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Posted: Tue May 08, 2012 1:14 pm
We recently invested in a similar hardware setup for each of the buildings within our stake. It consists of a 32 inch TV on a cart; Logitech WebCam that sits on top of the TV, but can also be mounted on a tripod for webcast; a laptop; and Chat 150 speakerphone. One of the laptops has very basic specs (dual core, 2 GB RAM) but we find that even it does a sufficient job for our needs. Also, the Internet connection in each of our buildings currently only supports 800 Kbps upload, but an LDS speed test reports speeds closer to 400-600kbps, and we only have wireless access in our buildings. Despite the low upload rate, the lack of wired connections and our distance from SLC we find that does a surprisingly good job and enables remarkably high quality video and audio with no noticable lag or interruptions. We purchased one of the daisychained Chat 150 kits that are supposed to be used in large conference rooms, but found it was overkill for our high council room. A single Chat 150 does an ample job of voice pick-up for a reasonably large room. You may want to experiment with that, though.
The laptop is Kensington locked to the cart, and the cart lives in our library so leaders with access to the library can access it as needed. We've made a concerted effort to make access to PVC on the PCs as simple as possible, including putting instructions on the desktop wallpaper and installing a shared Dropbox account on each of the PCs so we can put a link on each machine for upcoming meetings as they are booked. We also have each PC tied in to a LogMeIn account so the STS can provide remote assistance if required.
As far as use cases go, we occasionally use the systems for leadership meetings, but they are also regularly used to connect the youth in one of our outlying branches to one of our ward seminary classes every day, as well as enabling us to provide the Addiction Recovery Programme in one instance across our stake. Our challenge is a combination of human resources as well as distance, so being able to run some programmes on a stake basis with one teacher has been extremely helpful. The systems are also used by teachers and leaders to show church media content in classes and meetings.
Hope this is of some help.
Posted: Wed May 09, 2012 6:12 am
Kurt, one other thought that I had about PVC usage scenarios is this. My brother's family has a missionary in the field right now. This past Christmas they used video conferencing, outside the church, to talk to their missionary. We had family from China on at the time as well as his girl friend in Penns. It worked well, but I thought about all the issues they had of setting things up and thought that PVC would make it much easier for them to get together.
My thinking is this. That the missionaries that are serving in the ward, be able to visit a member who can set up a PVC meeting on Mother's Day or Christmas. The person who has the room can then send the link to their room to the family of the missionary serving in that ward. Then if they have a webcam and other stuff, then they can video conference with their missionary. I know that skype is used, but I think this would make it a lot easier.
Just another suggestion and looking for any response on the presentation that is being planned, if there is one.
Posted: Thu May 10, 2012 2:18 pm
We are using it here in Washington State in similar ways. First is High Council Meetings, we have members of the high council who are 2 hours driving distance away, this allows them to participate without the travel. Also, the Stake President has started using this for PPI's with the Bishops. And one thing we are doing next week, is having a Senior Missionary couple serving in the field, give an address to the Saturday evening session of Stake Conference.
Posted: Thu May 10, 2012 3:23 pm
My stake plans to use PVC for an upcoming stake conference. We'll have Meetinghouse Webcast ready to go for backup. We were frustrated by the A/V sync problems with Meetinghouse Webcast, and feel that PVC will also be more forgiving of internet speed fluctuations. Our upload speed is ~550-750.
Posted: Fri May 11, 2012 11:28 am
Some great comments here - thanks to you all for your active participation the forum! It's really valuable to hear feedback and ideas from everyone.
@Cary - very glad to hear of your plans to use PVC to reduce travel for your stake leadership! It is possible to cross over between a traditional video conferencing system such as a Polycom codec and PVC. We have enabled those dialing scenarios with our VC infrastructure equipment here at HQ. Honestly, it is a little trickier when you are using Polycom systems off the Church network. The vast majority of our use cases with Polycom and Tandberg/Cisco codecs involve having them connected to the Church backbone network. Off the network, there are some challenges. So our first recommendation, by far, is to use PVC in meetinghouses (also, the VSX series of codecs has been discontinued, so you would want to look at the HDX series anyway). Lionel had some great ideas for a permanent PC setup. If you want to get a nicer camera (which could be highly preferable for a large HC room) with full pan-tilt-zoom capabilities, there are two options:
- Blackmagic Design Intensity Pro video capture card paired with a Sony EVI-HD3V 720p PTZ camera. With the new release of the PVC 2.2 client (I'm going to post shortly about the other features in this release), Vidyo is now supporting this capture card (because I strongly encouraged them to do it - kind of nice to be in a position to get feature requests from vendors!). This is a very nice solution - just been using it this week, and it looks great. Total cost will be around $3000 for the two pieces of equipment. Would require a desktop PC with a PCIe slot.
- Vaddio ClearVIEW HD-USB PTZ camera - I just saw this new camera at a trade show a few weeks ago, and actually sat down on their PC and logged into our pvc.lds.org site and made a call. This is the world's first true high-quality PTZ camera that connects via USB - awesome for both PVC and Meetinghouse Webcast. It starts shipping in June, and list price is $3995, so I don't know what the actual discounted selling price will be. It's not even USB 3.0 - just good ol' USB 2.0, so it would be a good solution for a laptop if that's your preference.
