Using Opencast Matterhorn for streaming live lectures

Just a few days ago at LCF we had a huge breakthrough….using a capture device we managed to stream content live from a lecture theatre. The capture device is not designed for live streaming, and so is not a real replacement for a streaming server, but should we want to record an imbedded presentation with video and audio, then this can be considered a massive breakthrough.

It was one of those fantastic days where you know you are making a big leap forward; we tested equipment already existing in a classroom to do a live stream, by adding a small box: an epiphan matterhorn capture device ( The price of these has recently shot up from being £680, to now £ 2,285! Luckily we brought 2 of these before the price hike in order to proceed with our pilot of the open source lecture capture software Opencast Matterhorn.

Using the skills of Kirk Rutter to operate and configure the epiphan device & use generally use Opencast Matterhorn properly, Phil Petrides to adapt the IP PTZ camera and the existing Extron control system (clever lectern control system), and get audio & video into the epiphan capture device, and finally with Prakadessh Sivanandan (from central IT / networks – this guy is amazing & we are very lucky to have him), we successfully tested a live stream of a lecture which imbeds the audio and video with the screen shot of the lectern computer. This stream has been tested and viewed from inside the UAL and outside the UAL. I’m overjoyed at finding a solution that has really been an extensive research and collaboration with many other universities and bodies that help make use of open source software like Opencast Matterhorn.

This will be fully tested next week 25th- 29th June for an RNUAL event in the ground floor lecture theatre G05 at High Holborn ( This will be a test of how the stream copes, and hopefully it will assist us in recording a series of lectures, which would otherwise have to be edited with PowerPoint slides  later

Production timescales in making learning videos


(photo from mEGaPHiLL from Flickr)

Through doing my Teaching & Learning fellowship I am discovering that the pre-production & post production time needed is significant for someone who might be thinking of making a video learning resource, it is better to take a long time making a single well made video than several quick and unthought out videos. This comes from feedback from students who have watched various types of videos.

What type of learning video are your addressing? I see 3 categories typically appearing:      i) general overview / induction / introduction to an area     ii) specific knowledge transfer of a specific task or process      iii) capture of a lesson / lecture capture / event where teaching takes place which is filmed

The best and most effective learning video learning resources are the type ii) which I want to make the following comments about:

1] If you are not a video person you will need to get help in scripting, or storyboarding your video. My experience shows that a lack of forethought in pre-production is very noticeable after the project is finished, and then normally too late to do anything about. You must find time, hopefully through manager support, or through research funding. And ideally work with the video person(s) to help you script out your idea.

2] Focus on the main objectives and key points that students need to know. Think on how to best convey the information to students. Get the relevant shots which can be paused or highlighted afterwards in the editing process with he use of graphics or on screen text.  Scripting and storyboarding is really making a key list of all the useful information a student might need to know, how you’re going to portray that over in visuals and in audio, don’t assume the viewer will understand acronyms or be familiar with the topic covered. Production values are important here in terms of good lighting and excellent sound (although voice overs in post production work well).

3] In post production (editing phase) it is important to work to the timeframe you want the final video section to be. This is the most time consuming element of making a video so be prepared for a long slog. It is often under-estimeted how long a good video takes to edit so timetable this in to your planning. A 5 minute learning resource that took a few hours to film can easily take  5- 10 days to edit.