[Linux-aus] [LACTTE] WordPress Melbourne Recording Equipment Grand

Ryan Verner ryan at uanywhere.com.au
Wed Oct 16 15:11:13 EST 2013

Everything Tim says.   I too have tried to facilitate community video over the years in various ways (both as a direct volunteer and now as Next Day Video) and I have repeatedly seen the cycle Tim describes below.

It's a balance between "easy enough to setup" so the process can be handed to somebody with minimal training, but one has to also ensure the results are high quality enough that people will willingly want to watch and share the videos.  If the audio is bad, or the slides are not clear, then you will struggle keeping viewers engaged unless the talk is of extreme interest.  Volunteer enthusiasm drops off rapidly if there is no feeling of worthwhile results.

Tim has been working on a portable solution to strike this balance.  A permanent AV recording installation (which is semi-automated in terms of capture/encoding/publishing) at a physical place is a good move, too.  


----- Original Message ----- 
Hi Aaron, 

I'm also a volunteer working on this stuff in my spare time here in Sydney (with groups like SLUG and SyPy). I care about this problem enough that I'm also donating my own money and other resources to the problem. 

Firstly, I want to say that it is great that your user group is thriving and that you are thinking about how to do better recording. At the moment I don't think your proposal is a good allocation of Linux Australia's resources. For a similar amount of money and different approach we can help improve the recordings substantially better than getting you a new camera will. 

On a semi-related note, I'd also like to mention the normal life cycle of recording FOSS user groups (having been through this myself and with a number of other people). 

    1. You gets excited about user group. 
    2. You figure out way to record user group, produces a bunch of recordings. 
    3. Then one of three things happen; 

        1. You get busy with other things or for other reasons can not attend the event. Nobody else is able to get your system working. 
        2. You gets behind in publishing videos, the videos pile up into an insurmountable amount of work, you give up. 
        3. People get sick of the recording holding up the user group proceedings and stops making the effort to make it possible. 
Videos are no longer made.     5. Repeat from step 1 with a different person. 

Breaking this cycle is a hard thing to do and I've yet to come up with a foolproof solution. I've made a number of attempts to help solve all the three problems with various results. 


On 16 October 2013 09:59, Aaron Rutley < aaron at elevenmedia.com.au > wrote: 

Hi Everyone, 

Tim - Thanks, That's some great advice that we'll keep on file. 

Right now we're all just volunteers & we're taking small steps to upgrade from our low quality web cam setup. 
We'd love to get to the stage that you're talking about in the future although I'm guessing that would cost a lot more & further complicate our original proposal. 

I'm not sure what the next steps are from here - do you want to discuss this internally within your organisation and come back to us with decision on our proposal ? 

R egards, 
Aaron Rutley 
Phone: (03) 9707 2611 
Studio: 2/16 Blackburne Sq, Berwick. 

On Tuesday, 15 October 2013 at 1:31 PM, Tim Ansell wrote: 

Hi Aaron, 

I'd love to help you get all your events recorded. I'm in Sydney but can offer advice (and maybe even kit) to help you out. One of my personal goals is to make it as easy as possible for user groups to get high quality recordings. 

Firstly some general tips; 
By far the two most important factors effecting the viewability of recordings are; 

    * Audio quality 
    * Slide capture quality 

A secondary concern is the capture of the actual speaker. I consider this an nice to have but it does add a lot of complexity. 

For improving audio quality is easy and pretty cheap, you want to do the following; 

    * Use a wireless lapel condenser microphones on the speakers (and learn how to mount it properly). 

        * Most speakers have trouble using hand held microphones, keeping it a consistent distance from the mouth is hard without training and it means you can't use your hands for other things. 
        * In room microphones pick up a lot of background noise, including people speaking in the audience. 

Use proper connector / capture device. If you are connecting the microphone to a computer use don't plug it into the microphone port using a cheap adapter. Get a device like http://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-audio/art-usb-dual-tube-pre which allows you to adjust the gain. 
    * Buy good equipment (If you don't get a proper capture device like mentioned above, then it this won't make a difference) . Spending the extra $100 on a good receiver and microphone is well worth the money 

For improving slide capture quality is a much harder problem and often expensive; 

    * Don't use a camera pointed at a projected screen. Cameras are just not designed to work in this type of environment and will produce extremely poor results. 
    * The best solution is to use a frame grabber device between the presenter's laptop and your projector. 
The reason a frame grabber is great is that no special software needs to be installed on the presenter's laptop and you get exactly what is projected without issue with lighting and other non-direct issues. 

        * The goto device was the TwinPac 100 but these devices are no longer sold and sourcing them is quite hard. They also use the dead Firewire technology and are standard definition. 

        * Epiphan sell USB VGA capture devices which some people have had success with, but I've had nothing but trouble. As they are not a pass-through device you'll also need a VGA splitter. 
        * I'm working on a hardware replacement for the TwinPac, but don't have a device you can buy commercially yet. If you are really keen you can purchase a prototype board to play with. 

A less great solution is to use something like Hangouts or WebRTC to capture the presentation on the presenters laptop. This only really works if you have control over the laptop that the presenter has to use. Doesn't work very well for technology groups. 

There is a lot more that I'd like to add, but don't have time right this second. Will send another email later today. 


On 15 October 2013 11:16, Bianca Gibson < bianca.rachel.gibson at gmail.com > wrote: 


On 15 October 2013 11:08, Aaron Rutley < aaron at elevenmedia.com.au > wrote: 


- Our main (large) monthly meet-up is at Inspire9 (Richmond) however we also have smaller meet-ups at YBF 

Melbourne Python Users Group is also at i9, and I think they host several groups I don't go to. i9 would be a good place to store it and have people pick it up from for Melbourne based groups, they are right next to Richmond train station. Most of the groups I'm aware of meet in the CBD or inner suburbs. 


- We also have other meetups in Bendigo, Endeavour Hills & we'd see the equipment being used at other events like PressJam & Beach Press. 




- We'd be happy to manage the loan of the equipment from LA 


That's great. 


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