#vExpert,  Open TechCast

Levelling up your webinars, meetings, VMUGs or interviews

So a little while a go I did some live demos for UKVMUG (Baking some ESXi into your Pi) along with a few other things of which I was provided some really nice feedback along with others asking how it could be done. This blog post is going to guide you through a few steps on how to do this and I will try and cover a few options like getting started with what you have to then really throwing some £$£$ at it

Update:- You can now use many of NVIDIA’s cards with RTX voice so do go check this out over here, you do not need an RTX series but you do not get the video elements yet!

The other big thing for me is being able to record the stream so I can upload a better resolution version to social media or here!

Firstly most modern machines at the time of writing should be able to handle a nice 1080p stream without too many complications and the biggest downfall to many is poor lighting, inbuilt low res web cams and using a cheap headset. Also do not worry about getting set up with these things and then expand over time but do not expect miracles

Update:- This is now working on a Mac at the time of this update, I have tried this on Mac OS Catalina and Big Sur using version Version 0.27.1 (0.27.1.Release_0.27.1_Build_15258) of StreamLabs and Version: 5.4.9 (59931.0110) of Zoom

Software

Firstly lets start with the software needed for doing what I have done for Picture in picture. I have opted for StreamLabs OBS rather than the normal edition as later in this guide if you do not want to purchase a Stream Deck you have the option to use their mobile app to do some of the control

You will also need a copy of Virtual Audio cable to re-route some of your audio later on

Another choice for these bits of software is they work both on PC and Mac

A final download you will need is SnapCamera if you do not happen to have a nice Nvidia RTX lying around 🙂 This again is to help negate the requirement of a green screen, but please do be aware your milage may vary with this option

A few on the lens’s I tried are here, again try each one as different lighting/cameras make a difference

https://www.snapchat.com/unlock/?type=SNAPCODE&uuid=26a8beec0f6147bea19b1e512dde762c&metadata=01

https://www.snapchat.com/unlock/?type=SNAPCODE&uuid=241afe9e5db042e589cb9233a4399e07&metadata=01

This blue one seems to have some backgrounds better

https://www.snapchat.com/unlock/?type=SNAPCODE&uuid=874811117e454dbfa6a3378c1778d848&metadata=01

We will cover the configuration in parts later below one you have all your bits together or jump straight to the install steps

Having issues? Head over to the troubleshooting section

Optics…

This part is where you can really split the pack… personally I prefer a nice clean image and others well say if its in the corner of the screen its not as bad. This ultimately comes down to what and how you will be using this. In my stream I take up quite a fair amount of the screen so I wanted a good image but if you are smaller over a set of slides it may not be as bad

Many people will rush straight for a web cam, I have tried many ranging from the Logitech C920e which is a great start, to its bigger model the Brio and even all the way to the Rally each offering a crisper image each time along with features such as PTZ

One other option these days is using a GoPro, Camcorder or even a decent SLR Camera you may already own. Many more modern ones allow direct USB connections with a firmware update or hopefully they have a HDMI port on them of which you can then utilise this. To get this into your machine you have a few options of which two have settled well with me. These little USB device here (Around £18) or this one with passthrough if you want to capture a device or games console or even KVM. Of course there are some more top of the line ones that offer 4K I want to get at some stage such as Elgato 4K60 Pro MK.2 or the Elgato 4K60 S+ Capture Card so I can use this at events or just the USB model Elgato Cam Link 4K which is around £120 if its in stock. The only major thing you need to look out for here is if when you plug your camera into a TV with the HDMI do you see text on this know as a ‘dirty signal’ this means its harder to crop around and get it into your software. I have seen many people pick up the cheaper USB units and 2nd hand GoPros with great results

I honestly could do a whole blog on cameras alone and if people want this please ask, I may just need to get some sponsorship 🙂

To finish this section off Joe posted a great image of showing the differences in cameras despite the great lighting he has. As you can see if you can go the main camera route it makes a world of difference

Sound

For sound you can start with a simple headset if you so wish but again for me thing about what your viewers might see. In an ideal world I would have a lavalier microphone and a wireless in ear monitor such as Shure BLX14UK/CVL-K3E Wireless Lavalier Microphone System and Shure PSM200 Wireless System With SE112 Earphones but I need to really up my game to get this!

