Matrox Monarch LCS Streams, Records and Customises Video Lectures

Matrox Monarch HD closeup

The original Matrox Monarch HD was developed about three years ago for professional video producers who needed to simultaneously stream a live event and record the master quality version for post-event editing. By separating the task of recording from streaming in one unit, the Content Delivery Networks could focus on delivering quality video to audiences, while the user controlled the quality of the archive.

From an HDMI input source such as a camera or switcher, the Monarch HD generates an H.264-encoded stream compliant with RTSP or RTMP protocols. While it encodes the video at bitrates suitable for live streaming, it simultaneously records a high-quality MP4 or MOV file to an SD card, a USB drive or a network-mapped drive. Remotely controlled using a computer or mobile device with a web browser, the Monarch HD shares the H.264 encoder between the streaming and recording processes so recording quality and upload bandwidth are independent of each other.

The Monarch HDX added some extra functionality and flexibility such as dual channel recording and dual channel streaming. When used as a webcasting encoder, the Monarch HDX generates an H.264-encoded stream compliant with RTSP or RTMP protocols. You can assign each channel separately streaming up to 10Mb/s each, allowing you to simultaneously stream to two destinations or set the device for up to 20Mb/s for a single destination.

As a H.264 video recorder, content is captured as either MOV or MP4 files. Each recording channel can be stored independently to a local SD card or USB drive, or remotely on a network-mapped drive so that files are immediately available to anyone on the network. Recordings can also be encoded at different bitrates to suit devices with varying decode or bandwidth capacities.

Matrox Monarch HD closeup2

The HDX H.264 model can also accept signals from either HDMI or SDI sources, increasing the connectivity choices to cameras, switchers or routers. Both inputs have internal frame synchronizers to limit interruptions to streaming and recording, regardless of the disturbance on the input.

The most recent Monarch LCS, introduced in April 2016 at NAB, has enough extra functions to serve as a standalone network appliance that can be integrated into an open Video or Lecture Management System, such as OpenCast VMS and Moodle LMS software. A user can define fairly detailed profiles for live streamed and recorded lectures by mixing camera and presentation material from SDI and HDMI sources. Then, once configured, anyone can operate the device by turning it on and starting the task.

The usual production consists of video and audio of the presenter, plus supporting material from a computer source, all of which can be mixed into a single webcast. The operator can select a number of operating modes that include layouts such as picture-in-picture and side-by-side. The operator can also use the Switcher mode to change the inputs on the fly, during the lecture.

Alternatively, because the appliance supplies two independent video files or streams, viewers with compatible third party players can select their own layout. The synchronized streaming or recording of Monarch LCS’ dual inputs mean that, by aligning video inputs, the viewer can switch to the layout they prefer while maintaining synced audio and video.

Supporting network environments, with a future update a scheduler function will support open source iCal software such as Google calendar which will allow you to create a schedule, export to an .ics file format, and import to the device. The Monarch LCS will be configurable to periodically retrieve schedules on the network.

Matrox monarch LCS

Like the HDX, Monarch LCS can share up to 20 Mb/s of encoding capacity across its two H.264 encoding channels. Each independent channel has individual bitrate and quality settings with scaling, deinterlacing and noise reduction engines, and each encoder can be set to encode at up to 1080p30 resolutions. As well as supporting multiple destination options when streaming or recording, Recordings can be stored on network-mapped drives and made available immediately to an LMS or VMS for distance learning.

Where computer, video and audio content has not been synchronized before encoding, and has different resolutions and frame rates, the Monarch LCS accepts these different feeds and synchronizes them before encoding and delivering correctly timed video and audio in all of the operating modes. Built-in frame syncs also correct signal discontinuity at either input to avoid interrupting the streaming and recording operations.

Both SDI and HDMI outputs are active and can be mapped to either input, useful for driving in-house projections. The HDMI output also gives the operator the option of selecting the production output at the frame size of the encoding parameters, so that they can preview content that will be sent to remote viewers.

In institutions with more sophisticated facilities, contractors or in-house IT specialists can take advantage of Monarch LCS Dev Tools, which includes automatic configuration tools and the Monarch LCS Control API, automatically giving operators a consistent, branded look without having to interact with the Monarch web UI. Monarch LCS storage ports are located on the front of the device with three buttons. All connectors are located at the back, including the locking power connector, so that it can be used on either a desktop or in a rack.