@harddrive: I like the missionary idea. I have a son in Ukraine right now myself, and of course the Mother's Day call this weekend. We're going to use Skype - it worked just fine for us last time in the 1:1 scenario. PVC definitely handles multi-party calls much better than Skype, so I see the motivation. The only hesitation I have is opening it up so such a large audience. Every new PC/Mac that downloads the PVC client, which is required whether you have your own account or if you're just joining someone else's meeting room as a guest, consumes one download license, which has a replacement value/cost to the Church of $3.50. If we roll out PVC as a tool for missionaries in an official/general way, then we'll plan for that expense (and cover it out of our department), but as an unplanned, unofficial use case, it becomes a little more of a wild card. It sort of starts to cross the line into personal use (although I'm certainly not hard-line about that) as opposed to Church business, which is where we try to focus the usage.
@marc: Great stuff! I love the missionary couple idea - what a great way to bring relevant testimony into a meeting. The ability to cut down travel is huge - I just recently trained a newly-called mission president who is heading to south Argentina. He anticipates that his new counselors will live 11 and 13 hours by car from where he is at, so using PVC as a mission presidency will be a huge benefit.
@rgme: We are working on solving the lip-sync issues with Meetinghouse Webcast. We have a fix identified and will be rolling it out soon. There is a certain range of Communicators that will need some driver updates; we are also looking into the occasional reports of lip-sync with the software. But in the meantime, definitely feel free to use PVC for your stake conference. The H.264 SVC technology that Vidyo uses definitely can provide a more reliable solution for fluctuating internet speeds.
Posted: Tue May 15, 2012 8:04 am
Many thanks for the response and info. I'm well versed in computer networking but video conferencing is new to me and I'm still learning the relevant technology pieces and lingo. PTZ cameras would, of course, be useful in a large room but the question I have is who controls the PTZ features - the sending end or the receiving end? In other words, if there is a Stake PEC meeting at the Stake Center where a PTZ camera is setup with several participants connected via PVC in their remote buildings, are the PTZ capabilities of the Stake Center camera controlled at the Stake Center end or by a remote participant? I'd have to think it would be at the Stake Center end - otherwise you could have conflicting commands being sent to the PTZ camera from the various participants. Is this right?
I'd also appreciate some help understanding the benefits of having a PTZ camera in this kind of setting. It seems like you'd be adjusting it frequently during the course of a PEC-type meeting, requiring someone to be dedicated to running the camera controls instead of participating in the meeting. I do see the benefit of having a PTZ camera that could be used for many different types of meetings, including in other locations in the Stake Center (assuming we had a portable cart-type setup as was mentioned by Lionel), so that's something to consider. Any other potential uses of a PTZ vs. non-PTZ camera would be appreciated.
One other question (for now - I'm sure I'll have more later!) - you gave me great advice about cameras but what about audio equipment? How many microphones are needed for good coverage in a ~30' HC room? Are there some recommended models and, for my curiosity sake, how do they connect to the computer and/or camera? Plain old audio jack?
Posted: Sat Jun 02, 2012 8:04 pm
rgme wrote:My stake plans to use PVC for an upcoming stake conference. We'll have Meetinghouse Webcast ready to go for backup. We were frustrated by the A/V sync problems with Meetinghouse Webcast, and feel that PVC will also be more forgiving of internet speed fluctuations. Our upload speed is ~550-750.
I just wanted to follow-up on this. Today we broadcast stake conference using PVC, and it was much better than Meetinghouse Webcast. The only drawback was that I couldn't figure out how to deinterlace the video when we're using VidyoDesktop. I figure if we used a capture card or more expensive USB device, we'd have driver options to do that.
I'll try to describe our setup in more detail sometime.
Posted: Sun Jun 10, 2012 2:52 pm
We recently invested in a similar hardware setup for each of the buildings within our stake. It consists of a 32 inch TV on a cart; Logitech WebCam that sits on top of the TV, but can also be mounted on a tripod for webcast; a laptop; and Chat 150 speakerphone. One of the laptops has very basic specs (dual core, 2 GB RAM) but we find that even it does a sufficient job for our needs.
Hope this is of some help.
Lionel, thanks for you descriptions...definitely helpful.
Could you point me in the direction of the cart you used? (Or at least your thoughts behind choosing a particular one?) Did you find the height of the cart to be an issue? (In some rooms, I can imagine a tall cart causing neck strain, but in other rooms, you need to see over heads of others.)
I think my stake is going to pursue the A/V Conferencing cart solution. We'll probably follow your post: laptop with Kensington lock, webcam, Chat 50/150, USB headset (for more private meeting), ~32" TV.
Can I ask you what each A/V station cost?
Kurt, if this is too off-topic, feel free to branch it.
Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 8:19 am
No worries. I'll chime in on some equipment we've used here. We've built several mobile video conference carts, and have used the Video Furniture International (VFI) PMS-FL cart. Additional shelves can be added as needed.
Posted: Sun Jun 17, 2012 4:00 pm
In our case, we just used the existing AV carts in the building, replacing the old CRT TV. The standard our FM group are sending out look something like this
. They're height adjustable, in a sense, so I've set them to be about a foot higher than a desk top.
As I mentioned earlier, we got some pretty inexpensive laptops, so the stations were very reasonable: laptop ($500), camera ($100), Chat 150 ($400) and cables. The FM group generously offered to reimburse our stake for the TVs, which we bought for $300.