Learn about all the tools CODE/+/TRUST CEO Patrick Bryant uses to optimize his office for regular video conferencing
Ever wondered how some people on a Zoom call stand out from the crowd, with crystal clear video and audio that looks like it’s in a professional studio setting? Well CODE/+/TRUST’s co-founder and CEO Patrick Bryant has one of those setups, creating a simple studio in his office that allows him to stand out and look his best during Zoom calls, video conferences, and other important meetings.
While Patrick still has a busy schedule, he has been able to cut down on travel and increase his outreach ten fold by utilizing video conferencing tools to hold meetings, attend conferences, and speak at events just as he did pre-COVID, only digitally. If you’ve been in a meeting with Patrick in the past year and a half or seen him speak at a digital event, you’ll notice that his lighting, video, and audio are always extremely clear and polished, as if he’s in a studio environment. Surprise, surprise - this didn’t happen by mistake!
Users having struggles with choppy audio, blurry video, poor lighting, or some combination of thereof is a common occurrence during Zoom conference calls. It never fails, right? While video communication has a lot of benefits, there’s nothing worse than attending an online event (especially a paid one) or trying to hold an important meeting, only to have your experience hindered by poor technology.
While a solid internet connection has a lot to do with it, the hardware being used to present by video has an equally important impact. Understanding the importance of presenting oneself in the best light (no pun intended), Patrick has created a setup that allows him to comfortably operate from the confines of his office while providing a visual presentation as if he’s utilizing commercial grade audio and video equipment. With a little time, some investment, and a small amount of technological know-how, anyone can build a similar setup.
Let’s take a look at Patrick’s tools of the trade (links to each product included in the information below!).
While Patrick uses a Dell laptop for his setup, any laptop is usable so long as you have the correct specs and connections. In this case, a USB-C connection is required, along with enough RAM and proper video card to easily handle running a video-heavy application like Zoom while simultaneously operating whatever other programs may be needed for your meeting.
There are a lot of various multi-port hubs to choose from; just be sure that you purchase one with the right connections. Many newer laptops especially have limited connections and/or are shifting towards USB-C ports, but a lot of external hardware still connects via USB-A. A multi-port hub will greatly expand your computer’s capabilities while taking up only one port on your computer. Patrick uses this Lention USB-C Multi-Port USB hub, that comes loaded with 4K HDMI output, 4 USB 3.0 connections, and a Type C charging port, so you can be confident that you’ll be ready to connect to anything you need.
This is the first piece of equipment we will discuss that heavily improves the quality of Patrick’s video. While some laptops have upgraded webcams that will go as high as 4k streaming, the level of quality that a digital camera provides is simply unmatched. In this case, Patrick chose to go with Canon’s lightest, smallest full-frame EOS camera available that was built primarily to be marketed as a mirrorless vlogging portable camera. As you can imagine, the sensor, image processor, and virtually everything else included in a camera of this kind is going to blow any webcam out of the water. If you’re looking to drastically increase the overall quality of your video conferencing and streaming, this is a great place to start.
As important as the camera is to creating that top flight video quality, the lens you pair with the camera is almost equally important. Patrick uses a Canon RF 50mm F1.8 STM Macro lens that carries a lot of benefits. It’s compact and lightweight, making it perfect for travel and setups in tight spaces. The 50mm fixed focal length is ideal for the typical distance someone would stand near a desk. In addition, the F1.8 aperture is great for low-light situations and allows you to get creative with background blur, a tool that companies like Zoom have built right into their software.
When shooting video, whether for recorded content or live streaming, the lighting in the room is unbelievably important. You can make a regular camera look noticeably better with great lighting, but even the greatest cameras will struggle to overcome poor lighting scenarios. This is why purchasing a ring light is such an inexpensive, smart investment. Where overhead lighting or single light sources can cast odd shadows and make it difficult to find that perfect look, a ring light creates a perfectly balanced look by evenly distributing light on all sides of the subject that the camera focuses on. It’s a small cost for a big improvement.
Perhaps the coolest and most innovative tool in Patrick’s arsenal of video equipment is his teleprompter. Although the one Patrick uses is a little different, he actually recommends the Glide Gear Adjustable Teleprompter due to its expanded capabilities. This durable, easy to set up tool allows you to utilize a smartphone, small screen, or tablet to display a teleprompter right in front of your camera’s eyesight, just like the professionals use. If you’ve ever been in a video call where there you can see the presenter’s eyes darting back and forth, it’s likely because they are reflecting back on notes on one screen while the camera is set up in a different location. With this tool, you’ll be able to display your notes right in front of you, keeping eye contact with the camera and providing a much more professional feeling experience for viewers. This particular tool is made of lightweight, durable aluminum, is collapsible for easy travel, includes a standard camera mount that will fit more mirrorless and DSLR cameras, and boasts a 10 ft reading range.
Now let’s jump into audio. After all, video is only half the experience! Designed specifically for professional studio applications and live performance, this Audio Technica side-address cardioid studio condenser microphone delivers exceptional detail and low noise, boasts consistent audio quality, and comes with a pop filter, protective pouch, custom shock mount, and scissor arm boom for your desk, all for only $20 more than purchasing the microphone by itself. While this microphone isn’t designed for musical purposes, it’s perfect for podcasts, vlogging, and video conferencing without breaking the bank, and provides a tremendous upgrade over any stock microphone in your computer or camera.
A necessary evil, this Pyle microphone XLR-to-USB adapter is lightweight and portable, and allows you to use the condenser microphone with your computer. It’s not JUST an adapter, though. This tool includes a mute button, headphone audio control for monitoring purposes, as well as mix audio control that allows you to blend microphone and playback audio feeds.
Last but not least, you need something to mount all this stuff up! Patrick uses these Cevoqin adjustable table light stands to house his camera/teleprompter setup and ring light. Durable and lightweight, they come with a standard screw tip that fits most lighting and video equipment, can be adjusted from roughly 14” to 23” in height, and come with a C clamp connection point that provides necessary stability and adaptability to fit most desks.
COVID’s impact has been felt not just throughout our personal lives, but in our professional lives as well. Where office work, in-person meetings, and on-site events, conferences, and classrooms were the norm for what seems like forever, the last year and a half has created a massive shift in remote work and a real focus and need towards executing these same interactive meetings by video conferencing.
While a simple phone call may suffice for some necessities, there is something about seeing a person and not just hearing them that creates a more personal connection and allows the presenter to provide additional visual data to better drive a point home. This is why some amazing technologies have been developed for companies and professionals to operate, interact, and conduct business in a safe way, all while providing the personal connections that simple phone calls simply can’t deliver. Without the advent of some of these awesome applications, some companies may have come to a total stop and crumbled.
Two of the more well known software applications available today are Zoom.us and Google Meet. Both available well before COVID, they exploded in popularity once the pandemic hit, allowing businesses to video conference and continue operating (somewhat) normally. Once restrictions began to loosen and companies started returning to a more regular day-to-day operation, many professionals and companies recognized the multiple benefits and expanded capabilities of video conferencing, grabbing the bull by the horns and utilizing these technologies to save time, reduce redundancy, boost productivity, and promote collaboration.
And there you have it! While there is a seemingly endless amount of combinations to set up a studio for video conferencing, these are the primary components Patrick uses to set himself up for success on every video call, online conference, and digital event.
Interested in seeing Patrick in action? Check out his LinkedIn profile for updates on his upcoming events!
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