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An overview of what your AV team will use for delivering your hybrid conference for the Event Manager

Bettercast

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An overview of what your AV team will use for delivering your hybrid conference for the Event Manager
December 15, 2022

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Bettercast

December 15, 2022

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Table of contents
An overview of what your AV team will use for delivering your hybrid conference for the Event Manager
December 15, 2022

Share:

December 15, 2022

The technology for broadcasting conferences online has changed over recent years, as more and more event managers are looking to use the internet to reach a wider audience. With the right tools and equipment, streaming high-quality video and audio from a conference to virtually any device with an internet connection is possible.

One of the critical developments in online conference broadcasting has been the increasing availability and affordability of high-quality video and audio recording equipment. In the past, capturing and broadcasting high-definition video and audio from a conference was often expensive and complex. But now, many affordable options are available, such as high-definition cameras, microphones, and recorders that can capture professional-quality audio and video.

However, getting your head around all the available tools and options can be overwhelming when planning a conference. In this article, I want to give you an overview of the tools an AV team will use to deliver your event. Also, to provide you with a bit of understanding of why they use them and when it’s applicable. This could help you better understand that quote that comes in and where you can make some savings.

So here is a list of tools, equipment, and software that you would need to supply if you are broadcasting a 2-day conference on the internet:

When it comes to audio and video recording equipment, there are many different options available. Here are some standard pieces of equipment that you might need for a conference broadcast:

a man holding a camera on a stage filming a woman talking at a podium

Cameras

When a supplier chooses a camera for broadcasting, several factors will determine which type best suits the specific needs and requirements of the event and the production. Some of the critical factors to consider:

  • The type of event: Different events, such as concerts, conferences, and sports games, will have different camera requirements. For example, a show might require multiple cameras to capture the performers and the audience. At the same time, a conference might only need a single camera to capture the speakers.
  • The size and layout of the venue. The size and design of the venue will affect the camera setup and positioning, as well as the number of cameras needed. For example, a large stadium will require multiple cameras with long-range lenses and PTZ capabilities. At the same time, a small conference room might only need a few stationary cameras with wide-angle lenses.
  • The quality and clarity of the video. The quality and clarity of the video are essential factors to consider when choosing a camera, as they will affect the overall viewer experience. Higher-resolution cameras, such as HD and 4K, will provide clearer and more detailed images. In contrast, lower-resolution cameras may produce grainy or blurry images.
  • The overall budget for the production. The budget for the production will often determine the type and number of cameras that can be used. Higher-end cameras, such as 4K and PTZ, can be more expensive. In contrast, lower-end cameras, such as HD and 360-degree cameras, can be more affordable.

A professional company might use several cameras to broadcast an event online. Some of the most common types of cameras for online broadcasting include:

  • High-Definition (HD) cameras: These cameras can capture video in high-definition (HD) resolution, providing clear and detailed images. HD cameras are often used for live streaming events, such as concerts and conferences, where the high-quality video is important.
  • 4K cameras: These cameras can capture video in ultra-high definition (UHD or 4K) resolution, providing even clearer and more detailed images than HD cameras. 4K cameras are often used for high-end events and productions, where the highest possible video quality is desired.
  • PTZ cameras: These cameras are equipped with pan, tilt, and zoom (PTZ) capabilities, allowing them to be remotely controlled to move and zoom in on different parts of the scene. PTZ cameras are often used in multi-camera productions, where they can be used to capture dynamic and engaging footage.
  • 360-degree cameras: These cameras can capture video in all directions, providing a 360-degree view of the scene. 360-degree cameras are often used for immersive online experiences, such as virtual tours and live-streaming events, where viewers can see the entire scene from any angle.

Overall, the best camera for online broadcasting will depend on the specific needs and requirements of the event and the production. A professional company would consider factors such as the type of event, the venue’s size and layout, the video’s quality, and the production’s overall budget.

a man in a video control room, looking at lots of screens and pointing to another person using a vision mixer

Vision mixers

A vision mixer, also known as a video switcher or production switcher, is a device used to combine and switch between multiple video sources in a live production or broadcast. A vision mixer typically has multiple inputs, each of which can be connected to a different video source, such as a camera, a computer, or a playback device. The operator of the vision mixer can then select which video sources to include in the final output and adjust the levels, transitions, and effects of the video sources as needed.

Vision mixers are often used in live events, such as concerts, conferences, and sports games. Multiple video sources need to be combined and switched in real-time. They are also used in studio productions. They can switch between cameras, graphics, and other video elements to create a professional-quality video output.

