Kent State Goes Virtual With Orad

By Andrew Lippe

Kent State University recently installed Orad’s SmartSet 3D virtual set system to help students at its TV2 student-operated broadcast facility get a taste of virtual graphics. “One thing that attracted us to the Orad system was that if we could use this virtual set then we would not be dealing with all these hard sets filling up our studio,” says David Smeltzer, assistant professor for Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. “We are looking to get students involved in the architectural design of the virtual sets.”

In fact, if all goes as planned in August Kent State will be get rid of all hard sets and go virtual.

The TV2 team features more than 100 students every semester who produce two news broadcasts each weekday, including a weekly sports show. The HD studio is also used as a classroom to teach students.

Orad’s SmartSet is a turnkey virtual set solution that accommodates up to four cameras for any type of broadcast. “We use three JVCcameras for the SmartSet,” says Smeltzer.

TV2 is using JVC GY-HD250U cameras and captures in 720p but broadcasts in SD via a Grass Valley Kayak switcher. SmartSet enables Kent State to implement virtual backgrounds for camera shots and uses traditional blue or green screen chroma key techniques that allow information to be easily placed with the video signal.

“We do live sports from our basketball arena,” says Smeltzer. “We have live fiber feeds coming back to our control room so we can do a live switch in our control room of anything that happens in that building. In the past we have done gymnastics, volleyball, wrestling and men’s and women’s basketball.”