Studio Configuration for Video

Guest post from Team ICG® Master Trainer Jim Karanas

Two things prompted this post.  One was John’s post showing video as one more distraction in a distraction-filled studio (see “Virtual Engagement or Virtual Distraction?”, 7/22/12).  The other was my concern about what might happen if instructors and students learned about cycling with video under such poor circumstances – and the entire cycling-with-video concept ended before it even began.

Cycling with video has too much potential to allow it to fall victim to that fate.  The obvious question is how to prevent that and present video in a way that showcases it as the amazing asset it is, with great potential for increasing ROI.  The cycling-with-video concept hinges on immersion, the sense that the scene is real.  It just doesn’t work without it.  Here’s what needs to happen to create immersion.

First, there’s lighting.  If you want the students engaged in the video, the image must be as bright as possible and dominate the room.  If distracting sources of light can be minimized or eliminated, so much the better.

There’s also screen size.  Bigger is definitely better for purposes of creating immersion and making it seem real.  If the screen can’t be big (say, if a TV monitor is used), there are specific ways to maximize presentation of the footage.

Positioning of the screen is critical.  It’s important not to place the front row of bikes too close to the screen.  It’s important not to place the screen too high or too low on the wall.  The actual distances will change, depending on the size of the screen, but precise guidelines should be followed.  Finally, the screen should be centered, taking into account the width of the studio and where the instructor will be.

Managing the mirrors is also critical.  The photo in John’s post shows mirror reflections coming from several directions and sources.  Those reflections will distort, even destroy, the illusion of forward motion and the possibility of immersion.  The solution is either to use a non-mirrored wall in that studio – preferably one painted black, gray or white – or to use a large pull-down screen to cover the mirrors on the forward wall completely.

There’s also the matter of where to place the instructor and the A-V equipment.  We’re used to being center-stage.  ICI-Pro posts have mentioned our enjoyment of that.  With video, though, we need to move to one side and let the video get most of the attention.

Last, and maybe most importantly, the video, the projector (or TV), and the screen (or video wall) need to be of high quality.

(For details and specifics on these guidelines, please click here:  www.myrideplus.com/Guidelines).

When all of these things are put together in a professional studio prep, the result is completely different from the chaos John showed us in the photo with his post last week.  But it’s not always that easy.

So what’s standing in the way?  In a word, expectations.

Understandably, the club owner hopes to make the studio video-ready for the lowest initial cost possible.  What’s true is that the above preparations can cost thousands of dollars, if done right.  But the inexpensive way leads to what John showed us.   If the equipment costs relatively little, that leads to an expectation that the entire set-up should also cost relatively little.

It’s a profound understatement to say that a poorly prepared studio limits the students’ experience – and that it clearly limits future ROI.

Here’s where I’ll stir up trouble and state that, in this regard, DVD is actually pushing things in the wrong direction.   It’s a halfway measure that’s not impactful enough to create immersion.  This “halfway” aspect of it is why club owners resist spending the money necessary to make cycling-to-video happen on an impressive scale.

To get club owners to make the leap to spectacular video, they need to be exposed to a true immersion experience.  Then it becomes obvious that there’s no substitute.

Seriously, if you bought a fake “jewel” for a few dollars at a street fair, would you buy an expensive platinum ring setting for it?  For a beautifully cut diamond, your willingness to invest in platinum would increase.  Please note that I’m talking here not about budget per se, but about the willingness to invest big money to showcase something mediocre versus something spectacular.

DVD is a mediocre medium with respect to cycling videos and creating immersion.  As such, DVD may be keeping the new concept of cycling-with-video from moving forward and becoming the fullest experience it can be.  Again, immersion is key and happens best when video is done right.

I know these are controversial statements, but they’re true even when the instructor leading the class does a great job with it.  John is a superior instructor who does a great job with it.  But who or what could compete with the distractions in that studio?  It’s simply not set up for … well, what could and would happen if the video were done right.

For one example of “done right”, please click here

 

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