Vision mixers are essential to any live production or broadcast, allowing the operator to control and combine multiple video sources to create a seamless and engaging final output.

There are several different types of vision mixers, each with its unique features and capabilities. Some of the most common types of vision mixers include:

  • Analog vision mixers: Analog vision mixers are the traditional type of vision mixer, using analog circuitry and physical faders and buttons to control the video sources. Analog vision mixers are often larger and more complex than digital vision mixers and require more setup and configuration. However, they can provide a tactile and intuitive mixing experience and are often used in professional broadcast studios.
  • Digital vision mixers: Digital vision mixers are the more modern type of vision mixer, using digital processing and computer interfaces to control video sources. Digital vision mixers are often smaller and more portable than analog vision mixers. They can be easily configured and operated using a computer or other device. Digital vision mixers are often used in live events and mobile productions, where flexibility and ease of use are essential.
  • Hardware vision mixers: Hardware vision mixers are physical devices that can be used to mix and switch video sources. Hardware vision mixers typically include a range of inputs, outputs, and control features. They can be connected to other equipment using cables and connectors, such as cameras and displays. Hardware vision mixers are often used in professional studios and productions, where they can provide a dedicated and reliable mixing solution.
  • Software vision mixers: Software vision mixers are virtual mixing devices that can be used on a computer or other device. Software vision mixers are typically run as software applications or plugins. They can be controlled using a keyboard, mouse, or other input devices. Software vision mixers are often used in smaller or more casual productions, where a physical mixer is not necessary or available.

Encoders

An encoder is a device that converts video and audio signals into digital data that can be transmitted over the internet for streaming. This process is known as encoding, an essential step in live streaming.

Encoding typically involves compressing the video and audio data to reduce its size and make it more manageable for transmission over the internet. This is done using various algorithms and techniques, such as motion estimation, temporal and spatial prediction, and quantization. The encoded data is then packaged into a format compatible with the destination streaming platform, such as H.264 for video and AAC for audio.

Once the data is encoded, it’s transmitted to a destination streaming server over the internet using protocols such as RTMP (Real-Time Messaging Protocol) or HLS (HTTP Live Streaming). The server then distributes the stream to viewers over the internet, allowing them to watch the event live on their devices.

Several encoders can be used for live streaming, including hardware, software, and integrated.

Hardware encoders are dedicated devices specifically designed to encode video and audio for live streaming. They are typically small, portable devices easily connected to cameras and other video sources. They often have multiple inputs and outputs to support cameras and other equipment. Hardware encoders can be standalone units or integrated into larger production equipment such as vision mixers and switchers.

Software encoders run on a computer and encode video and audio data using the computer’s processing power. These encoders are typically more flexible and customizable than hardware encoders. They can support a wide range of video and audio formats. However, they require a computer with sufficient processing power to handle the encoding workload. They may not be as reliable or robust as dedicated hardware encoders.

Integrated encoders are encoders built into other equipment, such as vision mixers, switchers, or cameras. These encoders allow you to encode and stream video directly from the equipment without needing separate hardware or software. Integrated encoders can be convenient and easy to use. Still, they may offer a different level of flexibility or control than standalone hardware or software encoders.

a woman at an audio mixing desk, at the back of a large conference room, standing up while talking to a man sitting down at another console

Audio mixing equipment 

Mixing board

An audio mixing board, also known as a mixing console or mixing desk, is a device used to combine, route, and adjust the levels of multiple audio signals. There are several types of mixing boards, including analogue and digital, and each style has strengths and weaknesses.

There are some issues to consider when deciding which type of mixing board to use in a live conference or seminar event. One of the primary considerations is the size of an event and the number of audio sources that need to be mixed. A smaller event with only a few audio sources may not require a large, complex mixing board. A more significant event with many audio sources will likely need a more robust mixing board.

Another important consideration is the type of audio signals that will be mixed. Different mixing boards are better suited to handling specific signals, such as vocals, instruments, or multimedia sources. It’s also important to consider the audio’s quality and clarity and the event’s overall budget.

Microphones

When planning a conference, there are several different types of microphones to consider using. 

  • Handheld microphones

Handheld microphones are commonly used in live performance settings, such as singing, public speaking, and interviews, as they allow the user to move freely.

They are available in various styles and designs, including dynamic and condenser microphones. They can be used with multiple types of audio equipment, such as PA systems and recording devices.

A dynamic microphone uses a coil of wire and a magnet to convert sound waves into an electrical signal. They are known for their ability to reject background noise and feedback, making them a good choice for use in noisy environments or with loudspeakers. They are available in various styles and designs, including handheld microphones, headset microphones, and clip-on mics.

