Streaming events #2 – Update

We have the goods!

We have done some quick testing and this looks pretty promising. Right now my family and I are moving into a new house so I’m a little strapped for time between that, work and posting to IT Babble. So instead of a long detailed post (that is coming) I’ll give some quick thoughts and recommendations.

ATEM Mini Pro

This thing is awesome! When you hook it up to a monitor you get to see all the cameras (up to 4) and switching between them is super easy and literally just a press of a button. Setting up our live stream test (we tested Facebook Live and YouTube) was crazy easy. We did have to plug the ATEM Mini Pro into our network via an ethernet cable. Once we did that we used the software on the computer to configure the live stream.

If this is set up and you are using the same service over and over, then you do not need a computer connected to the ATEM Mini. You simply hit the On Air button and then from your computer turn on the the live stream and that is it!

One concern that we found was that an HDMI input stopped working for a little while. We tested it one day and the HDMI 2 input just didn’t work. We plugged the camera into the other inputs and it all worked fine. It was just HDMI 2. The next day it worked fine with no issues. Not sure what happened. It wasn’t the camera or the cable it just stopped

Cameras

The Canon Vixia HF-R800 cameras are pretty good. They are very simple and the image quality is very good. They have image stabilization which makes hand held recording results less jerky. There are not a ton of options on the cameras which is great, especially if you want students to be able to work them (which we hope to do).

We haven’t had a chance to fully test out the batteries but on a full charge they claim 176 minutes of run time. I’m not sure how well that will hold up but we will see. One thing I hate about the battery is how they charge. You connect the battery to the camera and then plug the camera into the wall and it trickle charges the battery. The batteries took over 7 hours to charge from dead to 100%. 7 FRICKIN HOURS!

Now I have found generic chargers that will charge the batteries much faster and may go that route in the future.

Hollyland Mars 300

This is a transmitter and receiver that will allow cameras to wirelessly connect to the ATEM Mini Pro and it works great! I was pretty blown away with how minimal the lag was. I’ll have a video in the future to illustrate this. You connect the batteries, plug it into the computer and turn it on! The find each other and that’s all there is to it!

One gripe is that these things don’t come with batteries. You have to purchase the batteries separately. I’m not sure why this is, but I do wish they came altogether. I also have no idea how long those batteries last either.

Other equipment & considerations

While this is a good start we do need some more equipment to make this a more viable streaming set up. We need to get some tripods for these cameras of course. Having a person hold a camera for two plus hours will yield poor results.

We also need to get longer HDMI to Mini HDMI cable or an adapter with a long HDMI cable. We need that to connect the Hollyland Mars to the camera and to connect the camera directly to the ATEM Mini Pro.

A monitor for the ATEM Mini Pro is needed. Right now we have a 27″ monitor that we can use but it is pretty bulky and really not that necessary. Something smaller and portable such as this portable monitor.

The only problem with this is that it could be pretty fragile and kids can be rough on tech. There are quite a few of these out on the market that range from $150 – $300 a piece. We only need but it would make setup a lot faster.

Another thing we are thinking about getting are broadcasting headsets so students or teachers could announce games. These can get pretty expensive (around $200 a piece) so we will be looking to spend $50 a pair.

Some considerations that we will have to grapple with is filming sports events. We will want some sort of platform to get a better vantage point. I am thinking of having a small platform (8 feet high) and then add the camera to it. Set it up once and then just leave it there for the whole game.

Also, another question are batteries. Do we need to more of them? This is a question for another time.

So stay tuned for a more detailed rundown of this setup. Right now it looks very, very promising!

Episode 183 – Damn Fine Cans

Tony and Patrick are back! It has been long overdue too. It’s a longer than normal episode but there is a lot to talk about! As always, subscribe to us on Apple Music or your favorite podcasting app.

1) Back at school in a COVID world
a) Tony’s motto: “You have to think of every student as a virtual student that occasionally comes to school and if you do that your planning will fit every scenario.”
b) GoGuardian: https://www.goguardian.com
c) Cisco Umbrella: https://security.umbrella.com

2) Why your online streaming is bad and mine is good
a) iPad solution
b) Euro Mic Stand with Klip
c) Disable iPad audio
d) DJ Podiums
e) iPad is a “person” in the meeting

3) Virtual Parent Conferences
a) Zoom
Waiting rooms
b) Prep with teachers and parents
c) Google Meet deadline – Sept
ember 20, 2020

4) Streaming in the Classroom – Final verdict!
a) Windows schools – Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter
b) Mac schools – Apple TV
c) BYOD schools – BenQ Instashow/Barco WePresent

You can download the episode HERE!

Microsoft Teams for OS X Send Your Audio and Sound to your Audience with Soundflower

By Tony DePrato | Follow Me on LinkedIn

This video explains how to set up your Apple hardware to stream audio from Youtube and other sources to your Teams Meeting.

Get Soundflower: https://github.com/mattingalls/Soundflower/releases/tag/2.0b2

Streaming in the classroom: Apple TV

READ ALL THE REVIEWS ON THIS PAGE – STREAMING IN THE CLASSROOM SERIES

Ah yes, the Apple TV. This is currently what we are using in my school and while it is pretty good there are problems I will get into. First, let’s talk about what is, what it does, how much it costs and all that good stuff.

Apple TV HD

Cost: $149 USD

Here are the different connection types on the back.
As you can see pretty good stuff here but a dedicated audio out would be nice like they had on some of the older models the HDMI always makes things easy.

