First WebcastÂ…HereÂ’s what we did and how it turned out

Conversations around originating a webcast for conference, including cameras and mixers.
swidmann1
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First Webcast…Here’s what we did and how it turned out

Postby swidmann1 » Sun Jan 22, 2012 7:35 pm

We did our first webcast in the fall of last year. We did it with a very small budget (under $400). More importantly, all of the equipment that was purchased can be used for Stake video conferencing in the future. I believe this should be an important consideration when planning for your webcast. The Church has limited financial resources, we need to use those resources wisely.

Our biggest technical problem was the terrible DSL upstream internet speed. It was a little faster than smoke signals, around 300K (100K LESS than the suggested minimum requirements) https://tech.lds.org/wiki/Meetinghouse_Webcast_requirements
We had hoped to have a better connection, but that did not happen for our first webcast.

We used the following equipment:
·CAMERA- we purchased one Logitech HD Pro C910 camera (under $100). The camera was placed in front of the podium http://www.logitech.com/en-us/webcam-communications/webcams/devices/6816
·AUDIO - we purchased one Chat 50 USB speaker phone was placed on the podium (currently around $120, but can be found cheaper through FM group or on Amazon (I bought it for $80) http://www.clearone.com/personal-usb-speakerphone.html
·SOFTWARE – LDS Meetinghouse Webcast (Cost- $0)
·COMPUTER – We ended up using the ward clerks PC (Cost- $0). We had originally planned on borrowing a member’s PC, but we had problems with it. The clerks PC worked great as it met the system requirements.
·ACCESSORIES – Cables, ties, mounting hardware, mini amplifier (Cost - $150ish)

I’ve attached a short PowerPoint presentation that describes our equipment list along with photos.

One other item. Special thanks should go to Kurt Olson at Church Headquarters. Without his support and advice we may not have had the success we experienced.
Waco Webcast Equipment Guide.ppt
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Attachments
Webcast 2011.jpg
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sammythesm
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Postby sammythesm » Mon Jan 23, 2012 7:29 am

Congratulations on your first successful conference!

Did you get any negative comments from those who spoke about having the camera and computer setup right down front? I know my stk presidency would give me grief about that. They are pretty particular about how things look and work.

As far as occupying the first row and the space in front of the podium? Not like anyone ever sits there anyways, right? :)

lajackson
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Postby lajackson » Mon Jan 23, 2012 12:46 pm

sammythesm wrote:Congratulations on your first successful conference!

Did you get any negative comments from those who spoke about having the camera and computer setup right down front? I know my stk presidency would give me grief about that. They are pretty particular about how things look and work.

As far as occupying the first row and the space in front of the podium? Not like anyone ever sits there anyways, right? :)


The only speaker who commented said she was glad the camera was not HD. We never told her that it really was an HD camera.

The camera was just high enough that most speakers only saw the black wooden dowel when they were not looking at their notes and gazed out over the congregation. And when they do that, the dowel goes out of focus and is not really noticed.

No one on the stand can see the floor in front of the first row, and no one on the second row can see it, either. It would be nice to move the equipment to the side and out of the way, but it served the additional purpose of keeping folks from walking in front of the podium and accidentally rearranging the camera stand in an unwanted manner. That will be evaluated for the next conference. Moving means longer USB cables and other tradeoffs.

The stake presidency was grateful that there was a broadcast at all, especially after they were told by the FM group that a suitable DSL uplink could not be provided and that they should make other arrangements.

swidmann1
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Postby swidmann1 » Mon Jan 23, 2012 2:19 pm

The first row in the chapel was not the ideal location for the equipment, but for our first webcast (along with surprises prior to the webcast) the location worked out. One option for this year would be to use the clerks office as a 'control room' and wire camera and audio cable to the stand. This may not be practical as the cost to extend the USB cable could be expensive. Another option might be to place the PC on the stand and run extensions for operating the PC (ie, keyboard, mouse, etc) to the clerks office.

Connecting the camera to the stand ultimately would be better than placing it on a stand in front of the podium. I came across this Ikea lamp stand hack (see picture below) recently but realize that the lamp stand hardware would be much more distracting than the wooden dowel.

ikea-webcam-jig.jpg
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Because I was in the front row we utilized 'text' messaging between sites to communicate. I made an effort to notify those on the stand prior to the start of stake conference that I would be communicating to our receive point via text message. My concern was that I didn't want our speakers to think I was playing games during the conference while they were speaking.