A condenser microphone is a type of microphone that uses a thin, flexible membrane called a diaphragm to convert sound waves into an electrical signal. Condenser microphones are known for their high sensitivity and wide frequency response. They are often used in recording studios and other applications where accurate and detailed sound reproduction is important.

Condenser microphones require a power source, either from an external battery or from a device known as a phantom power supply, to operate. They are available in various styles and designs, including small diaphragm condenser microphones, large diaphragm condenser microphones, and pencil microphones.

Overall, condenser microphones are popular for recording and other applications where high-quality sound reproduction is a priority.

  • Lavalier microphones

A lavalier microphone, also known as a lapel microphone or clip-on microphone, is a small, wearable microphone designed to be attached to the user’s clothing. Lavalier microphones are often used in live performance and public speaking settings, allowing the user to move around freely while still being able to be heard clearly.

Lavalier microphones are typically connected to a mixing board or audio equipment using a microphone cable. They can be hidden beneath the user’s clothing for a discreet appearance. Available in various styles and designs, including omnidirectional lavalier microphones, which pick up sound from all directions. Unidirectional lavalier microphones are more sensitive to sound from a specific order.

Overall, lavalier microphones are a valuable and convenient option for live performance and public speaking applications where users need to move freely.

  • Headset microphones

A headset microphone is worn on the head (funnily enough), with the microphone element positioned near the mouth. Headset microphones are often used in live performance and public speaking settings, allowing the user to move around freely while still being able to be heard clearly.

Headset microphones are typically connected to a mixing board or audio equipment using a microphone cable. They can be adjusted to fit comfortably on the head. 

Overall, headset microphones are a useful and convenient option for live performance and public speaking applications where users need to move around freely.

  • Boundary microphones

A boundary microphone, also known as a boundary layer microphone or pressure zone microphone, is designed to pick up sound from a large area. Boundary microphones are often used in conference and meeting rooms. They can be placed on a table or mounted on a wall or ceiling to capture audio from multiple participants.

Boundary microphones are typically designed to be omnidirectional, meaning they pick up sound from all directions. This allows them to capture sound evenly from a large area without aiming the microphone directly at the sound source. Boundary microphones are available in various styles and designs, including flat and spherical microphones.

Overall, boundary microphones are a useful and convenient option for capturing audio in conference and meeting settings, where they can provide clear and consistent sound from multiple participants.

  • Shotgun microphones

A shotgun microphone is a type of microphone that is designed to pick up sound from a specific direction while rejecting sounds from other directions. Shotgun microphones are often used in film and television production. They can be mounted on a boom pole or camera to capture sound from a specific location or person without picking up unwanted background noise.

Shotgun microphones are typically unidirectional, meaning they are most sensitive to sound from the direction in which they are pointed. They are often long and narrow in shape, with a series of slots or holes along the side to help reject sound from other directions. Shotgun microphones are available in various styles and designs, including short and long ones.

  • Gooseneck microphones

A gooseneck microphone is a type of microphone that has a long, flexible neck that can be bent into different shapes. Gooseneck microphones are often used in conference and meeting rooms. They can be placed on a table or mounted on a wall or ceiling to capture audio from multiple participants.

The flexible neck of a gooseneck microphone allows it to be positioned and aimed at the sound source, making it easier to capture clear and focused audio.  

Overall, gooseneck microphones are a valuable and convenient option for capturing audio in conference and meeting settings, where they can provide clear and consistent sound from multiple participants.

a wall full of high tech audio processing equipment with flashing lights and a man kneeing in front of one of the racks turning a dial

Compressors

An audio compressor is a device that reduces the dynamic range of an audio signal, which is the difference between the loudest and quietest parts of the signal. This can be useful in a live event setting because it can help to even out the levels of the voices and prevent the quiet parts from being drowned out by the louder parts. It can also help to avoid distortion by limiting the maximum level of the signal.

Equalizers

Audio equalizers are a type of audio processing equipment that is used to adjust the frequency response of an audio signal. This means that they can boost or cut specific frequency ranges in the audio to shape the tone and clarity of the sound. Equalizers are commonly used in various settings, including live events, recording studios, and home audio systems.

Many different types of audio equalizers are available, and they can be used in various ways. For example, some equalizers are standalone units that can be used with any audio source. In contrast, others are built into mixing boards or other audio equipment. Some are graphic, meaning they have multiple faders or sliders that can be adjusted to boost or cut specific frequency ranges. Other equalizers are parametric, meaning they have a small number of controls that can be adjusted to fine-tune the frequency response.

