Case Study: California State Parks Invests in Educational Videoconferencing

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Osprey Video USB 3.0 Video Bridge devices installed in California State Parks PORTS' newly upgraded green-screen studio.

Osprey Video has announced that the California State Parks PORTS project has installed two USB 3.0 Video Bridge devices in its newly upgraded green-screen studio to help create electronic field trips. Once configured, the devices enable automatic, plug-and-play ingest and transmission of HDMI and SDI video sources to USB 3.0-equipped computers with little intervention from technicians, which simplifies the workflow for both users and engineers. Furthermore, the USB 3.0 Video Bridge devices make it possible to reliably ingest video from both HDMI and SDI video sources in high-definition resolutions that typical USB 2.0 can't handle, especially when multiple cameras are involved.

"In the more than 15 years since the original studio was built, technology has advanced greatly, and so have students' and educators' expectations. They want the quality of the electronic field trips to match what they see on TV," said John C. Ittelson, professor emeritus at California State University Monterey Bay School of Computing and Design with a specialty in distance learning and video conferencing. He consulted on the original studio design and advised on the studio overhaul. "A refresh was in order that would not only make the studio perform at the highest professional level, but also make it easier to operate. The Osprey Video equipment played a critical role in achieving that goal."

PORTS — Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students — is a free distance-learning program that uses the power of interactive video conferencing to help K-12 educators teach to common-core state standards in the context of California State Parks. Electronic field trips provide guided virtual tours of some aspect of the parks in relation to a classroom curriculum. PORTS relies on a green-screen studio to create the electronic field trips, which California State Parks rangers host for schools across the state, the country, and the world.

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Osprey Video's USB 3.0 Video Bridge plug-and-play capture devices connect directly to USB 3.0 ports in the studio's video-conferencing computers. Video Bridge devices - one for HDMI and another for SDI - sit between the camera or the video switcher and the computers, accepting uncompressed video and embedded audio via either HDMI or SDI on one end and feeding them to a computer via USB 3.0 on the other. Video Bridge handles scaling, frame-rate conversion, and deinterlacing automatically, which makes it possible just to plug it in and let it run. In other words, a park ranger who is not technically sophisticated will be able to come into the facility, turn it on, and conduct an electronic field trip with broadcast-quality results and little to no technical assistance.

If technicians must reconfigure the device to accommodate different equipment or restricted bandwidth, they can do it easily through a simple user interface on an LCD screen rather than by swapping out gear. That simplicity eases the engineering workflow and makes the Osprey USB 3.0 Video Bridge a universal piece of capture hardware that matches whatever video-conferencing or bandwidth constraints might arise.

"Osprey Video has built an impressive system. Features such as the ease of configuration and the multiple resolutions that can be selected make this American-made product a very good buy," Ittelson said. "Those qualities, coupled with Osprey Video's great reputation in the television-production field, made the USB 3.0 Video Bridge an obvious choice. With that quality and reliability in place, the Osprey Video Bridge will serve the PORTS program well for years to come."

"Like many of our products, the USB 3.0 Video Bridge is designed to deliver a host of professional-grade features and broadcast-quality output while still being easy to use," said Scott Whitcomb, business development manager at Osprey Video. "The deployment in the PORTS green-screen studio is just the scenario we had in mind when we developed the USB 3.0 Video Bridge — an environment where everyday users with little technical savvy could operate a sophisticated piece of broadcast equipment."


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