After putting a little work into lighting your space, the next opportunity for improvement is your video capture device. Simply controlling your environment lighting can make your webcam an acceptable option but there is always room for a better shot. The vast majority of great looking content is shot with DSLR cameras but there are a bunch of options out there.
The MEVO system is a great, affordable, all in one camera platform that can film, stream, edit and record with an ipad app.
It will also connect directly to some audio interfaces like the one below and can really put something together quickly that looks and sounds great:
The Mevo system out of the box is great, however it can be greatly expanded with a few software options. Livestream, Vimeo and Mevo are all a family and by purchasing a Vimeo Producer subscription ($15/month) you can stream to multiple places simultaneously. Adding text overlay to the content, as well as some countdown features can be helpful when setting up and managing a stream before the event is live. Some other tools available from Vimeo and Livestream can be useful as well, but keep in mind: more features = more cost.
The countdown and graphic overlay features allow pre-live content to be put up.
When broadcasting to YouTube, Instagram, or a website navigate to all the sites to ensure your stream is working and give yourself time to troubleshoot if not.
Most iPhones have excellent cameras and there are free or cheap apps that can turn them into webcams. They connect either with a USB cable or via WiFi. USB connection is preferable for speed and stability. Using a main shot from a nice camera and then using an iPhone for a secondary close up shot, and switching with software like OBS Studio makes the transitions seamless.
Epoc Cam is an app that allows low-res video from your iPhone to be viewable on a computer. The paid version allows an upgrade to High Definition and gives a few extra control options.
The latest version of Zoom doesn’t work with a lot of apps, as it seems the latest and greatest webcams are purchasable. This problem can be solved by downloading a previous version (4.6.8) of the software. Skype seems to be more compatible with camera siphoning software.
Digital Cameras (mirrorless/ Micro 4/3/ DSLR)
To level up a digital camera or DSLR and software be a great tool box in a hurry. This can be a can of worms, but spend a little time looking at either the gear owned already or what might be purchased (and its compatibility) this option can really step up content quality. There are a ton of options, here are a few things to take a look at when choosing what to use.
- Does your camera have a USB or HDMI output?
- Does it have any software with the camera that includes a remote shooting feature?
- If the camera is a little older it might have a HDMI (mini or micro HDMI) output, but may simply mirror the onscreen display and have all the HID (on screen settings display) info overlaid. Some cameras allow you to turn the onscreen display information off, but most do not.
- Googling the model of your camera and “as webcam” will get you started and may recommend some software to interface and/or control it. For example: using a Canon D6 with the EOS3 software that came with the camera, the included remote shooting feature will allow OBS to capture the video.
Check out this great video on cameras under $300
Most PC or Mac computers with decent specs will allow most video recording and editing. A computer with i7 processor and 16gb of ram is a good starting place, the more power the better. Something also to consider is using an SSD to store projects. It will improve performance and stability. A few cables will be needed as well, either USB camera format, which is usually mini USB, to s standard USB or mini/micro HDMI to get everything connected. It’s always a good idea to plan out cable usage beforehand. Most cameras do not come with these cables.
Editing, Broadcasting and Recording Software
OBS is excellent free software , the only limitation is that it can only stream to one destination at a time.
Here is a basic tutorial on the program. There is a ton of YouTube content expanding on the programs capabilities.
Upgraded Setup for Conferencing
Getting a digital camera into OBS or another streaming app is one step, however, Zoom and some other apps sometimes require another step to translate the video signal into something they recognize as a webcam. This is accomplished through a video siphon. Here is an example of software.