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What

Just a general FYI to any of the user groups / meetups that want to record their meetings:

After careful selection I've come up with an extremely plug-n-press-record system that fits into a shoebox will screen record for Mac, Linux, and even Windows with no installation or considerations (other than mic battery).

Total cost is between $300 and $400, depending mostly on how good of a mic you want, but also a few other factors.

(If you're looking for completely free, Google Hangouts is the best choice)

Shopping lists

I have a few more notes, as well as some cheaper options here: Shopping List: Google Drive Spreadsheet

If you really need a talking head to put in the corner of your videos, you'll also need to get a standard camera tripod with an iPhone mount and use Screenflow to mux the presenter with the recording.

How

Assembly

Operatation

  1. Plug HDMI into laptop and projector
  2. Plug in power
  3. Turn on microphone power
  4. Wait 20s for red light on capture to go solid
  5. Press red light to start recording, it will pulsate red softly
  6. Press red light (and wait 10 seconds) to stop recording
  7. Swap SD cards
  8. Unplug power and repeat at 1) for next presenter
  9. Turn off microphone power

Upload

  1. Open Handbrake

  2. Select the timestamped .ts file (no worries, it's standard mpeg something or other, just a weird extension)

  3. Encode as AppleTV 3 preset, with Web Optimized checked

  4. Upload to your group's Google Plus Youtube channel

Notes

Concerns

  • One cable should be labeled "TO PROJECTOR" and the other "TO COMPUTER" (and perhaps also use colored monoprice hdmi cables instead of the Amazon ones)

  • The mic battery must be replaced regularly - keep the spares in the shoebox (Probably every two meetings / 6 hours to be on the safe side)

  • The presenter should set their resolution to 720p or lower (max of 1080p is supported, but it's hard to see the small lettering on the screen) (Note: the further under 1080p you are, the slower - and cheaper - of an sd card you can use)

  • Mac Retina displays must use thunderbolt to HDMI adapter (the built-in native hdmi has improper resolutions)

  • The HDCP stripper should be tested with the projector it will be used with (some projectors have an incompatible version of HDMI or HDCP)

  • You can upload the resulting file to youtube as-is, but it will take forever due to the size

Troubleshooting

If the record light blinks red and blue:

  • your sd card isn't formatted
  • something isn't plugged in
  • you're at an unsupported resolution

If the projector goes bezerk (flashes, out of phase, etc)

  • it's not speaking the same version of HDMI as the HDCP stripper, use a newer projector

If the color goes wonkey (mostly purple or mostly sepia)

  • Your xbox or laptop is transmitting in Ycbcr or ypbpr instead of RGB... it's deep deep deep in the settings, you'll probably just have to deal with it.

Why (aka what doesn't work)

There are a lot of solutions for recording conference sessions, lectures, screen-caputure of presentations, etc - but they're either cumbersome or expensive and, as an aside, none of the ones that work are legal (due to HDMI's HDCP encryption).

Desktop Solutions

  • Screenflow
  • Screenium
  • Captivate
  • Camtasia

These solutions are the best for personal use (consulting, screencasting, etc), but the worst for a group for several reasons:

  • they don't work across platforms
  • they must be installed on the presenter's computer
  • they need a license (and a group license would cost roughly a metric a ton)

Web Solutions

Of these Google Hangouts is actually a suitable alternative, as long as your members are vigilent (and let's face it... they aren't).

Problems here include

  • Must download Flash / Java / custom plugin
  • Said plugin pegs your CPU to 1000% - even when it's not in use
  • If WiFi hiccpus you lose your recording in part, entirely, or looks like it's working but records blank
  • Annoying highlights around windows or funky recording widgets or whatever

Google Hangouts

Google hangouts gets it's own category because it's actually usable since they added HD recordings.

As an added perk, it streams to YouTube live.

Cons: All of the above, plus the first-time sign in process for someone who has a gmail account, but hasn't used live streaming hangouts before is confusing:

  • accept the terms of google plus
  • accept the terms of google hangouts
  • accept the terms of google hangout recordings
  • verify your phone number
  • refreshing the window doesn't work, go back to google plus
  • acknowledge the content provisions of YouTube On Air streaming
  • yes, I want to record
  • ok, start recording now
  • yes, I'm aware I'm recording

Lecture Recorders

Upshot is that it has all the bells and whistles. The downshot is that bells and whistles imply complicated.

Also, it's hella expensive ($2000!!!) and I don't believe they crack HDCP, so you still couldn't record from a Mac from HDMI - but DVI (same resolution and quality) should work fine.

Game Recorders

These start to hit the sweet spot in terms of bang for buck. Some have terrible reviews (Roxio et al), but the Elgato looks great.

The downside is that all of them (excepting the AverMedia - the one I use in the DIY kit) require a dedicated computer to manage the recording.

The latest AVerMedia has an iPhone app to manage recording via Bluetooth. It sounds sweet, but I think that the pocket recorder will prove to be easier to use (no pairing, unpairing, accidental touches, etc)


By AJ ONeal

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Published

2013-12-10

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