This Week in Technology [WK 11]

Over the past months we’ve worked at improving the way we record and disseminate the Board meetings at Streetsboro. While we have a ways to go, we’ve decreased the time it takes to post the recording for the public to review, and limited the amount of time needed in post-production.

The Old Workflow

The old setup included us using an HD Canon camcorder, recording the meeting off of a tripod, using only the microphone on the camcorder as sound pickup. During presentations, the camera was sometimes swiveled over to cover guest speakers, or public comments, etc.

After the meeting, hours were spent in post-production, moving the data from the camcorder to a PC, then formatted, and uploaded to the website full size. This was not ideal for viewers on mobile devices, and did not allow for immediate consumption during the meeting via live stream.

The New Workflow

In order to speed up post-production, we looked at a solution using Google Hangouts, and more specifically, YouTube’s functionality in live streaming events using Hangouts.

In the end, we knew we wanted to put the videos on YouTube in a branded channel for the district, so it made sense to work backwards, and eliminate unnecessary steps from the production cycle if possible.

Board Meeting Recording and Streaming

Using YouTube’s Live Streaming feature (https://www.youtube.com/my_live_events) made things so much easier, and we standardized on using a chromebook as the stream host, connected to a webcam mounted on a tripod. That way, it was easy to carry and setup, and didn’t tie up another device that may be showing slides or other content during the Board meetings.

How Live Streaming of Events using Hangouts Works

For each event we want to stream, we start by creating the event in the YouTube interface. Start at the link above, and schedule an event. It doesn’t matter if the event starts in 30 minutes, or two days from now. We get it ready, add the text and links to Board agendas and minutes, and make sure we have all the details right.

Once setup, and it’s time to start, we simply start the event. Google Hangouts opens up, and we can test the connection, adjust camera feed, camera angles, etc. When the meeting starts, we simply start the live stream and record.

Each event generates a unique URL to the streaming event, and we publicize that on social media channels like Twitter. While we don’t have a ton of viewers during the meeting itself, it’s a nice feature. It’s important to note here that you can run this type of setup, and mark it private, for no public view if you wanted to.

When the meeting concludes, we end the stream, and close the Hangout. YouTube now automatically processes the stream into a ‘regular’ YouTube video in about 30 minutes, and we post it on our district’s website either that night, or the next morning. There’s no need for post-production!

Our YouTube Channel

To see some of the videos, visit the school’s YouTube channel, here. 

PROS

  • Setup and recording is near effortless.
  • Live stream (with about 15 second lag) is available immediately once the meeting starts, and can be publicized.
  • No need for post-production, and no need to have gigs of storage available for the video files during the post-production.
  • Video goes straight to YouTube, eliminating the need for uploads.

CONS

  • Video quality is what it is from the webcam we use. We’re using an HD webcam, but find that the zoom/focus is not ideal, and certainly cannot rival the HD Canon camcorder we used before. But it’s good enough.
  • Sound could be better. Again, recording via the webcam generates sound that is not super quality, but we think we have a solution for that (see below).
  • No ability to add titles, etc. to the video feed in post-production.

Next Steps

We want to fix the sound and video quality to make it even better, but want to stay with the YouTube workflow. Several options are available, like the advanced live stream from YouTube (not using Hangouts as a light and quick intermediary) as well as better cameras.

Sound Board for Meetings

For sound, we plan on tapping into the mixer board our radio station uses, which pulls feed from all the table mics, and outputs a leveled feed that could go into our stream (we hope).

Let us know if you have a solution, or share what you do at your district – we love to learn from others!

The Exact Gear We Use

  1. Webcam – Logitech HD PRO 1080p Webcam C920
  2. Chromebook – HP Gen5 11″ 4GB RAM Chromebook
  3. Tripod – Manfrotto Compact Advanced Tripod with 3-Way Head

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