Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Working in Barrow

I'm back in Barrow again working on a variety of things mostly associated with the BARC. Spring has not come yet around here with plenty of snow and cold temperatures. When it's clear, it is very sunny and it really doesn't get dark until pretty late. This is the view from the corner office in the BARC. I was reprogramming one of the VoIP phones here so I thought that it would be a nice place to sit and work for a while. As you can see, it really looks like winter and a couple of days ago, the wind really made it feel that way too. It is really bright in this office and fairly difficult to read the laptop screen. I guess corner offices are not designed for people like me.

I'm up here working on the educational outreach portion of my grant, planning and installing components needed to make the conference room a great place to host small conferences, meetings, talks and presentations. Yesterday, we installed some Tandberg Audio Science ceiling mounted microphones which are these large plastic panels that hang from the suspended ceiling grid and provide broad audio coverage for a portion of the room. This eliminates the need to pass a hand held microphone around. Here like anywhere else, people don't really want to talk into a microphone. After hanging the first panel, I was anxious to see how much of the HVAC system noise it would pick up but I neglected to read completely through the microphone specs or else I would have noticed that they need phantom power. The new Mackie and Behringer mixers I ordered have this ability but the existing portable PA system doesn't.

Since you can't really run down to a local store to pick anything up, careful planning is absolutely essential. The whole video setup will include four remotely controllable (pan-tilt-zoom) cameras, one tripod mounted portable camera, laptop video and a Polycom video conference unit all feeding into a Tricaster Studio. Audio inputs are the three Tandberg microphones, two Shure wireless microphones (lav and handheld), podium microphone, telephone, Polycom video conference unit and laptop audio. Pretty confusing mess especially when you add in the serial cables for the camera control and the existing NTI video matrix switch that I'm using to distribute audio and video throughout the building. I'm also adding in a feed to a Mac Mini running Podcast Capture (which feeds to an Xserve and its associated Xgrid running Podcast Producer) and think I would like to add the ability to feed to a Flash server running in Fairbanks. A lot of science activity takes place up here and they have a number of local presentations but none have been recorded. This is my attempt to change that.


  1. Richard:

    this is so terribly complex. I am sure it will be a professional system able to capture video from different perspectives, but the editing of all this footage and sync it will take a lot of time, not to mention the editing learning curve.

    everyday I get more amazed with your abilities. All of this and also doing the maintenance on your Beemer

    Wet Coast Scootin

  2. The real challenge to this location is that most of the systems use will be "Live". Events need to be produced on the spot and streamed to a very technical audience with little opportunity for any post production. There isn't enough staff to do anything sort of post so I am trying to automate the podcast workflow and choose appropriate equipment to do live events. This is a challenge. I know how the stuff works but I need to try and make it straight forward to use for local staff, interns and graduate students. I'll see how successful I am this summer.

    Thank you for stopping by and reading my ramblings.