RedShark Review: Matrox’s Monarch LCS (Lecture Capture System) lets you easily define profiles for live streamed and recorded lectures by mixing camera and presentation material from SDI and HDMI sources. As such, Guest Author, Keenan Gorrie, reckons it’s a must-have.
The Monarch LCS is networkable and ready for action as soon as you take it out of the box and connect to your establishment’s network.
Configuring the device couldn’t be easier. As soon as you attach to your network, the device presents you with an IP address. Key this into your browser and the command centre (a simple three-page intuitive UI) pops up, is ready to be configured, and you’re ready to go.
There are straightforward drop down menus for ease of selection with enough choice to cover very low rate streaming all the way up to HD recording. And layout picture options that you simply click on, to choose how the video will be viewed.
Within the Save/Load page, there is a drop down menu for ‘Profiles’ allowing multiple lecturers/teachers to save their individual settings for their lectures and hardware negating the need to set up each time they want to stream or record a lecture.
The device comes with a choice of modes to suit most, if not all, student viewing requirements, the most powerful of these being the dual isolated mode. This allows the student to view using multi-stream players where they can effectively choose their own viewing mode; fantastic if, as a student, you need to concentrate on a particular element or section of the lecture.
It includes dual inputs/outputs H.264 encoding for video through HDMI and SDI for any establishments that may have broadcast standard equipment at their disposal. There is also a HDMI input for computers (for lecture content/presentations) as well as analog audio in and out.
This is a dual channel device, which can be run as single or dual channel, and can be configured to stream on both channels, record on both channels (or one of each at the same time) or solo. Great if you want to livestream at a lower bit rate but record at a higher bit rate so as to make the recording available later for VOD, or stream to two different streaming platforms that have different streaming rates.
There’s no need to worry about syncing issues either between video feed, computer feed and audio feed; the Monarch LCS takes the feeds and synchronizes them on each input prior to encoding, ensuring not only that you get great content every time but also no interrupted streaming or recording.
Outputs can be streamed or recorded, with the option of recording to two USB ports, an SD card slot or straight to a network mapped drive. Output files can be saved as MP4 or .MOV
If your particular establishment already has an A/V network setup in place, Matrox can provide the relevant tools to make integrating this device into your network straightforward. On top of the features already mentioned there are a whole host of others to make the teacher’s/lecturer’s life easier, such as the ‘organiser’ that can be set and configured to turn on the system at pre-determined times remotely. This gives teachers/lecturers the ability to control their preset parameters from a tablet and not have to be in the room to do so.
As an ex-lecturer that has been involved in ‘blended learning’ programmes allowing students to learn out of college hours, I would highly recommend this lecture capture system now. Pricing is $2499.
Early in December, Matrox announced an upgrade for the LCS. Press release over the page.
MONTREAL — December 7, 2016 — Matrox® Video, a leader in broadcast and streaming video technology, today announced a major firmware update for the H.264 based Matrox Monarch LCS™ lecture capture appliance.
Automate Operations with Scheduler
Through the new scheduler function, the Monarch LCS can now be set to start automatically before an event (e.g. lectures, corporate presentations, religious services) without any human intervention required. The Monarch LCS scheduler supports the iCalendar (.ics) standard, which can be generated by a variety of scheduling applications including Google Calendar™ and Microsoft Outlook®. Allowing identification of multiple devices on a single master calendar, when the schedule is imported to a Monarch LCS appliance, it will automatically start and stop streaming and recording events at times corresponding to that individual device.
Manage Network Consumption with Store and Forward
The Monarch LCS’s updated ability to record files locally to an SD card or attached USB drive, and then transfer the data to network-mapped drives at a later time, is an invaluable feature for IT administrators as it reduces the demand on the network during peak times. This also avoids data loss during peak-hour transfers due to errors or connectivity issues. Transfers can be triggered manually or preprogrammed to occur at a preset time each day. The Monarch LCS tracks successful file transfers and avoids retransferring unless it is specifically requested. Failed or incomplete transfers are also tracked and tagged for future retransfer.
“Matrox has a long reputation of providing robust updates to our product lines and this release is proof of that continued tradition,” says Dan Maloney, technical marketing manager, Matrox. “This update provides value, increases ease of use and reliability, and lowers overall demands on network infrastructures and IT administrators.”