A Desktop Multi-ZOOM Studio
What’s new in Command Center 3.0? Well, honestly there aren’t too many new pieces of equipment. How I use them, however, has changed completely. Just like in-person events, the more you do, the more you learn. Moving a few things around has really helped increase engagement for our attendees.
If the “Multi-ZOOM” concept is unfamiliar, let me summarize. Multi-ZOOM means that we combine multiple ZOOM meetings. This allows us to increase the number of attendees, allow interaction between all meetings, and better manage the amount of people in each breakout room.
Video Cameras & Mounts
While a lot of people thought that placing the cameras on mic stands (in Command Center 2.0) was clever, it presented some problems. In many cases, the stands just weren’t tall enough. Other times, I needed the camera directly over a laptop screen, which wasn’t possible. Ultimately two of these adjustable articulating arms combined with these clamps did the trick.
Still, I had another problem. Every time I needed to remove the camera from the arms, it meant spinning the camera multiple times to unscrew and repeating the procedure to get it back in place. In the process, the angle always got messed up. I wasted a lot of time repositioning and refocusing. These quick-connect screws made life a lot easier. Now I can easily remove and replace cameras, for use in-studio and in the field.
If you look close in the picture above, you’ll see a camera hovering between the two left screens and center monitor. The top screen switches to things I need to glance at (such as audio levels and Power Point slides). I can check these without breaking “eye contact” with the camera. This helps attendees feel more connected.
In addition to computer monitors, I added a large TV to my right (just off screen in the photo below). Most often, this is used a confidence monitor with my program feed (what’s being broadcasted live). I can quickly switch it to a multi-view also.
A Backup Microphone
Another edition was my broadcast mic on a boom arm, just out of the shot. I used to remove this from my desk between podcast recordings and my event. Now, I leave it attached at all times. If for some reason my lavalier mic fails (and it has), I can quickly swing this into the shot, unmute, and keep rolling with little interruption.
While I love the ATEM Mini by Blackmagic Design, I decided to upgrade to the ATEM Mini Pro. The pro is a few hundred dollars more but allows you to record your program out to a hard drive, livestream directly from the ATEM, and have a multi-view out (with all cameras and assets).
There are three audio interfaces (mixers) that I switch between, depending on what I’m doing. The Scarlett 2i2 is my simple plug-and-play when I need 1-2 mics with volume control. The RodeCaster Pro is my preferred mixer for virtual broadcast and small group interactive events. This board lets me hit sound pads to trigger background music, effects, and has built-in processing to give that rich radio sound that I love. Finally, if I’m doing a MULTI-ZOOM event, I grab the Yamaha 16XU mixer, as I need multiple AUX inputs.
Sometimes I want to grab a handheld camera and show a product. Other times, it’s just fun to take attendees behind the scenes, in the studio. Do I have a steadycam operator? Nope! Instead, I use a DJI Osmo Mobile gimbal with my iPhoneI It keeps the phone level and allows me to get smooth, buttery shots.
If you looked over Command Center 2, you might wonder where all of the keyboards went. With the addition of a larger mixer on the desk, I had to get rid of all but one. Thankfully this bluetooth keyboard allows me to control all three computers that I have running.
I upgraded my lights to two dimmable Bi-Color LED lights with collapsable soft boxes and diffusers. These are much brighter than the previous set.
Capture cards allow you to connect external cameras and even other computers into your main computer. These devices will show up as webcams, allowing you to use them on platforms (like ZOOM) and in broadcast software (like OBS, ECamm Live, etc). As much as I love the small footprint of the CamLink, mine malfunctioned. While it was getting repaired, I picked up this new capture card. It’s now my go to as it has a pass-through HDMI and separate audio inputs and outputs.
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