From producing live school board meetings to covering community events, the video production crew for Prince William County Schools packs a lot of activity into a day. Considering the volume of events it produces each year, the team depends on reliable gear to deliver high-quality content that aligns with the Prince William County Schools’ strategic plan. Senior communications and video systems specialist Marcos Salinas, recently overhauled their control room with a renovation targeted at reducing staffing requirements for school board productions and its on-site technology footprint.
As part of the renovation, Salinas moved the office’s control room to a smaller space and purchased a range of new gear that supported more automation. This included an update to the team’s traveling fly pack, as its current fly pack router was maxing out. Finding a versatile and reliable solution in the AJA KUMO 1616 compact 16x16 3G-SDI router for signal management. “AJA is a brand I’ve trusted for years, and KUMO 1616 had great reviews and was affordable, so the purchase was a no-brainer," said Salinas. "It features BNC connectors configured so I can easily go in and change out cables when in a rush. The unit is also whisper quiet, and I love how the KUMO CP Control Panel makes setup and operation straightforward.”
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For live events coverage, the team modifies its flypack depending on the production needs or the venue’s physical layout. The core flypack typically includes cameras, four laptops (including one for slide presentations, one for video playback, and a redundant laptop for each), a production switcher, and KUMO 1616. On-site, in addition to feeding record decks and streaming encoders, the system also needs to support feeds to downstage monitors and projection screens, a monitor feed with a countdown clock for speakers, and more—all of which run through the KUMO. “KUMO has been a solid choice for this workflow,” added Salinas.
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For on-site needs, the school board meeting production system consists of five robotic cameras and multiple microphones. During an active production, all sources are mixed through a master switcher, fed through a closed caption encoder, and then output through scheduling and playout automation equipment to cable channels and a live stream on PWCStv.com. The setup includes several AJA Mini-Converters for SDI and DVI signal conversion needs and an AJA Ki Pro Ultra 12G to record meetings in the Avid DNxHD format. “It’s one of three recording decks we have in place for redundancy," Salinas shared. "Since the sustained data rate when transferring footage is much faster with the Ki Pro Ultra 12G than our other recorders and the signal quality unparalleled, we’ve found it to be our go-to. It makes it easy to get up and running quickly for editing in Adobe Premiere Pro.”
Looking ahead, Salinas is monitoring new technologies and workflow solutions to help his team work more efficiently while remote. “With the pandemic, we saw a need for staff to be able to work remotely, but for live productions, I didn't know how the industry would respond," he concluded. "Seeing companies develop solutions that allow teams to do graphics and other functions remotely for live events has been amazing. I’m continuing to watch developments in remote workflows and exploring emerging technologies like AR and VR. I can't wait to see what else is down the road.”