UCLA Residential Life

Catchbox Case Study

UCLA Catchbox

Engaging & Empowering Student Life on the Hill

Published on: May 10, 2016

Going to University is an experience that all students remember for the rest of their lives. A big part of that experience is academic learning while the other half is all about social development and growing as a person. UCLA Residential Life creates safe, supportive, and inclusive living-learning communities that engage student residents in the fostering of their academic success, personal growth, leadership development, and social responsibility.

To help students engage, the Res Life team organizes thousands of events per year around the residential areas of the campus. In many of those events, they use Catchbox as their go-to audience engagement solution.

We had the pleasure of speaking with our man on the inside, Andy Zepp, who is the Audio Visual Systems Specialist at UCLA Residential Life.

Keeping Busy with Event Production at Res Life

“We help put on thousands of events every year ranging from small student group meetings to hosting TEDxUCLA talks. From a technical viewpoint, we have dozens of sound systems, displays, projectors and miles of cable that we check in and out daily for everything that is going on. It’s a lot to keep track of!”

“There are a good amount of presentations or meetings that are linked to general education and relevant staff meetings, but we like to keep things interesting around here. We’ve had spoken word showcases, dance performances, movie screenings, live music, tech expos, debates, and celebrity Q&A’s to name a few. Some of our larger events get into the thousands, but in general, I’d say the average meeting we hold has about 50-100 people.”

Conference hall

The Dreaded Stick Microphone

“At our meetings, we’d pass around a microphone like every other place on earth and it just never struck me as interesting. That, or we wouldn’t use a microphone at all – You’d just have to stand up and yell out whatever you wanted to say to the group. I’m pretty shy myself, so having to make such a scene to get my 2 cents out there never seemed too appealing. Essentially, we were making do with what we had, but it wasn’t working that well.”

Something AV Professionals Can Appreciate

“It was after hearing about Catchbox from our Associate Director of Leadership and Engagement that I looked it up online. At the time, even though there was a good amount of information available about Catchbox as well as various articles on how it worked and what had influenced the design, I wasn’t totally convinced. This is definitely the type of product that you have to try hands-on to unleash it’s full appeal.”

“A big purchasing factor for us was the fact that we were able to integrate this new microphone into our already extensive audio inventory. I was very pleased to have the option to use our own transmitters as we already had equipment that we knew how to use and were happy with.”

Automatic Muting is a Blessing

“Every doubt we had was squashed when we received the Catchbox. It was very apparent as soon as we opened the box that this was a very well thought out product. The muting circuitry (Automute) was what really lit up my face with a smile. Coming from a production background, it was nice to see a company who clearly cared about audio quality with the right amount of mute delay and slight volume ramping to make the on/off of the mute virtually inaudible, even for picky sound operators.”

UCLA meeting

Where there’s Audience Participation, Catchbox follows

“We use Catchbox any time we might have audience participation. We’ve brought it to discussions to tackle tough issues, meetings to share announcements, Q&A sessions to better hear participants, lectures, and intense activities where a regular microphone has a greater chance of getting damaged.”

“Our department is now all very familiar with the Catchbox, but if we’re showing it to someone new, a quick back and forth between two people up front will do the trick. The ‘X’ on the top makes it really obvious for folks to know where the words go. Occasionally we’ll take a little more time with it, but I’ve noticed that its best to learn by doing – Why waste everyone’s time with it? Otherwise we’d be walking around a microphone and not explaining anything at all.”

UCLA and Catchbox

Creating a Positive Atmosphere

“People are definitely more willing to catch a box then request a microphone. It also keeps the mood light in the room. When someone throws the box around, I feel like there is a natural draw to watch the throw to see if it’s a good catch or not. Peoples faces light up or even cheer when a great pass is completed. Then if there’s is a miss… The whole place laughs or reacts somehow. The physical nature of the box definitely brings an energy that I haven’t seen with anything else in our events.”

“In addition, it’s really great to be able to brand the Catchbox. The UCLA brand resonates within the student community and creates sense of identity around it. Being able to integrate that feeling to a quirky tool like is awesome, especially when we take it abroad to conferences.”

Huge thanks to Andy Zepp for sharing your Catchbox Story with us. Before we part, Andy still has one piece of last minute advice for anyone operating Catchbox:

“As a AV professional, my advice is that you should always check your mic pack gain when using the Catchbox module. It’s easy to set the gains high when checking the thing, but you can run into some feedback problems if you’re not careful.”

More UCLA Residential Life:

Website: UCLA Residential Life

Instagram: @UCLAhousing

Twitter: @UCLAhousing

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