Ongoing Reliability Issues with Lecture Capture

Users have continued to experience reliability issues when recording lectures using the YuJa video software. The project team is continuing to work with the vendor to isolate and resolve these issues but read on to find out more about what’s happening, how we’re working to find a resolution and what steps we’re taking to secure long term stability of the service.

Key Points:

  • The reliability of the lecture capture process has continued to be an issue throughout this semester, impacting the experience of both staff and students.
  • The issues are intermittent and difficult to trace, often with affected sessions appearing to record as expected only to have missing audio and/or video sources once the recording is uploaded and published.
  • Based on reports to Help4u, the issue affects a minority of recording sessions. However, it is common enough to be having a significant impact on user confidence, an impact that we are not taking lightly.
  • In the short term, we will continue to work with the software vendor to isolate and resolve the issues. We ask that users continue to report any incidents to Help4u via this form.
  • In the long term, the Integrated Video project has already launched with the aim of reviewing our video management requirements for education, including some core components of the lecture capture process. This will provide a more robust and mature solution for academic year 23/24 as the university continues to invest in its teaching capabilities.

What’s Happening?

Since the start of Semester 2, we’ve seen increasing reports of reliability problems when recording teaching sessions using the YuJa software in supported teaching spaces. These issues manifest in many ways but are all related to the software client running on lectern PCs, including:

  • ‘Service not running’ errors
  • Still having issues with profile validation
  • Audio capture failing
  • Video capture failing 
  • Audio & video capture failing 
  • Capture stopping entirely
  • Stuck on uploading to the cloud – with the local files being deleted

The intermittent nature of these problems has hampered our ability to trace the root cause and we are continuing to work with the vendor to find a permeant fix to this unreliability.

Although the majority of recordings do complete and upload successfully, it is important that we acknowledge that these issues have eroded user confidence and impacted the experience of academics and students. Confidence in digital services is crucial and we are taking this problem very seriously.

What We’re Doing

In the last few weeks, we have been working directly with the software vendor to analyse the recording process on various hardware configurations in an effort to isolate the specific cause of the unreliability. We have been unsuccessful in reliably isolating a cause and are now testing new versions of the software client being provided to us by YuJa. This is a slow process, exacerbated by the intermittent nature of the issues we’re seeing, the time it takes to test new software versions properly and the limited resource available in the team. However, work is ongoing, and we will continue to update the community on progress.

The team has also been able to retrieve damaged recordings directly from the lectern PCs in some circumstances, ensuring that even if delayed, the students are still able to access their recording.

It is important that anyone experiencing problems with their lecture recording continue to report the issue to Help4u (see below). This allows us to gauge the extent of the problem and investigate accordingly.

What you can do

Reporting Issues

To help investigate these ongoing issues, we have created a form that allows users to easily and quicky report any issues they encounter. If you do have a problem, please fill in the below form to report your issue to Help4u.

Many of the issues that we see are simple physical problems that are common with AV setups e.g. people pulling out cables, changing settings without reverting them back etc. This is why it’s important to report details of issues experienced.

Recording With Collaborate

We are aware that some lecturers have opted to use an alternative recording tool such as Collaborate. Though we are not recommending this explicitly at this point, we fully understand why anyone particularly affected by the issues would choose to do so. If you decide to use Collaborate to record your lectures, please bear the following in mind:

For clarity on the above, whilst YuJa still remains the University’s primary lecture capture solution there may be cases in which particularly affected users will be advised to use Collaborate for their recordings. This is to ensure that those affected users can continue to use a supported lecture capture solution and avoid unnecessary loss of work.

Long Term

We’d previously communicated that a project titled ‘Integrated Video Service’ has begun this year. Where the current Lecture Capture workflow was put in place rapidly last summer to provide basic recording capability, the Integrated Video Project will build on that the provide a more stable, more comprehensive video service for education. This won’t radically change the workflow (don’t worry), but it will aim to simplify and stabilise it, adding more automation where we can. I can’t give details as we’re still in the planning and requirements gathering phase of this project, but I wanted to assure the community that we’re continuing to develop the service for the long run as well as working to deal with the immediate issues some of you are experiencing.

More to follow

These reliability issues have been very hard to troubleshoot and get a real picture of how widespread they are, especially as we wait for the establishment of a substantive AV team. Please bear with us while we work on this issue, and we’ll update you as we things progress.

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