The Pursuit of Simplified Webcast Production

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By: Steve Vonder Haar

Meeting the demand for simplified webcast production has been the holy grail for streaming technology developers for years.

Leading vendors continually work to boil complex features out of their platform solutions. Indeed, several vendors of webcasting capture appliances seemingly achieved nirvana a couple years back by rolling out systems that allow presenters to record presentations at the push of a single button on the front of the device.

Today, however, simplicity is moving beyond the frontiers of straightforward push-button recording. Now, vendors are looking at ways to program their systems to automate the webcast production process even further.

Most of this automation relates to how streaming systems capture and package the video and data inputs they are collecting from presentation sources. With enough forethought, intelligent programming and system design, the process of creating good-looking webcasts can be made easier than ever before.

All it takes is a little effort to think about the ways in which a presentation hall is commonly used.

Consider this scenario for creating a webcast incorporating content drawn on an electronic whiteboard: In days past, presenters would have to stop a lecture to change the inputs being displayed on-screen when they switched their presentation from PowerPoint slides to an electronic whiteboard.

Today, it is possible to automate that process. A room designer today, for instance, can opt to put a pressure mat on the floor in front of the electronic whiteboard in a lecture hall. This pressure mat can be connected to the capture device. The capture device can then be pre-programmed to automatically switch to an on-screen webcasting template that displays the electronic whiteboard every time somebody steps up to the device to write notes or draw a picture on the device.

Similar triggers can be developed over time to automate other webcast presentation tasks. When a microphone picks up a voice from the back of class, for example, a camera can be programmed to pan the student section to capture video of a student asking a question. Likewise, a computer or tablet device used to access and present web-based information can be pre-programmed to share its screen with the webcast audience whenever its browser is opened during a presentation.

The long-term goal is to create a webcast that makes remote viewers feel like they have access to all the relevant presentation content available from the room without making presenters jump through hoop after hoop to make that happen. The idea is to make even advanced webcast production become invisible over time.

Steve Vonder Haar is a senior analyst with Wainhouse Research and can be reached at


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