ENSEMBLE VIDEO IN ACTION: 4 Digital Media Ecosystems

By on June 20, 2014


A growing demand for digital teaching tools at Rice University, coupled with the IT department’s unified approach to systems administration, calls for a practical approach to media management and publishing. In the past, Rice relied on an in-house system developed by the staff, intended primarily to share video recordings of university events, like the annual commencement ceremony. This homegrown setup worked well on that level, but was not designed to accommodate today’s progressive, media-rich teaching methods.

After the staff tested several leading video platforms, it was clear Ensemble had the right features to provide a unified front for a wide range of classroom technologies and media services. The system accommodates content from Rice’s high-end, full-production media control rooms, to rudimentary faculty recordings using tablets and webcams, as well as excerpts from feature films, documentaries, and television programs.

watchingiPad-editedFaculty can record lectures and presentations in TechSmith Relay, and publish to Ensemble for secure viewing on the Sakai LMS. iPad and iPhone users can record and upload straight from their devices. Videographers can stream live events and upload HD recordings, then deliver an adaptive stream to public and private web destinations. Crestron CaptureLiveHD systems integrate with Ensemble, and provide a simple, cost-effective way to record lectures, seminars, demos, and training sessions in HD 1080p.

With these improvements, Rice University has been able to decommission its legacy streaming server for in-house publication and distribution, and retire its separate encoding system — replacing both with Ensemble Video, and effectively streamlining the university’s entire video management workflow.


The Colorado Film School (CFS) needed an agile, robust digital media infrastructure to support a high volume of HD video files. Everyday course projects and faculty lectures require a simple, manageable framework that’s easily deployed to students and instructors. At the end of each semester, CFS needs a powerful, foolproof way to upload and transcode hundreds of student videos in less than 24 hours, for the its semi-annual Student Show.

To accommodate the volume, CFS chose a self-hosted Ensemble Video deployment option, including two physical transcoding servers with Harmonic ProMedia® Carbon transcoder installed, along with a virtual server for their Wowza Streaming Engine and web hosting. This setup provides the necessary muscle for the prestigious film school, while balancing budget concerns. CFS maximizes its return on investment by using Ensemble’s feature set to the fullest.

camera guyAfter the first year, approximately 8,000 minutes of video encoding jobs have been processed in Ensemble Video, and 293 students, faculty, and staff are using the platform to store, share, and publish 1.3 TB of media.

Student films are exported from editing programs like Final Cut Pro, Avid Media Composer, or Adobe Premiere as 30+ GB master Quicktime files. The Ensemble team has worked closely with CFS to build a robust infrastructure and custom workflows that can efficiently handle hundreds of concurrent HD uploads.

Instructors can create video dropboxes for students to submit assignments without logging into the Ensemble system, and then utilize the attachments feature to grade student projects anytime, anywhere.

Flexible sharing options provide simple, secure access to student work, outside the academic environment. Shared video playlists were used to submit entries to the Starz Denver Film Festival. The judging panel was impressed with the quality of the films, and offered students a two-night showcase during the festival.

CFS has dramatically streamlined workflows for its semi-annual Open Auditions event. Ensemble’s Drag & Drop Watch Folders and iFrame embed codes enable automated upload and dynamic publishing of video auditions for 150-250 actors, to individual profile pages. The profiles are part of a crew and talent database that integrates with social media components, messaging, forums, and film production tools like project planning and equipment rentals. Students use Ensemble to embed and link films onto their profile page to showcase their abilities.

The process used to take CFS staff four to six weeks to complete. But with Ensemble Video, they can now get in and out within three days.


The Wegmans School of Pharmacy was looking for a simple, secure way to distribute videos and feedback documents, to help students improve their communications skills as future pharmacists. As part of an advanced course before beginning their rotations in real patient care settings, students have the opportunity to integrate all aspects of pharmaceutical care in a simulated practice environment. The college employs actors to portray patients in a series of realistic, case-related counseling sessions, which are recorded for student reflection and faculty assessment.

happy pharmacistNine concurrent sessions take place in study rooms with mounted PTZ cameras, start/stop recorders, and Digital Rapids TouchStream LE appliances. A Crestron Isys Tilt Touchpanel (TPS-15B) and PRO2 Professional Dual Bus Control System controls the setup. Videos are automatically time/date stamped, recorded to unique shared watch folders in Ensemble, and transcoded by Harmonic ProMedia Carbon. The files appear in Ensemble media libraries, and the college streams them out to the appropriate students and faculty via Ensemble’s Blackboard Building Block. Staff members utilize the attachments feature in Ensemble to include self-reflection questionnaires for students, and a link to a grading rubric in Blackboard Learn.

In the past, individualized DVDs were created for students and faculty members. With only six study rooms at that time (as opposed to the nine they have now), staff members were producing 50-100 DVDs every week or two. For faculty members working in off-campus practice sites, the disks had to be sent by US Mail. Start to finish, the entire process took approximately two weeks, and was repeated roughly ten times throughout the course.

With Ensemble Video, faculty and students can now access the videos almost immediately. “It’s more secure, there’s better turn-around time, and the videos can be accessed anywhere,” said Media Application Specialist Matthew Miller. “It can be two in the morning, and they don’t have to worry about having access to a DVD player.”


Wisconsin’s network of 12 Cooperative Educational Service Agencies (CESAs) partner to provide equal access to cooperative services, for every K-12 school district in the state. Each CESA serves the special and unique needs of schools and children in its region. Based in Chippewa Falls, CESA10 serves 39 districts in West-Central Wisconsin.

CESA10 was already using Polycom RSS video conferencing equipment and TechSmith Relay to enable a knowledge-sharing culture. The agency added the Ensemble Video platform to ingest, manage, and stream media to over 30,000 students.

Student-iPad-OutsideContent is automatically ingested from video creation tools to a searchable database, and auto-published to CESA10’s Moodle LMS. This workflow enables teachers to focus on teaching and learning, without having to worry about compressing, editing, or publishing their media content.

Throughout a recent wave of teacher-created video, Ensemble Video brought simplicity to the process with integrated recording workflows from tools like TechSmith Relay and Coach’s Eye sports video analysis app for iPhone and iPad.
Every teacher can easily record and upload video from Android, iPhone, iPad, PC, or webcam, manage their content in Ensemble Video, and auto-publish to their Moodle LMS.

Students who have to juggle school and farm duties can accelerate learning by accessing content anytime, anywhere. Those who don’t have internet access at home can use Ensemble Video’s media download feature to save videos to their device or jump drive before leaving school.

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