Are You With IT? Insights from Leading IT Managers - AvNetwork.com

Are You With IT? Insights from Leading IT Managers

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Q&A with Tim Davis, Director of Digital Operations, Jacobs Media, Bingham Farms, MI

AV Technology Editor: What is your knowledge of AV technology and operations?

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Tim Davis, Director of Digital Operations, Jacobs Media

Tim Davis: In terms of video, we do a lot with AV for presentations and research (both gathering data and in presenting it). We use prosumer level HD cameras and microphones for ethnographic research. We’ve done a number of large projects where we essentially “live with” study participants for hours on end. As such, we lean towards smaller, less intrusive cameras.

We utilize Adobe Premiere Pro for in-house video production (occasionally Final Cut), and typically present via PowerPoint with embedded HD video.

In terms of streaming media, we utilize various services for our own materials, notably Vimeo, for streaming video/audio. At our scale, the cost and quality is quite satisfactory.

In terms of audio, we work with many broadcasters who provide audio streams, and with some pure-plays that are streaming only. We consult with them on stream quality, embedded features (such as artist/title, rating songs and audio and visual advertising). We are acquainted with a significant number of CDNs we’ve worked with and evaluated in order to make suggestions for our clients relative to their situations.

AVT: Do you manage AV systems in your facility/facilities?

TD: Our in-house AV is fairly simple — a projector, large TV screens and laptops. The majority of Jacobs Media’s presentations are on the road, so we are reliant on client and facility AV equipment. As such, we carry quite a few adapters, cords, cables, etc. in order to be able to match up to a host’s setup.

AVT: Are you planning on buying new AV equipment?

TD: At present, we aren’t looking at equipment beyond upgrading laptops and computers. We do stay current on the software side, however, by keeping up to date with the latest versions of non-linear editing packages.

AVT: How familiar are you with AV/IT convergence; i.e., are you familiar with AV over IP systems? Does this interest you?

TD: Although we do quite a bit of our presentations on the road, we do a fair amount of remote desktop presenting. We engage with Citrix and utilize GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar and GoToTraining for online presentations and workshops.

The cost and time savings for travel is considerable, and the ability to bring different groups together at the same time for larger industry-focused presentations is a big plus. We’ve tried various platforms, and continuously evaluate the various services.

The growth of these platforms in terms of servicing more than just slides and documents is encouraging. The growth in their ability to support AV material has blossomed over the last year, and with the increased quality of presentation of video, specifically, it’s opening new doors and creating some cost savings. It’s not perfect yet, but it’s improving almost monthly.

AVT: What technology trends are you most interested in this year?

TD: AV over IP is a fascinating area. For small businesses without full-scale CDN platforms or dedicated bandwidth for sharing content online — especially HD material — this has been a problem area.

I’m hopeful that it will continue to grow and improve to the point that it can essentially replicate “being there in person” soon. What Citrix, WebEx and some others are doing is impressive for smaller organizations.

File sharing with services like DropBox has also created new opportunities. It’s a very flexible platform and in some ways always us to use them as a CDN for certain projects. Collaboration with streaming media is a powerful tool. And while some of the things we use these services for may not be what they had in mind initially, being creative with them is the key to discovering new ways of delivering AV over IP.

The other areas of great interest for us, since one of our larger areas of focus is on radio broadcasters, is the digital dash in cars and mobile apps. Ensuring that radio stations maintain their place in the center stack of cars is critical, and Jacobs Media has been leading the charge into this area with our DASH Conference which brings leaders in automotive together with broadcasters.

Additionally, Jacobs Media created jacAPPS, our app development arm that has created over 850 apps for a variety of clients, but has done a tremendous job with radio apps. Mobile devices are a tremendous growth area for interaction between customers and clients. It’s also a key area for online presentations that we take into consideration. With participants now attending on smartphones and tablets, being aware of the limitations with these devices is the key having presentations work seamlessly for all attendees.

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