I teach art. Right off the bat, I realized I could not work from a little easel in the front of my room—the kids in the back could not see what I was doing. I picked up a little Canon FS100 video camera, a Manfrotto 396B-3 Articulated Arm, and mounted this to a crappy lectern, with the RCA video running over to a projector. This was the early 2000's, and I was way ahead of the curve. Not so much, anymore.
With the camera mounted on the lectern itself, the video shook as I worked. Fast forward many years: COVID hit, and they wanted us to teach by streaming or YouTube. They just assumed we all knew how to create YouTube videos! I had no freaking idea how to do that. I imagined recording a lesson, pulling the card out and copying to a computer, yada yada . . . . I ended up pointing my laptop's built-in camera at that projection screen and running a sad, little Zoom meeting. Not very slick.
Importantly, I have no computer capable of supporting 4K video. HD is as high as I can go with available PC tech. Have you seen the price of new video cards!?!?
I stand when I teach, so I use a lectern, rather than a table. I have to be able to see the kids. That lectern isn't parallel to the floor, so the camera isn't pointing straight down, either. This has always been hard to set up, as that Manfrotto arm is not as flexible as I'd prefer—I'm always limited when establishing my camera angles.
It would be great if the video didn't shake while I worked.
I still need to project live video onto a traditional screen. I've got an RCA cable strung between my camera and the projector. I know I can get a wireless solution, but the "tech" guys at work cannot tell me what to buy, and the schools will not buy it for me. The projector is an Epson Powerlite 118, with a range of modern inputs, including HDMI.
I also need to switch projected video between my camera and an old DVD player, too. To date, that has meant switching RCA cables around. Wouldn't an A/B switch be awesome?
I'm willing to buy a new camera, stands, booms, microphones, A/B switch, and wireless gear to get video from the camera/DVD player to the projector. Heck, I'm even willing to get a better lectern. But I'm not buying a new PC right now, while prices are crazy.
I have done some homework, but I'm not finding anything that will help me point a camera any damn way I choose, and keep it there while I work. Everything seems geared toward cameras pointing straight down, or cameras that can't be moved quickly once they are set up. Zoom function aside, being able to physically bring the camera closer to my work, or move it back, is important.
I need product advice:
- Some kind of stand or mount that allows me to put a camera above my work place, to move the camera quickly, and without tools.
- Probably need a new camera. I bought mine back in '06. It works, but the picture kinda sucks. My work is always sort of up-close.
- I need the video not to shake as I work.
- I need to send video wirelessly to that Epson projector, which is mounted to the ceiling.
- I want to archive video, not just send it to a projector and forget it. It would be great if I could save lessons for later, maybe put them on YouTube or Zoom when we have to go virtual. There has to be a better solution than pulling the SIM card, but I have no idea what that entails.
- I will need to switch from projecting live video to a plain old DVD player from time to time.
Right now, I literally have an RCA cable running up from my camera to the projector on the ceiling. My set up is so low rent. I need to do better.
Once I get the hardware sorted out, I'll look into editing software to fix up my lessons for online viewing.
So, if you have the time and knowledge, please share. You won't be just helping stupid old me, but a whole lot of kids, too.
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About video archiving, can't you use DVD recorder to archive them?
I believe I could help point you in the right direction, since that is what I now do all day (AV mgr/consultant at a university).
First what is your budget (real, hard numbers), and your timeline/deadline for implementing this?
Second, a quick read of the above tells me you are being pretty ambitious (aka $$$), so you may have to drop some options - can you list your criteria in terms of high to low priority (or describe reasoning and/or underlying need a little further)?
Last edited by usually_quiet; 6th Sep 2021 at 12:52. Reason: spellingIgnore list: hello_hello, tried, TechLord, Snoopy329
I already have two desktop computers that can output 2160p60 video with HDR10 via DisplayPort and no discrete graphics card. One PC has a CPU that was released in 2018 and there were mobile CPUs with built-in 2160p60 video with HDR10 output via DisplayPort released at the same time. There are recently released 11th Generation Intel mobile and desktop CPUs that can supply 2160p60 video with HDR10 via HDMI.Ignore list: hello_hello, tried, TechLord, Snoopy329
The most important change I can make is going wireless. I wish I had a picture to share of my sad, low-rent setup: I have an RCA video cable running up from my video camera to the projector just under the ceiling. Sooner or later, some kid is going to grab that cable and give it a good yank. A wireless system should be able to support HD.
