In my last blog post I talked about how I have used the time at home to improve the audio quality of my Digital Supply Chain podcast. Now in this post I want to talk about how I have gone on to improve the video quality I’m able to put out – this works for video recording, for live-streaming, but as a nice byproduct, also for Zoom/Team calls, webinars, and the like.
So, how did I fare? You be the judge. In the images above (click to enlarge) you can see the before and after images from Zoom calls. In the first image, I am simply using my laptop’s built-in webcam for the call, whereas in the second image I’m using my all new setup which is capable of live-streaming 4K video. Scroll to the end of this post for a video showcasing the results 👇🏻
So, how did I achieve this? To be honest, it was a steep learning curve, but I’ll try to summarise what I learned below.
- it is going to sound obvious, but to get high quality 4K video, you are going to need a good camera – one that is capable of putting out 4K video (duh!) and clean HDMI (I had no idea what “clean HDMI” was before embarking on this journey – fortunately my colleague Timo Elliott had embarked on this journey long before this crisis, so he was able to give me some pointers, including the need for a camera with clean HDMI out). I opted for a Canon EOS R which is a bit of overkill for this job, but I already had a collection of good Canon lenses, so it made sense for me to purchase a camera capable of utilising them. A quick Google search will bring up a long list of articles each with lists of cameras with clean HDMI out.
- The next thing is to sort out how to get the HDMI feed from the camera into the laptop. The HDMI port on most computers is for putting out a HDMI signal (to an external monitor or data projector, for example), not for receiving one, so you need a HDMI capture card to convert the HDMI signal to a USB one that you can then feed into the USB port on the computer. Many people recommend the Elgato Camlink capture card, but they have been out of stock everywhere I looked for months now, so I opted for a Digitnow! one instead (I hadn’t come across the brand before, but it had good reviews), and it is doing a superb job!
- Now that we have the 4K video coming from the camera into the computer we need to be able to use it for recording video, for Zoom/Teams calls, for Webinars and/or live-streaming. To achieve this you need software like ManyCam or if you are Mac based (like me), you can use ecamm Live. I have used both, and I can strongly recommend Ecamm Live over ManyCam for a variety of reasons. ManyCam is glitchy (currently it has issues working with Zoom), its user interface is challenging to navigate and settings are often forgotten by the app, and support isn’t the best. ecamm Live on the other hand has a very easy to use interface, it is rock solid in terms of reliability, and fortunately, I have not had any reason to check out whether or not it has good support, but I suspect it does(!). The other thing that really sold me on Ecamm Live is that there is a really good set of short tutorials on its use over on YouTube. Checking these out before getting the software allowed me to see its capabilities, and ease of use. ecamm also has a 14 day trial option (without asking for credit card details) so you really can try before you rent (yes rent – Ecamm is a subscription service, not a purchase and I see this as a good thing because the developers are constantly rolling out new features, so it is continuously improving). By the way, to use your 4K video in Zoom or Teams, you will need to install the Virtual Cam option which is only available with the ecamm Live Pro option.
- The next thing you will need is a green screen (aka chroma key). This can be as easy pinning some green cloth to the wall behind you, or you can go for a commercially available one. I chose the latter route and ponied up for an elgato Green Screen. This one is handy because it is free standing, and doesn’t require any supports. elgato also have a green screen that can be hung from the ceiling.
- You should also have key lights. These are lights which you place behind your screen facing you to illuminate your face. Ideally you have two, one on either side of your screen for even illumination and they should give off controllable, diffuse light, so the light on your face is not too harsh. I opted for a pair of Elgato Key Light Airs. They have built-in wifi and come with an app for your smart phone, and your computer so you can quickly and easily adjust your light temperature and brightness. For the app to work on your computer though, your computer needs to be connected to wifi. Not a problem, right? Wrong, because…
- The final piece of the puzzle is, your computer should use a wired connection for Internet access, not wifi. Wifi is great for most things, no doubt about it, but when you need a rock steady connection for pushing out broadcast quality video, a wired connection is your only real option. Also, obviously a good internet connection is required, but if you’re working from home, you already have that, don’t you?
And the results?
I shot this quick video to let you see the kind of output you can expect:
That’s it. It took a few trials and errors, but now I have the ability to output amazing broadcast video, either in a Livestream, or recorded like the one above.
If you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below, and I’ll try my best to answer them.
When I was in Barcelona for TechEd last year Charles Torre did a video interview with me. We had a wide ranging chat about data centre energy efficiency strategies, blogs/blogging and the Death Star!
