The California State Parks PORTS® Distance Learning Program puts knowledgeable park rangers and knowledge-hungry students together in a virtual experiential environment thanks to the Roland VR-4HD
The students and their teachers may be in a classroom in Fresno or Bakersfield, but thanks to the unique Parks Online Resources for Students and Teachers team (PORTS), they can be transported throughout the California State Parks system during a live interactive free virtual field trip. And now PORTS is powered by Roland Professional A/V’s VR-4HD All-in-One HD AV Mixer, making it easier than ever for HD video and audio to be switched, mixed and sent during PORTS video-conferencing programs.
A California Parks interpretive ranger on the green-screen set guiding a virtual field trip
“We use chroma key video to make our interpretive rangers in our studios in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in Borrego Springs and the Seacliff State Park in Santa Cruz look as though they’re in any number of different environments throughout the park, such as of Año Nuevo, an island where elephant seals haul out to fight for the right to breed. Our rangers really are there in a sense, because the chroma key backgrounds are coming from live video streaming from those locations,” explains Brad Krey, the PORTS program manager.
“The students and teachers in each classroom are seeing all of this live, and they can ask questions in real time that can be answered on the spot by our rangers. If they see something on the screen that they want to see again, we can have the camera pan back live while the ranger answers the questions. We get to do this for thousands of students and teachers every year, most of whom would never get the chance to visit the California State Parks as a part of their K-12 education experience.”
The PORTS program uses any number of video conferencing platforms, and all of the PORTS audio, video from the remote chroma key background locations, live cameras in the studios, and variety of other sources, is now routed and mixed using the Roland VR-4HD HD AV Mixer. “For instance, if a teacher in a classroom asks us about a particular aspect of the show, we can pull in audio and video from our YouTube channel that can show and explain things more deeply,” Krey explains. “But what makes this so incredible is than anyone on our staff can manage the A/V. We can mix and match sources on the fly and not need to have a degree in A/V technology to do it correctly every time.”
Roland’s VR-4HD HD AV Mixer is the heart of the California Parks Online Resources for Students and Teachers team (PORTS) interactive virtual field trip production studio
The VR-4HD is a complete HD studio in a compact and portable package that replaces several different pieces of complex A/V equipment. Designed with single-person operation in mind, the VR-4HD enables easy switching and mixing of sound and video using advanced video and audio Digital Signal Processing (DSP) along with dedicated hardware controls, faders, buttons, and touchscreen interface. It beautifully integrates a digital audio mixer, video switcher, multi-viewer touch screen and USB video/audio streaming interface into a stand-alone device.
“When we began the program 15 years ago,” Krey recalls, “we were using a standard-definition system that at the time was super complicated and sometimes cumbersome, then we had mixers built into the conferencing unit with medium quality results. Today, with the Roland VR-4HD, it’s super simple, and the quality with a stand-alone mixer is incredible. It’s made a huge difference in what we can deliver to our students, and Roland has become a great partner in helping us bring this service to schools.”
For more information, visit https://proav.roland.com/global/products/vr-4hd/.
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About Roland Professional A/V
Roland’s professional A/V division is dedicated to providing solutions in support of audio and video professionals demanding excellence in both performance and functionality. Through the development and support of video and audio products, we endeavor to improve workflow and maximize creative possibilities in a variety of markets. Roland is headquartered in Los Angeles, California. For more information: http://proav.roland.com.