What's the legal system about if not control? The University of Kentucky College of Law in Lexington, KY has the largest law library in the state and, with its new AV-driven paradigm for accessing and distributing the vast store of information within, the designers of its multifaceted system will tell you it's all about control.
The original objectives outlined to system designer/integrator PSG Systems were interesting enough: Create a "Virtual Reference Service" (VRS) to allow communications with UK-Law librarians from remote sites for dissemination of archived video, print and data, plus upgrade and create distance-learning (DL) classrooms in the process. As PSG owner/control systems programmer, Al Kirby, explained it, however, things grew from there. "There were actually four main parts of this project," he said. "First was the VRS. Second was archiving-actually sending proceedings back from Kentucky's courthouses back to UK-Law as MPEG-4 video files so they can be referenced. Third was how they manifest themselves in the classrooms, with two classrooms that could participate via videoconference via MPEG-4 streaming or via the 'Matrix' room, allowing them to either pull archival information, do standard DL stuff, or add to the archive as well."
PSG's design for the classrooms themselves, with seating capacity for approximately 75 people in one and 120 in the other, takes the existing body of knowledge about what makes an effective DL room and advances it to the next level. Taking into account modern students' demands for a highest-tech environment, PSG provided each classroom with dual 63-inch plasma displays, and maximized their videoconferencing quality with an Analog Way CentriX 8x2 switcher/scaler and XTD-625 scan converter. "We were concerned about the video image quality of MPEG-4 when blowing it up to 63-inch size," Ross said. "The CentriX has two discreet scalers that helped to insure that this MPEG-4 video would be reasonable quality."
Ensuring that videoconferencing sessions would go smoothly was a priority, with issues of control-this time of the Sony Cat-5-connected Vaddio wall view cameras and Shure MX391 omni mics-once again coming to the forefront. "If the students want to actively participate in the conference, they press a 'Request to Talk' button that alerts the instructor," Kirby explained. "The professor can select 'Seat 4C,' for example, which cues a camera preset optimized to give a close-up shot of two students."
Part Help Desk/Part Archiving Station
A control center bristling with connectivity and flexible options, the Matrix room depends on AMX Netlinx touchscreen control and the VBrick VBXcast and MPEG4 Duplex streaming appliances to guide the sophisticated network now in use at UK-Law. "The Matrix room is where everything comes in and is routed back," noted Steve Ross, GM/designer engineer for PSG Systems. "It's part help desk and part archiving station, with the responsibility of capturing professor instruction in the classrooms and putting it on a RAID server for students to call up and watch when they wish. The classrooms can be controlled remotely there with the classes delivered via MPEG-4, so unlike other rooms on this campus, they're not just standalone DL technology. They tie back to the Matrix for archiving and virtual reference."