Matrox‘s Monarch LCS two-input, which accepts video from any SDI or HDMI camera and presentation content over HDMI from computers, isn’t the only lecture capture appliance being unveiled at NAB 2016.
At $2,495, however, Matrox will argue it’s the best value.
Its inputs can be encoded independently and in sync for use with the latest multi-stream video players. Alternatively, the inputs can be combined prior to encoding in a variety of production layouts, including picture-in-picture and side-by-side, for use with standard video players, according to Matrox.
The company also notes its simplicity and positions it as a solution that can be eased into an IT directors’ workflow with ease.
Dan Maloney, Matrox’s technical marketing manager, discussed why he sees Monarch LCS as a unique lecture capture offering:
On why at $2,495 it’s positioning it as a cost-effective solution …
Monarch LCS combines three key components that ensure this product will be very well suited for schools’ environments today and in the future.
The first feature is video mixing technology that can take HD computer signals and HD camera signals and mix them in a variety of layouts including side-by-side and picture-in-picture. Many lecture capture system offer this capability but Monarch LCS does it at full resolution.
The second feature is the dual high-quality encoders. With these two encoders, Monarch LCS can process computer and camera signals independently. Upcoming video player technology will have the ability to play two files simultaneously. These players will include built-in control allowing the viewer to select the “layout” they wish dynamically. The ability to record files suitable for these new players requires two independent encoders.
The third feature is our frame sync technology. Computer signals and video coming from a camera rarely have the same frame rate. Recording this content at each device’s native frame rate including any external audio sources could cause real issues when trying to play those files back in sync. The frame synchronizers in Monarch LCS lock the computer and external audio signals to the video signal before sending it to the encoders. This ensures all content will be played at exactly the same rate with no drift.
On specifically why it ought to appeal to IT administrators …
Monarch LCS uses standard IT and web technology, both at the control level as well as the content level. A simple web page can be used to configure and control the device or our high-level HTTP API has straight forward calls which any VMS software can use to send control commands to a Monarch LCS.
We also offer a Crestron control module if the school lets the professor initiate the lecture capture. On the content side we record standard MOV or MP4 files or stream using either the RTMP or RTSP protocols. In addition, Matrox is a “Works With Wowza” partner which would be a benefit to schools using Wowza as a media server.
On how it’s appropriate for customers that lack video expertise …
We took this concern [many higher-ed customers not staffed with video experts to optimize and manage video] into account and designed Monarch LCS with a focus on simplicity. It’s a standard network appliance that is ready to use as soon as you receive it.
Once plugged into a network, any web browser can be used for its initial configuration. To find the IP address of the unit, which is necessary to access the web page, you simply run the Monarch Utils application from any computer on the same network to find all the Monarchs present.
In the Monarch LCS Command Center web UI, we have included convenient presets for layout selection and encoding settings. Monarch LCS auto detects the input resolution as well, so the technician simply needs to connect the feeds, select his layout, define his recording resolution and indicate where the file is to be recorded or streamed. Initial configuration can be done within a couple of minutes. Once configured, users can save up to eight profiles that can be recalled at any time. And, at 8” x 5” x 2”, this is a tiny, quiet device that can be installed just as easily under a lectern as in a rack in an equipment room.
More on the Monarch LCS from Matrox’s press release:
“Online video has become a must for student engagement and schools around the world, big and small, are looking to deliver their content simply and effectively,” said Dan Maloney, technical marketing manager, Matrox Video. “With Monarch LCS, every classroom and presentation venue can now be affordably equipped for streaming and recording high-quality video and high-resolution, computer-generated content.”
Monarch LCS is a reliable, standalone network appliance that IT administrators will find simple to set up and integrate into video management systems (VMS) such as Opencast and Kaltura and learning management systems (LMS) such as Moodle. Its intuitive web interface lets users easily define profiles for live streamed and recorded lectures mixing camera and presentation material from SDI and HDMI sources. Powerful scaling, deinterlacing and noise reduction engines ensure only pristine images are sent to the encoders. For streaming purposes, the encoders use either RTMP or RTSP protocol to deliver live streams to local media servers or cloud-based CDNs. In recording applications, the encoders write MP4 or MOV files directly to network-mapped drives, eliminating the need for post-lecture file transfer, or alternatively to local USB drives or SD cards.
Monarch LCS comes complete with a comprehensive set of HTTP-based control APIs that let network- or cloud-based video management platform developers and A/V integrators harness the streaming and recording capabilities of Monarch LCS appliances from within their own environments to create customized user experiences. A control module for Crestron room media controllers is also available.
Price and availability
Matrox Monarch LCS will be available in Q2 2016 through a worldwide network of authorized dealers priced at $2,495 US not including local taxes and delivery.