CE Pro September 2022 - 22

INTERVIEW
Audio+Video
Stephen Heywood
Broadcast Engineer, PTZOptics
What are the basic tools/equipment to produce quality
livestreams/podcasts or a quality conferencing experience?
My first suggestion isn't even technological: Think about
the surroundings, and make sure that whatever is visible on
camera reflects the role and stature of the people on camera.
A video background should help make a positive first impression,
but a blank wall or an unmade bed can't do that. A
lived-in space can actually provide an aesthetic background.
By all means, show off that collection of vintage tube amps. If
virtual backgrounds are part of the plan, I recommend mounting
a direct-view display behind the chair and displaying the
" virtual " backdrop there.
Audio intelligibility is paramount; built-in components
won't cut it here either. You need headphones and an external
mic. There are some great headsets on the market, but I
prefer separate components because I don't want anything
blocking my face. One of the things that makes video communications
so rich is the ability to see micro-expressions and
non-verbal reactions.
It's best practice to have some dedicated lighting. A fourpoint
setup is preferable, but even a ring or cube light helps
create clarity and dimension to a scene. Natural light is great
too, as long as it's set to the side rather than directly behind
the subject.
Finally, please don't rely on built-in webcams. Upgrading
camera quality not only has instant benefits in terms of onscreen
appearance during video conferences, but it can also
unlock access to more advanced production techniques for
podcasting or livestreaming.
What are key features in these solutions?
Let's start with video: Get the 4K camera. It may seem like wild
overkill for home use, especially because most live streams and
video conferencing apps max out at 1080, but higher resolutions
provide options. A 4K camera with ePTZ (electronic pantilt-zoom)
functionality can allow a podcaster or livestreamer
to create multishot recordings with a single camera. If that
camera has dual outputs, on-screen talent can easily " switch
shots " during a livestream by selecting different areas of the 4K
capture to stream. Next, look for a camera with wide dynamic
range, particularly if the lighting conditions aren't ideal. A webcam
with a wide dynamic range will help improve the image
quality under high-contrast lighting conditions.
22 | CE Pro September 2022
For audio, I like to use a highly directional dynamic microphone.
That way, I can keep it on a boom arm, appropriately
positioned but out of my camera's frame. I never even have
to touch the thing. Also, I recognize that not everyone likes
the look or feeling of headphones. You can get away with
using speakers, but in that case, I recommend using an audio
mixer with mix-minus to minimize the possibility of echo or
feedback. I also recommend using a digital board with a noise
gate and limiter in this scenario, just to avoid blowback.
Finally, it might go without saying, but your network is
one of the most important components of the system. Use a
wired connection instead of Wi-Fi whenever possible.
" Upgrading camera
quality not only has instant
benefits in terms of onscreen
appearance during
video conferences, but it can also
unlock access to more advanced
production techniques. "
How do autotracking and autoframing help users?
Autotracking and autoframing are the next best thing to having
a live camera operator. You wouldn't spec an autotracking
or autoframing camera into every home studio, but they can
save content creators an enormous amount of work and
instantly improve content quality.
When creating demo or training content, an autotracking
camera liberates the creator, allowing him or her to move
around an office, workshop, or home studio without ever
stepping out of frame. Some autotracking cameras can also be
set with " zones " that trigger presets. For instance, stepping up
to a workbench can automatically trigger the camera to zoom
in for a tight shot and activate a " like and subscribe " lower-third
overlay graphic on the livestream.
Autoframing is very useful for home podcasting studios or
video conferencing setups that sometimes host guests. When
it's just one person, the camera can be perfectly focused on
that individual. If they have guests, the camera can automatically
zoom out and reframe - even in the middle of a
livestream or conference if people are dropping in and out.
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CE Pro September 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CE Pro September 2022

CE Pro September 2022 - Intro
CE Pro September 2022 - Cover1
CE Pro September 2022 - Cover2
CE Pro September 2022 - 1
CE Pro September 2022 - 2
CE Pro September 2022 - 3
CE Pro September 2022 - 4
CE Pro September 2022 - 5
CE Pro September 2022 - 6
CE Pro September 2022 - 7
CE Pro September 2022 - 8
CE Pro September 2022 - 9
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CE Pro September 2022 - 12
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CE Pro September 2022 - 21
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CE Pro September 2022 - Cover3
CE Pro September 2022 - Cover4
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