The Community Team has been discussing our Camera Kit program for years and decided that the program should be continued and the equipment updated.
Back in 2019, determining what would be proper equipment for our needs proved to be more difficult than expected. Then came the pandemic, that put all in-person events to hold, and thus the pressing need to refurbish the camera kits eased out.
The break allowed me to think about the equipment, needs and purpose of camera kits to reflect where we currently are. After multiple discussions with community members, some serious thinking and multiple hours spent reading product reviews, I have a proposal about how new camera kits could be equipped.
Principles for selecting the equipment
To help you understand some choices that are made in the equipment list, here’s a list of a few objectives I set out for the new kits:
- Good audio is a priority, video quality comes after that
- Equipment should support easy live streaming, as the demand for streaming events has increased
- All equipment should be really easy to use
- but; at the same time it should enable some power-user features for organisers that do want to do more
- All equipment should be durable, given their heavy use
- Ideally, the cost of equipment and maintenance is kept as low as possible
After spending multiple hours finding out which cameras and accessories could fit the principles set, I’ve come up with the following basic list. In case you are interested more in the reasons behind these choices, there is a “more” tag at the bottom of the post.
Proposed composition for the kits
Currently, the Community Team has six kits in the EU region. Based on my experience with the demand for kits in the EU, I’m proposing to increase the number of kits to eight. It is also likely that the trend in the future is to have more hybrid events, and we need to be prepared to support organisers to meet that demand.
Half of the kits would contain just the basic equipment and the other half accompanied by a video mixer. That would mean four basic kits and four with a video mixer.
Kits are shipped in pairs of two per track/stage, in case equipment is damaged or malfunctioning in the other kit. In the future, each track/stage would get the basic kit and kit with a video mixer. The usage of the latter one can be “downgraded” to basic kit level, just by leaving the video mixer part of it unused.
With current prices, the total cost for refurbishing EU camera kits would be around a total of 10 000 euros for eight kits including new pelicases and other various smaller accessories for each kit. The breakdown of the costs per kit basis can be found in this spreadsheet.
What about other regions than EU?
As you might have noticed, I hinted earlier that the Camera Kit equipment refurbish would happen only for EU Camera Kits. This is the current plan, as the total cost of refurbishing the kits is in five digits and the community still needs to be cautious on spending due to the impacts of COVID on our programs financials.
Refurbishing the kits in one area first also allows us to get experiences and knowledge about the equipment, and whether those are suitable for our use at the end. If and after we get positive feedback about the contents of the kits, my hope is to also refurbish US kits and in future extend the program to Asia and Africa as well.
Open for discussion
Do you have any questions about the proposed equipment? Are there parts of it that could be replaced with something that suits the community needs better? Please share your thoughts, questions and concerns before 2022-03-02!
Thanks to @angelasjin for proofreading this proposal and @harmonyromo for giving financial viewpoints during the process.
Details about the equipment
Based on reviews, best value for money. Video quality is more than enough, supports live streaming (can act as a webcam) and the recording format is MPEG-4 which is easy to work with. Also supports connecting up to two external audio sources (XLR audio cable or 6.3mm headphone plug). The XLR audio cable inputs allow organisers to capture the audio from the venue equipment if XLR-output and extra cable can be provided by the venue.
Additional microphone: Zoom SSH-6
Shotgun microphone to replace the one included with Zoom Q8. This microphone has a directional microphone for picking up sound from the stage as well as a bidirectional side mic for picking up ambient sounds as well as questions from the audience.
Seems to be the industry standard wireless microphone nowadays. Simple and small. Allows hooking the speaker with their own microphone for even better audio quality. Connected to Zoom Q8 with 6.3mm headphone plug.
Most of the WordCamp WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress. They're one of the places where the WordPress community comes together to teach one another what they’ve learned throughout the year and share the joy. Learn more. videos I’ve watched are quite static and do not pan or tilt. Based on this observation, a camera stand that does the basic thing keeping the camera at the right height and position to record the stage should be enough. Local organisers can use their own camera stands, if available, when they do want to do more than just a static position video.
For organisers that do want to do more with their live streams. Allows hooking up the camera HDMI output as well as presentation source (stage/speaker computer) to a mixer that is seen as a webcam. With the mixer, organisers can switch between stage and presentation for the live stream. It also allows picture-in-picture mode to show both at the same time. If organisers have other cameras available, they can set up multiple camera operations for live streams. Accompanied with Swissonic HDMI Split 4K 1in4 to split the HDMI from stage source to mixer and big screen on the stage.
Update 2022-02-24: Changed the wireless microphone from Rode Wireless GO to Rode Wireless GO II as the first edition is no longer available. The new wireless microphone has two transmitters, allowing a bit more diverse setup. This had only a minor effect on the cost side.