If you've followed much of video-over-IP technology during the last few years, you are probably familiar with VBrick Systems. The company has been making easy-to-use, television-quality network video appliances, or video "bricks," for almost a decade. More recently, VBrick has been leveraging that core technology by incorporating it into more focused solutions: specific ways of using the power of video within business or educational communications.
That's exactly the idea behind VBrick's latest product, VBCorpCast. Think of VBCorpCast as a kit, an all-you-need bundle for adding video to business presentations that automatically integrates video with Microsoft PowerPoint slide presentations for live-over-IP or on-demand-over-IP distribution. That means colleagues, students, or associates on the other side of the building or around the world can view not just static slides, but presentations synchronized with audio and video during the entire presentation.
VBrick envisions VBCorpCast as a simple-to-use, one-man presentation product that shouldn't require any significant setup, technical expertise, or anything else beyond a working knowledge of PowerPoint. And for the most part, VBCorpCast delivers on the simplicity. Of course, anytime you start talking about IP configurations, you're bound to lose some people. That's a fate that could plague VBCorpCast, as well. However, VBrick has a clever way to solve even that drawback.
Out of the box
The VBCorpCast kit ($5,495) comes in a single box that includes a VBrick Windows Media encoding appliance, the VBPresenter software (which is really a plug-in for PowerPoint), and a Sony DCR-HC36 camcorder. Plus, there's even a miniature tripod for positioning the camcorder toward the presenter. And, just to make sure it's a product that can be used literally out of the box by even technical novices, VBrick adds a free 60-day license to a streaming server and service.
Like any other VBrick appliance, the Windows Media brick encodes video and audio, in this case from the camcorder, and turns it into IP data for sending out over a network. That network can either be a corporate local area network (LAN), a wide area network (WAN), or, because Windows Media is low bandwidth, the Internet itself. There's nothing new about this appliance; in fact, it's very similar to the VB6200 reviewed in Video Systems last fall (see digitalcontentproducer.com/videoencodvd/revfeat/video_leveraging_ip_networks <http://digitalcontentproducer.com/videoencodvd/revfeat/video_leveraging_ip_networks> ), except that the brick in the kit encodes to Windows Media rather than MPEG-4.
The VBPresenter software, however, is new. Not a standalone software at all, VBPresenter appears as nothing more than a toolbar within Microsoft PowerPoint — a toolbar with just 10 options, plus a link to online help. The main two are an Online/Offline toggle for going live over the Web with a presentation and Start/Stop for recording a presentation, complete with slide advances and video, to the server. From there, giving a presentation is no different from any other time you'd use PowerPoint, except that the camcorder is capturing the audio and video of the presenter and synchronizing it as the slide advances.
It couldn't be easier, right? Indeed, actually using VBPresenter and VBCorpCast and sending the entire presenter out over IP is literally just using PowerP