556: Video Conferencing Deep Dive, with Liana Lehua

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I don’t think this made it into the show notes:

Reincubate Camo - Use your phone as a pro webcam

It’s $40/year to remove the watermark and get the decent functionality.

The other issue is that it is connected to one Mac so if you use more than one Mac regularly you will either have to buy two licenses (at $40/year) or ask them to expand your license to cover multiple Macs. Personally I think that any app that doesn’t work with at least 3-5 Macs is nonsense, and anything that doesn’t work with at least 2 Macs is just being punitive.

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I found it ironic about talking about the quality of audio when the podcast had so much background sounds, dogs barking, birds chirping :joy:

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Agreed, perfectly listenable, no complaints but quite ironic that an a/v pro talking about sound quality should sound like that.

Anyone have any recommendations for a good ring light I can use on my monitor? Ideally under $50? Just trying to get slightly better lighting on my face.

Perhaps they intentionally left it in to demonstrate that people have become more tolerant of slight background noises on video conferences during the pandemic.

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David, what was your equipment for the Shortcuts webinar - lights, camera, streaming equipment? Also wondering if the podcast was recorded before or after?

Some other equipment choices I’ve found by experimenting on my end:

Unless you really need 4K, the Elgato Camlink is really overpriced. (Actually gave mine to a friend when they were so hard to get).

There is a whole slew of 1K adapters that do the same thing (hardware HDMI to USB without any drivers needed) sold under a lot of different names.

At the height of lockdown, I ordered a few direct from Hong Kong, but they are now online everywhere and sell for less than $20. (Here’s a NON-AFFILIATE link: https://www.amazon.com/Reliable-Converter-Streaming-Broadcasts-Recording/dp/B08FHWDKXM/ )

Better yet, some of the popular DSLR/Mirrorless cameras have issued firmware upgrades that directly support video out from their USB ports so you can get high quality video without needing any HDMI converter device.

I know Canon and Nikon have it, not sure about Sony or others.

If you do have a Camlink or equivalent, a good option for using your iPhone or iPad is FilmicPro professional camera app. They just added a “clean HDMI output” option and unlike Camo, there is no ongoing subscription needed just a onetime $14.99 price.

The reason I sometimes use iPhone + FilmicPro + USB-to-HDMI setup even though I have a larger/better camera is the physical setup. I can quickly put the iPhone on a mini tripod and get things going in just a few minutes while my “big camera” needs a full-blown tripod and doesn’t fit in front of my computer/desk setup as easily.

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In the 90s when telecommuting was rare, we did what we could to distract attention from the fact we were working from home.

One day I decided to do a conference call from outside, in the backyard, and was mortified when my manager asked, “What’s going on there? Who’s got BIRDS chirping in the background?” That was me.

At around the same time, different conference call, a colleague was presenting and the cat was pestering me for attention. Finally I said, “Will you just SHUT UP.”

Silence on the call.

I then realized that I thought I had been on mute, but I was not.

“What was that again, Mitch?” said my colleague who had been presented.

I thought fast. “I had a question but then I realized you already covered the point,” I said.

“No, really,” said my colleague. “I would like to know what you were going to say.”

Seeing no alternative, I replied honestly.

But now, even pre-pandemic, nobody cares if you’re working from home. Not long ago, I was interviewing a SVP for a multi-billion-dollar company and I heard a child babbling in the background. “Excuse me,” the SVP said, “my daughter is two years old and she insists you have to say good night to her.”

So she put her daughter on the phone and I said good night and then the mother came on and we resumed our discussion.

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I bought two lights, one a good-quality LED panel with internal rechargeable battery. The second is an inexpensive ring light with a good-quality stand. The LED panel light ($59) has fantastic light output and good-quality LED light (high “CRI” index). It appears large in the picture but is actually only 9 1/2 x 6 1/2 inches (25 x 16 cm), about the size of an iPad. The ring ($35) light has much lower light output and lower-quality light, but the stand is good. Usually I use the LED panel as the primary light (“key light”) and the ring light as a “fill” light to soften shadows, but you could use either by itself.

Both have adjustable light output. Either one of these might work for you - links below:

LED panel light

Inexpensive ring light w/stand

Edited to add: I prefer the panel LED as the primary light as mentioned above. Any light source will produce a reflection in your eye (known as “glint”). The glint from a ring light used as the primary light will create an odd ring reflection in your eye. Looks like robo-eyes. Many viewers won’t notice, but once you do notice it is hard to ignore. I am probably just too critical, though.
Round eye reflection from ring light:

Not just backgournd noise. The quality of the voice was as if it was a phone call (well, almost). Not very professional for someone who’s introduced as an ab-so-lute pro it the area of streaming audio and video.

Great episode. I know it was an aside but @MacSparky mentioned the trouble he had getting his wife’s Series 3 to update. I’m in the same boat. I don’t have enough storage. I’ve done a clean install - or at least I think I did - but still couldn’t install. Has anyone else run into trouble with this?

That’s like all the rage for some people though.

You can make your own and it’s basically a craft store wreathe wire mold, foil, some zip ties, and led rope lights.

Yup! The “beauty/make-up” Youtubers figured that out 5 years ago.

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Wait, didn’t I hear that Stephen was taking the episode off? He read a sponsor reel and it shocked me a little :rofl:

Stephen totally deserves the break though.

This was the first MPU episode that has gotten me angry, particularly at the guest. She is supposed to be a A/V professional but her audio is horrible, she dismisses 4k cameras and talks about 6k (which almost doesn’t exist as a format).

Then she mentions that the Hamilton Zoom performance is impossible to be done without prerecording which is also very wrong. There’s free software like Jacktrip https://www.jacktrip.org/ that is especially designed for this purpose and works great.

I haven’t finished the episode since I decided to go to sleep instead of getting angrier, but until now, there has been no mention of NDI as a protocol for video transport over the network. NDI paired with OBS (or NDI HX if you want to pay) to use an iphone as a camera is better than camo and cheaper.

Since she talks about how much she loves hardware it’s quite strange the lack of mention of NDI because there’s a ton of hardware supporting the protocol. And the whole episode missed the chance of talking about how to plug OBS into zoom with virtual input to have a more advanced video (overlays, share screen, etc).

She sounds a bit uninformed or stuck in an old workflow without keeping up to date with the best practices for streaming.

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If you didn’t like it, I would advise not continuing. It doesn’t get any better.

I’m not super angry, but found this episode mostly uninteresting.

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Being in the MPU address book seems more important than being actually an expert.

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Interesting reactions here.

I have very little interest in video and audio, so I often skip episodes where the topic is podcasting, video or music. But I like Liana Lehua so I listened to this one – and enjoyed it, even though a lot of the conversation sounded to me like Geordi LaForge talking to his fellow engineers about how to repair the rift in the space-time continuum by reversing the polarity of the neutron flow.

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I’m not in a position to judge this guest’s expertise, but in situations where I am, and I disagree with some of what they say, I still find it interesting to hear about their approach. I learn from considering why something I don’t consider a best practice is nevertheless effective and in demand.

Also, will be following up on the lighting suggestions. I’ve recently re-arranged my workspace and am dealing with a new top-down lighting contrast issue with a hat. I can probably do better. :wink:

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I had the same issue with my Series 3. I was able to get it to finally work. I have noticed that mine seems to crash on a regular basis since the update.

Also, I heard a dog and a bird in the background. Living with dogs, it almost reminded me of my beagles.

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