Game On, An UNLEASH 2015 Overview

red carpet

In April, a group from NC State University had the opportunity to attend the Unleash 2015, Sonic Foundry’s Mediasite User Conference in Madison, Wisconsin.

Attendees from DELTA included, Leisa Bolles, Yiling Chappelow, Larry Evans, Brian Dyer, John Gordon, Darren Ley, Bob Pence, Jeff Robinson, Bill Stancil, Laura Stephenson, Mark Wiest, and Bob Wilkerson. This year’s theme was Game On: Power Up to Take Video to the Next Level! Mediasite’s a game-changer and Unleash is the best opportunity to level up and turbo boost your video strategy. We connected with Mediasite peers and pros to unlock new ideas (and secret weapons), celebrate achievements and get inspired. It’s the biggest Mediasite learning experience of the year!

Over the course of three days, we attended workshops and were able to choose from many sessions focused on Mediasite essentials for the technical person, Mediasite in action for the customer use cases, and Let’s Talk discussion groups.

awards dinner

Our experience was packed with knowledge sharing, best practices and Mediasite Community networking. We were also able to talk with Sonic Foundry’s key executives and share our ideas and wish lists for the roadmap we would like to see for Mediasite and My Mediasite.

The conference started with the 11th Annual Enterprise Video Awards as we took a walk on the red carpet, grabbed a photo op and step into the spotlight at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Monona Terrace.  Our very own, John Gordon, was the finalist for the Video in Education Scholarship Award, based on the work and use of Mediasite in DELTA’s online social dance class. Check it out!

During dinner, we enjoyed a game of trivia and a team from NC State which consisted of Robert Chapman, Yiling Chappelow, Brad Eargle, Darren Ley, Bill Stancil, Laura Stephenson, Mark Weist, and Bob Wilkerson won first prize and enjoyed an assorted array of movies as their prize!

During the Opening Keynote, “Powering your Video Strategy with Mediasite,” Rob Lipps, Executive Vice President, Gary Weis, CEO and Dharmesh Sampat, Vice President Engineering, shared the accomplishments of the past year and roadmap for Mediasite in the coming year. Sonic Foundry has been exploring a number of technical innovations this past year. What sets Sonic Foundry apart from other companies is their willingness to include their customers in guiding the roadmap.

One innovation they were exploring was the ability to capture collaboration sessions within a room. Before making the commitment to develop a product based on these innovations, they wanted to validate the product concept with customers who had a strong interest in capturing collaboration sessions, i.e. student performance. The study demonstrated this was a valuable idea, but not what the customers wanted to focus on at the present time. Many customers use video conferencing to facilitate remote connections between students and faculty like we do here at NC State with our 2+2 and BSE Engineering distance education program in the College of Engineering. Customers ascribe high value to capturing these sessions and integrating them into Mediasite and other technologies such as Microsoft Lync, Citrix GoToMeeting, and Cisco WebEx. Therefore, Sonic Foundry launched Mediasite Join and will continue to invest in the capturing and archiving this type of content. In August of 2015 Mediasite Join will be available on-premise delivery and management. In addition, by the end of 2015 there will be a beta for a rich-media capture of GoToMeeting and Skype for Business. Webex will be under investigation.

Sonic Foundry will also be addressing release management by refining the release cycle. This will be accomplished by increasing the text cycle to resolve more issues before the code is released and they will have a less frequent release cycle for general availability. Other advanced technologies which Sonic Foundry is investigating as high priority items and will be soliciting customer feedback, include accessibility and systems management services. The concept of systems management services is to provide better and real-time support to customers who would like Sonic Foundry to play a more active role in the operation of their on premises Mediasite solution.

Clip Karma was also introduced as a new exciting technology from Sonic Foundry. With the rollout of My Mediasite and customers desiring to roll the product out to students, many questions began to arise. Is My Mediasite about to support large numbers of users, is it streamlined enough, are the workflows fluid enough to support broad use? The goal of the Clip Karma project was to challenge how simple could Sonic Foundry make a brand new stand alone solution for video and tie this into My Mediasite? Users are not using My Mediasite only to create user generated content as they use their phones, video cameras, etc. The problem was not how do users create content, the issue was where do they store this content. Most is ending up on YouTube next to cats and Justin Bieber which didn’t seem appropriate and thus the solution, Clip Karma. This easy and simple solution creates your own private video community, but the real power is where Mediasite continues to control the management of workflows and security and Clip Karma is the social launch of the user generated content. Clip Karma is a cloud-based solution that allows the masses to collaborate on video, share video, and manage effectively, a user generated strategy.

Additional concepts for implementation which were introduced include:

  • Enhanced My Mediasite portal

  • Continued development of storage and quota management

  • Data Center Tools

  • Media Delivery and Playback — Resolving Browsers & Plugins issues with the introduction of MPEG-DASH

  • Mediasite Catch

  • Advancements for Mediasite Recorders including GPU-enabled recording, IP camera support, 4K slides and remote management (centrally deployed image releases).

  • Multiple Showcases

Several DELTA staff had the pleasure of offering their expertise with UNLEASH attendees by sharing their experience and presenting. Laura Stephenson and Mark Wiest, presented a session called, “Handing Over the Keys: Ensuring Success and Attracting Faculty to Use My Mediasite.” During the session, they shared DELTA’s approach to implementing and supporting new tools in a large university setting while focusing on providing training and support as key factors in faculty success.The two also discussed how over time DELTA recognized the need from faculty to create and control their own lecture materials which has been successfully accomplished with My Mediasite at NC State.


Yiling Chappelow presented “My Mediasite Best Practices: Essential Questions to Consider Before You Record.” This session examined the essential questions all users should consider before creating videos. Questions such as your comfort level with the technologies, your instructional goals, the length of recordings, and how it fits into your course structure. The session also discussed how different delivery strategies could influence your initial planning and demonstrated how key My Mediasite features can inform and enhance student learning. Emily Ligon and Yiling submitted the proposal and collaborated for this conference. Yiling shared that experience at this conference.

Leisa Bolles and Laura Stephenson, presented a session called, “If You Build It, They Will Come: Effective Room Design Consideration,” With NC State’s ten years of Mediasite experience and 30 years experience designing learning spaces, Laura and Leisa shared their Mediasite journey from a simple converted office to production quality, media-enhanced spaces.

cupcakesFocusing on different models and room environments, they recommended effective strategies as well as optimal physical design characteristics and top considerations when designing or upfitting a space. They also shared their proven strategies to engage faculty use.

While we attended a lot of great sessions, Sonic Foundry also provided their famous cupcakes, great networking meals, and an evening of vintage games to correlate with the Game On theme of the conference which provided for some time for fun. Overall, we enjoyed the conference and felt it was a great success.