Proposal: Refurbishing Camera Kits

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

Proposed equipment

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.

Costs

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.

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#camera-kits

Recommendations for Updates to Camera Kits

Following previous discussions on WordCamp camera kits, an immediate action item is to identify equipment that might better meet our needs. There are a number of reasons to update our kits:

  1. The current kits are older, and record in MTS. It would be easier for WordCampWordCamp 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. A/V wranglers to handle files that are recorded as MP4s.
  2. It is difficult to get good audio – a key element for recorded WordCamp sessions! – on the current kit. Newer equipment may do a better job of this.
  3. Our kits are unable to connect to more modern venues.
  4. Despite online tutorials, the kits themselves are not as intuitive to set up and use, especially for new WordCamp A/V wranglers.

Keeping in mind that durability, ease of use, quality, and expense are deciding factors, we’d like your recommendations on video and audio recording equipment!

What equipment have you used in the past that worked well? Have you heard of equipment with rave reviews? What do you think would be the best fit for WordCamps?

Helpful information to include in your recommendation would be cost, objective data on ease of use, recording format, and any other information that we can use to clearly compare recommendations. Links to reviews and/or the product itself would be additionally helpful!

Please share your thoughts by Thursday, January 31, 2019.

+make.wordpress.orgWordPress.org The community site where WordPress code is created and shared by the users. This is where you can download the source code for WordPress core, plugins and themes as well as the central location for community conversations and organization. https://wordpress.org//tv


#camera-kits

WordCamp camera kit program discussion wrap up

Thank you to @otto42, @jerrysarcastic, @drbe4t, @ubernat, @stk_jj, @andreamiddleton, @weslinda, @pablo-moratinos, @desafio, @roseapplemedia, @jtleathers, and @sippis for contributing to the discussion around the WordCamp camera kit program! It was super helpful to hear personal experiences, challenges and successes with the camera kit program.

Looking deeper into the camera kit program and having this conversation makes it clear that the camera kit program should be continued.

This is partially because the cost of professional videography services, when compared to the number of videos uploaded to WPTV, is very expensive, and can consume a large portion of any WordCampWordCamp 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. budget. Moving forward, let’s work on improving the camera kit program so that it is easier for WordCamp A/V wranglers!

During the discussion, there were a few trends in the comments:

  • Audio is a crucial element of recorded sessions, and often difficult to capture clearly with the existing kits, although not impossible.
  • While opinion is split on how easy it is to use the kits, the general consensus is that more education and documentation on how to use the kits is needed.
  • Post-production of videos, especially editing, is time consuming and can be a technical challenge.

Based on this, the following immediate needs have been identified:

  • People who can help ship and coordinate camera kits, more immediately in the US and Canada.
  • Better education on how to use the kits. This could be in the form of more documentation, videos on how to use the equipment, or contacts on the WPTV team who help answer questions.
  • Better follow up with WordCamps that use kits so that we can help them address any blockers.

Huge thanks to @tashan, @mikeyarce, @roseapplemedia, and @petya for wrangling camera kits to date, and to @sippis for continuing to wrangle kits in the EU!

A few of you shared in your comments that you would be willing to help! That’s amazing, and someone will be reaching out to you soon. As this is an important part of WordCamps, it would be fantastic to have even more volunteers, especially if you have A/V experience, or helped organize a WordCamp in the past! Please comment below if you are interested in participating.

#camera-kits

Discussion: Should we continue the WordCamp camera kit program?

One goal of WordCamps around the world is to publish recordings of sessions to WordPress.tv, to make WordCamps even more accessible to all. To do this, so far WordCampWordCamp 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. organizers have either:

  • relied on camera kits provided by the WordPress FoundationWordPress Foundation The WordPress Foundation is a charitable organization founded by Matt Mullenweg to further the mission of the WordPress open source project: to democratize publishing through Open Source, GPL software. Find more on wordpressfoundation.org..
  • raised the funds to pay for professional videography services.
  • arranged local in-kind or volunteer videography services.

A huge thanks to @sippis, @tashan, @jerrysarcastic, @roseapplemedia and @mikeyarce for wrangling camera kits to date!

After hearing feedback from the TV team and some of our community deputiesDeputy Community Deputies are a team of people all over the world who review WordCamp and Meetup applications, interview lead organizers, and generally keep things moving at WordCamp Central. Find more about deputies in our Community Deputy Handbook., it seemed time to reexamine how we handle camera kits (this is how we currently ask WordCamp organizers to use camera kits).

The Community Team pulled together the following data to compare the expense of shipping camera kits, the expense of outsourcing videography services, and the success rate of getting videos uploaded to WordPress.tv.

Summary of Results, data from January 2016 – October 2018

In the US & Canada, professional videography costs totaled almost $88k per year, while total costs in the EU came to just over $34k per year.  

While we do not have shipping expenses fully documented for the EU, in the US, camera shipping costs added up to almost $4,000 per year in 2016-18. (Each camera kit cost the WordPress Foundation about $1500 to assemble. There are 8 kits in the US — 4 kits with 2 cameras each and 4 kits with one camera each — 3 in Canada, and 3 in the EU.)

The cost of shipping the kits around the US and Canada is vastly cheaper than the expense for A/V and Videography for 2016, 2017, and 2018, and the same can be assumed for the EU.

