Does more equipment = a better webcast?

Conversations around originating a webcast for conference, including cameras and mixers.
sammythesm
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Does more equipment = a better webcast?

Postby sammythesm » Tue Dec 06, 2011 9:43 pm

I have a few questions about some webcasting particulars as I get ready to meet with our stake presidency about purchasing equipment for an upcoming conference:

1. Audio - is it enough to just use the chapel audio (the podium mic being the single source for all music (organ playing), choir music, and speakers? Or do you get that much better a broadcast by using a separate audio system to feed the webcast? (i.e. a separate mixer with choir mics, organ input, and podium mic)

2. Multiple cameras - does it really produce that much better of a webcast if you use multiple cameras? Or does a single camera in the back do just as well? Any creative camera placement out there (i.e. wide congregation shots for during prelude and rest hymns)?

3. Camera models - is the Sony EVI-D70 still the best camera for the job? Are there any other higher quality, lower cost, or even HD-ready cameras come onto the market that you've had success with? If we're going to spend a few thousand on cameras, I'd like to feel like it's a future-proof system.

Thanks in advance for your opinions and experiences.

russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Tue Dec 06, 2011 9:49 pm

In asnwer to "Does more equipment = a better webcast?", for #1 and #2, I'd say "yes". The question is how much better and is it worth it.

You may want to try "basic" and see what the response is. Some people may think the basic is "adequate" but most people will notice the improvement and it will seem less like "amateur hour".
Have you searched the Wiki?
Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

michaelfish
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Postby michaelfish » Wed Dec 07, 2011 8:24 am

  1. Using only the pulpit microphone: Great for talks. However choirs, soloists and prelude may not be loud enough in receiving locations unless addition microphones are used and a way to control them is employed. Plugging additional microphones into the building sound system to cover the choir will most often increase feedback and decrease sound quality if they are not turned off by the sound system (noise gate) when not in use. If a choir is really large, you may get by using only the pulpit microphone. However, the pulpit microphone is insufficient for the following situations:
    • Prelude music: A pulpit mic will amplify the ambient noise from the congregation in the chapel, so the receiving locations actually hear more talking and conversations than what is actually there. Increasing the gain for more prelude music only results in increasing the amount of conversation noise. An ideal solution to this is to tap off the organ (line out) or mic the organ speaker or piano and feed the signal into a separate audio mixer.
    • Soloists: Musical instruments and soloists are usually much quieter than the overall volume level of the choir and cannot be adequately amplified by the pulpit microphone. Placing microphones in close proximity to the source is an ideal solution.
  2. Multiple cameras: A single camera is all you need for a conference, but distracting movements and the lack of skill of a camera operator can result in a poor viewing experience by hundreds of people. Adding an additional camera increases the professionalism of conference. For example, using more than one camera can:
    • Allow one of the cameras to be positioned (frame, composition, focus) while the other is broadcast to the receiving locations
    • Break up the boredom and monotony of a single camera angle
    • Bring viewer closer to the experience of being present. For example, cutting to a wide shot as soon as the speaker ends his talk to view see what is going on in the chapel as speakers move to and from the pulpit
    • Camera angles might be moved in a distracting way between shots (i.e. using camera presets on robotic cameras or an inexperienced camera operator). Simply cutting to a different camera hides any distracting movements.
  3. EVI-D70: This Sony camera is versatile, small, can be operated right-side-up or up-side-down, has an appropriate zoom ration for chapels, has very good picture quality (SD) and can be completely controlled remotely. By eliminating a camera operator standing at the camera, it can literally be hidden from the congregation. Every function of the camera can be operated remotely including pan, tilt, zoom, focus, iris and color balance. The price is very affordable (as low as $300). As far as high definition, every link in the transmission must to be HD capable in order to have HD at the other end (camera, cables, video mixer, capture device, adequate upload and download speeds, receiving device, projector, TVs, etc.) Simply adding an HD camera will not result in an HD picture. The intent of the EVI-D70 is remote operation at an affordable price. Obviously the prices of HD products will be more affordable in the future, but as of right now standard definition is much more affordable.
Conclusion: Adding and operating an independent audio mixer for pulpit audio, a couple of microphones for the choir and tapping audio from the organ solve most conference audio problems. Our task is to deliver picture and sound to hundreds of people. Increasing our professionalism to provide the best viewing experience possible with our limited talent and resources without causing distractions will tend to increase the Spirit and a pleasureable viewing experience.

Personal note. For years, several stakes STS and presidencies in my area had been hesitant about adding this kind of equipment, but after a single demonstration of our stake's set up, they were convinced that it is affordable and worth the effort to increase the professionalism of their conferences. Actually seeing a set up and the results can be impressive. If you’re interested in a demonstration, PLEASE contact me with a personal message. I’d be more than happy to help in any way I can.

sammythesm
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Postby sammythesm » Thu Dec 08, 2011 7:23 am

This is a fantastic reply. Thanks for the input!

georgevanleuven
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Chapel Sound and 2 cameras

Postby georgevanleuven » Mon Feb 06, 2012 7:12 pm

To capture chapel sound when webcasting a Stake Conference etc, I connect the camera to a RCA jack in the overflow and then use a hearing impaired receiver from the library with a short homemade double male audio cable used to connect the device to a Mackie 402-VLZ3 Premium 4-Channel Ultra-Compact Audio Mixer and then into the computer sound card. Note that the cable must be unplugged from the hearing impaired device or it will run the battery down and when building the cable, a resister must be added to the internal wires for it to work properly.

I built a small metal bud box with 2 toggle switches on top and 4 RCA jacks along one side - one for RCA to out, 2 for camera 1 and camera 2 and another for connecting a laptop video to RCA converter (was about $90) so with the 2 toggle switches, I can switch between two cameras and a laptop screen (so you don't try to capture the projector image on the big screen with the camera but the actual laptop screen).

We have 4 white push buttons on the front of our satellite cabinet. Button 1 is for satellite throughout the building on the coax connectors. Button 2 allows the camera/webcast image connected to the RCA jack in the overflow made available to tv's connected to any of the coaxes in the building which is handy for Stake Conference (RS Room, Multi-Purpose, hidden corners of the cultural hall, etc.) We bought a 2nd camera which is a JVC camera with 40x optical zoom. Very small and very good pictures.


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