One other item that I believe is especially important to note. When I first received this assignment I was ready to to create a Steven Spielberg production. (In my first career I spent 20+ years in TV production.) Doing so would have required investing in expensive equipment that basically would only be used twice a year. Fortunately, the Waco Stake Presidency (with their wisdom and inspiration) told me in a very nice way, that I should consider other options (much less expensive). While initially disappointed I was able to better reflect and identify a better solution that met the needs of the members, provided a quality webcast and purchase equipment that will be used in the future for other stake events (stake video conferencing). I'm grateful for the inspiration and guidance they provided me because it made much more sense go the route we went.

harddrive
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Postby harddrive » Tue Jan 24, 2012 6:47 am

swidmann1 wrote:The first row in the chapel was not the ideal location for the equipment, but for our first webcast (along with surprises prior to the webcast) the location worked out. One option for this year would be to use the clerks office as a 'control room' and wire camera and audio cable to the stand. This may not be practical as the cost to extend the USB cable could be expensive. Another option might be to place the PC on the stand and run extensions for operating the PC (ie, keyboard, mouse, etc) to the clerks office.

Connecting the camera to the stand ultimately would be better than placing it on a stand in front of the podium. I came across this Ikea lamp stand hack (see picture below) recently but realize that the lamp stand hardware would be much more distracting than the wooden dowel.




Because I was in the front row we utilized 'text' messaging between sites to communicate. I made an effort to notify those on the stand prior to the start of stake conference that I would be communicating to our receive point via text message. My concern was that I didn't want our speakers to think I was playing games during the conference while they were speaking.

One other item that I believe is especially important to note. When I first received this assignment I was ready to to create a Steven Spielberg production. (In my first career I spent 20+ years in TV production.) Doing so would have required investing in expensive equipment that basically would only be used twice a year. Fortunately, the Waco Stake Presidency (with their wisdom and inspiration) told me in a very nice way, that I should consider other options (much less expensive). While initially disappointed I was able to better reflect and identify a better solution that met the needs of the members, provided a quality webcast and purchase equipment that will be used in the future for other stake events (stake video conferencing). I'm grateful for the inspiration and guidance they provided me because it made much more sense go the route we went.


In my stake, we did things a bit different. We had our building set up to be able to use a camera so that people in other rooms could see the speakers. We also plug the video into a channel modulator. We also had the auxiliary out of the chapel amplifier run to the satellite cabinet to be plugged into a channel modulator.

With this, we are able to put a TV on the coax of the building and to have a TV setup to the correct channel and you can see and hear the speaker like you are watching TV. with that setup, we have split the video and the audio signal. Then we put that into the computer and webcasting out. It works great.

This also keeps the camera in the back of the room so that it is there, but not obvious. So I would suggest that you invest a bit of time and money to make it as clean as possible.

sammythesm
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Postby sammythesm » Tue Jan 24, 2012 7:20 am

swidmann1 wrote:...the Waco Stake Presidency (with their wisdom and inspiration) told me in a very nice way, that I should consider other options (much less expensive). While initially disappointed I was able to better reflect and identify a better solution that met the needs of the members, provided a quality webcast and purchase equipment that will be used in the future for other stake events (stake video conferencing)...


This highlights what I think is the best thing about the current solution: flexibility at the unit level. Not sure if it was by choice or accident, but HQ has created a solution that allows for stakes with varying budgets and vision for webcasting to take advantage of the technology at different price points.

In my stake, we started small - webcasting one coordinating council missionary meeting using equipment we already had. I think our first webcast cost about $75 - all we bought was a usb capture device and some cabling. Everything else was personal or existing equipment.

Seeing the potential, the stake presidency asked me to take it to the next level and get everything we needed to make it look and sound really great for the remote sites. They also gave me the charge to create a system that someone else could easily learn to operate - so that has incurred more expense and I've had to take more time creating documentation to go with the system and to 'package' and label things. It's cost a lot of time and money, but the end product has been worth it.


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