Once many of the product decisions had been made, such as six Hitachi Z-HD5000 studio production cameras outfitted with Hitachi CU-HD500 camera control units (CCUs) and RU-1000VR remote control panels, a Ross Vision-M 1.5-M/E multi-format switcher, Compix Synergy 2 dual-channel HD graphics system, Blackmagic Design Videohub router and a 360 Systems HD Maxx server, an installation strategy had to be formulated.
UNT is fortunate that much of the upgrade package, purchased first for one studio and then for the second, was able to installed by combinations of the department’s staff and individual vendors themselves.
However, Martin says that this is a two-sided sword: individual vendors naturally tend to be focused on their own products; that can lead to compatibility, integration and interoperability issues.
Product choices had to include making sure that any technology platform was compatible with the three main software editing systems the school uses — Apple’s Final Cut Pro, Avid’s Media Composer and Adobe’s Premiere — and getting those packages properly loaded and working on all tech platforms. Then, installation has to be timed for breaks between semesters, and that may not allow for completion, which may have to wait for the next break. The most recent upgrades took place between three semesters over 2011 and 2012.
Martin knows this is not ideal, but it’s what’s compelled by the academic environment.
He’s a “fan of third-party integration,” he says, in part because he used to work for one. “An independent A/V integrator isn’t aligned with any one particular vendor, and that’s best way to make sure that everything works together,” he says. Schools, however, may not have the budget for independent installation services and, Martin notes, school administrators often view integrators as sales people. “That’s not the case; I know, I worked on that side. But it’s all about perception.”
Nonetheless, the broadcast department systems upgrades at UNT went well, in part because they were able to take their time and coordinate various vendors to assure compatibility between platforms.
“There’s a lot that goes into planning for technology into the academic environment,” Martin says, ticking off items like cost, obsolescence and making it a good fit with overall student experience at the school and the department. “And when it works well, you get a great outcome.”