Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Working from home: The future of business is remote

Lockdown video: Making video conferencing and streaming work from home

Bob from Blackmagic, a maker of professional video production hardware, talks teleconferencing, and streaming tips and technique basics as well as how to up your game.

Video conferencing: Streaming tips and technique basics

Bob Caniglia of BlackMagic Design and I had the opportunity to sit down "together" -- socially distanced by about 3,000 miles -- and discuss how to get set up with video conferencing and streaming in these days of a pandemic.

BlackMagic makes high-end video gear, but it has also introduced a $300 interface called the ATEM Mini, which is a complete four-input HDMI switching box (with a ton of additional features). I'll be covering that in-depth in coming articles and videos.

Today, though, we talked about how to get set up even if all you have is a laptop with a built-in camera. You should definitely watch the video, but here are a few takeaways you can put to work now:

  • Sound is even more important than video. Bob suggests placing some towels around to mute the harsh sounds in small places.
  • If you're experiencing bandwidth issues, it's OK to transmit in 720p format. There's just no need to try to stream 4K or even 1080p if you want to save your pipes.
  • If you need a makeshift tripod, consider using a lamp. Most nightstand-style lamps have a 1/4-20 screw holding on the shade. This is the same thread as is used for most tripod mounts. Credit for this idea goes to internet photo phenom Peter McKinnon.
  • Your next step up in video quality will be a webcam. It's often good to use a webcam because laptops tend to capture video from unflattering angles.
  • Even though your DSLR has an HDMI-out port, you can't just plug that into the HDMI port on your computer. You'll need an interface device like the ATEM mini to make it work.
  • Bob talked about streaming PlayStation 4 games. He provided a link with some helpful tips.

It's possible to have a very workable home studio in a small space. Bob and I were both recording from home, and you'll see how he has a very nice green screen background in a tiny room.

There's a lot more to our discussion. Go ahead and watch the video. Also, feel free to post below if you have questions. Also, are you using a home studio or doing video conferencing from home? If so, let us know how you're doing and what your setup is like.

You can follow my day-to-day project updates on social media. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz, and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.