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May 2008

Multimedia Services helps staff collaborate across time and space

Conferencing technologies provide alternatives to travel

Imagine you have a meeting to attend in Washington, D.C., when a winter storms bears down on Denver. Your flight is cancelled. Fear not. Thanks to the brave new world of collaborative technologies, you’ve got several options. One is to hold a videoconference with your colleagues in the capital. This means you’d better change out of your pajamas, because you’re going to be seeing each other on your computer screens. Or you might choose to webconference, sharing data and looking at documents and presentations on your computers while communicating over the phone. Alternatively, if it’s not important that you actively participate in the meeting, you might be able to simply observe via webcast.

damaged building

Brian Morrato runs the show from the multimedia room above the Center Green auditorium.

UCAR/NCAR’s Multimedia Services are the go-to folks for more information about these technologies. The group provides audiovisual and collaborative technology support to staff for meetings, presentations, conferences, and special events. It also oversees designated multimedia rooms on all three campuses, consults with staff on multimedia needs and equipment, and does a limited amount of select video production.

Eron Brennan, who heads the group, stresses that collaborative technologies offer more than just convenience, for they reduce carbon emissions from travel. “We support ongoing committee meetings each month that save on travel, and we’ve arranged a number of international conferences,” he says.

In March, Media Services selected ReadyTalk as the organization’s new webconferencing service provider. “We’re also forming a committee to study the next generation of streaming media for adoption,” Eron says. Webconferencing lets two or more people share data via the Web while communicating on the phone.

The group currently uses RealPlayer to broadcast webcasts (live or recorded audio and video content) from conferences, seminars, staff parties, and other events. All of UCAR/NCAR’s webcasts are available online (see “On the Web”).

Videoconferencing, which lets 2–6 sites interface, includes video, audio, and data sharing. As many people can ­participate as can fit in each room. AccessGrid, which Eron describes as “videoconferencing on steroids,” is an option when 6–20 sites want to conference, but fewer institutions have the technology necessary for participating.

“There is also a growing demand for our services in the areas of distance learning and tutorials,” Eron says. This includes producing seminars that are webcast with presentations imbedded
in them.

One challenge for Multimedia Services is that the group only has enough resources to station one technician at each campus, along with a casual employee available on a limited basis. Will Burrows covers the Mesa Lab, while Jay Alipit covers Foothills Lab and Brian Morrato covers Center Green.

“What we really like to do is train others to use our technology,” Eron says. “We can be the ones to keep up with tools and technologies and pass this on to staff.”

He adds that one of the rewards of supporting multimedia at an organization such as UCAR/NCAR is that, in addition to helping researchers collaborate in creative ways, he and his team get to observe scientific research in action. “We get to witness a lot of the cutting-edge science because we’re in meetings, seminars, and conferences supporting these events.”

On the Web

Multimedia Services

Webcasts and Multimedia Offerings

In this issue...

A close look at one geoengineering scheme

Talks and treats for National Library Week

People, planet, and productivity: Sustainable UCAR

Multimedia Services helps staff collaborate across time and space

“The Stories Clouds Tell” gets a facelift

Delphi questions

Warren M. Washington Digital Collection

Just One Look

Untitled Document