However, the number of WordCamps that paid for professional videography had a higher success rate of publishing on WPTV, as compared to the WordCamps who relied on Foundation camera kits alone. This is particularly noticeable in 2017, where:

  • In the US/Canada:
    • 18 WordCamps paid for professional video services and published their sessions to WPTV
    • 10 WordCamps paid for professional video services and did not publish their sessions to WPTV
    • 10 WordCamps relied on the Foundation camera kits and volunteers, and successfully published their sessions to WPTV
    • 16 WordCamps relied on the Foundation camera kits and volunteers, and did not publish their sessions to WPTV
  • In the EU:
    • 19 WordCamps paid for professional video services and published their sessions to WPTV
    • 5 WordCamps paid for professional video services and did not publish their sessions to WPTV
    • 6 WordCamps relied on the Foundation camera kits and volunteers, and successfully published their sessions to WPTV
    • 0 WordCamps relied on the Foundation camera kits and volunteers, and did not publish their sessions to WPTV

Other Considerations

While outsourcing A/V support is far more expensive than shipping camera kits, there are other factors we should consider. These include:

  • It takes a lot of time to wrangle these kits. Cemal, for instance, has been responsible for all camera kits within the US. Maintaining and sending these kits to all the WordCamps that request them (35 WordCamps in 2017, and 41 in 2018) can sometimes require more than 30 hours of work per week.
  • Both Cemal and Mikey will be stepping down from this duty next year. Additionally, Jerry is going on sabbatical at the end of this month (hooray!) and he is stepping down as team representative. We need someone to manage the shipping and maintenance of the kits ASAP, at least for US/Canada.
  • Because the equipment is often in the hands of WordCamp organizers who are not familiar with the equipment, there is a perceived steep learning curve and, all too often, equipment is broken or lost.
  • Additional pain points have been summarized by the WPTV team here.
  • Stolen/lost camera kits happen (we had one case in 2017, and one in 2018 so far)

What do you think?

  1. Do you see any inaccuracies in the data we’ve collected (especially for your WordCamp)?
  2. Do you have additional information based on experience with your local WordCamp that would be helpful?
  3. Should we continue the Foundation camera kit program, based on this data?
  4. Do you have suggestions for a different/cost-effective approach to session recording that would also increase the number of uploads to WordPress.tv?
  5. Are you interested in volunteering to maintain Foundation camera kits and coordinate their shipping to/from WordCamps?

Click to review how this report was created, including resources, methodology, and limitations/exclusions in data.

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#camera-kits

Changes to WordCamp camera kits distribution

Capturing videos of WordCampWordCamp 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. presentations should be one of the organizers higher priorities. The video is how great knowledge will live on and be shared with the world on WordPress.tv. To help organizers with recording, we have a handful of camera kits that WordCamps happening in US, Western Europe and Canada can borrow.

Starting today, we are streamlining the process of the camera kits distribution. As a part of this, camera kits need to be requested by WordCamp organizers themselves. Requests should be done as soon as the organizers know they will need the camera kits and at latest one month prior to WordCamp. Otherwise, we cannot ensure that the request can be fulfilled.

Camera kit request form is added to the WordCamp Organizer Handbook.

At the moment, camera kit requests are coordinated in HelpScout by:
US – @tashan
Europe – @sippis
Canada – @mikeyarce 

#video, #wordcamps

#camera-kits

Replacing a lost European camera kit + a request for an additional one

Hey team,

One of the five European camera kits got misplaced during WordCampWordCamp 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. Europe contributor dayContributor Day Contributor Days are standalone days, frequently held before or after WordCamps but they can also happen at any time. They are events where people get together to work on various areas of https://make.wordpress.org/ There are many teams that people can participate in, each with a different focus. https://2017.us.wordcamp.org/contributor-day/ https://make.wordpress.org/support/handbook/getting-started/getting-started-at-a-contributor-day/.. As far as I know there are still people looking for it but unfortunately I think for the sake of planning the shipping of kits to camps this autumn I need to consider it gone.

That leaves us with four kits for all European WordCamps. Three events have already booked kits – WordCamp Varna (September), WordCamp Dublin (October) and WordCamp Sofia (November) but considering the amount of events being planned for this autumn, I expect more requests and most camps request a minimum of two kits, some request three.

So two questions:

1. Can we replace the missing camera kit with a new one?
2. Can we purchase a sixth camera kit so we have three pairs circling around WordCamps in Europe for situations like the weekends that have more than one camp.
3. I can request a a quick inventory from the organisers who currently have the kits to make sure all kits are equipped with everything they need (microphones, stands, Peli cases) and if there’s something missing, it would be great to complete the existing kits with the missing bits. Would that be ok?

Thanks in advance for your help,
Petya

#camera-kits

Some changes to the way WordCamp camera kits are distributed

If you’re a WordCampWordCamp 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. organizer who has made use of the Foundation’s camera kits recently or will be needing them in the near future you may be contacted by one of the camera kit coordinators for shipping information or to send the kits to them or another WordCamp.

In the US – @roseapplemedia
In Europe – @petya
In Canada – @mikeyarce

If you have any questions about this please let me know!

#camera-kits, #video, #wordcamps