Wacom’s MobileStudio Pro

Following up on Wacom’s Companion series, the MobileStudio Pro doubles down on power and capability. If you’re looking for the functionality of a tablet-aided desktop on the go, it’s an incredible tool. Even more so than the Companion, the MobileStudio Pro feels like a tablet built for professional designers, and less so one for the average tablet user. For our purposes in producing academic media, the MobileStudio would be great for a course on art or design, but its hard to envision another context where we would need the 8,192 levels of pressure it provides.

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Vaddio Visits the TEC

Earlier this month, Vaddio (now a division of Milestone AV Technologies as of April 2016) visited the TEC to provide an in-depth technical overview of their new RoboTRAK camera tracking system. The system, used in combination with many existing Vaddio cameras, functions by tracking a lanyard worn by the subject. When worn, the camera pans and tilts to follow the subject based on a wide range of technician configurable variables. Setup seemed straightforward, and the Vaddio team was able to have a functioning demo unit configured in under thirty minutes. The base tracking configuration seemed smooth and consistent. Beyond the standard system the RoboTRAK also allows classroom AV integration to further expand the in-room user-serviceable configuration. For example, with a bit of code added to your classroom AV system, the tracking could easily be disabled by default, requiring the guest to turn the tracking on for their sessions. Also, the technician could add “scenes” to the AV system to provide unique tracking capabilities, or to interface directly with the room. Needless to say, it’s very configurable.

Vaddio also showcased their ConferenceSHOT AV, a comprehensive camera, speaker, and microphone huddle-room AV package. The system has the ability to add two mic inputs, good video quality and a surprisingly high quality speaker that could be used in combination with a monitor or TV.

Finally, Vaddio provided a deep dive on the streaming capabilities of many of these devices and how they can be configured to meet a wide range of needs.

 

Epiphan Pearl 2 – 4k Live Streaming and Recording

We’ll be looking at a number of new capture and streaming appliances here in the coming months, as there has been a lot of interesting activity in this product space. To start with, we wanted to highlight a significant update to the Epiphan Pearl. We’ve raved about the Pearl in past posts, and it appears there is a lot to be excited about in its successor. In the move from the Pearl to the Pearl 2, Epiphan cranked up the power of its core processor so that in could introduce a number of new features all built around support for full 4k. With the Pearl 2, you have six HD video inputs that you can composite or crop into any number of configurable layouts, and you can output the results into 6 separate HD streams. That’s a powerful toolkit for anyone looking to do mobile video capture and streaming.

Highlights/ New Features & Upgrades:

  • Full 4k capability for capturing, encoding, output and streaming, supported by new, beefier Intel processor
  • Integrated scaling and cropping on the box
  • 6 video inputs–two 4k HDMI, two standard HD HDMI, two 12-G SDI (note–no VGA/ analogue video inputs)
  • Control via front touchscreen, mobile interface, web UI or full API for integration into control systems
  • Video outputs for larger monitors
  • 12-G SDI or HDMI
  • Now has XLR audio inputs (plus RCA)
  • New hardware RS-232 inputs for integration with classroom control systems
  • Rugged metal chassis and comes with heavy duty hardshell road case
  • USB 3.0 ports on the front and back for offloading content
  • Rackmount options available
  • One interesting note is that Epiphan says a future firmware update will introduce UVC and UAC support for the USB inputs on the device to allow additional video inputs from webcams and other USB video sources

Uses:

  • Live event production
  • Classroom recording
  • Get 1080p or 720p segments of your 4k stream to make it look like you have a multi-camera setup
  • Composite/ multi-view up to four 1080p sources
  • If your source if 4k but you need to scale down to 1080p or 720p, you could do that with the device’s native scaling capabilities

Epiphan Pearl-2 Technical Specifications

Epiphan blog post detailing the new features and possible workflows: https://www.epiphan.com/blog/how-to-live-stream-4k-video-production/

Video overview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPQ9ZGxT23E

Panopto Rated a Leader in Gartner Magic Quadrant

Congratulations are in order for Panopto, the classroom and mobile recording system that has been the flagship for DukeCapture since 2010. Gartner, one of the most respected American research firms that provides market analysis in the IT space, has just selected Panopto as a “Leader” in the Enterprise Video Content Management Space, the highest of four categories in its Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Video Content Management. Its interesting to see Panopto distinguish itself from Mediasite (Sonic Foundry) here, since Mediasite has long been regarded as the top player in the lecture capture space that gave rise initially to both of these tools. Enterprise video content management is a product category occupied historically by players such as Kaltura and Brightcove, and Warpwire is a newcomer into this space. Historically, content management systems have been thought of as different from lecture capture tools, but both Panopto and Mediasite have taken steps to blur those boundaries, as this Gartner report shows. It will be interesting to see how the two product spaces interact in the coming months, and how players such as Warpwire and Panopto fare. You can be sure we will be monitoring these trends closely and continuing to engage our campus video community to see how these evolving trends could create new opportunities for Duke.

