Ravensbourne University London is using Amazon Web Services (AWS), including AWS Elemental Media Services, to bring live broadcasts of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s (RSC) productions to schools across the United Kingdom. Designed to encourage interaction with young audiences across a range of viewing platforms, such as classrooms and auditoriums, the RSC’s free Schools’ Broadcasts are generously supported by Virgin Media and feature real-time Twitter questions and answers and graphic overlays.
Ravensbourne University London is a specialist creative university, dedicated to preparing its students for successful careers in digital media and design. It offers courses that give students experience using modern broadcast technology in real-world production scenarios. Since its collaboration with RSC began over six years ago, the university has streamed Shakespeare’s works to hundreds of schools, including those in remote locations with varying bandwidth accessibility.
“Both students and schools are responding positively to the program, and it is a great example of what’s possible when technology, creativity and education converge. AWS cloud services have been instrumental in bringing this experience to students,” Richard Manning, Associate Senior Lecturer, BSc (Hons) Digital Television Technology, School of Media. “With AWS Elemental solutions and cloud-based media services at the center of our streaming workflow, we no longer receive reports of buffering issues, even in rural areas where Internet connectivity has historically been patchy or broadband access unavailable. We now expect to bring the experience to even more schools, including those that may have initially given up due to connectivity challenges.”
In a collaborative workflow, RSC provides Ravensbourne with captured live content of theatre performances, while second-year television students at Ravensbourne are responsible for turning the performance into three parts including live Q&As with the crew and actors across a range of viewing platforms and regions.
Earlier this year, after finding its existing setup could be improved with consistent quality and detailed viewership analytics, Ravensbourne turned to AWS for its greater scalability and ability to deliver multiple high-quality versions of each stream. The university introduced AWS Elemental Media Services, the Amazon CloudFront content delivery network (CDN), and Amazon CloudWatch monitoring and management service into its streaming infrastructure.
“The AWS team met with us and spent a lot of time diving into our workflow and challenges. They proposed a number of solutions, helping us find a more efficient and affordable way to get this content to schools while also giving our students exposure to the kinds of technology they’ll be working with in the field after graduation,” shared Manning. “Their team was incredible, and took an authentic interest in what our students were working on and trying to achieve. The intuitive nature and functionality of the technology were also high points.”
AWS Elemental Media Services play an integral role in the program, providing affordable access to cloud-based services that support the creation and delivery of high quality streams to each school, and the flexibility to scale, without the traditional upfront capital investments required for similar productions. The AWS Elemental MediaLive service supports the creation and delivery of video streams. The AWS Elemental MediaPackage service is used to create a playlist for each school’s CDN and automatically adjusts video quality to match each school’s connection.
Beyond the broadcasts, the workflow has also proven a valuable instructional tool for Ravensbourne professors. Instructors can easily set up a stream and demonstrate how the system works, showing monitoring points via Amazon CloudWatch.
“It’s a fantastic resource to have at our disposal on so many different levels. Our students are able to dive deep into the workflow to get real-world experience, and we can give them a more holistic understanding of the process and technology from a theory point of view,” said Manning.