In a live event setting, equalizers can be used in many different ways. For example, they can be used to shape the tone of a microphone or instrument to make it sound more natural and balanced. They can also be used to adjust the overall frequency response of the mix to make it sound more balanced and consistent. In addition, equalizers can be used to fix specific problems in the audio, such as feedback or excessive bass or treble.

You will need a mixing board or other audio equipment with equalization capabilities to use an equalizer in a live event setting. You will also need someone on the technical team familiar with the equipment and how to operate it to adjust the settings and apply the equalization in real time.

Overall, audio equalizers are a valuable tool for shaping the tone and clarity of audio signals in a live event setting. They can help to make the audio sound more balanced and professional, and they can fix specific problems in the audio. Event managers need to be familiar with the different types of equalizers and how they can be used to improve the audio of a live event.

Noise gates

Noise gates are audio processing equipment that reduces or eliminates background noise in an audio signal. They work by setting a threshold level below which the audio is silenced. This can be useful in a conference setting, where there may be a lot of ambient noise from the audience or the venue that you want to reduce or eliminate.

Here are some common uses for noise gates in a conference setting:

  • To reduce background noise from the audience, such as coughing, whispering, or shuffling papers.
  • To reduce ambient noise from the venue, such as air conditioning or traffic outside.
  • To reduce background noise from the microphone, such as handling or wind noise.

To use a noise gate, you would typically set the threshold level so that it is below the level of the desired audio signal (e.g. the speaker’s voice) but above the background noise level. This way, the noise gate will only silence the audio when the signal falls below the threshold, and the desired audio will be allowed to pass through.

You can control the aggressiveness of the noise gate by adjusting the attack, hold, and release settings. The attack setting determines how quickly the gate opens and allows the audio to pass when the signal level rises above the threshold. 

Overall, noise gates can be an effective tool for improving the audio quality of a conference by reducing unwanted background noise.

Effects Processors 

Effects processors are a type of audio processing equipment that is used to add effects to an audio signal. These effects can include reverb, delay, chorus, and many other types of audio manipulation. In a live setting for corporate events, effects processors can enhance the event’s audio, making it sound more polished and professional.

Many different effects processors are available, and they can be used in various ways. For example, some effects processors are designed to be used with individual instruments or microphones, while others are intended to be used on the master output of a mixing board. Some effects processors are standalone units, while others are built into mixing boards or audio equipment.

One common way to use effects processors in a live corporate event is to add reverb to the main speakers’ microphones. This can create a sense of space and depth in the audio and make the speakers’ voices sound more natural and professional. Another common use for effects processors is to add delay to the audience microphones to create a more immersive and engaging experience for the audience.

You will need a mixing board or other audio equipment with effects processing capabilities to use effects processors in a live corporate event. You will also need someone on the technical team familiar with the equipment and how to operate it to adjust the settings and apply the effects in real time.

Overall, effects processors can be a valuable tool for enhancing the audio of a corporate event. They can make the event sound more polished and professional and create a more engaging and immersive experience for the audience. It is important for event managers to be familiar with the different types of effects processors and how they can be used in a live setting.

an old school reel to reel recording device, sitting on a desk of a man, who is using a mixing console that is at the back of a conference room

Recorders

Several different types of audio recorders can be used to capture high-quality audio from speakers in a broadcast conference. These include portable recorders, which are small and lightweight and can be easily carried around on the go. Handheld recorders are similar to portable recorders but designed to be held in hand, and multi-channel digital audio recorders are larger and more complex devices that can simultaneously record multiple audio channels.

In addition to these audio recorders, various software programs and apps can record audio on a computer or mobile. 

These include digital audio workstations (DAW), used for professional audio recording and editing or more basic recording apps that can be used on smartphones.

In addition to software DAWs, there are hardware DAWs, which are physical devices that can be used to record and mix audio. Hardware DAWs can help record audio in a live event setting, where a computer may not be easily accessible.

Overall, the type of DAW that is best for recording voice depends on the needs and preferences of the user. Some users prefer the flexibility and customization options offered by software DAWs. In contrast, others may prefer the convenience and portability of a hardware DAW.

In conclusion

The technology for broadcasting conferences online has improved dramatically in recent years, with the availability of affordable, high-quality video and audio recording equipment. Hiring a professional AV team will ensure that your conference is broadcast with high-quality audio and video, providing an engaging experience for viewers. Understanding the tools and equipment that a professional AV team will use can help you make informed decisions and create a successful online conference.

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