The Point Blank Music School is no stranger to remote learning - with schools in London, LA, China, Ibiza and Mumbai, the opportunity to collaborate globally online with some of the best creative minds in the music industry has always been part of their appeal. When the COVID pandemic forced a move to virtual delivery of all teaching, the staff at Point Blank in London didn’t miss a beat in putting together a high quality streaming setup, based around the Roland VR-50HD.
The Roland VR-50HD Multi-Format AV Mixer has always been at the heart of creating compelling video content for tutorials, live streaming, advertising at the school. For courses such as Music Production, DJing, Radio Broadcasting and Live Sound Engineering, video tutorials are key to the course structure and offer the best medium for students to watch, hear and learn their skills through an audio-visual demonstration. Furthermore, the videos created by Point Blank also play a huge part in advertising the course content.
When COVID restrictions were put in place in 2020, the London school found – as did many others - that it wasn’t just the learning that had to be remote – it was everything. For example, before COVID, the Open Day for the London school would host 100 or more prospective students but, with restrictions in place, the school could welcome only a fraction of the number who would want to attend, so Virtual Open Days are now offered to an unlimited audience.
Stanley Li, who as well as being the Marketing and Content Manager at Point Blank Music School is also globally renowned DJ and YouTube sensation DJ Ravine, explains:
The school never used to film the open days because it was never a priority, people wanted to come and see, experience the school in person, Li explains.Now the open days can only have maybe a third of the people, so they are live, filmed and online – just like a hybrid event.
In terms of delivering the current courses, Point Blank now offers a blended approach, with students attending both on-campus and virtual online classes in alternate weeks to allow for social distancing to be in place. In this blended learning setup, the Roland VR-50HD can be moved between classrooms and studios, wherever a livestreaming hub is needed to enable each lesson to be broadcast live on Zoom. The correct positioning of the cameras in each learning space is very important, not only to ensure the quality of the experience for all students but also, on a practical level, they need to see what the lecturer is doing.
A camera positioned above the lecturer or workstation and at least one camera on the live room, plus additional cameras in the room give the options needed. The selection of the output source on the 7- inch graphic colour touchscreen on the VR-50HD makes it easy to switch between cameras and the output is streamed live to a remote audience.
“The main goal of blended learning is that there is no compromise on the quality of the experience, Li emphasizes. ‘The Roland VR-50HD in the main studio at Point Blank has played a major role in this transition and in delivering the great audio and video quality - and a great production”.
One of the benefits of the VR-50HD for Point Blank is that the design is intuitive and easy to use. As an all-in-one ‘HD studio’ with audio mixer, video switcher, multi-viewer touch screen and USB video/audio streaming, the VR- 50HD satisfies the need for video production, recording and streaming in a single unit. On a practical level, the VR-50HD is easy to move around and ‘plug in and play’ with no need for a separate computer to enable streaming.
“As soon as it (the VR-50HD) was installed in the studio, the lecturers picked up how to use it immediately. When COVID prevented the whole team being present, the tutors were able to come in and start operating alone straight away”.
The school has recently taken delivery of the VR-50HD MK II. The ‘MK II’ is the next evolution of the VR-50HD that is loaded with new productivity features inspired directly from user feedback. These features include an AUX output for dedicated record, stream, or confidence monitor feeds, an updated user interface, new high-quality audio preamps and converters for crystal-clear sound and automatic audio mixing, adaptive noise reduction and automatic video switching functions to support single operators. The VR-50HD MK II also supports the direct control of an increased number of PTZ cameras.
“The new model has a lot more to take in - it’s great for Point Blank as a production team. It’s still easy to use at its core but now with more power and more control. The lecturers don’t need too much technical knowledge to use it”, added Li.
Roland has created some handy resource guides for music teachers too – see here:
If you need to compare the different capabilities of Roland vision mixers, check out our comparison guide here.