You’ve got to hand it to Matrox. The AV industry has been notorious for telling customers that they’re not leveraging technology properly and, instead, this is what you should do. Matrox, with the launch of its Monarch HDX, is doing the opposite.
The video distribution maker notices that organizations such as companies, churches and schools are streaming video content often to social media channels such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter and is offering a solution to do so more effectively.
Enter the Matrox HDX dual-channel H.264 encoder for broadcast streaming and recording which is designed for broadcasters and webcasters who need a flexible solution that is powerful enough to take on today’s demanding webcasting and recoding workflows.
CI got a chance to talk to Matrox director of sales, Americas, Francesco Scartozzi, about the HDX and how integrators can use it to solve organizations’ streaming challenges.
CI: The way people are using social media broadcasting seems to be evolving, how is the Matrox Monarch HDX helping this growing trend?
FS: Social media has evolved. We’re seeing organizations like churches, corporations and educational institutes using social media to communicate to their intended audiences.
Now, let’s dive into the broadcast side. Live video broadcast has always been a way to distribute live content [such as] sports, sermons to a very specific audience. Traditionally, these audiences had to tune in and go to a channel and find that live broadcast.
Now, with the ability to live stream a webcast or anything to the Internet, we’re at the point where we can combine these two concepts and make it a lot more convenient for audiences to find and experience the events they want.
If we can make it so these live events are already at the social media platform that the audiences are using on a daily basis — Facebook, YouTube, Twitter — that’s where social media broadcast is born, and becomes the most effective way to communicate to the audiences.
So here at Matrox, we believe that the content creators’ audiences use different platforms to get their information — whether it be personal or not — even if they belong to the same organization.
By embracing this diversity and understanding that social media preferences exist, we designed a unit, the Monarch HDX, that is able to cast one live event to different platforms simultaneously. Our customers are saying that, with the Monarch HDX being able to [do that], they’ve seen their viewership skyrocket.
CI: What makes the design of the Monarch HDX ideally suited to address the social media broadcasting space?
FS: I have to go back to the original conception and design goals of the HDX. We believe the unit has to be a small, portable, easy-to-use, affordable device, but in order for it to be used in a live webcasting social media platform, we really needed hit three main design goals: reliability, redundancy and flexibility.
What we mean by reliability is that, in live productions, video signals are not always as clean as they could be, meaning you don’t always know where that source is coming from. And the most harsh thing you could do to a signal pass is switch. So if a switch is the input to the encoder you can have a glitch and if you don’t deal with the glitch properly, you can actually choke the encoder.
So what we’ve done, being conscious of the fact that in live streaming, there are no retakes, we’ve built in frame synchronizers on all the inputs of the Monarch HDX so we can actually deal with the signal disruptions.
This is the kind of reliability that’s really expected for any piece of equipment in the broadcast chain.
The second was redundancy. How do we make the live webcast experience as safe as possible? To address that, we’ve put two encoders under the hood. Obviously, with these two encoders, we can stream the one event to two separate places, of course, but we can also set one to stream and one to record.
[Then there’s] our automatic bypass. What we’ve done there is put in measures so if you lose power to the device the signal doesn’t die there.
Lastly, flexibility. In a live event you never really know what equipment is there that you’re going to have to interface to so the ability to interface to SDI and HDMI sources make the HDX very flexible.
CI: Can you give us examples of customers using the product as you describe?
FS: Oklahoma State University came to us with a goal to widen their audience.
They had already been broadcasting using [their own website]. They were doing this with a home-grown solution consisting of a PC, capture card, and some software. That solution really didn’t allow them to stream to multiple platforms, and to make matters worse, the setup and maintenance were causing more headaches than they really wanted. So they needed something easy to use that allowed them reach as many people as possible.
The idea was to go to where the eyeballs were.
That’s when they found the HDX. They really loved it from the get-go. They’re really dependent on the event and they loved the flexibility of the event being able to interface with SDI and HDMI.
And with our Monarch Command Center web page they were able to set it up easily to stream to Facebook or their own website. Once configured they just go to the event, press the start button and they’re assured that they’re broadcasting where they want.
So OSU with the HDX really follow through with their commitment to being more accessible,and they accomplished this with the same number of employees and a lot easier setup.