Since the Coronavirus pandemic has shut everything down, like everyone, my whole schedule and routine has changed. Being with my family more is really nice. One significant change is that the church I work at has told everyone to stay home and only be in the office when doing a task that can only be done there.
When that happened, I came up with a workflow that would allow me to run video production equipment housed at the church, from my house, in the event that I couldn’t get to the facility, like a few weeks ago when I had to stay isolated waiting on the results of a COVID-19 test (it was negative).
We have a private VPN connection that I can use at my house with my workstation, which is great because it allows me to access all of the internal network devices at the church while I’m at home. From a networking standpoint, it’s as if I’m there. I can screen share to all my computers and use terminal windows to control nearly everything.
With the private VPN, I have Companion 2.0 running on my laptop with a Streamdeck XL as a control surface. I’m able to control the video router (Blackmagic VideoHub), video switcher (Ross Carbonite), recording equipment (AJA KiPros), and of course OBS. But getting a monitoring feed in real time with audio was a challenge, especially when we have several Netflix, YouTube, and Disney+ streams going!
Enter Zoom! And a Blackmagic ATEM Mini! The ATEM Mini is a relatively new device, it’s basically a small portable video switcher. We sort of panic-bought one when this virus was just coming around in our area, in case we needed to be able to do a portable live stream off-campus. Thankfully, we haven’t had to do that yet, but since we have it, I’ve been putting it to use for small events.
The ATEM Mini has an HDMI output, but it also has a “webcam output”, which means the sum of your video production can be sent to the computer and received as a normal webcam. This feed can then be brought into Zoom as a camera option!
Overall, I have found it very helpful to have access to this while I work remotely. I could run our live stream on Sundays completely remotely from my house, if I needed to. Along with our Unity Intercom setup, I could even run the switcher and direct cameras from my house for our weekly music recording. I hope I don’t ever have to do that, but it’s nice to know that I could!
Also, since I’m sitting at home more, and being a video DJ for my kids, fulfilling their various TV watching requests, I added a page to the Stream Deck to allow me to control the Roku TV on the other side of the room. This is a module I wrote for Companion that uses Roku’s ECP protocol. It makes life a little easier!
It is amazing what we can do with technology these days, and it delights me to be able to to see technology put to use to serve the church. I hope this is helpful to you! How are you doing remote production during all of this?