Production notes about Zoom

What we covered

  • Test videos: two sizes 1080p and 720p
  • Test changed desktop size of screen being shared with same two videos
  • Test OBS and No OBS for same two videos
  • Eugenio’s iCue cueing system
  • Demonstrated the “remote” feature in Zoom



We didn’t get to backup scenarios, my personal opinion is that the ideal situation is a small room in a production office that you can keep quiet, has T1 or better kind of connection and can be sealed off during an event. The backup is another operator in another location with the same setup, same files etc. We pride ourselves on quick backup transitions and redundant processes, if that’s the case we can’t get around needing an entirely new connection for that purpose. IF that’s not possible, some things to consider: Neighbor’s connection, your WiFi service’s public option (Optimum has public WiFi in my neighborhood), and daily remote office rental.

The meat of our discussion revolved around picture clarity and obviously that is a discussion of pixel counts in all their glory. Bottom line, ZOOM is soft. No getting around it. Compound that by the end user’s connection and device and it all gets muddy fast.

Zoom native resolution: 720p

There are a few ways this simple number get’s blurred, literally. Some thoughts on that followed by our test results:

  1. The screen you share, is it 720p? Or is it the laptop/desktop default 4K (ish)?
  2. If you use a local switcher (I was using OBS Studio) what is your camera export set to?
  3. Loading up videos into PowerPoint


The Results:

Myself, Pauline and Paul all did some testing for the audience live in the webinar. When we set the graphics essentially 1:1, for instance, my screen being shared set to 720p or my camera send on OBS sent at 720p, videos play mostly smoothly albeit soft. If we bump up the resolution on the screen being shared we increased the likelihood that we would get sync loss, dropped frames, or distorted audio. Same negative results when we overcompensate with 1080p source material. PowerPoint video was an epic fail with the softest and glitchiest results in all our testing. The PPT graphics had similar results to the stand-alone videos. When they matched the Zoom resolution they were cleanest, but by no means CLEAR. Type below 24pt began to suffer and san-serif also had better results. The chat room was full of feedback that proved that nothing is “standard”. Some said that their feed was clear and the exact same feed was deemed “real blurry” by another. This tells me it’s tough to plan against this. Just have to do what’s cleanest from you based on these details. Zoom isn’t going anywhere for a while and we need to come armed with info to any future production meetings. Hopefully, this was helpful.

Cueing

We got pretty good results with the “remote control” option in the Zoom menu. The option appears when you’re screen sharing, you can then delegate someone to control your local machine with their remote keyboard. I was and I assume everyone else was more intrigued by Eugenio’s iCue demo, it’s included in the video below. I’ll try and get a message from him and his preferred method of contact to work with him. Short story is it’s a browser-based cue system that is one-to-many. One presenter and any number of others, prompter, TD, Producer, graphics and coordinators can have the receiver window that lights up a familiar bubble arrow on your screen. Low latency, easy to use, with volume control and many other nice features. He mentioned to me that this demo is V01 and he gave me a sneak peek at V02, very exciting.


Here’s the lowdown on upgrading your Zoom to 1080p from the Zoom help site
Note: To preserve internet bandwidth and ensure that we are making the best use of global networks, HD video during Zoom Meetings with 3 or more participants hosted on your desktop or mobile device is currently unavailable. Standard video capabilities will remain in place. If you are joining using a Zoom Room or Conference Room Connector, HD video will remain in place.

Overview
Group HD will activate 720p video quality for the active speaker video layout in a group meeting.
Full high definition video, 1080p, is limited availability for Business and Enterprise plans.
Accounts that meet all other Group HD prerequisites can also request 720p or 1080p feeds for webinar attendees.  This feature needs to be enabled by Zoom Support.
H.323/SIP devices can send and receive video up to 1080p. However, for 1080p or higher, it must be enabled by Zoom Support, as well enabled on the provisioned device, or have the device join using a specific dialing string.


Special thank you and no-touch hugs to Maureen Cristiano, Pauline Leung Fritz, Paul Canada and Mike Chatten

Next time is Google Meet, if you registered or reached out with an email you’ll automatically get an invite.

Video, if you’re short on time the meaty stuff starts at 24:12

My Zoom Webinar settings in case you’re new to Zoom, download.

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