PTZOptics Refreshes Orleans Town Hall’s Livestreaming Setup With 7 NDI®|HX Cameras and More


ptzoptics orleans hall

By PTZOptics

Sarah Eaton has been with Orleans Town Hall for fifteen years. That is also how long the Town Hall’s AV equipment has been in use. And, by the time COVID-19 hit in 2020, the system was unstandardized, outdated, and patched up in ways that were not sustainable. During the pandemic, Sarah and her coworker Mia Baumgarten knew their equipment would not be able to handle the project they were about to undertake — taking their entire operation virtual — so they turned to Kevin Shanley of East West Associates and the trio worked together to create an even smoother operation than ever before. “Kevin came in and was swimming in old cables and aging equipment that didn’t work together. We were so happy to overhaul it,” said Baumgarten.

Eaton and Baumgarten made the decision to record all regulatory meetings, boards, and committees and live stream these meetings to the public online and via local television (Channel 18), as well as streamed and available on-demand through the Orleans Town Hall Website. This was important for civic engagement during the pandemic and remains important to accommodate residents who would otherwise be unable to attend due to a variety of accessibility issues.

“We wanted to make sure we worked with them to bring in a fully integrated solution to meet their needs and meet the needs of the town as they continue to grow,” said Shanley.

The team set out to outfit two meeting rooms—one large, one small. The rooms, both with U-shaped tables, are now outfitted with two 70-inch TV screens each, serving as an external monitor for virtual participants so they can come into the meeting, with audio coming through separately. “It really feels like your Zoom participant is in the room,” says Baumgarten.

Shanley and his team installed seven PTZOptics NDI®|HX cameras — three in the small conference room and four in the large—for a variety of wide and close-up shots. This is more than sufficient for sharing meetings of any size with the public. The wall-mounted system with multiple cameras allows all participants around the U-shaped table to be seen.

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All cameras are fed into a switcher running vMix, which has internal PTZ controls. Currently, the system is run by a single operator — Eaton or Baumgarten — who can control two meetings at once thanks to this setup. “Not only do they often have 2 meetings going on at once,” said Kevin, “but they also publicly have a phone number or tech support if someone can’t get on. They not only run two meetings, but they run full tech support for participants and community members to ensure they can tune in. That is something no one else has.”

Currently, they are taking the traditional route to control cameras through vMix in pop-up windows to control their presets. They are still waiting on two vMix machines to be delivered (integration from a company called Acme Video Solutions), essentially all-in-one machines that run vMix as the digital switching software and has AJA, SDI input cards, board panel controller, two lines program preview, and a T bar to transition between. This eliminates the need for a dedicated streaming PC.

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In the future, the team at Orleans Town Hall plans to take cameras and set them up via NDI® to loop in exterior buildings. For example, the EOC (Emergency Operations Center) room in the police station will be the first guinea pig building for remote control to send feed over the network to Town Hall, so it can be live streamed over the government access channel. Currently, the Orleans Town Hall video delivery system is still running Cat6 augmented to every camera and HD-SDI gives the best of both worlds. ”Redundancy is key in any situation. It’s important to have a backup,” said Baumgarten.

Citizens of Orleans, MA take pride in their involvement in local politics and participating in the meetings that take place at the town hall is a cornerstone of the community, and the Town Hall takes pride in their ability to keep citizens informed and involved in local politics. While many organizations struggled to keep up during the pandemic, the team at Orleans rose to the occasion and continues to provide high-quality meeting transmission to their 6,000 year-round residents. “Sarah and Mia do a really good job. We service other towns around the area and their high standard is admired by many. We’re happy to be a part of it with them. Using Orleans as an example is a testament to the quality of what they do,” said Shanley.

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