Charles emailed me last night to let me know that the interview has now been published on Channel 9 (Channel 9 is a very high trafficked online forum where videos are posted and discussions on those videos take place).
It has already been viewed over 600 times!
The player is SilverLight and doesn’t appear to work on the Mac for some reason but there is a link to a .wmv version of the video so you can download and watch locally.
I watched Creative Commons champion Prof. Larry Lessig‘s fantastic presentation to the TED Conference earlier today in awe.
How can you take a subject as potentially mind-numbing as copyright law and turn it into a standing-ovation inducing call-to-arms?
Watch the master in action to see:
I have always wanted to fly. And I have no fear of heights – hence I have climbed the CIX mast numerous times (with appropriate safety gear!).
However, just watching these guys in wingsuits scares the hell out of me! I don’t think I’d ever raise the nerve to do that.
via Chris Abraham
Good friend Marshall Kirkpatrick broke the news yesterday that Google were going to start offering video ads to people publishing ads using Google’s Adsense program. I use Adsense to publish the few ads that are on this site.
The official announcement on the Adsense blog contains a non-functioning video (not a good start) and the following caveats:
Video units will be live in AdSense accounts later today (10/9). Currently this feature is open only to publishers located in the United States with English-language websites.
How well this works will depend very much on the targeting, I suspect. Video ads for cool new gadgets would do far better on this site than video ads for, say, Shiseido’s latest age re-perfect, vitamin enhanced, moisturiser.
I’ll have to consider, if I roll this out, where to place it in the page’s design.
In case you haven’t come across it elsewhere already today, Conn O’Muineachain has launched a channel on Intruders.tv focussing on Irish startups.
From the About page:
Our main objective is to take you to the major conferences and events around the world, interview entrepreneurs and investors, visit exciting startups and give you a first look at the hottest technology.
We will meet face to face with the major players in our industry and have open conversations with them about their work, current projects, entrepreneurship and whatever else comes to mind!
Intruders TV Ireland is operated by Edgecast Media Ltd. If you would like to contact us with suggestions, comments, corrections, please email conn(at)intruders(dot)tv.
That’s excellent news, congrats to Conn and the Intruders team for getting this off the ground. Conn, you’ll have to come along to the it@cork conference this year to get some footage – the speaker list hasn’t been published but I can tell you it will blow your socks off!
Like my own first video podcast, Conn’s first interview is with (the normally shy and retiring – not!) Conor O’Neill. Am I imagining it or is Conor wearing the same Twitter jumper in both?
Apologies if you came across this post on my PodLeaders.com site already but I posted an interview I did with Walter Higgins there last week and I know there are some readers of this blog not subscribed to PodLeaders so I thought I’d post it here too.
Walter’s company Sxoop Technologies are the creators od Pxn8 – an online photo editor (think Photoshop in a browser).
Here’s the interview:
There are direct download links on the PodLeaders post.
The Technology Transfer Initiative, UCC, & Computer Science Department, UCC, are launching the Multimedia Innovation Network at UCC on Thursday, July 5th at 5pm.
The network is free to join and has as its aims to promote Cork as a centre of excellence in multimedia, to promote research between UCC and the Multimedia Industry, and also to establish connections in the Multimedia sector.
The keynote speaker at the launch event is Dr. Anil Kokaram, Senior Lecturer & Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin. Anil is a prominent researcher, and renowned in the film industry, as illustrated by his recent award of a Technical Oscar for his work.
It ounds really interesting, I must try to make it along.
In the last few days I have noticed a marked slow-down in the rate in which YouTube videos are downloading.
As far as I canÂ see there are three possible explanations:
- YouTube is suddenly being swamped by traffic and can’t serve up videos as fast
- YouTube video file sizes have increased (if a new codec was deployed, for example) – unlikely as older videos are also coming down slowly
- My ISP (Eircom – no link on purpose!) has suddenly started throttling YouTube content -Â this is quite a strong possibility, I imagine.
I can certainly imagine Eircom wanting to slow down video consumption on their network so have any other Eircom users noticed this too, or is it just me.
On the other hand, if you are not an Eircom user and have also noticed a slow-down of video from YouTube in the last few days, leave a comment here too – it may be one of my first two guesses.
Or a fourth or fifth which I haven’t even thought about!
I have just published my second video podcast – an interview with Jan Blanchard of touristr.
I got loads of great feedback on my first vidcast and I tried to take as much of it on board, as possible.
Click To Play
As always, please feel free to leave feedback in the comments.