This post is about preparing for the world of live online streaming video. You're probably more familiar with the term webinar. But the reality is that innovations in technology have made streaming live video content feasible for any online application. Most of the online streaming video apps are best used via mobile device. However more and more are coming to the desktop like blab.im, Huzza.io, and others. The following tips and tricks on setting up your space applies to both webinars and live streaming...and any other time you'll be presenting yourself on video from your workspace.
If you are impatient and don't want to read this. Here are the things I will be recommending and you can hit up amazon right now:
- Logitech C920 - $70
- Blue Yeti Microphone - $125
- LED light (preferably with dimmer switch) - $30
- Floor Tripod - Standard photography/video tripod - The Ravelli is light and cheap - $15.
- Desktop Tripod - small tripod for mobile device - This small one is only $10.
- BONUS Tripod - The PakPod is a great medium sized tripod that works great on the desktop as well. I love this tripod, but if its not your style then go for a medium or large flexible bendable tripod or GuerillaPod
Live Steaming Video (and Webinars)
Most of us plan ahead for webinars and other live video events. Planning ahead gives us the best opportunity to be in the best possible location for the event. Your desk/office is most likely your location of choice. So with that in mind, you should spend some time prepping your space for online streaming events.
In some cases you will be participating in webinars and live streaming events via audio only. But in the case of live streaming you may find yourself wanting to jump into the main conversation via video. In which case its good to be prepared with your “good” webcam ready to go. You can always use the builtin webcam and mic. However, if you have time to prepare, have your webcam mounted and tested before the event begins.
Webcam: Logitech C920
The only webcam I ever recommend is the Logitech C920. It’s a solid piece of tech with high quality output of both audio and video. And as a bonus feature on the C920 it comes with a 1/4”x20 threaded tripod connector. This one feature improves the flexibility significantly giving almost unlimited image angle options. Those options are only limited by your location and your choice of tripods.
Getting setup is the trick. It will take a few events and setup configurations before you get it just the way you like it. Take all of these tips into consideration and don’t be afraid to experiment. The small compact size of the C920 makes it ideal for the road warrior as well. There is no need to settle for your builtin camera and mic just because you are traveling. Just drop it in your bag when ever you are traveling. Just in case. Besides you never know when it might come in handy for rescuing a colleague for their unplanned live streaming sales call.
Get a good small or medium sized tripod to mount the webcam. Or if you are resting it on the top of your laptop then make sure you raise your laptop. use a box, books, stack of magazines, anything. The key is to get the camera at eye level, and/or nearest the screen area you will be looking at the most. It’s almost impossible to continuously stare into the camera lens for a significant length of time. Getting your camera at eye level and nearest your screen content will make your glances less awkward.
Microphone: Blue Yeti and RODE VideoMic Pro
The C920 has a good builtin microphone for any situation. So use it. But if you want to improve your sound I would recommend an external microphone. When I’m at my desk I will use a more complex audio setup that includes a mixer and other gear. Or I will use the Blue Yeti which is a fantastically versatile microphone. I’ll go into more detail about advanced setups in a different post.
When I’m on the road or even just in the other room I will use my RODE videomic pro mounted on a mini tripod. The RODE gives you more control over the sound quality than the builtin mic. And since its already a directional mic, it will cut down on environmental noise. The only downside is the cost. It's pricey! I'm sure there are cheaper video microphones you can get to serve the same purpose.
TIP: If your video mic is meant for a video camera's "hot shoe", then you will need get an adaptor that is a "cold shoe" adaptor with a 1/4"x20 on the bottom for tripod mounting.
Lighting Will Make or Break Your Image
Lighting!!! You need at least one good light source. Sometimes a window is good enough, but often you will wish for something better, or something to supplement the window light. This is where the wonderful world of LED lights comes in. You can get a good sized LED might that runs on a battery for pretty cheap. Most of them come with 1/4"x20 mounts for tripod use. They also come in different sizes and many have dimmer switches as well for maximum versatility in just about any situation.
TIP: Avoid positioning yourself with the window behind you. You should be facing the window or have the window on one side or the other.