Central Washington University Increases Focus on Video and Live Production

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Central Washington University’s (CWU) commitment to hands-on learning and discovery with an emphasis on individual attention takes students beyond the limits of the classroom and books. Here, students experience their course of study in real-world, professional settings—making learning exciting and relevant.


Central to the university’s efforts is an ambitious video services department, which is responsible for a wide range of content encompassing promotional materials, documentaries, and related materials. Their production is first-rate, as is evidenced by two Northwest Regional Emmy Awards; and central to this stellar production is wireless microphone technology from Rio Rancho, NM-based Lectrosonics.

Chris Smart serves as Director of Video Services at Central Washington University, where he is tasked with documenting and promoting the university’s extraordinary people, programs, and accomplishments. As part of the university’s Public Affairs Department / Office of the President, Smart’s production group produces some very high profile content using a combination of legacy and current Lectrosonics products. The university’s wireless arsenal consists of a combination of UM195 beltpack transmitters, UCR195 compact and UCR195D diversity receivers, plus a SRb Dual Channel slot-mount ENG receiver. Newer Lectrosonics products, such as the SRb Dual Channel slot-mount ENG receiver, can operate in compatibility mode with earlier products like the UM195 transmitters—thus extending the functional ‘life’ of earlier products.

“Prior to joining Central Washington University in the 1990’s, I worked in the broadcast industry, where I first experienced Lectrosonics,” Smart said. “Operating on a limited budget, I wanted products that I could rely on for years, and our Lectrosonics equipment serves us really well in this regard. Paired with our Panasonic VariCam professional camcorder, the SRb ENG receiver and the UM195 transmitters have given us the longevity I consider so essential.”

Smart, along with Media Producer Rick Spencer and his student production team, is involved in a diverse assortment of projects. Their Lectrosonics equipment has played a huge role in a variety of documentary projects over the years. These include (1) a unique look at a family of chimpanzees who acquired American Sign Language (ASL) skills and used those signs in conversations with each other and their human companions; (2) CWU scientists and students working with archeologists and Native Americans—mapping ancient landslides and pre-contact Native American villages along the Snake River in Hells Canyon, Idaho; and (3) ground-breaking research essential to both the expansion of Interstate transportation and the preservation of critical wildlife habitat and biodiversity.

Smart offered the following thoughts on Lectrosonics equipment: “Our SRb receiver is a terrific fit for use with the VariCam. The SRb’s audio quality is exceptional, it’s easy to use, and its reliability and durability can’t be beat. The overall level of convenience it provides when used with the VariCam is exceptional. No matter what microphone I select for the wide variety of shooting applications and environments I may find myself in, I can always count on the audio quality and overall performance of our Lectrosonics gear. Finding open frequencies and locking them down is never an issue and the wireless range is great. Over a diverse range of terrain, including active volcanoes, city streets, and large stadiums where RF interference can be an issue, I’ve experienced excellent performance. Our Lectrosonics equipment has accompanied me in situations of extreme heat, cold, and humidity and it’s never let me down.”

As a result, Smart has had very little interaction with Lectrosonics’ customer and technical support services. “In all the years I’ve been working with Lectrosonics equipment, I’ve never had the need for technical support," said Smart. "The equipment has performed flawlessly and its build quality is excellent.”

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