of Video Conferencing stations...... don't forget the Internet Connectivity... 1 Mb up is probably a minimum for video conferencing to work well.

I have put together some specs...we're going to purchase a 40-60 in TV in the STake Center, mount it on a cart, with a camera that either mounts above the TV or can be taken off and put on a tripod. We're going to purchase a computer to use as a video conferencing pc and double as our webcast pc. it'll lock up in a cabinet under the mounted tv. The other room will probably be similar but the TV will likely be smaller. We already have a polycom audio conference system and will probably get the Chat xx for the remote location


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