The Matrox Monarch HD Solution
While looking for a more robust solution, the university tested a few software-based approaches but determined they were not practical and reliable enough. When Dénommée tried the Matrox Monarch HD appliance he was thrilled to do away with expensive, dedicated computers. “From the get-go, it was perfect!,” he says.
For streaming large amphitheatre events, three Sony EX3 XDCAM HD cameras are connected to a switcher. The output of the switcher is connected through an SDI-to-HDMI converter to the input of Monarch HD. Audio is sent from the switcher to Monarch HD’s analog audio input. Monarch HD then sends an RTMP stream to HEC’s own dedicated Adobe Flash Media Server, which streams the video live while recording a mastering quality version to an SD card or a USB drive.
Whether streaming or recording, one thing that has to be taken into consideration for the set up is that some presentations (.ppt files) are in low and some are in high resolution. Hence, a common ground between readability and video quality is required. With Monarch HD’s flexibility, HEC is able to adjust and set up a bitrate suitable for the event.
HEC decided to configure their Monarch HD to stream at 1Mbps for viewing within the campuses at 1280x720 HD resolution and to record at 4Mbps when needed for archiving and editing. When streaming to other locations where the bandwidth at the receiver’s end is unknown, resolution varies from 512x280 to 852x480, depending on the client’s requirement. Monarch HD streams using variable bit rate (VBR) making most efficient use of the available bandwidth.
HEC broadcasts a monthly event called Pôle Santé focussing on the management of health centers to Health and Social Services Centres (HSSC) across the province. For this, HEC has a basic setup of one Sony EX3 XDCAM HD camera and a laptop from the presenter. A mixer is used to manage audio and video and its output is fed to Monarch HD for live streaming and recording. Streaming is done at a safe 640x360 resolution 500Kb bandwidth since it is viewed in many remote locations that might not have high enough internet connections. The higher resolution recording is then uploaded for the participants to view on demand.
For web conferencing with schools overseas, in France and Lebanon for example, camera output is fed into the Polycom system, and the output of the Polycom is sent straight to Monarch HD for recording HD MP4 files. Since the quality of the video conference feeds is dubious due to unpredictable internet connections, the higher-quality recorded MP4 files are then edited and sent to the overseas students for future reference.