Production Notes About Video Conferencing

What we covered

  • Continued dialogue about the state of meetings and virtual meetings in general
  • Review of the three most popular online video “DIY” platforms
  • Review of three cueing methods for use during presentations

First, I’m getting a new mic, I’m sorry. It won’t happen again. Second, I thought I had set the session to record automatically, apparently, I didn’t. So the first ten minutes or so of content is gone forever. I’ll recreate the basics here and then encourage you to watch the rest.

I started the session by describing what I’m hearing. To achieve the standards we all typically adhere to, DIY meetings on platforms won’t work. Zoom can’t do beautiful or amazing. It does useful and efficient. I maintain that’s the same for Google Meetings and Microsoft Teams. I call this class of platform DIY. To rise above that level of production the backend gear must be upgraded to more of what we’re used to doing and seeing on-site backstage or in the control room of a broadcast. Content must be assembled at a remote location and sent to audience members via a dedicated streaming service. There may be stragglers at this point still trying to DIY this production flow, but the overall trend is moving toward dedicated engineering and control rooms. We’re moving past the meetings that were planned and budgeted before COVID19 and shoehorned into Zoom. Zoom and its ilk won’t go away for smaller meetings so they’re still worth our exploration.

The good news for this audience is that our roles remain the same, design content for speakers, and design “show” elements like presentations, themes, and print or supporting materials.

To build on last week’s gathering I summarized the strengths and weaknesses of the DIY platforms. They all default to a 1280×720 resolution for transmission. So in effect when you utilize content that is larger than that, some downsampling is necessary for the stream. We don’t like to tax our hardware more than we have to. The other factor that crosses all of these platforms is the concept of cueing. How to advance our content locally while the presenter is remote.

One way or another most of our technical dialogue in the video amounted to “set it up and try it beforehand”. Whether that was presentation softness due to contrast, video resolution or PowerPoint video capabilities in Zoom the bottom line was that end-user influence on outcomes couldn’t be denied and you MUST test every element of the presentation delivery process as you go.

Here are some differences in the platforms that I think are noteworthy that we discussed.

Zoom Google Meetings Microsfot Teams
Breakout rooms Uploaded video content gets shared from webpage source PowerPoint is beautiful in show
Upgradeable to webinars


We covered the difficulty in setting up Microsoft Teams to do testing setups. This assumes you’re using Office 365 for your software licensing. The problem for me stemmed from the nomenclature inside Microsoft. To add a user to your account and allow guest access to your account for testing purposes you need to enable that functionality inside Teams. Not Teams but Admin Teams which is different. Details for these settings are found here:

The broader application settings are here:

Our cueing discussion focused on three options, iCue, and Russell Smith’s new method he built using Bitfocus Companion.

To top it all off we talked a little bit about how we have all applied for financial assistance from the SBA.

Next week I’m going to get into some streaming companies and try and develop a set of test files for video and presentation testing. We all saw the difference in the softness of graphics when the contrast was too high. I’ve got a few more remote cueing methods to test as well.

Special thanks to Russell Smith, Paul Canada, Christy Will and Eugenio Callejas

Link to the Zoom video of this meeting

Some useful links

WHO: Key planning recommendations for mass gatherings in the context of the current COVID 19 outbreak

Event Safety Alliance – Reopening guide

Bitfocus Companion website for Russell’s method of cueing and his page for resources

You might have to scroll to find his post but Russell goes into  a pretty detailed explanation here:

iCue details and links


$125/wk: 1 presenter, 1 session only
$500/wk: >5 presenters, unlimited sessions
$750/wk: >25 presenters, unlimited sessions
$1250/wk: unlimited presenters, unlimited sessions
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