Streaming training multimedia to worldwide workforce

Q: We’re arranging a number of training multimedia presentations to 62 of our plants worldwide. These will be screened on new 42″ plasma screens that we’re installing at Information Points where are workforce can view them at break times. We’d also like to film our CEO talking to the workforce about issues that affect our company. We would like to like to stream everything from a central server location. What do you recommend for this?

Director
Surrey

A: Obviously the multimedia presentations will have to be caption-and-picture based as audio will be unacceptably intrusive if the presentation is being looped all day. So you’ll need a fairly vivid animated caption style of production to be certain of retaining audience interest. And you’ll need a professional photoshoot to capture photographic images suitable for illustrating the meaning of the captions.

For example, if you have captions of a particular process, then you’ll need photos of that process to bring it to life in an effective way.

None of the above should present too much difficulty.

The main problem lies in streaming the presentation from a central control server. It works like this:

When played normally, multimedia presentations are sharp, colourful and smooth-flowing in quality. But when streamed, the level of quality requires wide bandwidth that you probably don’t have, especially in some of your overseas locations where the bandwidth infrastructure is slow.

The first solution would be to compress the multimedia presentation to a suitable bandwidth for streaming across your network. But this would entail a loss of quality. Photos would become less sharp, and smooth animation will become jerky, which would be a shame after taking so much trouble to develop high impact presentations.

The second solution would be to play the multimedia presentations direct-from-disk at each location, and forego streaming. The result will be top quality, generating the audience impact you will need for your important workforce messages to carry.

To back this up you’ll need a local manager at each plant to ensure the presentations are always playing as planned, and that no one has pinched the disk or the player PC!

For broadcasting your CEO, you should be able to stream successfully as a relatively slow moving talking head, such as your CEO, will need less bandwidth and will look fine. There’ll be some colour loss and the pictures won’t be pin sharp, but all the nuances of expression and speech will come through fine.

Looking at it on balance, a hybrid solution with local playing of your training multimedia presentations, coupled with centralised broadcasting of your CEO addresses seems to be the optimal solution.
© Studio Rossiter 2006

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