Opened in 2006, the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County is one of the largest performing arts venues in the United States, presenting over 500 performances and events across multiple stages and venues.

The leadership of the center is provided by a Board of Directors. The board meets together quarterly. Board Meetings are open to the public in keeping with its role in the community.

James J Thompson, VP of Technical Services, and his team provide the Arsht Center with comprehensive media production services. They are charged with creating an effective environment to make the Board of Directors Meetings efficient, effective, and impactful. Over the years they have developed programming and technology solutions to achieve these goals including hosting live performances by artists, broadcasting board proceedings to the public, and providing state-of-the-art presentation environments.

As with many similar organizations, the pandemic brought new challenges and opportunities to the Arsht Center. For much of 2020-2021, live performances and in-person gatherings were precluded. These included the Board Meetings, which had to continue on their regular schedule.

In response, James approached Midtown Video – a leading integrator of Audio-Video technology in the region – with a request to help him provide a more effective way to bring the Board Meetings together. The standard implementation of MS Teams and Zoom solutions was inadequate for the task and the Arsht Center needed to re-imagine what a board meeting could be going forward.

Jesse Miller, CEO of Midtown Video, has extensive experience in all facets of video production, conferencing, media-streaming, and related technology. Collaborating with James and his team, Jesse helped design a system to create the ultimate Board Meeting experience.

The solution was crafted to meet the need for a high-impact hybrid meeting experience where in-person attendees, remote participants, and the public could interact effectively and seamlessly. Managing a diverse set of variables including webcams, mobile devices, and consumer network service quality was a requirement. High-quality video and audio signals from attendees needed to be as reliable as possible to avoid confusion and overlapping voices.

At the heart of the system is the NewTek TriCaster Mini 4K and Mini Control Surface – the TriCaster is a robust system that can manage multiple inputs and integrates a complete AV production suite in an affordable and streamlined form factor. Key to the TriCaster is its integration of NDI technology. NDI allows the Arsht Center to use existing ethernet network infrastructure to manage high-definition video, camera control, and audio throughout the campus. The TriCaster is also able to integrate diverse external sources to accommodate remote board members and acts as the central switch to provide on-screen content during the meeting, including video and photo assets, PowerPoint slides, and other digital files.

James says, “We chose the NewtTek TriCaster at the recommendation of Midtown Video. The TriCaster made absolute sense for us in that we can start small with six or eight inputs. We can grow that across the campus if we need to, and we know that we will in the future. It’s using a standard protocol. It’s able to address many different brands of PTZ cameras and gives us the flexibility to quickly deploy and easily build and produce a show.”

The Arsht Center specified a set of BirdDog PTZ cameras as the primary sources on-site. The BirdDog cameras met the technical requirements and were also competitively priced and NDI-ready. The BirdDog PTZ Controller and Cam Control software provide precision control of the cameras for a remote operator.

A key part of the board meeting setup incorporates an Elgato Stream Deck to run macros that control the BirdDog PTZ cameras and related titling elements in the TriCaster. The Stream Deck is set up so each board member’s portrait shows on one of the 32 LCD buttons – pressing a button directs the central meeting camera to rotate to that particular board member and generate a lower-third title automatically. This allows the production team to respond to an evolving, free-form conversation rapidly and accurately.

The overall impact of this configuration has been to significantly enhance the experience of meeting for both the in-person attendees and the virtual members – high-quality video and audio reach every person. Accurate and rapid switching between speakers keeps the focus on the conversation, not the technology. Seamless integration of remote sources means that those participants can engage with as much impact as if they were in the room.

In addition to the Board Meetings, James and his team have been able to deploy the Tricaster/NDI/BirdDog system to manage many remote productions and livestream events in the greater Miami community. In particular, the NDI workflow has allowed them to set up complex multi-stage production coverage using either existing network infrastructure or inexpensive ethernet switching and cabling on-site.

James says, “In addition to using this system for our Board Meetings, we are also able to package this up, put it in a truck, and go out to the community and livestream events. The work that we’re doing with livestreaming and production is really mission-based for us. This Friday we’re doing a program called “Spoken Word”, which is going to people who are incarcerated. Those are the kind of events that we’re looking at and we’re only just at the beginning, we’ve only seen just the tip of the iceberg of what we can do.”

The Arsht Center has fully embraced the promise of NDI and the power of the NewTek TriCaster and associated technologies like the BirdDog PTZ cameras and Stream Deck to bring new capabilities and enhanced experience to the organization’s Board of Directors meetings and community events.