MCEC Finds A Pearl
Text:/ Preshan John
Live streaming is hardly considered a specialty service anymore. Most performance venues are realising it’s virtually a requirement to stay with the times in an increasingly online, inter-connected world. TV channel counts are dwarfed by the gazillion options available live on the Internet, and stream-hosting websites like ustream.tv and livestream.com have never been busier.
The Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre cottoned on to this and made appropriate shifts in its own tactics, adding live streaming capability to its busy function centres and rooms.
MCEC’s system of choice was the Pearl by Epiphan. Having already deployed several Epiphan products, brand loyalty and familiarity played a part in the venue’s decision.
“We’ve used the Epiphan product range for quite a period of time now. We have a variety of their different products. The Pearl units are serving us really well,” says Paul Rumble, Senior Manager Technology Services, MCEC.
Pearl is a solution that allows you to integrate live streaming functionality without requiring a complete overhaul of your pre-installed AV systems. It’s designed for live video production, and provides switching and recording functionality in addition to streaming. Up to four HD video sources can be connected to the rack unit, all of which can be displayed in a variety of configurations. Audio feeds come into the Pearl system via HDMI, SDI, or analogue TRS inputs.
Live streaming has its benefits. For one, you can have an audience size that’s much bigger than the number of seats in the room — an invaluable proposition for a place like MCEC that hosts large events.
Paul Rumble: “We had a customer recently — it was their second event with us — and the first time they came in, their event had so much interest that they couldn’t take any more registrations.
This gave us a challenging opportunity to look at an alternative way of allowing them to still take further registrations. So we used our streaming service to stream the event out to delegates in other spaces within the centre who were still paying the full registration to attend. It was quite successful.”
Live streaming might be the best, most immediate way, to market an event but there’s still plenty of mileage in recording it for those not hovering by their device. As Paul Rumble found out with the aforementioned over-subscribed event:
“We used the Pearl to record the session, edit it, and get a package up online within 24 hours, which was again a really interesting way of repurposing the same product and delivering something that, with other solutions, can be more time-consuming.”
Indeed, working with the Pearl files has proven to be very straightforward. Paul Rumble explains:
“The format we’re capturing means we’re able just drop it straight into Final Cut or Premiere Pro and edit it in that natural form. So we’re not having to encode or decode — we’re just grabbing it off the network. We’re also able to monitor the recordings as they’re happening through that same system and control the recorder. So we can have a dozen rooms running concurrently and monitor them all from a central location. We’ve set them up so that as soon as the recording stops, it transfers the file into a folder, so the editor can grab it, do what they need to as far as topping and tailing or inserting lower thirds, and then be able to output them to a hard drive or upload them through a portal as required.
“The Pearl system is reliable and robust. Plus we’re also able to brand them internally. So the customer experience is really quite refined, and that’s coming from just a single unit which means we can keep our prices down. And at the end we’re not only providing them with a stream, we’re providing them with a recorded package as well.”