After I get wireless video running, I need to come up with a better rig for mounting my cameras. What I have isn't terrible. However, the "hinge" connected to the end of the Manfrotto arm doesn't allow enough mobility. Connected to this "hinge" is the camera mounting bracket, which could be longer. The articulated Manfrotto clamps to my lectern; this mounting option needs a certain amount of "grab," and is therefore restrictive. The articulated arm itself often gets in the way of the camera, limiting how high I can go and where I point the camera. I need to be able to point a camera perpendicular to my work space and quickly move it when needed. I can't see something mounted to the ceiling, because I don't own the classroom, and because I don't want to get myself tied to teaching from one spot. Would be cool, though!—I'm imagining something akin to what we see at the dentist.
A simple A/B switch, so I can switch between camera video and a standard DVD player.
I changed schools. My current lectern does not wobble like the last, but it is too short, and I will have to do better. That would be next on my list.
I will need a better camera at this point, something that can support HD. I shoot in 4:3, because I project onto a square screen, but video posted online can and should be wider (That may not even be possible?). At home, I have an inexpensive Canon VIXIA HF R600 that is better than what I use at work by orders of magnitude. The VIXIA is mounted on a boom, and I can work from a flat table at home, because there are no kids I have to watch! All of which is to say, I don't need a professional-level camera—just something better than the SD turd from 2005 I'm using now. The projector I will use most of the time isn't 4K. I don't have a computer that can process 4K. And, no, I can't use the VIXIA, because it belongs to the wife—and I feel bad enough hogging it at home.
Now that you have my putting things in order, I realize some manner of video capture system is farther down the list. I've seen little boxes by ClearClick that will write anything you run into them onto SIM and USB. Any hardware capture would have to have passthough capability. Video capture is new to me beyond what I have seen in a couple product demonstrations for the ClearClick devices. I want to be able to record lessons for YouTube and Zoom.
Any software I get into will likely be free and basic in the beginning. I can buy into something more enthusiast-level later. DaVinci Resolve would be more than I can handle for a while.
I think that's everything?
So, first order of business is cutting the cord and using wireless video.
Last edited by RowRowYourBoat; 9th Sep 2021 at 07:02.
I wish I had a picture to share of my sad
Scott is the best person to advise you about what specific equipment to buy but I did some window shopping just to get an idea of what sorts of wireless video transmitters are available.
I didn't see any wireless video transmitters that included inputs for both analog composite video and HDMI. You'll need to either get a composite video to HDMI converter to keep using your present camera with an HD-capable wireless transmitter with an HDMI input or get both an HD camera with HDMI out and a wireless HD-capable video transmitter with HDMI in.Ignore list: hello_hello, tried, TechLord, Snoopy329
@RowRowYourBoat, sorry I havent' been back for a bit, as beginning of semester in the time of Covid has been a B**ch, so I've been pulling very long, late hours.
I have given some thought to what you are asking, but have some bad news for you - your idea of wireless is a pipe dream. I hate to say this, as I know you were looking forward to that.
The problem is that in a sense, there is currently no such thing as totally wireless because one must either use batteries which need regular charging (as wireless HD bandwidths suck up a huge amount of power), or you need something plugged into AC power, thus rendering moot the benefit of going wireless. If you have to have wires for the power, you might as well have wires for the signalling.
The other BIG problem is that due to the intricate timing of HD material, being able to support such a high bandwidth burden puts big demands on the electronics. Thus the options usually fall into one of 2 categories, you can opt for less expensive "consumer" varieties and have to deal with quality and reliability issues (a good example of one of the best offerings here is the IOGEAR line of wireless HDMI, ~$190USD, which my predecessor has used to mixed reviews even when only transmitting over 15'), or you can go with commercial/instustrial models, which are much more reliable and allow for the most options of resolution/quality (a good example here is the Extron E-100 which is ~$1140, and even less expensive brands start at ~$500).
