Digital Signage

Lansing relies on MediaXtremes for community channel

Since 2004, the small eastern Kansas community has built a thriving community channel with the help of the Keywest Technology MX1 and MX3.

It wouldn’t be unusual to find members of the community of Lansing, KS, walking a little taller with their heads up and chests out these days.

After all, since Lansing Government Television Channel 2 launched operations in 2004, the city channel has promoted civic activities and community festivals, aired state and local governmental forums, highlighted the happenings at nearby Ft. Leavenworth and even given aspiring high school video producers access to the community’s 10,000 residents.

“We have gotten nothing but positive feedback from the community,” says Lorraine Gluch, who shares responsibilities for Channel 2 with Director of Economic Development at the Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau Shanae Randolph. “In fact, they even like the music we play in the background.”

At the center of Lansing’s city channel are two Keywest Technology MediaXtreme player/controllers used in tandem. With the MediaXtreme MX1 MediaCreator CG software, Ms. Gluch creates slides, graphics and crawls related to community events. Using a MediaXtreme MX3 that’s interfaced with the MX1 via an RS232 serial connection, Ms. Gluch can play back MPEG video files of Lansing city council meetings, the monthly contributions of Lansing High School student video producers and many other community-related videos.

Keeping Channel 2 on-air and on track is the job of the MX1. Ms. Gluch builds playback schedules, inputs changes and manages the entire process right from the MediaCreator CG program.

The MediaXtreme solutions
The MediaXtreme MX1 is a powerful video messaging system that easily integrates into existing video systems like the Time Warner Cable franchise serving Lansing. The MediaCreator CG package runs on a Windows 2000 or XP personal computer and is used to create pages that are every bit as attractive as anything seen on a network newscast. MediaCreator supports 24-bit graphics and lets users integrate their own digital image files or use pre-created graphics from the Digital JuiceTM library that comes with the system.

With it, users can create, schedule and manage sophisticated CG pages that include text, crawls, a video window, 24-bit graphics and NTSC video. For Lansing Government Television Channel 2, Ms. Gluch uses a mixture of JPEGs taken around the community as well as Digital Juice images for slide backgrounds. “Keywest Technology offers some really great background pictures,” she said, “and there’s such a wide variety to choose from.”

To support Channel 2’s extensive use of video, Lansing city government acquired a Keywest Technology MediaXtreme MX3, a cost-effective digital video player that delivers IP-addressable and serial control over playback of video and graphics.
The MX3 can playback MPEG 1, MPEG 2 and AVI video files, as well as offer support for all standard PC graphic extensions, PC audio, including digital 5.1 surround sound, and Microsoft PowerPoint and Macromedia Flash files.

MPEG support is important to the success of Channel 2. Ms. Gluch videotapes the Lansing Board of Education meetings that occur four times per week, Chamber of Commerce-sponsored community breakfasts with local and state politicians and “Chamber Spotlight,” a short video clip of Chamber of Commerce ribbon cuttings to welcome new businesses to the community.

Outside video contributions come from a variety of source, including Lansing City government, which supplies twice-monthly coverage of City Council meetings; a school district employee who tapes Lansing Board of Education meetings; the Lansing High School media class, which puts together two 30-minute videos per month; the U.S. Department of the Army (Lansing is only a few miles from Ft. Leavenworth), which supplies “Army Newswatch;” and the Leavenworth County-Kansas State University Research and Extension Office, which supplies “Kids A Cooking” featuring child-oriented menus and food preparation.

All of this video is converted to MPEG files for playback from the MX3.

It’s under control
To manage the playback schedule for Channel 2, Ms. Gluch relies on Keywest Technology’s MX1 MediaCreator software. MediaCreator is an easy-to-use, highly functional software application that puts complete control over what’s played back into the hands of the user.

Events like MPEG video shows, graphic slides and text crawls are scheduled by looking up the file and assigning it a playback time. Changing the schedule occurs in the background, leaving playback unaffected in the middle of a program. Rather, off-line editing lets users change any schedule as well as data, fonts, graphics or even whole pages without interrupting what’s playing. When users are satisfied with their changes, they simply instruct the control software to update the schedule, and changes will begin occurring after the item that’s currently playing is completed.

For a town like Lansing, such control and management of playback schedules keeps the community channel responsive to the changing informational needs of residents. “We put crawls on screen with road closing, trash pickup delays because of holidays and helpful information on snow closings,” says Ms. Gluch –something that’s easy to do thanks to the MediaXtreme’s flexible scheduling control.

Easy to use
Ms. Gluch estimates that during the summer she devotes 30 percent of her time to shooting, creating, maintaining and scheduling Channel 2. Time spent on the channel swells to 60 percent the rest of the year when school is in session.

However, while Channel 2 demands much of her attention, Ms. Gluch never feels overburdened by the challenge –in large part because the MediaXtreme is easy to use. “I think it’s quick and efficient to use,” she says.

That’s partly because Lansing invested in training Ms. Gluch and a co-worker about how to use the MediaXtreme. It’s also a result of the responsive technical support Keywest Technology offers all of its customers. “Any time we have questions or problems, we can call Keywest Technology technicians, and they are great,” she says. “Even today if we call them, they are right on it.”

Response like that is a testament to Keywest Technology’s TotalCARE commitment, a revolutionary concept in service and care that extends multiple levels of support to customers for the two-year period of their warranty. With TotalCARE, a Keywest Technology technical support assistant is never more than a phone call or an instant message away.

With such an active community channel, it’s difficult to predict exactly what’s next for Channel 2. However, the channel’s ever-expanding schedule and an overwhelmingly positive response from residents, makes it clear that Channel 2 will continue looking for innovative ways to serve the informational needs of the Lansing residents. In fact, the city is so pleased with the Keywest Technology MediaXtreme that it plans to add weather instrumentation and software to keep residents apprised of current weather conditions.

In the meantime, the MediaXtreme systems quietly sit in the background providing total control and creative flexibility to handle whatever needs arise, and that’s enough for Ms. Gluch to remain confident that Channel 2 will continue building civic pride among Lansing residents well into the future.

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We needed to find a way that technology could be used to schedule playback and let it run
Ernie Johnson, who specified the MediaXtreme for Wyoming Project Guardian