I returned to the Banff Centre on November 27th 2002 for the final event of phase one. As was the case at the start, this event connected Banff with a class in Ottawa for a studio tour with demonstrations. The CLE was again deployed, this time with extended audio, VGA and NTSC video inputs via a mixer. Cabling allowed for a walk-about from room to room, with a floor crew including a switcher/director, two cameramen, and a floor director. On this occasion, students in Ottawa were located off-campus in an auditorium of the National Research Council. While the NRC is a primary node of CA*net3, Banff’s connectivity was again influenced by local network activity. However, the point-to-point connection exhibited dramatically improved audio and video quality.
Students were again given a demo/tour of Luscar, plus the Rice Studio television and video production facility. Rice includes a fully-equipped 2500-square-foot studio space with cyclorama and computerized lighting board. The production complement includes a Panther dolly, portable crane, and an extensive lighting package with both Tungsten and HMI lamps. Visually, the project now began to approach broadcast quality.
A number of significant production issues emerged from this early event, all of which relate to the merging of public performance space with cyberspace. By introducing production techniques derived from television and cinema, as well as developing original solutions, phase two of this project will address the following objectives:
Lighting. A challenge exists when illuminating an audience/participant group for a broadband performance. Large projections, monitors, performers and a participatory on-camera audience all require specific solutions be resolved within the same physical space, and cyberspace.
Audio. Increasing the capacity of audio transmission to a stereo (and possibly surround) format, to better suit musical events, and to create an ambient envelope that more readily expresses the feeling of a physical space that has been virtually “transposed” from one location to another.
Classrom/Performance Space Design. Human nature draws us to eye contact in any interactive relationship. It is therefore necessary to devise a solution that allows for large-scale presentations and human scale interaction to coexist within the same space and within the same virtual event.
Audience/Participant Engagement. When does a group of active participants become an audience? The issue of encouraging and maintaining involvement is affected by the size of an audience. Through an evaluation process, this project will seek to determine when that threshold has been breached, and will also experiment with various creative methods of “reaching through” a portal to engage participation at another location. Focus groups will vary in size and complexity in order to determine data with respect to a continuum of engagement.
Remote control Options. To what degree can a remote participant group/audience influence capture technology at another location? The issue of allowing for a degree of remote technological intervention not only allows for refinements, but also further encourages participation.
Experiential cyberspace, and indeed all computer-generated realities, can be defined simply as a light source with associated audio elements. Comparisons with other light-source media are therefore unavoidable. Interactive teleconferencing requires sophisticated production values to hold its own against the formalism and refinements of conventional television, cinema, gaming, etc.
Finally, there is the issue of public deployment, and the eventual opportunity to test a streaming method to make such an event readily available to a larger audience on the Web. In this instance, new issues such as content and participation controls, bandwidth management, and so forth, enter the equation.