It's your decision as to whether to accept reliability issues or not, but I would NOT recommend the consumer versions. And even if you went with something like the IOGEAR family, you would be using up a quite noticeable chunk of your budget just on that element alone. And wireless, even in the BEST variations and brands and situations, is still never as good as wired (this is true of ANY of the AV or IT technologies).
So my recommendation to you is to re-imagine your setup, but giving up for now the idea of wireless.
I also am recommending that you reconsider your reluctance to getting a new computer. Why? Because it can be the core of your system, doing multiple tasks and fulfilling multiple roles within the same package.
Something like a Dell Inspiron TOUCHSCREEN 15" w/ 8GB Ram, 256GB SSD, wifi & Bluetooth, HDMI out, USB 3/C is about $600 on Amazon. It would allow you to connect to the HDMI on your existing projector (to utilize it for a while longer until you can afford to upgrade to a full HD laser projector, etc). Depending on whether or not you have existing wiring to the projector, and how far it is, you may need to get an "Active" HDMI cable to accommodate longer than 3-5 meters of distance that is the normal limit for HDMI. Where I work we have scores of rooms that use Pearson branded cables that run 50', 60', 75' or 100' (usually run in the ceiling/walls). An example of a 75" one costs around $125.
Pick up an external USB DVD/Bluray drive, and you won't need a switcher nor an external DVD player, but can play straight from your new PC, using VLC media player (freeware), or if you prefer, you can can get Cyberlink PowerDVD for ~$50.
Next, your camera: YES, you need something better than SD. Much here depends on whether you use this camera for anything ELSE, or if it is strictly for use with this mounted class setup. If this use is constrained, you don't really need a "portable" unit, nor one with much more "consumer/family" features, nor an action cam. And, if you get one with 4k, you won't have to get one that has optical zoom, as you can use digital zoom without losing perceptible quality (as your final output is going to be HD...or slightly lower with that projector).
So I suggest you get a Logitech BRIO 4k "webcam" which has a USB-C/3.0 output. It can be connected to a laptop like that, and is ~$180, with VERY good quality for that price. Use either the Logi supplied software to zoom and record, or utilize something like OBS (open source, freeware) for a more slickly produced recording/streaming production, that could ALSO live feed into Zoom, Panopto, etc (using "virtual camera" features).
Now, as to a mount. The manfrotto is quite good, but if you've had it for a while and have still had issues with angling the camera to the desired persective, let's put that aside for the moment (it might come in handy later on).
I would pick up something like a CTA adjustable floor stand with a GOOSENECK. We've very successfully used iPads in the classroom with them this last year, as adhoc zoom conferencing peripheral sources. They cost about $50, and could come with optional (or 3rd party addon) lockable casters (to allow rollable repositioning), and you could swap out the tablet clamp with a standard camera screw mount adapter (~$7) at the end of the the gooseneck. The gooseneck would allow for LOTS of flexibility but with accompanying stability when positioned, and the BRIO is so lightweight, that it wouldn't affect it all.
The cam could connect to the PC, using either a USB-C -> USB-C cable (long enough to cover the distance from the floor stand down to the floor and back up to lectern/podium, where I am assuming you would have the laptop. I'm guessing around 15', or if the model was different, it would be USB-C -> USB 3.0 A.
With a separate stand, you can do whatever you want with the lectern and the cam view at least will be steady.
With cable ties/dressing, this setup could be less attractive to messing by little hands, but fairly easy to setup and take down, even daily.
Active HDMI cable: $125
External usb DVD/BD drive: $50
Logi BRIO webcam: $180
CTA stand: $50
Misc adapters and additional cables: $75
What do you think? I'm sure I left something out, and it doesn't include shipping, tax, installation labor, but doesn't count on any of the eductional discounts you ought normally be eligible for.
<edit>You also may be able to take advantage of that projector's LAN input and/or its optional wifi capability to "wirelessly" project from laptop to the projector, without the need for the cable. However, IIRC, it does utilize a form of compression to achieve this, so there is a quality hit. Otherwise it would be trying to do the same thing as those wireless hdmi devices do, which as I mentioned, is a tall order.</edit>
Last edited by Cornucopia; 19th Sep 2021 at 00:06.