The “dream stream”


The “dream stream”

Matt Norel – Humm Industries

Who would have thought this time last year that we would be where we are now? Classrooms have become more online based and our connection with people is becoming less and less personal. Even when we do meet in person, we find ourselves mumbling though masks and doing our best to smile with our eyes. And, unless we have a supernatural breakthrough, this is not going to change anytime soon. So, I thought I would take some time and try to answer some of the most pressing questions when it comes to streaming and online meetings as well as give a few tips to make things more professional.
Firstly, let’s quickly talk about online meetings and online classrooms. Whether you are using Zoom, Teams or Google Meet there are a few things you can do to greatly improve the quality of your meeting.
1. Make sure the camera you are using is at eye height. We have all been in meetings where all you can see is a double chin and a bunch of nose hairs from someone. Unless you are extremely vertically challenged this is not the kind of view people typically enjoy. Put your laptop on a box or raise the camera so that people are “looking” into your eyes.
3. If you are spending a lot of time presenting or if you are using an older computer, try to buy an external webcam. These are typically a few hundred Rand and will make a massive difference to your image. Something like a Logitech C270 would be an excellent starting point. That said, any camera that has at least HD (1280×720) 720p resolution or higher (1080p) will be great.
2.Backlight is no light. Unless you are angelic in nature try to keep the light on your face and not from behind. Sitting with a window behind you makes it very difficult for the camera to keep your face well exposed. Conversely, having direct light on your face is not only uncomfortable but will also make you look flat, and while this may be very appealing to some of us, the face is typically best viewed not flat.
4. Make sure your surroundings are as quiet as possible. I have two children running in and out of my office, and if they are not making fire engine noises they’re asking for raisins. Online meetings are often unplanned events (from my side anyway.) We can’t help interruptions but, before you start your meeting just listen to ambient noise and check that it’s quiet enough. If you really want to take things to the next level, a USB microphone is an excellent way to take things to #levelprofessional. A Samson C01 or Meteor mic are wonderful solutions to getting your voice sounding smooth and warm like a bowl of Ultramel custard.
The next thing I am getting more and more questions about is streaming. By this I mean broadcasting an event to Youtube or Facebook. Certain events are critical in a school or a church and being limited to only 100 people is a real challenge, especially as we never want to be in a place where someone feels excluded from our family.
So, if we want to do “the streaming thing” what do we need? Firstly, internet. A wired connection directly to fibre is best although Wi-Fi or a good LTE connection works too. How fast the connection needs to be may be calculated as follows:  Per stream at least 3Mbps upload for HD 720p. We try to have double that for safety so 6Mbps per stream. The average church service, of about 90 minutes, will cost you about 3-4Gb of data per stream, which is a small price to pay to include people in your event.

Other member schools at the same time are rejoicing at very good public exam results, and seeing growth and provision. Their schools are able to open online, and they see new learning opportunities for staff, pupils and parents. With these schools we too rejoice and celebrate, and we thank God for their testimony of His provision:

Other member schools at the same time are rejoicing at very good public exam results, and seeing growth and provision. Their schools are able to open online, and they see new learning opportunities for staff, pupils and parents. With these schools we too rejoice and celebrate, and we thank God for their testimony of His provision:

Other member schools at the same time are rejoicing at very good public exam results, and seeing growth and provision. Their schools are able to open online, and they see new learning opportunities for staff, pupils and parents. With these schools we too rejoice and celebrate, and we thank God for their testimony of His provision:

Other member schools at the same time are rejoicing at very good public exam results, and seeing growth and provision. Their schools are able to open online, and they see new learning opportunities for staff, pupils and parents. With these schools we too rejoice and celebrate, and we thank God for their testimony of His provision:

Other member schools at the same time are rejoicing at very good public exam results, and seeing growth and provision. Their schools are able to open online, and they see new learning opportunities for staff, pupils and parents. With these schools we too rejoice and celebrate, and we thank God for their testimony of His provision:

Other member schools at the same time are rejoicing at very good public exam results, and seeing growth and provision. Their schools are able to open online, and they see new learning opportunities for staff, pupils and parents. With these schools we too rejoice and celebrate, and we thank God for their testimony of His provision:

Other member schools at the same time are rejoicing at very good public exam results, and seeing growth and provision. Their schools are able to open online, and they see new learning opportunities for staff, pupils and parents. With these schools we too rejoice and celebrate, and we thank God for their testimony of His provision:

Other member schools at the same time are rejoicing at very good public exam results, and seeing growth and provision. Their schools are able to open online, and they see new learning opportunities for staff, pupils and parents. With these schools we too rejoice and celebrate, and we thank God for their testimony of His provision:

Other member schools at the same time are rejoicing at very good public exam results, and seeing growth and provision. Their schools are able to open online, and they see new learning opportunities for staff, pupils and parents. With these schools we too rejoice and celebrate, and we thank God for their testimony of His provision:

Let’s consider a small school concert or church service. What we need is the following:
1. Video source – This can be a phone, webcam, or professional camera. Obviously the better the camera the clearer your stream will be. Some streams look like they have been videoed using a
potato. To avoid this, a simple Canon HF-R806 costs about R4000 and does a pretty good job in good light. The camera is best supported by a good tripod, as straws and elastics don’t hold too well.
Encoder – Now we need to package the audio and video into something that the internet understands. This is where the trick, the art and the money lies. The very cheapest way is to use the HDMI output from the camera and convert it to USB – a converter is about R800. We can then use free software to encode the stream on a laptop. I use Open Broadcast Studio or OBS. OBS will convert camera to internet and send your stream to Youtube, Facebook or Twitch. OBS is an incredible package and can even switch between different cameras.
2. Audio source – we need a way to get the audio from the venue to the stream. In the simplest form we can use the audio from the camera mic and send that out. This has its limits, though, as people falling asleep and snoring next to the camera will come through loud and clear, along with all the room acoustics. The best way is to use a spare output from the mixing desk and insert this into the feed
snoring next to the camera will come through loud and clear, along with all the room acoustics. The best way is to use a spare output from the mixing desk and insert this into the feed
So, setting up a nice wide shot with your newly purchased Canon camera, a converter stick and a laptop with OBS will get you a nice basic stream. Add some audio into that mix from your audio console and you’ll have nothing but complaints. Jokes aside, we can get a pretty good stream running like that. Add a second and third camera and you are almost #levelprofessional. People will always complain: too soft, too loud, too far, too close, the colours are not right. I’ve heard it all, and that was on the good days. At the end of the day, we are left with a bit of a crisis. We need to re-invent ourselves and no-one had budget for this kind of tech. In fact, no-one had heard of Zoom or OBS (not the sherry) a year ago. Let’s do the best we can with the tech at hand, let’s learn together and let’s advance God’s kingdom in new and exciting ways. Let’s embrace the change. Who knows, your stream could change someone’s life on the other side of the planet!