Using Zoom, a Blackmagic ATEM Mini, and a Streamdeck XL for real-time remote video production over a VPN

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!

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I made a page that allows me to do basic cuts between the sources on the switcher. I press the button here, the command goes over the VPN to the switcher, and I get visual feedback from the video conference call with Zoom.
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I can change scenes in OBS and even have transport control of the AJA Ki Pro, all remotely!

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.

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The Blackmagic ATEM Mini. It’s a portable 4-input mini switcher.

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!

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I am only using one input as this is just a basic HDMI to webcam converter at this point. But if I had more inputs, I could connect them and control it all remotely!
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A screenshot of the multiviewer being sent back to me over Zoom.

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!

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I can control the basic functions of the Roku remote with this module, and even launch Netflix from the push of a button! Now I just need to make it start their favorite shows automatically…

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?

 

6 comments

  1. Thanks for this. I’ve got one question that I haven’t been able to figure out. When you use Companion with Stream Deck, are you now unable to run the Stream Deck native software? Is it either or?

    I would still like to be able to open applications and windows on my computer and I’m not sure if I can do that with software or if I’d need a second Stream Deck to do it.

    Any advice?

    Like

      1. Ok, I will have to learn more about all of this. Thank you. Currently, when I have the native Stream Deck software running, Companion says it isn’t able to find the Stream Deck until I stop the software from running. More research to do.

        I appreciate you sharing your knowledge and time!

        Like

      2. NO WAY! I tooootally did not notice that. Dang, you rock Joseph. Ok, I just saw it and installed it. I’ll play with it. Seriously, I am very grateful for your expertise. I was THIS close to buying a second Stream Deck because I thought I didn’t have an alternative.

        Like

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