The graduation ceremony’s across the country this year are extremely varied so I wanted to take a few to talk through our setup. Many schools I know decided to hire a group to come in and stream the graduation ceremony for them but honestly, with a little bit of equipment, it was very easy to do it ourselves. The audio side of the setup was pretty simple but we did run into an unexpected situation that detracted a bit from the ceremony, lesson learned. Our ceremony was held on the soccer fields with students sitting in chairs on each side of the stage. We allowed two vehicles per graduate and they were assigned parking spots around the soccer field.
Due to last-minute high winds, we could not use our normal podium mic as all you heard was the wind. I went with our wireless microphone which has always been rock solid for us. We set up a nice speaker pointing towards the graduates so they could hear the music and speakers. Then we set up an FM transmitter so the spectators in the vehicles could tune in to a radio station to hear the ceremony which worked beautifully. All the audio ran through a Mackie mixer I use and then the audio output was sent to the speaker, FM transmitter, and the live stream. I am not a huge fan of using wireless microphones as it just introduces too many possible issues sometimes but the one we have is really good. However, we ran into the issue of the mic cutting in and out randomly through the ceremony. It wasn’t awful enough that we had to stop and figure it out but me being me, it drove me crazy. After some research, I discovered that an FM transmitter if in close proximity to a wireless microphone, it can cause interference issues. After thinking back to our rehearsal which went perfectly with no issues, the FM transmitter was turned off. So, if you plan to use an FM transmitter I would strongly suggest avoiding wireless microphones unless you thoroughly test it out in advance. Overall that was the only issue I ran into all night so I was quite pleased with how it all went for the first time.
The next step was the live stream and this probably took the most amount of work for me to set up. The largest hurdle was providing internet access to the soccer field which my set up was about 400 feet from the school. After talking with a few people I decided to go with a Ubiquiti PowerBeam AC Gen2 which basically is a very small dish that allows you to send the internet signal to a dish on the other side. It has a range of 20 kilometers so 400 feet was no problem. They took a little bit of time to get working as I had never set up anything like this before. I attached one to the roof of our school and then attached the other to our soccer field scorers booth. After a bit of playing around and many tips up and down two flights of stairs, I got my steps in that day, I had it working. Our school internet is 500mb/second up and down. I’m sure with some playing around in the settings of the PowerBeams I could get the full signal but with no real adjustment, I was getting a little over 100mb/second up and down which was plenty. From there I connected a network cable and ran it to my table on the field and I had a solid internet connection.
I currently use a 2017 MacBook Pro with 16gb of memory and six weeks ago I came across a piece of software called Ecaam Live that is used for live streaming. Up till then, I have been using OBS which is the go-to for most people but when I found Ecaam Live I really loved the interface and how easy it was to setup. It makes inserting videos and graphics very easy. Our class night video I had to go back and forth from recorded videos to the live stream and all it took was a little up-front setup and during the stream, I just had to push hotkey buttons to switch between everything, very simple. I picked up a Blackmagic Atem Mini a few months back which you can read more about in another post I made a few months ago. I connected our Panasonic Camera into the HDMI input on the Atem Mini and my laptop sees the Atem Mini as a webcam. In Ecaam Live I just select the Atem Mini and it shows the video coming through the camera. You can connect up to four HDMI cameras into the Atem Mini and just push a button to switch between them but for the first live stream, we have done I kept it simple and used just one camera. I also used one of the Mackie Mixer outputs and plugged a 3.5mm cable into the back of the Atem Mini so all the video and audio for the stream was coming through that device. That makes it so I don’t need to worry about having any audio offset so that the video and audio are lined up. In Ecaam Live you can stream to a number of services and we choose to go through YouTube. All you have to do is log in to your Google account in Ecaam Live and once it’s set up to start your stream is just a push of a button.
I really have to admit that everything went beautifully minus the little audio glitch with the wireless microphone. Now I know about the interference issue with the FM transmitter that will never be a problem again. The live stream worked great and looked really good. In Ecaam Live you can adjust all the graphical sliders to change saturation, hue, tint, etc, and you can even load in LUT’s if you have some you really like. If you need a scoreboard there is a great one called NewBlue Titler Live that costs a couple hundred and allows you to embed the scoreboard into Ecaam Live. Ecaam has a small cost, it would cost just over $200/year but to me, it is absolutely worth it, plus you get professional support that you do not get with OBS as you have to rely on the community. I prefer having that dedicated support as it can be a bit faster to get help. The setup worked great and with a little bit of time is very easy to use, it can also save you quite a bit of money over the long-haul so you don’t have to hire others to come in and do it for you. If you have any questions or need any help use the comments below or use the contact form on the site.