Technology

How to create the best at-home videoconferencing setup, for every budget

Your life maybe It involves a lot more videoconferencing than just a few weeks ago – even though it already involves a lot more. It is not likely to change anytime soon, so why not make the most of it? The average MacBook webcam can technically get the job done, but it is far from impressive. There are many ways to enhance your game, however – either by little or full expense. Whether you just want to improve your daily virtual stand-up, are ready to present in a virtual conference, or are planning a new video podcast, here’s what you have to do to create what you’ve got , Some advice has been given about this, or what if you really want to maximize your video and audio quality.

Level 0

Turn on a light and put it in the right place

One of the easiest things you can do to improve the look of your video is to turn on whatever light you have and put it behind the camera that shines on your face. This may mean moving a lamp, or moving your computer if all of your available lights are in a fixed position, but it can make a dramatic difference. Check out these examples below, screen caught from me Microsoft Surface Book 2 (which is actually a very good built-in video camera as far as a built-in video camera).

The image above is without any light beyond the ceiling light of the room, and the image below is turning on a lamp and directing it from the top and back of the surface book to my face. This has changed enough to make me watch it less as I am surprised with my video, and as I am actually attending a meeting I am about to attend.

Be aware of what’s behind you

It is certainly too much to ask to set your surroundings for each video call you jump, but it is worth taking each other to check what is appearing in the frame. Ideally, you can find a place where the background is quite low, showing some organized decoration. Close doors that are in the frame, and try not to film in front of an open window. And if you’re living in an epidemic-induced mess of clutter, just shake the clutter until it breaks out of the frame.

Know your system sound settings

To know where the input volume settings are for your device and operating system. This is generally not too much of a problem, as most applications and systems determine very sensible defaults, but if you are also doing something unusual such as having another person sitting away from your laptop to fit the frame Try, then put the input audio slider up to make sure you can hear what you have to say if you want to turn on.

It can probably run directly in any app you’re using, but on a Mac, try going to System Preferences> Sound> Input to check if the level for the device you’re using is directly Can be run, and tweak if it produces results.

Level 1

Get an external webcam

The built-in webcam in most notebooks and all is not going to be great, and you can almost always improve things by purchasing a dedicated webcam instead. Right now, it can be difficult to find them in stock, as many people have the same need to boost the quality of videoconferencing at the same time. But if you can also get your hands on an option like budget upgrade Logitech C922 Pro Stream 1080p Webcam I used for the clip below, this should help with sharpness, low light performance, color and more.

Get a basic usb mic

Dedicated external mixes are another way to quickly boost your setup for a relatively low cost. In the clip above, I used Popular Samson Meteor USB Mic, Which has built-in feet and dedicated volume / mute control. This mic contains everything you need, and should work immediately when you plug it into the USB, and it produces great sound that is ideal for tone.

Get some headphones

Any type of headphones will improve your video calls and conferences, as it reduces the echo of taking audio from your mic from your own speakers. Larger ear models are good for sound quality, while earbuds make for less clear headwear in your actual video image.

Level 2

Use a dedicated camera and an HDMI-to-USB interface

If you already have a standalone camera, including just about any consumer pocket camera with HDMI out capabilities, it’s worth choosing an HDMI-to-USB video capture interface to give it a higher quality web Can be converted into a camera. I’m using it in the clip below Sony RX100 VII, Which is definitely on the high end of the consumer pocket camera market, but there are many options that should give you almost the same level of quality, including older RX100 models Sony .

When looking for an HDMI interface, make sure that they advertise that it works with videoconferencing apps like Zoom, Hangout and Skype on Mac and Windows, with no software required: this means they have UVC capabilities , Which means that the operating system will recognize them as webcams without any driver downloads or special applications out of the box. Switch to. These are more in demand due to COVID-19, so the Elgato Cam Link 4K used here is probably nowhere in ready stock. Instead, see options like IOGear Video Capture Adapter or Magewell usb 3.0 capture Consider upgrading to a device, or possibly a dedicated live broadcast deck such as the Blackmagic ATEM Mini I won’t talk more about below.

Get wired love mic

A simple wired lovelier (love) microphone is a great way to upgrade your audio game, and it doesn’t have to cost that much. You can get a wired love that performs very decently at $ 20 Amazon, And you can use a USB version to connect directly to your computer, even if you don’t have a 3.5mm input port. Rhodes Lavalier G.O. There is a great mid-range option that works well with the Wireless Go transmitter and receiver kit that I will mention in the next section. Its main limitation is that depending on the length of the cord, you can be very limited in terms of your range of motion when using one.

