First, Stormwind built a studio with green-screen technology and created software-generated 3D renderings of various backgrounds, to make it look as if instructors are literally walking viewers through screen captures and slides when, in reality, they're just talking to a green wall.
But because typical Internet connections can't support the transmission of green-screen technology, Stormwind had to find a way to compress the massive, high-resolution files. It uses a mix of XML code and Java scripts to deliver the files to Flash media servers, which are designed to stream video to a browser regardless of an end user's device and bandwidth limitations. Essentially, the servers trick the browser into thinking that it's dealing with a single image rather than a hodgepodge of Flash, HTML, green-screen technology and 3D renderings. A Stormwind producer can replace green-screen images on the fly while Flash media servers prompt the browser to refresh 30 times a second for a constant feed of live images.
Instructors are trained in the use of green screens, and a producer is on hand to cue new images and request zooms and studio pans as if producing a live TV show.
Stormwind, which has been in business three years, says it has found that, on average, students retain 92 percent of the material presented in HD Live training sessions but only 30 percent of the material presented via traditional online learning channels.
Waxer is a Toronto-based freelance journalist. She has written articles for various publications and news sites, including The Economist, MIT Technology Review and CNNMoney.com.
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