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.
Written by David Gewirtz, Senior Contributing Editor

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.

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