With its unique mission to reflect the state of the art of music and the music business, Boston-based Berklee College of Music has gained a world-wide reputation for studies in jazz, rock, electric guitar, film scoring, songwriting, turntables, electronic production, and more than a dozen other genres and fields of study. Yet the college is pursuing even more ambitious plans where video is playing a lead role and axle Video is crucial to its success.
Craig Reed, Video Producer for Berklee College of Music, is at the center of it. Berklee Online is Berklee College of Music’s extension school, the world's first accredited non-profit music institution to offer Bachelor's degrees online. “All online courses have video content,” explains Craig, who started at Berklee 13 years ago to produce instructional DVDs. “Course content ranges from performance courses, involving exercises, and demonstrations of practice and playing techniques, to courses in music business, music licensing, marketing and promotion, songwriting, arranging, and general education courses.” Craig continued: “People who aren’t able to come to the Boston campus can get the same caliber of instructor-led education, with direct faculty feedback, live chat sessions, and discussion forums.” Almost all courses are authored by Berklee faculty.
The course catalog has been growing steadily, and axle Video has been critical in managing the several hundred hours of raw footage and over 48 hours of finished content produced just last year. Even more footage is scheduled for the future. Craig handles all director, camera operator, editor, sound engineer and collaborative course developer responsibilities with production help from student workers. Footage, typically shot with three cameras, is loaded onto Berklee Online’s Promise VTrak RAID storage and automatically checked into the axle media management system which scans the storage system in the background.
Instructional designers, authors, and other stakeholders use axle’s simple browser interface to review raw content, which is not just lectures and performance demonstrations, but often interviews of music luminaries or subject experts. “They’ll come in for an interview or we will shoot them on location. It’s great to shoot an interview covering a multitude of subject areas, and use axle to collect the nuggets for courses or possibly for marketing content, as well” Craig said. “A lot of people may have interest in reviewing footage when it comes in. axle makes it extremely easy to do that, and easy to search for content.”
With a lean staff, direct involvement of stakeholders and fast turnaround is appreciated: “Users can create bins and populate them with selected subclips, and guest users working remotely can view content in their web browser and make comments. Then the shot lists or EDLs are exported as XML into the editor.” axle again comes into play as course developers, faculty, and others review and approve the edits. With axle’s integrated Telestream Episode transcoding , finished content can be automatically formatted and distributed to Berklee Online’s content management/learning management system, and uploaded to YouTube, for use in edX and Coursera offerings, consolidators of massive open online courses (MOOCS). “Marketing and other groups within Berklee College are constantly looking for content, and they now can easily search and find video for their productions, they can download raw assets if they need to, and they can use axle’s pre-production selection and comment workflow” Craig adds.
On the accelerating use of video and the role axle now plays in different workflows at Berklee, Craig says: “Our earliest courses had almost no video in them and now video is either a big part, or, as in our MOOCs, consist almost completely of video. In planning, it helps in giving an immediate sense of what we have, so we don’t have to reproduce content, and shooting with 3 cameras while ramping up output wouldn’t be possible without axle. The higher the volume of content, the more important this is. The easy access to footage by course authors and other stakeholders, instead of them having to come in and review in front of a monitor, and now to have remote access, give immediate feedback, make notations, and create clips and bins not only saves time but is huge in making the final product more accurate and faithful to the authors’ intent.” Craig sums it up: “Overall, axle media management has been a big boost to productivity and totally changed how we work.”