By Michael Caton  |  Posted 2004-06-21 Print this article Print

There are many hosted Web conferencing solutions available, but Interactive Video Technologies Inc.s MediaPlatform 3.1 differs from most by giving companies a way to manage multimedia to build comprehensive streaming presentations for the Web.

In eWEEK Labs tests, we found that the service will be helpful to companies that need to stream multimedia presentations for seminars and training. The service differs from appliances such as Sonic Foundry Inc.s Mediasite Live in that it doesnt provide a direct way to capture and organize content.

Click here to read eWEEK Labs review of Mediasite Live.
The MediaPlatform service was updated last month and is priced starting at $2,500 per month for two content-author licenses. MediaPlatform can also be purchased and deployed internally starting at $30,000 for five content authors.

We found the service to be fairly intuitive to use, given its complexity, and it did an excellent job of aggregating and managing content. The services main purpose is to make it easier to deliver live streaming content, and its flexibility makes it a good tool for broadcasting canned content and rebroadcasting live events (minus some of the initial warts) using the content management tools.

The services Titan authoring system made it relatively easy to create content and templates, although we found the authoring and management components of the service could be slow. We liked the way MediaPlatform made it easy to organize large volumes of content during the authoring process. We could easily limit content by search or file type.

MediaPlatform divides content into three project types: Webcasting, which combines live presentation data with streaming video content; telecasting, which combines presentations with audio content from a teleconferencing bridge; and live slide presentations with either audio or video conferencing, which compete with services such as WebEx Communications Inc.s WebEx Meeting Center.

In addition, we could create video-on-demand applications using two other MediaPlatform tools, Synchronize and Studio. The Synchronize tool allowed us to match existing audio and/or video files with slide presentations and transcripts. The Studio tool allows an author to capture content from an audio or video source plugged into the authors Windows-based PC and synchronize that content with a slide presentation.

We built these projects by creating certain content types, such as registration, lobby and presentation templates. We then selected content, such as slides, and dropped it into the templates. Once the content is created, MediaPlatform packages it for distribution either on a companys Web server or via CD-ROM. In the case of the Telecasting service, MediaPlatform currently supports only Akamai Technologies Inc.s teleconferencing-to-IP-encoding solution.

MediaPlatform 3.1 provides the interactive tools one would expect, including polling of event attendees and interactive questions and answers. Management of these features is well-done: When polling, we could create branching questions, making it possible to account for correct and incorrect responses—a key capability for training and distance learning applications. The interactive question-and-answer component includes a workflow engine, so companies that must provide fact checking and legal review prior to publishing answers can do so.

MediaPlatform offers strong reporting capabilities, capturing attendee registration data for reports and providing good control over registration. We could build custom registration forms for self-registration and register users directly using the managed registration tool within the service. We could also set up reminders for events, although the reminder capability isnt as robust as wed like in terms of automation.

Technical Analyst Michael Caton can be reached at michael_caton@ziffdavis.com.

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