University of Dallas Webcasts Sports with Matrox Monarch HD
H.264 Encoder Helps Athletics Department Live Stream and Record Sports for Families, Fans and Coaches
Leaving home to go to university and adapting to student life are huge adjustments. For student athletes in particular, looking up at the stands and not seeing a familiar face can be disheartening. At the University of Dallas in Irving, Texas, the Sports Information team recognized that families and fans wanted to show their support despite the distance and found a way for everyone to watch games live and on demand.
The University of Dallas athletics program boasts 14 teams affiliated with the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA). Recently, the university added a Matrox Monarch HD encoder to their video production set-up and partnered with College TV Ticket, a webcasting service for NCAA sports, to live stream games. Now, viewers in state, out of state and around the world are able to view the majority of home events for baseball, softball, basketball, lacrosse, soccer and volleyball live online by subscribing to the service.
Before adopting Monarch HD, events were recorded on videotape in camera and later digitized. The tapes had to be changed periodically during the event and there was a risk of accidently overwriting previous footage. Video quality was not optimal and the delay in creating digital files meant that footage could not be immediately shared.
As host to almost 100 sporting events throughout the year, the university felt it was imperative to update their setup and find a reliable device to initiate the stream to College TV Ticket and to record high-quality footage.
“With everything going digital, we needed a device that could record video in a format that didn’t require conversion,” said Nathan Yacovissi, Sports Information Manager at the University of Dallas.
Two Workflows with One Device
The athletics department decided on the Matrox Monarch HD H.264 encoder for its ability to stream and record simultaneously and for its affordable price point. With its ability to record digital files directly, Monarch HD alleviated the concern about overwriting content.
Monarch HD is now used to stream to College TV Ticket and at the same time to record video files locally on an SD card as back-up and for coaches to access for training purposes. Matrox Monarch HD gives the option of recording high quality H.264 video files in MP4 or MOV format, which offers maximum versatility for use in any content creation application such as those from Adobe, Apple and Avid, without transcoding. It also means that the recorded files can play back using free media players such as VideoLAN’s VLC Player and Apple QuickTime. The back-up recording could also be used in the case of a stream interruption due to network issues. In that case, the Sports Information team could simply upload the recorded video to College TV Ticket as the archive file.
“Monarch HD gives us two options by being able to access a stream point and record to a memory device, such as an SD card. Being able to utilize both gives us the advantage of streaming live games to our audience, while also having a back-up recorded if the internet network fails,” said Yacovissi.
Monarch HD is used at 5 different sports venues across campus, both indoors and outdoors. Games are filmed with a Canon Vixia HV40 Camera which outputs an HDMI signal to the Monarch HD unit. A laptop running the Monarch HD Command Center web-based interface controls the unit for starting and stopping streaming and recording. The Monarch HD and the laptop are connected to a router, which streams the encoded video over the internet to College TV Ticket’s media server using RTMP protocol. Meanwhile, the video is saved to an SD card as standard H.264 files that can be immediately shared and played by just about any application on any device.
Serving Up Content
For the University of Dallas athletics program, adding Monarch HD to their workflow has been a huge step towards upgrading their video production set-up. According to Yacovissi, Monarch HD has aided immensely with reliability and by simplifying setup and operations, which is especially important because college students are often the operators during the games.
Another upgrade was an improved network connection that removed a 600-700 kb/s stream bitrate limitation. The Sports Information team is now able to use Monarch HD to provide a higher quality HD video stream for indoor events at 2 mb /s.
“With the Monarch HD, we are able to give fans that live out of state or even out of the country a chance to watch their child play the sport he or she loves,” says Yacovissi. “Being able to record to the same device keeps it simple and also gives a backup solution for archive purposes.”
With one simple device, the team has managed to satisfy everyone: athletes, coaches, families and fans.
About Monarch HD
Matrox Monarch HD takes an HDMI input from a source such as a camera and generates an encoded stream compliant with IP protocols (RTSP or RTMP). While encoding the video at bitrates suitable for live streaming, it can simultaneously record a high-quality file (MP4 or MOV) to an SD card, a USB drive, or a network-mapped drive.