I am one of the co-founders of the Birmingham .NET Meetup alongside Robb Schiefer. Several people have asked about our process for recording videos of the meetups so this post will give a rundown of my equipment and explain the process.

There are two facets of the video portion, the footage of the speaker and the footage of the presentation.

I use a Panasonic LUMIX GH4 for the video. I chose this camera as I was looking to replace my existing DSLR and wanted a camera I could use for both photos and videos. While doing research, I discovered the vast majority of DSLRs and mirrorless cameras limit video recordings to 30 minutes due to EU regulations 1.
Now, I am a videophile so I wanted a pretty nice camera but if you’re just getting started the camera is one of the less important aspects of your video since the main focus is the presentation itself so don’t get to hung up on thinking you need a super high end camera. One thing to invest in is a decent tripod. Amazon Basics has a good, fairly rugged, inexpensive tripod that I use a lot. You’ll be amazed at the difference a good tripod will make!

The second piece is recording the presenter’s screen. I use an AV.io HD USB capture device. It includes a DVI input and I use a Y-splitter to send the video signal to both the capture device and the projector. I also have various adapters for handling DVI, DisplayPort, MiniDisplayPort, HDMI and the venerable VGA. The capture device connects to my computer via USB and shows as a webcam. I can then use any software that can capture webcam output to record it. I use a MacBook Pro and use QuickTime to capture the video however you can do the same on Windows with any number of software packages including VLC. I’ve had issues withe PowerPoint forcing a different resolution than the desktop which causes weird artifacting so make sure and do some checks before you start.

One thing that is very important to make life easier when editing is before you begin is to point the camera at the screen and put up a slide with an instant transition and change slides a couple of time so that you have a reference point to sync the videos. In your editing software you just need to move the videos until the slide changes are insync 2.

Another very important part of video production is audio. It doesn’t matter how good the video is if your audio is poor it can ruin the whole thing. Don’t use the onboard mic! The best way to get good audio is a wireless lapel/lavelier mic I have several different wireless mic systems but a good starter system is the Saramonic Wireless Lavelier. You have two options for recording your audio. Depending on your camera you can use an audio input. High end cameras will have an XLR input, lower end and DSLR/Mirrorless will often time have a 3.5mm TRRS input (A.K.A a headphone jack). The Sarmonic listed above comes with a “mixer” to feed the mics into and plug into a 3.5mm jack. A second option is to record the audio separately and mix in during editing. This is good when you want to have the camera in a location that is not practical to have audio sent to it or you’re tapping into a live mix and the camera is not nearby. I use a Zoom H5 for this. Before we begin, I start recording audio on the Zoom and the onboard audio on the camera and give a loud clap. The clap will show us a spike on the audio waveform in the editor and it gives me a good place to sync 3 . Some editing software can do the syncing automatically.  Protip: Always have extra batteries on hand!

For editing I use Adobe Premiere. It is a fantastic cross-platform video editing platform and is included in the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite. Ideally, I try to do as little editing as possible. A single camera angle in the bottom corner with the presentation full screen. In general editing takes 10-20 minutes and the rest is just encoding. I encode at 1080p H.264 and upload to YouTube.

Overall the process isn’t that complex and you can get started with fairly inexpensive equipment.

  1. The EU classifies any camera capable of taking more than 30 minutes of video as a video camera and assess a higher tariff than a photo camera. Panasonic is one of the few companies that make both EU and non EU versions. http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?qid=1468852406984&uri=CELEX:52016XC0615(06)
  2. Not to be confused with http://www.nsync.com
  3. This is the purpose of the classic movie clapboard. The motion of the clapper and the sound of the clap give you a reference point to sync audio and video
Blake Helms

Blake Helms is a .NET Software Development Manager for EBSCO Industries, a global company with businesses in a range of industries including Information Services, Publishing and Digital Media, Outdoor Products, Real Estate, Manufacturing and Distribution, and Business Services, headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama. There he is responsible for several core business applications and has been a driver for software craftsmanship and creating a culture that promotes mentorship and continuous improvement. He is also the cofounder of the Birmingham .NET Meetup with a mission to promote good development practices and .NET technologies in the Birmingham, Alabama area. Blake is incredibly passionate about technology in all areas from writing code for work, to audio/video production for his church to automating his home.