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What’s New in Screenflow 6

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-3-05-57-pmWith the recent Camtasia update adding a bevy of new features (and doubling its price for Mac users), some screen capture enthusiasts may be looking for an alternative. Though we moved away from Screenflow in our productions (largely due to licensing issues), its latest update positions it as a strong competitor for Mac users who aren’t looking for Camtasia’s extra features.

The core functions remain the same: a single piece of software that simultaneously records screen, camera, and sound and an intuitive interface for editing it all afterwards. You can import other media, add a variety of animated annotations, and the chromakey effect works surprisingly well for a non-professionally focused application.

On top of this foundation are a few new subtle features. Rather than record the whole screen, you now have the option to select a single window or customize how much of the screen you’d like to record. There’s also three bouncy motion effects that can be applied to your clips or annotations (although most of them look a little cheesy). Another savvy editing option allows you to swap any clip in your timeline with any other clip in your media bin, preserving both the duration and the additional effects and transitions.

Telestream has also baked in a some relatively advanced audio options, including a 16-channel audio mixer, iOS audio monitoring, multi-channel editing. And finally, some new exporting options allow for creating animated GIFs or simply publishing straight to their on-demand cloud service.

These changes and updates to Screenflow 6 are mostly just expected advancements. In practice, they mostly feel like making up some ground on functionality that’s already been in Camtasia for a little while. And compared to Camtasia’s most recent upgrade, there’s nothing truly game-changing like Mac/PC compatibility or interactive quizzing. Yet, I expect most of those features are just icing on the cake for many users. As Camtasia continues to expand to an enterprise-level, semi-professional audience, Screenflow seem well suited to appeal to a more casual user-base.

Annotating Your Slides in Presentation Mode

When we first started creating content for online courses, annotated slides (like this one) were the most common type of video we produced. The free pen tool Omnidazzle wasn’t perfect, but it was flexible enough for what we needed to do.  That software, however, is no longer supported and we’ve been looking for something that matches its flexibility and ease of use. We’ve found three so far that come close: Powerpoint, Ink2Go, and Deskscribble. These software were all tested on Macbook Pro running Sierra using a Wacom Cintiq 13HD as the presentation/annotation screen.

For our purposes, Powerpoint is the easiest one to recommend. By far, it is the easiest to use. Simply place your slideshow in presentation mode, hit Command + P and you’re good to go. When you advance to the next slide, your annotations are cleared and you’ll need to reactivate the pen again to do any annotations. It is built-in to the newest version of Powerpoint so it is essentially free if you’re already using that software, though this of course means you can’t use the tool to annotate over Keynote or anything else. Another downside is changing the pen color requires clicking into a pop-up menu and manually selecting one of nine default colors. The pen thickness is also not customizable.

Ink2Go is a $20 software that adds some more functionality but is not quite as seamless. For one, when your slides are in presentation mode, the software’s shortcuts are overridden by Powerpoint/Keynote’s. One of the benefits of using the Cintiq is that we can stack shortcuts on a single hotkey, like “erase annotations” and “advance slide.” Due to the way these software interact, however, the only way to erase slides in presentation mode is by manually clicking the erase button on Ink2Go’s overlay menu. So if you want to annotate every single slide differently, you’ll need to get in the habit of first clicking erase and then advancing the slide. This essentially requires the Ink2Go menu to always be on the screen (which I find slightly less professional). However, if your slides are in the 4×3 aspect ratio (as we recommend if you feature webcam video) the menu can be placed overtop of the letterboxed black bars on either side of your slides. Additionally, Ink2Go offers a few more colors, 4 thickness settings, and pressure-sensitive drawing. Ink2Go does include a screen recording function but you’re better off using Camtasia for anything serious.

One small glitch with Ink2Go: the presentation needs to be mirrored on the computer and the Cintiq or else there’s an odd glitch when attempting to annotate with the pen. I’ve reached out to the developers about this issue and will update here if it is resolved.

Deskscribble is a $10 software that works similarly to Ink2Go and features many of the same drawbacks. Again, shortcuts are overridden by the presentation software so you’ll have to manually erase slides before advancing them by using an overlay menu (which tucks in to the upper lefthand corner, inside the black bar of a 4×3 slide). It doesn’t pack in as many features as Ink2Go (most of which I found irrelevant for this particular use case) but it is half the price which is nice. To use this software, you will need to be on OSX 10.11 or higher (Ink2Go works on OSX 10.7+).

With Omnidazzle gone, we still haven’t found a perfect replacement: an app that works with both Powerpoint and Keynote in presentation mode, with no required overlay menu, whose configuration allows for erasing the canvas at the same time as advancing a slide. If you know of anything that might fit that bill, please comment below!

