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Roland AV mixer helps Dutch university move to flip teaching

A Roland VR-50HD multi-format AV mixer is helping Erasmus University in Rotterdam to deliver 'flip teaching' – a form of blended learning in which students learn by watching video lectures away from the classroom.

A Roland VR-50HD multi-format AV mixer is helping Erasmus University in Rotterdam to deliver ‘flip teaching’ – a form of blended learning in which students learn by watching video lectures away from the classroom. Time in the classroom is used for personal interaction between staff and students instead of for lecturing.

Acknowledging that the growing trend for flip teaching would affect how lectures would be delivered, the university took the decision to supply comprehensive video tutorial, web lecture and online learning facilities in house. To achieve this, a dedicated AV studio was built at Erasmus, forming part of the Media Support Center which is the central knowledge point for audiovisual services and communication technology.

The AV hub of the new video creation studio, the VR-50HD integrates an audio mixer, video switcher, multi-viewer touchscreen and USB video/audio streaming into a standalone device. It provides a multi-format solution for capture, recording and streaming content.

Several main features of the VR-50HD design made it stand out as the best solution for Erasmus University. First of all, the green-screen functionality was imperative, as most of the videos would be filmed with a presenter in front of the screen and backgrounds added in post production.

Second, university staff have to be brought up to speed very quickly with new technology, and the ‘all in one’ design of the VR-50HD avoided the potential complication of needing to add a number of peripheral devices. The interface and ‘touch of a button’ operation of the VR-50HD makes it easy to operate by all employees of the Media Support Center, regardless of individuals’ technical competence. The VR-50HD has faders for the audio mixer on the left and a simple touchscreen for selecting the video switcher on the right, making it easy to get working straight away without any specialist knowledge. An added benefit is that the VR-50HD is easily operated by a single person.

Finally, the multiformat design of the VR-50HD – supporting 3G/HD/SD SDI, HDMI, RGB/component, and composite video inputs up to 1080p (3G SDI) – meant that it could handle all the various inputs from the equipment used in different recording set-ups.

The VR-50HD is used primarily by the staff at Erasmus for video-capturing lectures and making promotional videos and software tutorials for different faculties; these are edited and added to the university’s media asset management system called Mediasite. This provides a library of assets which can then be used for streaming, downloading or for reference by staff and students.

The studio has a full lighting and sound system installed in addition to the VR-50HD. The presenter’s laptop is connected to the VR-50HD HDMI input; using the green-screen functionality of the VR-50HD, most videos are created with the presenter in front of the camera using a PowerPoint presentation from which they might run video or show slides. An HD camera is connected to the VR-50HD via HDMI to record each presentation live in high definition. The HDMI outputs of the VR-50HD are connected to a Blackmagic HyperDeck Pro recorder with two hard drives, and also to a second PC for backup. The chroma image key is used to add logos for branding each presentation: these are individual and preset, so they are easy to recall. Using the PinP feature of the VR-50HD, the presenter can be seen in the corner of the full screen if required. After the video is captured, it is edited to add credits, starting slides or additional branding.

‘The scheme is new and the studio has already proved very popular especially with several faculties such as the Erasmus School of Law and the Erasmus School of Economics,” commented Ramon Bovenlander from the Media Support Center at Erasmus University. “We know that video learning is going to be the next ‘big thing’ and we feel that we are totally prepared with our new facility. The VR-50HD gives us the HD/multi format capability for a professional production and delivers great results every time.”