Cogent Captures Live Conference Sessions with AJA HELO Plus

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Cogent, a leading event production company, crafts exceptional, memorable experiences for its clients through thoughtful production design. Whether working on corporate shows or major association events held by organizations like the National Kidney Foundation, the American Farm Bureau Federation, or the National Association of Independent Schools, its experienced team combines creativity with the latest technology to deliver top-of-the-line audiovisual (AV) services. Cogent Sr. Video Engineer Mark Beazley and his team recently developed an innovative workflow that allows clients to record sessions and panels for live and future consumption. This dedicated workflow features AJA HELO Plus H.264 recording, encoding, and streaming devices at the heart of its design.

Whatever the project, Cogent goes the extra mile to support its clients, providing full-service production support and deploying a qualified team to every event to ensure the best possible service. Its custom workflows are designed to meet the unique needs of each client. Sometimes, the team might capture and record event sessions, while other times, they might facilitate live streams. Lately, Cogent has seen increased demand for support on hybrid events and clients looking to capture the content for hundreds of breakout sessions. This is where the HELO Plus has been a valuable workflow addition. Most recently, the team leveraged it to record more than a hundred sessions over the course of a five-day conference held by the National Kidney Foundation.

With tight turnaround requested by the client, Cogent knew it would need to work fast, agilely, and with manageable file sizes so that they could copy over the data quickly for editing. Though the team had used AJA Ki Pro HD recorders in the past to record sessions, they determined AJA HELO Plus was a more appropriate solution for this particular job, which marked Cogent’s first run with the devices.

“We love Ki Pro Recorders, and the HELO Plus interface is very similar to it, so it was an easy transition. HELO Plus records in H.264, which delivers beautiful quality video and great audio but requires much less time to copy over to our editing stations,” shared Beazley. “The National Kidney Foundation’s event was our first big trial run, so we were nervous, but after the first day went off without a hitch, we were confident in our approach. It is such an intuitive device that we were able to plug in, play around, and have it just work.”

The Cogent team ran computer presentation feeds through a HELO Plus in each room; an audio feed from its mixer also went into the HELO Plus units. Opting to send the HDMI or SDI signal out of HELO Plus to the projectors, Cogent could ensure the signals were live and available to viewers in the room. The devices also helped the team support overflow demand with less gear than previous setups. Cogent could manage one ten-megabits per second stream for recording and another five-megabits per second RTSP stream, which served overflow on-demand needs. All the computers and HELO Plus units were networked and run through Cogent’s speaker management system so that the team could log into one of the computers if they needed overflow on demand, bring up the stream on the local computer, and get it up on the projector.

“HELO Plus acted as an interface box that allowed us to get to the projector. With it, we could access and control all HELO Plus units from our command center, where we had a MacBook Pro and monitors using the web UI over our network,” added Beazley. “We copied all the recordings over the network, so we could edit and hand them over to the client in less than 48 hours. It was a really straightforward, smart workflow that made our work much easier.”

Cogent plans to continue exploring new technologies that will help its team deliver final products for clients in easy-to-manage file sizes that look and sound good. Beazley concluded, “HELO Plus has been a fantastic addition to our workflow. We love it because H.264 is the de facto standard and provides great video and audio quality, so it’s a win-win.”