The New Features of Camtasia 3

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TechSmith recently rolled out the newest iteration of their screen recording and editing software Camtasia. Not only is this our preferred tool for screen capture in the courses we produce for Online Duke, it is what we recommend to instructors who wish to make videos on their own but don’t want to get into the more complicated interface of Final Cut or Premiere.

The most notable change is the meshing of Camtasia Studio and Camtasia for Mac. Up to this point, TechSmith developed separate software for both Windows and Mac. They were similar, although the Windows version was much more robust with features (and more expensive). In this update, they’ve combined the two to simply Camtasia, which mostly means a value increase for Mac users.

In the previous versions, both software could share the raw media files but any editing of those files was not cross-compatible. In Camtasia 3, there is now the option to export to Windows/Mac, which zips the project, maintains your edits, and can be opened by any other current version of Camtasia.

Among features brought over from Camtasia Studio is quizzing and interactivity. Questions can be fill in the blank, multiple choice, short answer or true/false, and can offer scoring/feedback within the video, as well as score reporting through the Camtasia Quiz Service. For any of this to work, however, the video must be played through TechSmith’s proprietary Smart Player. Users can either host the video on TechSmith’s Screencast.com, or export the various html and javascript files to host on their own platform.

New to Camtasia 3 are Behaviors, which are essentially some Keynote-esque animations that can be added over text, callout graphics, or almost any other imported media. They offer a fair amount of customization and can be used to make some pretty sophisticated animations. Along with these, TechSmith offers a variety of backgrounds, icons, graphics, and music that anyone can access whether they’ve purchased Camtasia or not.

Missing in this version is the ScreenDraw feature that was previously available in Camtasia Studio 8. This allowed for live annotation over the screen using a built-in pen tool.  For anyone looking for such functionality, our current recommendation is Ink2Go for general annotation and Powerpoint’s built-in pen for any slideshows in presentation mode.

Aside from cosmetic changes to the interface and some more processing power, the last notable change is the price. Previously $299 on Windows and $99 on Mac, the software is now $199 for either (or $169 for a single educational license).

Crestron/Panopto Integration

During an AV upgrade of Rubenstein 153, one of the large classrooms at the Sanford School of Public Policy, we added a module (hat tip to the University of Washington) to our Crestron control system that gives us the ability to directly interact with Panopto.

The Crestron module communicates over the serial connection of the Panopto device to share the scheduling information associated with the current recording and the next recording, within 60 minutes. The interface also provides faculty, staff, and students with the ability to start a scheduled recording early, pause, resume, extend, and stop the recording. Finally, it gives faculty and staff a red blinking icon to provide a confirmation that the Panopto device is, in fact, recording.

50% off Single EDU Licenses for Camtasia and SnagIT until June 10

TechSmith recently announced that they are ending support for Knowmia, a video recording app for iOS which allows users to record videos that can then be uploaded to Knowmia.com, a searchable learning object repository. TechSmith, which expanded its array of products and services in recent years (https://www.techsmith.com/products.html) will also discontinue support for ScreenChomp, the Teach apps, and their Google Chrome browser extension. They indicated this move will help them increase their focus on flagship offerings Snagit and Camtasia. Their plans for lecture capture app Relay weren’t mentioned in the announcement, which can be found here.

In conjunction with this announcement, Relay is offering a 50% discount for single edu licenses purchased through their web store until June 10, 2016.

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Knowmia allows creators to describe and tag the videos by topic, define target teaching grades, and share them via public links and embed code or through social media. It seemed to have strong application in K-12 where teachers may not have access to enterprise level tools at their own schools.

 

 

Panopto 5.0 Upgrade

Mark your calendars for May 9 when we are rolling out some significant improvements for DukeCapture (Panopto). We are moving to version 5.0 of Panopto, which supports a number of highly anticipated new features, including a long-awaited overhaul of the Mac Recorder, a newly updated Windows recorder to match it, and enhancements to the Panopto Mobile app that allow, among other things, a Creator to be granted access to schedule particular room recording PCs.

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The new Mac Recorder

In addition to the features noted above,  5.0 includes:

  • Live webcasting for the Mac recorder
  • DVR-like rewind and pause functionality for live broadcasts while they are in progress
  • New visual representation for subfolders in the web interface for Admins and Creators
  • Record up to three video sources for the Mac and Windows recorders
  • Support for Keynote 6.5 and above

Full release notes can be found here:

https://helpdesk.panopto.com/entries/98175487-Panopto-5-0-Release-Notes-

Also note Panopto’s blog entry about 5.0, which provides a thorough description of some of the headline features:

http://panopto.com/blog/whats-new-in-panopto-5-0/