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Collaborative performance connects across the world

Members of CIT’s Network Engineering and Video Engineering teams answered a unique request from Associate Professor of Music Kevin Ernste, Director of Cornell’s Electroacoustic Music Center. Ernste’s project was to connect three different locations; Ithaca, Syracuse, and Beijing, so that a collaborative “telematic” musical performance could take place simultaneously in all three locations.

Ernste put in a request to the IT Service Desk asking about the network at Cornell and what was available. “That’s when we got the request,” says Eric Cronise Manager of Network Engineering. “He needed an Internet2 connection, and needed to know if Cornell was using IPv6. Thankfully, the Cornell campus already has Internet2 connectivity, and Network Engineering has been working with IPv6 for a number of years, so we were familiar with what was needed.”

Ernste needed these two things because in order for the performance to work he would need lower latency and high bandwidth. Network Engineering set up a temporary connection to his studios so that he could connect to the performance using Internet2, a lower latency, high bandwidth connection used by higher education and research institutes. Beijing was using IPV6, the most recent internet protocol, and so Ernste needed to have that on his end as well to make it work.

“Eric and I talked about how we could have this temporary network in place for this performance, and how I would be able to access it,” says Ernste. “There was a very quick, immediate response from CIT, and the timeline was quite quick, just a few weeks, they just jumped on it, and did what I needed.”

Andy Page, Manager of CIT's Video Engineering team was brought in when the software Ernste was going to use to connect to the performances, still in active development in Beijing, didn’t yet meet their expectations. Instead, Page was able to provide hardware for the performance that would take the software’s place. The hardware was configured for IPV6 and allowed Ernste to take the video and the audio that was in his studio and convert it into data that ran over the network.

“The key was to minimize latency and allow synchronization and we were able to provide that,” says Page. “It was a non-standard solution, but an excellent collaboration between Network Engineering, Video Engineering, and Kevin Ernste.”

The performance took place with a dancer and electronic sounds being provided in Ithaca; a pianist and other musicians in Syracuse; and a painter in Beijing. “I want to do it again,” says Ernste. “Now that we've gone through it once, I'm clearer about the pieces, and I have the contacts here at Cornell who can help me attack parts of it along the way. The networks are in place, making it easier to tackle this creatively. There is a ton of potential.”

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