How to record your user group presentations in high quality with low budget tooling

Every three months we at SDN manage to pull off SDN Events, full day four track, five sessions a track with great Dutch and some occasional international speakers showing off their great content to our attendees.

Last year we started to record some of these sessions, first ones to try out as proof of concept, but now in production already to share our content to a bigger audience.

I was asked more than once how we were able to record our SDN Event session recordings in relatively high quality with only some low budget tools. So here it is so far.

Recording gear setup:

SDN Event Recording - 2 Hangout Connections

This has been our setup up as we used it until today, but for the next event we will try something else for the reasons you will read at the end of this blog post. I guess we will continue to tinker with the setup until it is just perfect. This change will be the subject of another blog post, but only if all of this tinkering actually appeared to work for us. No need to bore you with something that does not work properly.

Right now we use two Google Hangout logins per recording, one from the ‘recording device’ (actually the device is not recording, Google Hangouts/YouTube is doing the recording for us) and one login from the laptop used by the presenter.

The ‘recording device’ is logged into Google Hangouts with the recorded projector screen and presenter and presenter voice using the Logitech webcam and wifi microphone set. The presenter logs into Google hangouts with his own laptop, sharing the desktop, providing a high quality representation of what is shown on the projector screen.

My gear list as used up to today with the configuration in the picture:

    • One recording laptop and a Google ID
    • Behringer XENIX QX1002USB
    • AKG WMS45 Band D Wireless Microphone Set
    • Logitech 930e HD Web Cam
    • One presenter laptop to share his desktop

 

Installing the recording gear:

Put the camera in front of the presenter covering both the projector screen and the presenters desk. Be careful not to put the camera too much into the viewing field of the audience.

The camera is fairly small, so not really an issue as it seems. This camera will be the ‘overview’ camera setup showing both the presenter walking around, sitting down at his desk and the big screen.

The wireless microphone is pinned on the presenter for near field voice recording, don’t hurt him by clipping it on his skin. This microphone will record his story telling voice, picked up with the AKG WMS45 wireless receiver set and dropped into the Behringer XENIX QX1002USB. The Behringer will provide the sound USB input channel for Google Hangout ‘source one’ combined with the camera ‘overview’ output by the Logitech 930.

The presenter is also logged in to Google Hangouts as ‘second source’. This will be full time sharing his desktop.

The main recording device will be logged in as video producer and you will be able to switch between sources, big screen and presenter or desktop view.

An example of a session recording (this recording is in English b.t.w.) :
”Mr. Moffat – Introducing Microsoft Power BI”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_bQ_EivYb4

A full playlist of all our (Dutch and English ) recorded sessions so far can be found here if you want to see more:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLC5P51a_60YElMJvidAy7GagDJH0Y-UwX

What you see in this example is that we are able to switch between the big picture on the overhead screen and jump into detail by showing the desktop from the presenter laptop to get a good readable picture of the slides or even when there is live coding going on.

So is all good, doing it this way?

No, we are still learning and we found some downsides with this configuration (maybe more, but this is the main one) and that is that you require the presenter to log into Google Hangouts and therefor he needs a Google ID. This means that this is not a zero configuration solution to the speaker invited to do his session.

It seemed not everyone owns a Google ID. Also, it can be somewhat cumbersome to the presenter to log into Google Hangouts, disable his camera and recording microphone (check this ahead of time before the recording starts, as this will cause a critical echo caused by getting two sources at once, one over the wireless mic the other through the presenter laptop mic. So the last one has to be disabled. Also there is a small amount of his resources used to run the Hangout in the background. This could affect the responsiveness a little bit and maybe interfere a bit on high resource claiming presentations (for instance if he needs to compile a bit of code in the demos).

With the setup above you are able to live broadcast your sessions and immediately record it as is to share after the event. If you are afraid to broadcast live risking a lower number of attendees (why going to the event, it is broadcasted live) you can record the session private or unlisted and expose the video only when the event is over (this also gives you the option to record the session, download the video and edit the footage adding annotations, start or end screens and upload the edited footage to share as public video).

To get around the issues mentioned above we will test a slightly changed configuration by adding en extra device. But as said, I will explain this later on, when tested and with proof of recording properly.

