Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) have employed Epiphan Pearl-2’s to power their live streams since becoming a service offering. This blog examines how MCEC uses Pearl-2 and why they continue investing in additional Pearl-2 hardware.
The journey to live streaming events.
It’s hard to believe now, but it wasn’t long ago that live events and live streaming were enemies. After all, live events were all about the in-person experience, so to dilute that experience or give delegates a reason to stay at home was seen as anathema.
Eventually, some exhibition centres dabbled in live streaming to provide a good experience during a big-name keynote for those in overflow spaces. But, again, this was a service to those with lanyards, not to the layabouts at home or stuck in the office.
Of course, Covid-19 changed everything, especially for meetings, conferences, and exhibitions. With in-person numbers severely capped, virtual and hybrid events instantly went from undesirable to the only way forward.
Streaming at MCEC
MCEC has been on their livestream journey. Streaming is now a thoroughly entrenched part of its offering. Everything from a super-simple remotely managed set-up to an all-singing/dancing, full broadcast production in the plenary theatre.
As a rule, MCEC clients will use its in-house software streaming platform, which handles moderated comments, voting, etc. The client will generally want a recording of the stream they can access in the cloud. They also want picture-in-picture (PiP) features to view the presenter’s PowerPoint presentation on the stream.
From the very early days of adoption, MCEC chose Epiphan Pearl hardware as the basis of its streaming offer. It continues to invest in the latest Pearl hardware to meet growing demand. Some spaces have Epiphan Pearl hardware installed, while others are mobile.
One of the original Epiphan Pearl streamers in the AV storeroom is ready for action.
Ben Helweg, Video Production Coordinator at MCEC, reflects on why the Pearl streaming appliances are such a good fit for his workplace:
“Time, perhaps, is the biggest factor. The technical staff are on the clock, and multiple sessions occur concurrently every day. We can’t afford to go into a space and spend time configuring a software solution or worrying about hardware conflicts, incompatibilities, or updates. Our Pearl fleet is always ready and waiting to go. Pearl has the inputs and control we need. Pearl plays nicely on our network; it’s just a matter of powering up and getting started.
“Pearl 2, in particular, has so many inputs — HDMI, SDI, USB, etc. I think that’s a real game-changer because to achieve something similar with software and a PC, you’d need multiple capture cards, while the Pearl 2 has it all out of the box.”
Epiphan is renowned for providing its customers with tasty firmware updates, upgrading the feature set of its hardware rather than just fixing bugs. When we chatted with Ben Helweg, he’d just started updating the MCEC fleet and was impressed with what he saw:
“The latest firmware allows us to add lower thirds to the stream, which is a big deal. Clients are increasingly requesting names and job titles, and this feature will be very welcome. It’s good to see Epiphan supporting its customer base so well. The firmware upgrades are often like getting a new supercharged product.”
In situ, Ben and the team will often use the Pearl’s onboard vision mixing features, sometimes teamed with a Stream Deck-style button box for control. But the team rarely needs to pull out the larger-format Panasonic vision mixer. A PTZ camera controller is being employed here as well. “The Pearls are so easy to use,” comments Ben Helweg. “I’m often emailing people who have never used the Pearl with a short cheat sheet, and they’re good to go — good luck doing that with anything else.”
Pearl Return on Investment
Reliability, ease of use and tangible ROI… little wonder that MCEC keeps investing in Pearl. Currently, its fleet exceeds 20 devices, and as hybrid events become the norm rather than the exception, Pearl has become a crucial part of the MCEC AV department’s armoury. “The Pearls save us time,” asserts Ben Helweg. “And time is money in this industry. Our AV equipment must earn their keep, and the Pearl-2s are keepers.”
*This blog is extracted from AV Technology.
Epiphan Video provides award-winning, purpose-built hardware solutions that help your business create impactful video content.
The Epiphan Pearl range of hardware encoders is the ultimate system for maximum versatility with multi-encoding, multi-streaming, recording, custom layouts, switching, and more. Ideal for use in live event production, enterprise communication or lecture capture in higher education.
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