UTSC’s new AuRA System: Delivering Better, Faster, and More Reliable Lecture Recording

(Photo by Ammaarah Mohamed - Event, Filming and Classroom Experience)

UTSC is revolutionizing the way lecture recordings are made with its new AI-powered recording system, the Automated Recording Apparatus (AuRA). This state-of-the-art classroom audio/video system offers a simple design, cost-effectiveness, and scalability, providing a superior recording experience for instructors and students alike.

The demand for online lecture recordings has significantly increased post-pandemic. Despite delivering a high-quality finished product, UTSC’s previous recording system was labor-intensive, time-consuming, and required significant administrative overhead. These challenges restricted UTSC’s recording capacity and hindered the ability to meet the growing expectations of the community. "Ever since IITS took over the WebOption service, I’ve wanted to somehow automate it. The previous system was too reliant on humans and thus prone to errors. We tried a few different methods over the last year. It was challenging to put together a system that is as clean and scalable as possible. AuRA delivers on all of that and more," says Blake Markle, Manager - Event, Filming and Classroom Experience. With the implementation of AuRA, UTSC has now addressed these issues, providing the capacity to accommodate every recording request while delivering a faster and more reliable recording product.



The AuRA system incorporates AI-powered auto-tracking cameras that seamlessly follow the instructor’s movements around the classroom. The new recording system does not follow the audio of the presenter but rather follows the silhouette of a human figure around the front of the classroom. A pre-configured box in the web interface controls the area of the classroom the system can track, enabling the system to snap back to its home position on occasions when the silhouette it locks onto leaves the podium or the area of presentation. The system also captures projected content, such as slides and images, in a separate video stream, along with all audio signals from the podium. Recordings start and stop automatically based on a pre-programmed schedule and are made available in the university’s learning management system, Quercus, within two hours of the class ending. Instructors have the flexibility to preview the recording on the podium monitor and can manually adjust the camera using controls on the touch panel. “The feedback on AuRA has largely been very positive. The faculty appreciates its ease of use and expediency. Currently we are using both AuRA and the WebOption to meet the demand but as we configure more rooms with the new system, it is a high probability that when a request would come in and it would be a room with AuRA,” says Adon Irani, Manager - Educational Innovation and Academic Initiatives.

The system’s hardware requirements are minimal, consisting of a camera, a Dell micro-PC, and an inexpensive video capture device. “We wanted to create a streamlined design that is easy to adopt and does not complicate the installation process. AuRA’s camera footage is transmitted over the existing network connections. We do not have extra boxes that are used to extend the video signal. The camera goes straight into the network switch, and then the computer gets the video over the network using NDI (network device interface). Another minor detail of how we are doing this a little differently than in the past is that the audio is captured digitally over HDMI to help reduce noise and ensure crystal clear sound,” added Blake Markle.

To further enhance the capture capabilities, IITS is currently configuring new AuRA equipment for 15 additional classrooms, set to be operational by Fall 2023. The expansion will increase the availability of high-quality lecture recordings while catering to the evolving needs of the UTSC academic community.

The streamlined design of the new recording system makes it cost-effective and easily scalable for implementation across multiple classrooms, making it an attractive solution for adoption across the campus. “By conducting comprehensive trials, potential issues can be identified and adjustments can be made before the start of the semester. This will ensure a seamless implementation and help in maximizing the benefits of this new technology,” says Blake Markle.

With planned expansions and a focus on thorough testing, UTSC’s IITS continues to strive for innovation in utilizing technology for enhanced teaching and learning experiences.

Contact IT support

If you have timely or urgent request, you can call us or submit a ticket on ServiceNow or visit us in person at one of the locations below. Find us on the Campus map.

Service Desk



Hours of Operation

In person and remote

  • Monday to Friday - 8:45 AM to 5:00 PM
  • Saturday and Sunday - Closed

Student Help Desk



Hours of Operation

In person and remote

  • Monday to Friday - 8:45 AM to 10:00 PM
  • Saturday - 8:45 AM to 6:00 PM
  • Sunday - 12:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Classroom and AV Support



Hours of Operation

In person only

  • Monday to Thursday - 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM
  • Friday - 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
  • Saturday and Sunday - Closed