There is a 4K version as well for $179 USD.

How they work

The Apple TV is not only a streaming box (like a Roku or Firestick) but it also has the ability to extend or mirror a teacher’s MacBook or iPad/iPhone. This technology is called AirPlay and it is built into all Apple devices (except the Apple Watch).

You can’t do this with a Windows computer or Android device. This feature only works with Apple products.

The good thing here is that it is built into the operating systems. There is no app or program to launch. It is just there. On a Mac it looks like this.

As you can see all those listed are separate Apple TVs. We have set up a little security on each that requires the user to input a 4 digit code that the Apple TV randomly generates and displays on the screen. This helps keep unwanted people from joining or accidentally joining.

Where it shines

The Apple TV shines if you have a school that uses primarily Apple devices. This is not a surprise to anyone. From a tech department stand point we merely connect it to our projectors through a receiver and then plug it into power and do minimal configuration (changing the name, setting up the security PIN code option, etc.) and then we basically leave it alone and it just works. It is very simple and for the staff or students, using the Apple TV (which requires just connecting their Apple device to it) is very simple, requires minimal training and the results are pretty good.

The price is also a great feature. When a school or organization is looking for a way to let their users share their screen with a common display you will not find much out there that is as good.

The quality of the image and the quality of streaming video is also very good. The image and the sound match up seamlessly and there is little lag when just displaying your desktop screen.

Where it falters

When the Apple TV does not work it just doesn’t work. We have had times when it does not show up in the Airplay list. No reason why it does this and it requires us to unplug it back in. Sometimes it shows up but will not a connection. Again, there is no setting or reason why this is happening, it just happens and we usually perform a power cycle (turn it off and back on again by unplugging it).

Sometimes it just disconnects from an active screen. While it is a box that just sits there, it is also very much a black box that we cannot peer into. We have no idea why it performs this way or what causes it. This makes managing many of them in a networked environment a little problematic.

From and tech department standpoint, they are difficult to manage remotely. You would need to use a mobile device management (MDM) solution like Filewave to manage them and the options you can control are pretty minimal. I don’t believe that we can power cycle these devices remotely even with an MDM solution.

Also, there is no power button. If we want to restart the Apple TV we have to walk to the classroom, unplug it, plug it back in and then wait for it to reboot. A power button or a quick way to restart it would be awesome.

Also, being able to brand it would be nice. A lot of solutions will let you have a splash screen or a screen where your school name and logo are presented. Not the Apple TV. It does have a conference room mode which hides the Apple TV video options but it is replaced with a video screen saver of a flyover of famous cities around the world (this is mesmerizing by the way).

Finally, the most obvious shortcoming of the Apple TV – it only works with Apple laptops, desktops, iPads and iPhones. I’m not talking about AirPlay which has found itself in a number of Sony, Samsung screens. I’m talking about taking a computer, smartphone or tablet other than an Apple and sharing your screen to it. It’s not going to happen.

You have Chromebooks? Forget it. You have a guest speaker with a Windows device? Nope. It does this to help lock you in and as a school you may not have nor want that total lock in. We have teachers on staff who want a Windows device and the Apple TV in the mix throws a wrench into their plans.

Summing it up

The Apple TV is a really good device for streaming and sharing ones screen if your school is heavily invested in Apple products. Despite its shortcomings this may be the best option for you. Sure, they can be a bit of a pain to manage, but their reliability and long life (we have some in our building that over five years old!) they are quite the bargain.

If you are in a BYOD situation or use a lot of Windows, this is not feasible for you. If you’re currently a Mac school but even thinking about the possibility of switching down the road, then avoid it. That lock in situation is very real and having options is good.

If you want it to do more than just share a screen, then look elsewhere. I’m not sure if you will find anything that can that is near the price point of an Apple TV but you can look – that’s what we are doing and why I’m chronicling this search!

Please leave comments below – all criticisms and points of view are welcome!

Episode 158 – Trends? Maybe not

Tony and Patrick are back for another great episode. Check out the talking points below and be sure to subscribe to us on iTunes or your favorite podcasting app.

  1. Apple, Microsoft and Amazon’s events
    1. Apple – https://www.macrumors.com/2018/09/12/everything-apple-announced-2018-iphone-event/
    2. Microsoft – https://www.theverge.com/2018/10/2/17923080/microsoft-event-2018-announcements-news-surface-laptop-windows-10-updates
    3. Amazon – https://www.theverge.com/2018/9/20/17882582/amazon-event-september-2018-echo-alexa-speaker-news
      1. https://aws.amazon.com/deeplens/
    4. https://www.samsung.com/global/galaxy/galaxy-tab-s4/
    5. New Apple Event – October 30th
  2. Chromebook
    1. Project Streaming – https://projectstream.google.com/aco/invite
    2. https://techcrunch.com/2018/10/01/google-gets-into-game-streaming-with-project-stream-and-assassins-creed-odyssey-in-chrome/
  3. Predictions, Patience and Observations by Patrick
    1. https://itbabble.com/2018/09/23/predictions-patience-and-observation/
    2. Beware of predictions and getting “caught up” in the moment.
  4. Tony topic: Scheduling – Don’t be a trendsetter.
    1. Steve Jobs Lost Interview – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBh5_j4a1yo
    2. aSc Timetable: https://www.asctimetables.com/
  5. https://www.pgatour.com/tournaments/the-cj-cup-at-nine-bridges.html

Download this episode here!