Planning Your Virtual Live Event

As we are helping clients (and our own touring shows) pivot to virtual live events, we have been setting up new Command Centers, with all of the equipment needed to “GO LIVE” at a moments notice.  The feeling of being prepared to broadcast anytime, is a major stress reliever. 

Here I’ll break down my main Command Center and how I use it, so that you can build your own.  I’ve included handy links.  If you want to purchase this gear (or rent it from us) you’ll have all the information you need.  When it comes to virtual live events, we find ourselves putting events in two categories: broadcast and interactive.

Virtual Live Event Categories

Live-stream Broadcast

Think live TV or a call-in show format

Interactive Live Event

An online conference (keynotes, breakouts, etc.)

Choosing which experience you want your audience to have is the first step before choosing the tech.  Live-stream software solutions, especially have strengths and weaknesses.  Just like you wouldn’t drive a nail with a wrench, it’s important that you choose the right tools for the task.  Before setting up your Command Center (the space holding all of your gear and controls), consider whether you’ll be running the tech yourself or if you’ll have help.  This decision will guide how you setup your space.

A Tour of My Command Center

Here’s a tour through my Virtual Command Center (above).  I’ve also included gear that’s not in the shot but used regularly for our virtual live events.

VIDEO

LG Widescreen Monitor
Looks like a gaming monitor but it’s super affordable.  Yay!  I usually open two side-by-side windows on this bad boy.

Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Switcher
Push-button camera control
Switch between 4 HDMI sources (cameras, computers, etc).  Converts cameras to. Webcam (replaces capture card).  Loads of pre/programmed effects, audio mixer, and ATEM software for customization.
Regular Retail $295

Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro Switcher
Fancy push-button camera control 😉
Same features plus “Go Live” straight from device, recording via hard drive/flash drive, multiview (see all cams, stream speed, and more on one monitor).
Regular Retail $595

*Beware: The ATEM Mini Switchers are extremely hard to find right now.  Prices are inflated $100+ in most places.

4K Video Camera
This bad boy films in 4K but Lee in kind that you’ll be broadcasting in 1080p (if you’re lucky) or 720p (more likely).

StreamDeck
Programmable buttons that can control a number of software and hardware. Plus macros!  Press a button and it does a sequence of things – like magic (without the rabbits).

Elgato CamLink 4K
Plug your HDMI camera into a computer.  It will see it as a webcam.  Just bigger than a USB drive.
*Capture device may be inflated, due to COVID-19.  At the time of posting, this is regular retail price.

Motorized Smartphone Camera Slider
You know those moving cinematic camera shots that make you drool?  Ok, maybe that’s just me.  Anyway, this thing slides your phone in slow-mo.

Smartphone ND Filter
Ever have your face look super bright and washed-out on camera?  This fixes that by adjusting how much light enters the lens. 

EpocCam – Wireless Webcam App
Turn your phone into a webcam. I use this onstage and in the studio.  It’s awesome!
They have a free and pro version.  There’s even a multi-cam version?  If you know what Syphon means, go for it. If not, stick with pro.

TV Monitor
Monitor your ZOOM attendees or your live video output.  These are very affordable.

AUDIO

Wireless Lavalier/Lapel Microphone
Don’t let side fool you.  These lil’ things are killing it in the audio world and super simple to use.  I’d suggest adding a lav mic to the pack.  The director in me finds it tacky just clipped on the shirt

Basic 2-Channel Audio Interface
Plug a professional broadcast microphone into your computer.

RodeCaster Pro – Podcast Audio Interface
Four mic channels, music pads, and a ton of incredible settings.  This is my go-to mixing board for podcasting and simple virtual events.

Small Audio Mixer
I recommend this mixer for most people that are setting up a small livestream or podcast.

COMPUTER & ACCESSORIES

MacBook Pro
These two computers do the heavy lifting during live events, such as processing and editing video assets and streaming.

Mac Mini
The slim profile hides on my desk and serves as my programming computer, which runs lighter tasks in the background during live events.

iPad
Used to control apps and as the “walking Command Center” as techs move through our space.

Wireless Bluetooth Keyboards
OMG!  I love these!  Connect up to three devices via Bluetooth.  Keys are backlit so you can see them in a dark venue.  These can be hard to come by.  Still the best and aesthetically match a MAC. 

Apple Trackpad
I love the additional features of this, as opposed to the traditional mouse.

HDMI Cable
You’ll need plenty of these to connect computers, screens, camera and smart phones.  Remember, wired is more stable than wireless.

HyperDrive USB C Hub
This hub connects multiple devices to your MacBook Pro and it matches perfectly!

SUPPORT

Adjustable Laptop Stand
Simply the best.  I’m 6’1” and this thing goes extra high and adjust multiple ways.  Perfect for getting your laptop webcam eye-level or above or to a laptop above another screen.

Motorized Adjustable Desk (Sit,Stand)
I’ve had two of these and they both worked flawlessly.  They’re cheaper than most but just as sturdy.  This is the business edition.  I built the desktop so you won’t find it online.  Use this PROMO CODE to save $ at checkout.

Broadcast Boom Mic Stand
A new edition because I hated bumping my desktop stand.  Super affordable and holds heavy microphones in place.

Trusty Tripod
Rock-solid and fits in a carry-on suitcase.  You’ll love it!

Cheap Tripod
I wouldn’t put an expensive camera on this but it’s a great basic tripod for smart phones.

Smartphone Tripod Adaptor
This one is heavy duty and easily adjustable.

FABRIC GOODS

Chair Back Green Screen
Replace your background.  Very popular for close up shots.

10 x 12 Green Screen
Allows you to replace your background for wider shots.

Microphone – Well, SHURE
You could buy this mic but it may not be right for you.  This one was custom picked by my audio engineer.  It took us months to find the right one for my loud, booming voice.  Take time finding the right mic for you.  If you’re a lil’ boisterous or work on a space with room noise, give this dynamic mic a try.

Backdrop Curtains
These amazing backdrops are used by touring entertainers because they setup and tear down in 30-seconds and fit it a “golf bag”.  Ours were custom-made.  You can find more economical backdrops but we use these since we have them.

LIGHTING

LED Flat-Panel Film Lights
These aren’t super bright but you can control brightness and color temperature.  Mount on stand or on your camera.

LED Light Bars
Add a splash of color to your virtual event environment.

Get Help & Stretch Your Budget


Don’t have the budget for what you need?

No worries!  Almost everything on this list is available to rent from us.  Visit our equipment rental department.  You’ll get the same gear, for a fraction of the cost.

Feeling lost or want help?
Schedule a virtual visit and we’ll help you get everything connected. 
Imagine Skyping tech support.  We got chu!

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