Get multiple lights and position them effectively

Lighting is a rabbit hole going to great depths, but getting a pair of lights that you can move where you need them most is a good, inexpensive way to get started. Amazon offers a wide range of lighting kits that fit the bill, or you can do great with just a couple as well Phillips Hue lights in Gooseneck lamps are positioned correctly and adjusted to the correct temperature and brightness.

Level 3

Use an interchangeable lens camera and a sharp lens

The next step from a decent compact camera is one that features interchangeable lenses. This allows you to add a nice, sharp prime lens with a high maximum aperture (aka low fast f ‘number) to give the background a clear background. It allows you to be naturally different from what is behind you, and provides a cinematic experience that will wake up your monthly on-hand colleagues.

Get a wireless lav mic

A lav mic is great, but a wireless lav mic is also better. This means that you don’t have to worry about hitting the end of your cable, or getting it tangled up in other cables in your workspace, and it’s really about the audio interface you use to get your sound into the computer. May provide greater flexibility in context. , Too. Here is a great option Go RODE Wireless, Which can work on its own or together with mikes such as the RODE Lavalier GO for great or flexible sound.

Use in-ear monitor

You still want to use headphones at this level, but the best way to actually use in-ear monitors is to try their best to disappear from sight. You can get some dedicated broadcast-style monitors, such as the Shure makes, or you can spring for a really good pair of Bluetooth headphones with low latency and the latest version of Bluetooth. Apple’s AirPods Pro is a great alternative, such as the Bang & Allfusen E8 are fully wireless earbuds, which I’ve used extensively without any noticeable lag.

Use 3-point light


At this stage, it is time to really move forward and get serious about lighting. The best balance, especially in terms of streaming, videoconferencing and customization to do anything from your desk, is to choose at least two of Elgato’s, basically Key light or Key light light air.

These are LED panel lights with built-in diffusers that do not have a steep learning curve, and come with very strong articulating tube mounts with desk clamps, and which are connected to Wi-Fi via a smartphone or desktop application. Connect. You can adjust their temperature, which means you can make them either ‘blue’ or more orange depending on your needs, as well as turning their brightness.

Using three of these, you can set one Standard 3-point lighting Which are ideal for interviews or people speaking directly to the camera – use aka just about every virtual conference / meeting / event / webinar you can think of.

Level 4

Get an HDMI broadcast switcher deck

HDMI-USB capture devices do a good job converting most cameras to webcams, but if you really want to give yourself multiple options, you can upgrade like a broadcast switching interface. Blackmagic Atom Mini. Released last year, the ATEM Mini packs in a number of features that were originally originally only available to video professionals, and provides them with an easy-to-use look, which is really surprising given the fact that How much can she do?

When paired with a good camera, the ATEM Mini can add a lot to your video capabilities, allowing you to still create graphics, and computer input to show videos, work in graphics apps, display code, or play Switching on is allowed. You can set the picture-in-picture view, insert lower thirds and even fade-black using hardware buttons dedicated to that purpose.

But if you really want to get the most out of the ATEM Mini, you can also add a second or third and fourth camera to the mix. For most uses, this is probably too much camera – there are only so many angles that one can find in the end, while talking. But if you get creative with camera placement and subjects, it’s a fun and interesting way to break a stream, especially if you’re doing something like giving a speech or an extended presentation. The new ATEM Mini Pro is just starting to ship, and also offers built-in recording and streaming.

Use a broadcast quality shotgun mic

The ATEM Mini has two dedicated audio inputs that really give you a lot of flexibility on that front. For example, attaching outputs to an iPod touch may allow you to use that device as an easy soundboard to step up intro and title music, plus sound effects. And it also means that you can route sound from a high-quality mic, provided you have the right interface.

For high level streaming quality, I recommend moving to a good, broadcast-quality shotgun mic, with minimal sacrifices required in terms of video. Rode VideoMic NTG There’s a nice entry-level option that has flexibility when it also becomes on-camera mountable, but something like the Road NTG3m is mounted on a boom arm and placed outside the frame, with the mic at the end of your mouth. The side is tilted down, providing the best possible results.

Add accent light

You’ve got your 3-point lighting – but as I said, lighting is an almost endless rabbit hole. Accent lighting can help extend the professionalism of your video even further, and is also very easy to use and easily available devices. The Philips Hue is probably my favorite way to add a little more vitality to any scene, and if you’re already a Hue user, you can do just about any of their color bulbs. Recent releases from Philips such as Hue Play Smart LED Light Bars are essentially tailor-made for this use, and you can daisy-chain up to three on a power adapter to create awesome accent wall lighting effects.

All of this, of course, is not required at all for basic video conferencing, virtual hangouts and meetings. But even if we think that remote video is going to be a big part of our lives, even when we return to some kind of normalcy in the wake of COVID-19, it depends on which elements of your system to upgrade Your budget and requirements are worth considering, and hopefully this article provides some guidance.

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