Due to the Podcast I do (OpenTechCast if you do not already subscribe!) I happen to already have some kit such as the Zoom H5 which I love as it can accept many XLR mics from cheaper ones all the way to nice AKG and Shure ones oh and it works as a USB Mic in the software too when I am not out an about recording with it

That said I have seen some okay results with cheaper Mics but many people start with a Blue Snow Ball or their Yeti Model. Others prefer the Rode NT-USB or even the latest Elgato Wave 3 if you want to spend more. Do not forget a mount for these of course along with a pop filter, again find one in your budget but if you can afford it the RØDE PSA1 Swivel Mount Studio is very sturdy and I want to upgrade to this. Remember if you knock it during a stream or recording it can mess up your audio and some cheaper models wobble badly. A friend of mine got this recently and seemed to work fairly well

Currently day to day I mainly use my Bose QC700 if I am not on camera or if I am then I use my Apple AirPod Pro’s as they are fairly discrete and then the Samson XPD2 so I can have a hidden wireless remote Lav Mic. I have upgraded the Mic to an AKG one but then again the one in the box was a good start

Lighting

Well for once I am leaving this out a little as I am waiting on some new stuff to arrive. That said if you have already spent some money in for a penny in for a pound right? You have many options here again and a main stream brand doing really well here is Elgato once again! Their key lights and ring light have some outstanding reviews and once I get my hands on them and some other things I will do a subsequent post. I have also seen some great results with the Phillips Hue Bulbs and Playbars along with Ikea TRÅDFRI / Lidl if you want a cheaper alternative

Extra Software & Bits

Despite all the above depending on your set up you may also want the following

mmhmm App – This is a little bit of an alternative to what we are doing here but it adds a level on noise cancelling but should be able to be used as an input

Krisp – Another Noise surpression, not free but you get so much time per week and this may be a good way to record and get started

Nvidia Broadcast – If you have a newer Nvidia card for me this is the best option as the background removal and noise suppression is really quite amazing

A green screen…. This again I have not said to rush out and buy as once again depending on your set up green screens unless lit well can cause some image issues. That said I use one like this when needed but if money is not an issue I would probably have a Elgato Green Screen – Collapsible as it stores away when not in use but again there are a few good competitive products similar to this of course

Install Steps

SnapCamera Configuration

I am making an assumption not many will have the Nvidia cards that I am using but if I find an better alternative to this I will post it up

Firstly open the App of which you should be greeted with the above

From here press next until you get the main screen with a Cog in the top right, once you click on that ensure you have your right webcam set or USB input if you are using a camera

Once back at the main screen type Chromakey in the search filters or select one of the ones at the top of this post, select this and it should apply

As you can see your image will now be on a green screen

If you did go out and get mmhmm the same can be done in the following way

Open the app and select the more rooms option

Usually I do a quick good search for a PNG files such as chroma key png background and download a nice solid colour one, drag this into the app

Now select this room and you should now appear around a green screen

StreamLabs Setup

Now you have a camera and I assume some form of audio set up we want to start to create a canvas to get all this on so fire up StreamLabs OBS

From here select Start Fresh

You should see your SnapCamera here if you are using this method

Skip this unless you really want a pretty layout 🙂

From here you should see a nice blank canvas, select the little + in the scenes menu so we can add your background

In here you can select Image, unless you have a motion background and select Media source

From here I pop in a name usually backdrop

You may need to move around your image to fit your canvas, now press the + again so we can add your camera. Select Video capture device and provide it a name. I usually number them as I may have multiple cameras showing different things

You should be able to now select a drop down of the camera you have and press Done

On this main panel right click your camera and find the filters option, once in there press the +

You now need to scroll down and find Chroma Key, press Done once you have it

From here you want want to play with the settings as its individual to you and your lighting/setup, the colour spill can usually help make the edges look better if the lighting isn’t equal along with the smoothness. Be warned to much of this and you sometime lose your hair in the shot!

If all has gone to plan you should now see you on the backdrop, feel free to move this to the size you want

Next we want to add your Microphone as a source, same as the Camera press the + but this time select Audio Source

If you are not using some form of audio suppression like RTX or mmhmm then right click you Mic and select filters again

Press the + and select Noise suppression

When it comes to the method I start with Speex and only select the other if your performance is ok

Divert Audio – Mac

Right this is where it gets a little bumpy as we need to set a few under the hood things, Firstly open up Midi Setting on a Mac. You can do this by pressing Command + Space and searching Midi

Once in here press the + and create a Multi-Output Device

Select VB-Cable and then your preferred output, ideally some headphones if you have them but again this is just so you can hear audio on your machine and we can select a different headset on your software so you can hear the conference. This is also so people can hear any audio on your machine

Now open the sound panel much the same way as the Midi and select Input and set this to VB-Cable.

Now in the Output select the Multi-Output you just created. Once you are off your calls you will want to set this back to your normal device as you will lose the volume controls at the moment

Divert Audio – PC

First things first I assume you have set up the drivers from Virtual Audio cable, its best to extract the Zip file and run the setup as Admin.

