Building A Professional Zoom Studio

I had a customer call in and ask for our help to set up a Zoom room. Not any old zoom room but one where he could "look like a local" on Office Hours. Office Hours is a unique community that gathers everyday via Zoom to foster connections with technical professionals while also accepting anyone learning how to operate in a tech-first world. Anyone can flip open a laptop and plug in some USB mics and cameras, which can often be great solutions on the fly or for a quick work from home solution. But when your desk is also a public office that has clients from different parts of the world meeting up with you and all they have is their screen and speakers to interface with you. It's worth considering making sure you look and sound professional. The rig below is what we like to call the Office Hours special and was provided for the customer who called in.

The Camera & Lens:

Blackmagic Design Pocket 4k, This is one of the most popular cameras on the market for a number of reasons. This camera will give you the classic depth of field look bringing you into focus and leaving the background out of focus. In this use case having a micro four-thirds sensor gives you an image quality that will beat every webcam on the market without totally breaking the bank. We like using either the Olympus M.Zuiko ED 12-40mm or the Panasonic G X Vario 14-35mm. These lenses have a constant F-stop of 2.8 and will let you frame exactly how you need. Whether the camera is 2’ away or 8’ away, you will have the frame you want.

The Lights:

Alex Lindsay gave us a peek behind the scenes when he was on the road with a tweet that showed his lighting setup for a hotel suite. He uses (2) Nanlite 6c Pavotube’s for his front lighting and keeps 2 more in the back to create some spill on a wall, bookshelf, or any furniture in the background. Prop up two of these on two of the Promaster LS CT Stands for your front light. These tube lights are internal battery-powered and can run up to 2 hours with the correct intensity selected. A simple USB-C plug into the wall will also give them continuous power for even longer zoom days. Alex also likes to add some flair to his lamps by using the Aputure B7c Wi-Fi controllable bulb. By using the B7c bulb you can power it from the lamp and use Sidus Link to control the intensity, white balance, and even color if you want to add some extra flair.

The Hardware and the Magic:

If you’ve ever seen a zoom call where someone is looking directly into the camera it may perplex you how they can view zoom and all the respective attendees and maintain eye contact with the camera. Well, a teleprompter with a digital video input will allow you to port your zoom window out and be displayed on your teleprompter window. Instead of viewing text you are viewing your zoom attendees. We like reaching for the Proline Plus 24" HB Teleprompter by Prompter People. This 24” Monitor and glass give you plenty of viewing space for your zoom call. You will need a tripod to rig it together. Don’t forget you need to get a video capture device to bring your video into your zoom call! The Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro will get the job done and leave room for you to bring any other video/media components into you feed with the click of a button.

The Sound:

The fan favorite sound device on Office Hours is from… well.. Sound Devices. The Mix-Pre 3 II is the most popular sound interface in the Office Hours circle. While it has many uses beyond a simple sound interface, it boasts 32-bit audio recording, 3 XLR inputs, USB-C power and I/O, Downloadable plug-ins (such as the Noise Assist Plug-in), and a touch screen interface. At the time of writing this article, the Mix-Pre 3 II is under a production postponement, thus the next best item is the Mix-Pre 6 II.There are plenty of awesome mics out there, like the Shure SM7b, the Heil PR 40, or the Neumann TLM 102. Any of these mics with a RODE PSA boom arm and you will have a professional broadcast audio worthy setup. However if you would rather have a headset, Alex Lindsay reaches for the Countryman H-6 Headset. The price is ultra competitive to the high-end market for headsets and it will pack punch for professional audio quality.

Alex Lindsay discusses Mix-Pre Sound assist plug-in: Youtube Link

17th Feb 2022 Jon DeYonker

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