Tag: video

Six steps to amazing broadcast-quality 4K video for your working from home Zoom meetings

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.

Screenshot of Zoom call in 4K


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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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…
  6. 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.

Video production basics for social sustainability

Recording equipment

Of course, blogging should be only one of the weapons in your Social Sustainability arsenal.

Other tools you should be using include, FaceBook, Twitter (obviously), LinkedIn (their Groups feature particularly), Flickr and YouTube. I will be dealing with all of these tools in future posts – for now I’m going to have a quick talk about my video setup.

I publish videos for GreenMonk reasonably regularly over on the RedMonk TV channel on YouTube.

I’m often asked about the equipment I use to create the videos and, to be honest it is quite basic.

For remote interview videos, where the interviewee and I are not together, I typically use Skype video calling and a plug-in for Skype called Call Recorder which allows me to record both sides of the call. I then edit the video using iMovie – all very cheap and simple to deploy and yet the results can be surprisingly good.

But for higher quality videos you really need to be there with a decent video camera.

My video camera up to recently was my Sony Handycam (seen above on the right). I used it with a bluetooth wireless microphone to capture the audio and the resulting audio and video was quite good to be honest.

However, when I recently upgraded my personal camera for photographs, I chose a Canon EOS 7D (above in middle – see also on Amazon). This camera, as well as taking stills, can take full HD video so I now use this for stills and video and have one less camera to carry with me. Also, the camera, when coupled with a good lens like the EF-S 17-55mm f2.8 (see also on Amazon) on it in this picture, takes excellent quality video.

The biggest drawback of using the 7D as a video camera is that its inbuilt audio recording is poor. There are a number of ways of getting over this, such as the use of shotgun microphones connected to the audio input of the camera but I heard mixed reports on the quality from that.

I decided instead to opt for an external audio recorder. After a bit of research, I went with the Zoom H4n (seen above on left).

Now I record the audio on the H4n and the video on the 7D. I then import both the audio and video tracks into iMovie and splice them together. It’s a little bit extra work but the results are great.

Recently Adobe were good enough to comp me a copy of their video editing software Premiere Pro – I’m currently learning my way around that and looking forward to trying to use it for some real video work.

If you have any questions on video production, feel free to leave them in the comments – I can’t promise to be able to answer them but, if I can’t, perhaps someone else reading the question will!!!

You should follow me on Twitter here

TrickleStar demo’s their energy saving devices

I attended the Smart Grids Europe Conference 2010 in Amsterdam last week. One of the people displaying there was Thomas Joergensen of TrickleStar.

TrickleStar are not a Smart Grid company per se, what they offer instead are devices to cut down on energy consumption in the home. As such, their clients are utility companies who want to help their customers cut their consumption as well as companies and individual homeowners interested in reducing their energy bills.

What kind of devices do they have? As can be seen from the video, the two main devices they were showcasing at the conference stand were ones which cut standby power to your peripherals (monitor, printer, ext hd, etc.) when you shut off your computer. Given I have already published some videos about the amount of electricity drawn by devices in standby mode (phantom load), I was delighted to see these great solutions.

I asked Thomas if there was any metering functionality in the devices and he said that was something they were working on.


Smart Grid Heavy Hitter series – Kevin Meagher, CTO EDSA

EDSA are an interesting company. They are 25 years old, they are privately held and they focus on power analytics. I had an opportunity to have EDSA’s CTO, Kevin Meagher, on the show so I jumped at it to find out more about their smart grid solutions for micro-grid integration.

Kevin and I had a great chat, we talked about:

  • Kevin and EDSA’s definition of a Smart Grid
  • The importance of micro-grids to the smart grid
  • EDSA’s micro-grid management software and their target customers
  • The changing face of energy generation with the likelihood of community microgrids coming together to do energy arbitrage
  • Trends in energy storage systems and
  • Differences in roll outs of micro-grids in varying geographies and regulations and incentives affecting them

Smart Grid Heavy Hitter series – Tropos Networks CEO, Tom Ayers

In this, the fifth of my Smart Grid Heavy Hitters’ interviews, I talk to the CEO of Tropos Networks, Tom Ayers. Tropos develop wireless broadband networks for Smart Grid applications and offer complete network management, as well as enhanced security features. Tropos is the only wireless broadband network provider with FIPS 140-2 certification.

Tom and I had a great chat, we talked about:

  • Tom and Tropos’ definition and the benefits of a Smart Grid
  • Why we need Smart Grids and the efficiency gains we will achieve from them
  • The security issues round wireless Smart Grids
  • Tropos IP, Smart Grid standards and open protocols
  • Best practice Smart Grid rollouts

Smart Grid Heavy Hitter series – Silver Springs Networks’ Raj Vaswani

This is the third of my Smart Grid Heavy Hitters’ interviews, and in it I talked to the CTO of Silver Springs Networks, Raj Vaswani.

It was a great interview – in it we talked about:

  • Raj’s definition and the benefits of a Smart Grid
  • The fact that, to-date Smart Grids are quite notional
  • How long it will be before home energy portals, vehicle to grid, and similar technologies will emerge and
  • The differences between Europe and the US in terms of Smart Grid rollouts

I wanted to go on for longer but unfortunately we ran out of time!


November chat with IBM’s Rich Lechner

Rich Lechner is IBM’s VP of Energy and Environment.

He is a regular interviewee here where we discuss various matters related to energy and environment. This interview was recorded while I was at the SAP TechEd 2009 event in Vienna in a crowded interview room so I apologise in advance for the poorer than normal audio and video quality.

In this show we discussed IBM’s recently released Solution Architecture For Energy and Utilities Framework (SAFE) and we had a quick chat about the recently published Green IT for Dummies book.

[Disclosure] The Green IT for Dummies book was written with input from IBM and I served as technical editor for the book. Having said that, I hadn’t seen the completed book until Rich held it up during the video and the link to the book on Amazon above is not an affiliate link – I get no monies from its sales.

Intruders.tv launches in Ireland

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?

Video interview with Walter Higgins of Sxoop.com

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.

Multimedia Innovation Network launch

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.