Open the search bar in Windows and search Sound and go into Sound Settings

Under to Output option changes this to Cable Input VB-Audio Virtual Cable

Continuing Setup of OBS

Back over in OBS on the far right near the mixer you will see a cog press this to get the following Window. In any sources such as your Mic and maybe HDMI inputs you need to set these to Monitor and Output. Leave the top Mic/Aux alone

Now we can start duplicating our scenes, to do this right click the scene on the far right and hit duplicate

Just now make sure you rename it to something like ScreenSharingXX or InputY

From here I am assuming you have dual monitor setup and will be sharing something like PowerPoint, press the + and select Display Capture. You can select a single application if you have restrictions with Window Capture

From here select the correct display with demo or slideshow

Of course name this depending on how many screens or Windows you may wish to capture

From here move the window to the correct size, you will also need to drag the preference in the centre pane to be under the camera unless you wish to hide behind the image

Stop Panic Time

I usually have an additional scene that allows me to break away from the camera and feeds if anything goes wrong, The above so far is a just a nicer way of sharing. To get this ‘panic’ screens set up press the + in scenes, once its selected add a new source. Select Media Source

From here give it a name describing it

Browse for the file, this can also just be an image but I usually do a video. A good place to get some is Pixabay.com

Once you press done remove any audio sources unless you want to add a music file which I have done. Remember to set this to monitor and output in the mixer tab so it comes through the conferencing app or your recording

Adding a new source

In my example I also had a live stream from a Raspberry Pi via HDMI but this could also be another computer or camera device. So how do you add it? To try and keep some consistency I will duplicate the main scene used for the presentation and then add a new source. Select Video Capture Device

In here select add a new source instead

You will then be asked for a name

From here select the input device and again you may have multiple here you want to add. If you have sound on the HDMI you will need to add it as a separate sound source

What I usually do is now have this HDMI or other input in a higher preference than the screen and size it as close as I can, once this has been done right click the screen capture and select delete

The final set it to get the virtual webcam working, to do this press the cog for preferences on the far left in OBS. Select the Virtual Webcam in the left pane. The first time you use this it will say install Virtual Webcam. Do this and follow the on screen instructions

Once setup select Start Virtual Webcam and it should swap to this

Getting Things running in your Meeting/Conference software

Zoom

Launch Zoom and click on the cog in the top right, from the left pane select Video and in the drop down select Streamlabs OBS Virtual Webcam ensuring mirror my video is not selected

Teams

Open up teams and select your icon in the top right and then settings

Head into the devices pane and set the speaker to your headset and microphone as CABLE Output. Finally check that the Camera is set to Streamlabs OBS

You can then click Make a test call to ensure its all working

Webex

Open Webex and select your name or images in the top left, select settings

In the left hand pane select audio, set the speaker to your headset and Microphone to Cable Output

Now select the Video pane ensure its set to the Streamlabs camera and mirror my video is deselected

Goto Meeting/Webinar

Open the main app and selecting the cog mirror settings like below substituting your headset in the Speaker option

I want some control

So the other reason why I use StreamLabs is that if I do not have my StreamDeck to hand or you do not want to spend the money on it Streamlabs has a companion app to help mid stream. To get this going find a smart phone or tablet and download Streamlabs Deck from the relevant app store. On your machine open the settings tab and go to remote control then in the app scan this code

The two should now pair and you should see buttons for your scenes to easily switch through during your stream/meeting

Below is an example of my Stream Deck, I also want to give a shout out to Martijn Smit here as his Zoom Plugin is awesome for this if you need another reason to buy it. If you also get the Key lights or have Phillips Hue you can also control them

Troubleshooting / Other

Setting up RTX Broadcast

Audio Setup

To get the audio setup open the audio tab and find your Microphone/Input. Select effect of noise removal and ensure the slider is set to active

Back in OBS on the Audio Input capture select the NVIDIA Broadcast option

Camera Setup

In the broadcast app select the Camera tab. From here select Background replacement and then select an image file of a Chroma Key background.

Within OBS setup a Video Capture Device as usual selecting the NVIDIA Broadcast option

My Source Wont Resize

I have had this a few times, simply quit OBS and go back in. Re-add the source if it did not save and you should be able to resize this

I cant select the Streamlabs OBS Webcam

Each time you start and stop the application you will need to go into here and start the virtual camera again. If you can not see if in your 3rd party app try closing and re-opening this if you recently installed the plugin

People can’t hear me or my audio

Ensure that you have reset you systems output correctly or that in the mixer window these options are set to output and monitor

I want to record my session

This is actually super simple just press this Rec button at the bottom as your start. You do not even need to stream to a service or on a conference tool. You could just use this to pre record demos!

If you want things record better I would head over to the Output settings and change a few things, If you have the space I set the bit rate to 5000 and ensure that the encoder is set to a hardware one such as below or NVIDA Hardware

I want even higher quality!

Right… now this is where your machine may need to be a bit more powerful or you end up dedicated one machine just to streaming. In Video section in settings you need to set the base and the output to your desired resolution. Be warned you will need to re adjust all your layouts when ever playing with these settings

I will continue to add to this as I find new things or link from it. I hope you have found it useful if you do want to see more like this let me know or even better want me to add more gear drop something here

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