Group of students at University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland Image Credit: Imagery courtesy of Foto Nuccio, www.foto-nuccio.com

University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland Modernizes AV Workflows with AJA Gear

Image Credit: Imagery courtesy of Foto Nuccio, www.foto-nuccio.com

Technology plays a key role in the educational process at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW). Comprising nine schools, with each containing various institutes focused on a specific study, the university’s AV needs are diverse and complex. Head of Media and Broadcast Infrastructure Suresh Surenthiran is constantly on the lookout for ways to simplify and elevate the AV solutions that he and his budding team of media engineers use daily. That eye on innovation led him to AJA’s OG-DANTE-12GAM openGear audio embedder/disembedder.

“Dante has made a lot of progress and released multiple solutions that made it easy for us to work with the technology and route signals. We are extending AJA’s OG-DANTE-12GAM audio embedder/disembedder for every purpose possible because it enables us to extract all the audio to the in-house broadcast, the audio networks plus to mix in the video mixer or the audio system,” noted Surenthiran. “I love the benefits we receive with it without being tethered to a power supply. We just inject it into the frame in the server room and connect it to ethernet, and we can manage the frame from any location virtually, which is great.”

Dante origins 

The broadcast needs of the art and design university run the gamut, from student-created content akin to a television show or a TED-style talk with colored lights, DMX systems, and polished visuals, to graduation ceremonies or other presentations. FHNW event locations are connected by fiber networks, which allow for multi-source ingest to bring together data from desktops, laptops, camera signals, video mixers, etc. for editing. Each year the fashion institute within FHNW hosts fashion shows, one of which prompted Surenthiran to evaluate Dante 12G networks.

Due to space challenges, the event was hosted across three locations spanning nearly 500 meters. The three-part event was filmed using a mix of 22 broadcast and PTZ cameras, which were primarily mounted to minimize any audience disturbance. Each location had one dedicated camera person and the rest of the cameras were operated through remote control systems. Mixed feeds from each location were simultaneously broadcast in-venue via various displays, giving attendees insight into what was happening across the event, and to the central editing system for external distribution using AJA BRIDGE LIVE

Operators managed the audio across buildings remotely with OG-DANTE-12GAM audio embedder/disembedders, which allowed them to bring in the audio microphone, any video conference feeds, and a local microphone system into the Dante audio setup and into the main mixer. From there, they extracted the audio using OG-DANTE-12GAM, then sent it into a Powersoft Amplifier, which enabled them to manage and distribute the audio across the building. 

“This setup worked so well that now we’ve adopted it as our standard for auditorium event productions. We installed 11 fixed cameras that are remotely controlled, and now capture each of our weekly events with them,” noted Surenthiran. “We have an 8K video mixer, and 4K, full HD, and PTZ cameras; we route the video sources through MediaNet to AJA BRIDGE LIVE using its four SDI inputs. This allows us to do parallel streaming in different formats, either for multiple events or to stream multiple feeds of the same event; if we wanted to stream an event in German, English, French, and Italian, we can do this simply with BRIDGE LIVE. It’s fantastic and fast at transporting all the protocols like SRT, UDP, SLS, and RTP.” 


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Future innovations 

While many universities dictate media workflows like classic IT infrastructure, Surenthiran prefers a more native approach. His background in the broadcast industry informs his priorities, which include automating complicated workflow aspects to broaden access to high quality implementations. 

“At both the broadcast and university levels, we produce content the same way, even if the context is different. I really advocated to have our own fiber channel networks and having that connected network is a great advantage,” Surenthiran commented. “We’re facing a shortage of media engineering expertise in Switzerland, and colleagues in Germany, France, and Italy have expressed similar challenges. Solutions like OG-DANTE-12GAM help us solve for this challenge, as does cloud-based technology like BRIDGE LIVE. We can simplify the technology management process.”


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