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'Hawkcam' is one offering of new service

The CSAIL computer graphics group and MVP&DT used time-lapse images and video compositing in a presentation at the opening celebration of the Stata Center.
The CSAIL computer graphics group and MVP&DT used time-lapse images and video compositing in a presentation at the opening celebration of the Stata Center.
Image courtesy / MVP&DT

A new service, MIT Video Productions and Digital Technologies, has launched with two high-profile projects: a multimedia presentation at the Stata Center dedication and MIT Hawkcam.

MIT Video Productions and Digital Technologies (MVP&DT), part of Academic Media Production Services, is the result of a recent merger between MIT Video Productions and the Streaming Media Operations Group.

"This consolidation allows us to control and streamline the capture and delivery process from the camera lens to the desktop," said Larry Gallagher, director of MVP&DT. "In the past we would acquire [images] in an analog tape format and convert to digital for delivery, but now we can record direct to digital for subsequent streaming, and we can originate live webcasts from practically anywhere at the Institute."

At the recent Stata Center dedication, MVP&DT's multimedia production staff collaborated with the computer graphics group in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory to create a presentation to kick off the ceremony. Time-lapse images that compressed the six-year construction process into a few seconds shared the screen with historic images of Building 20, first impressions of staff and students, and wide-screen aerial shots of the nearly completed building.

"Our greatest visual assets in creating pieces are often provided by the researchers," said MVP&DT multimedia specialist Doug Bolin. "Professor Seth Teller and student Matt Wilkerson provided us with unlimited access to the millions of images that they captured since the demolition of Building 20 in 1998."

MVP&DT's most popular program of late is the MIT Hawkcam, a sort of "reality TV" offering. Since mid-April, the group has been broadcasting the maturation process of two baby red tail hawks in a nest on campus on MIT cable channel 11; since late April, the birds have also been shown on a live webcast 12 hours a day.

"We simply capitalized on our good fortune regarding the parents' choice of nest location. Our existing infrastructure allows us to share this without the significant commitment of resources that a project like this would normally require," said David Mycue, associate director of MVP&DT.

"The webcast has attracted thousands of viewers from MIT and across the country, averaging 200 hits per day with a peak of well over 1,000 when the project was spotlighted on the MIT home page. We've received e-mail ranging from a simple thanks to a request that we publish a log of when and what each of the chicks eat."

The parents and chicks have been named by some at MIT and their lives have been followed with great interest since the parent hawks first brought in twigs to build the nest. The fledglings are expected to take flight sometime early next week.

MVP&DT provides production support and content delivery to many clients around MIT, including distance education initiatives such as the Singapore-MIT Alliance, the System Design and Management program, OpenCourseWare and MITWorld. For more information, call 253-7603, see or e-mail

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 19, 2004 (download PDF).

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