I really hope this post will encourage you to try the same thing what we did and get more of the community efforts recorded and to get more of our valuable arranged sessions shared to a bigger audience. The information is way too valuable not to share!

If you want to comment on this setup, share improvements, have questions or just want to say something, leave your comments below on this post!

SDN Conference September 2015

Friday September 11th we are organizing another Dutch SDN Event for 2015 in The Netherlands. With four full tracks of sessions hosted in Zeist in the Achmea Conference Center on:

Microsoft Band – Roy Jansen

Microservices – Dennis van der Stelt

Reverse Engineering and security analyses – Michiel van der Sluis

DevOps and ALM – Hassan Fadili

A special ‘track’, a couple of sessions, on PowerShell with Claus Nielsen from Denmark and Eric Tummers

Cross Platform Development – Klaas Polinder

Extensibility with Chrome apps – Fanie Reynders

Windows Azure SQL Databases – Tobiasz Janusz Koprowski

OWIN – Dennis Doomen

SQL Server Source Control in the Cloud Era  – Tobiasz Janusz Koprowski

Distributed Systems principles – Dennis van der Stelt

Azure Websites – Eelco Koster

TIdTCPClient – Herbert Schrama

REST Web Services with XML – Bob Swart

and last but not least Stephen Ball talking about:

Azure Translator Services with Delphi

IoT and Delphi

InterBase XE7 & Change Views

In other words a lot to go and see in one day! For the full descriptions and to register, visit our SDN Event page:
http://sdn.nl/EVENTS/11-september-2015

Make sure you will be there, not only to learn but to network with peers as well or get your printed copy of the SDN Magazine!. See you there!

InfoPath, the official message about its future

It has been in the dark for years, InfoPath didn’t get many updates when the latest Office version (Office 2013) arrived and on customer questions there was always the “we haven’t announced any plans or decided change of policy” kind of answer about the future of InfoPath.

InfoPath, if I am honest, never really got off and the adoption rate was low. It was however the foreseen application to build and deploy your forms (often to SharePoint, but could also be used locally). One of the main issues might have been that there wasn’t a free InfoPath forms client to get the adoption rate up.

To me the lack of information about the future of InfoPath always was an indicator that the product was close to end of life. This on the other hand really took a while to be confirmed.

That said, yesterday – out of the blue, there was this Official Office Blog Post to be found on the Office site:
Update on InfoPath and SharePoint Forms

In this blog Microsoft announced that, quote: “InfoPath 2013 is the last release of the desktop client, and InfoPath Forms Services in SharePoint Server 2013 is the last release of InfoPath Forms Services”

Existing customers will be supported through 2023 so no worries if you are using this technology. The blog post does not provide any other information on what will be offered as a follow up on InfoPath other than that it will be presented somewhere in Q4 of CY 2014 (this I think actually is Q2 2014 in real life as Microsoft has a broken book year).

My guess is that the announcement of InfoPath vNext will be at SharePoint 2014 Conference (with Bill Clinton as Keynote Speaker!). The SharePoint conference, with the Office Developer Conference disappeared for years now, will be the place to be if you want to know what happens to InfoPath or the other Office products. So… follow the news around the SharePoint 2014 Conference… attend the conference.

Showtime: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

JackRyan


The “Showtime” section on my blog is a reminder, mostly for my own reference but maybe helpful for other film enthusiasts as well, to remember what movies I’ve seen lately, what it was about and how I rated it in general.


Jack Ryan (Chris Pine, took me some time to realize that he also did a couple of the Star Trek features) is sure about it after 9/11, he wants to serve his country by joining the marines and meets Cathy Muller (Keira Knightley) when recovering in  the hospital after a dreadful accident with the militaries. It was somewhat funny to hear Keira talk. Her usual British accent was suppressed and she tried to make it sound a bit more American accented. Not sure if that was intended or maybe she took lessons in talking without dialect Glimlach.

After his recovery he gets the offer and joins the CIA. By doing so he gets involved in James Bond alike scenarios and one of those is that he discovered a terrorist group planning to disrupt the US economy by messing up the trade markets on Wall Street. Jack goes to Russia to sort this out and from there blocking the terrorists from executing their plans.

The movie is a nice “sit, relax and watch” movie. Nothing spectacular to remember though but it was sure fun to watch. Seven out of Ten should do it.

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