Re: viewing room

sdavies@MtRoyal.AB.CA
Tue, 6 Jul 1999 12:47:45 -0700 (PDT)

Tami-Jo writes:

>I am working on installing a media viewing classroom in an existing
>classroom.

At Mount Royal College, Calgary, we've had more success at converting classrooms
into viewing rooms than we have had imposing new technology on older viewing
rooms. It is definitely better to start from scratch than to patch different
systems together.

I would be concerned that the lighting be split so that the lights in front of
the screen can be turned off, but there is still some perimeter lighting which
allows students to take notes. Everthing should be on a dimmer.

>Basically, my
>only concern so far is that the room is a little wide ...

Do you have fixed seating, or can you turn the class sideways?

>I am looking to
>install a ceiling mounted video projections system and a control booth at
>the front of the room for DVD and VHS.

We haven't branched into DVD, but we use a closed broadcasting system in some
rooms and a projection booth with VHS in others. In both cases the signal comes
out of a ceiling mounted video projection unit (VPU). Our unfortunate situation
is that portions of the projection and classroom lighting are controlled from
the back of the room while the volume and remote sensor on the VPU are at the
front. Your idea of gathering all the controls in one location is enviable.

Because of the potential for damage with VPU bulbs caused by the uninitiated
cutting power before the cooling fan has finished, I've had the college's VPUs
turned on permanently. There is NO BUTTON on the control panels to turn them on
or off. Now the only control needed is to take the bulb off standby or to
switch inputs, and this is done with a remote.

The ceiling mounted VPUs are wired for RGB input. There is an RGB cable at the
front of each of these rooms which allows users to connect their laptop and
project their PowerPoint class notes, etc. Increasingly we are asked to connect
the laptop for sound as well (one instructor plays the Jeopardy theme during his
pop quizzes). Ideally the VPU should be connected for remote mousing as well,
at least so that the user can advance their PowerPoint frames without standing
by their computer. I don't know if this is impossible, or if it was simply
overlooked when we did our most recent installations.

VPUs are often setup to allow for multimedia presentation. In short, there are
too many options for input. In a situation where the VPU is going to be ceiling
mounted, there will be a predetermined number of inputs. People won't be
standing on a table to reach up and connect this or that (will they?). Yet it
seems impossible to neutralize the unnecessary inputs. As a consequence, users
are sometimes lost when they can't see their video. They can be on Video 2
input instead of Video 1, or further off course and into the RGB inputs.

Here's some problems specific to Mount Royal:

Our closed broadcasting system contacts the VPU via wiring which has been taped
over the sensor in the front of the VPU. This radically cuts down the angle
from which a user can operate the VPU with a remote. In these cases, the user
needs to stand directly underneath the VPU for the remote commands to be read.

Mount Royal has entered into a partnership with 3M for VPUs, a move I don't
recommend. 3M is only the gobetween for production and consumers. 3M sells the
VPUs, but doesn't own the technology and can't release specs. about the
equipment. As a result, it's been difficult to integrate 3M VPUs with our
closed broadcasting system.

>Does anyone still show 16mm?

We couldn't repurchase all our 16mm collection on video. Altho the Library has
dispensed with a 16mm collection, it was taken on by the English dept. which
offers the film courses. The instructors continue to use the projection booths
which have left over 16mm projectors, sometimes alternating with a video
presentation.

What about slides? We had little success buying a laserdisc of history slides,
because it was often in demand by instructors at the same time and couldn't be
shared. The art slides come from a variety of sources, some made on campus, so
they also continue to be used in the old 35mm format.

We have had a difficulty where some VPUs were ceiling mounted without allowing
the traditional projectors clear access to the screen. By the same token you
don't want a VPU to hug the ceiling too closely or the projected image will take
on a keystone effect (wide at the bottom, narrow at the top).

Stephen Davies
Classroom Svcs Coordinator
Mount Royal College, Calgary
mailto:sdavies@mtroyal.ab.ca