Since I started publishing articles on my adventures in zoom magic shows that focused on entertainment and theory, I have received many questions regarding the equipment I use for my shows. It is an important issue – your show must be seen and heard
I will begin saying I had real-world experience in production for radio and television before me doing online shows, so I had a chance to buy a lot of good and bad equipment. I also mean I had a bunch of stuff lying around when I needed to adapt my show online.
Like your suitcase and props need to be the best to serve you while working, the same goes for online broadcasts. You do not want to embarrass yourself with technical malfunctions during showtime. The real secret is to buy the good stuff.
I understand many of you will hesitate to invest in new equipment, so I have provided a few setups I experimented with, starting with a setup made of things you probably already have, following a budget setup. And then some more high-end stuff. I have put links to products I own, they are affiliated. You won't pay any more, but I will get some commission if you buy them from the links.
Before we begin – no equipment will help you if you have internet issues.
I recommend always connecting through an Ethernet cable to the best internet plan you can buy. Talk to your provider and upgrade to the highest speed possible. This is one place you do not want to save money. Today high-quality internet is important as heating, gas, and running water.
Relying on WiFi may be practical for you, but can put your stream at risk. I have used wifi and had it go well. I have also used WiFi, and it was sh*t. The pixelated and choppy video will render your show unwatchable. If you must use it and have no other option, it can work. But make sure you have a very powerful router and be physically close to it as possible.
Because in my personal life, I become a very unpleasant person when denied quality WiFi. The WiFi routers internet providers usually give out are not very good. I use a very powerful router called the Nighthawk r7000 and am delighted with it. It connects to your modem with an Ethernet cable. https://amzn.to/2VLHjTE .
Little\no investment setup:
Here are some things you probably already have at home or can buy for pennies.
I call this set up "smartphone on a stick," and it's pretty straightforward. If you have a smartphone with a decent camera, some wireless earbuds like air pods and good room lighting. You will need a few extra things that you might already own and are very cheap:
One light or microphone stand with phone adapter.
A laptop or tablet to monitor participants.
When performing sitting by a table, I have placed my iPhone on a Manfrotto mini tripod hooked with a phone mount holder. This allows you to have some dead space, not on camera in which you can do sneaky stuff like steal loads or perform effects life CamFabulation from Haim Goldenberg.
Mini stand for phone - https://amzn.to/3eM0epZ
Phone mount - https://amzn.to/2Vveyfa
Manfrotto makes great things, but there are cheaper options. Here is one I have not yet tried but looks very similar has great ratings and comes with a phone mount and a promo photo of a phone with boobs. Just 10 bucks. https://amzn.to/2wZkpjd
If you perform standing up you can can hookup a phone mount and place it on a light stand at any Height you wish. https://amzn.to/2KsVUyc
I also like the small portable light stands and use them when sitting on a couch on Instagram live https://amzn.to/3eM0epZ
If you want to turn your phone into a webcam, I recommend using the IVCAM app. It can be used for free with a watermark and connects to your computer via WIFI or USB cable. https://www.e2esoft.com/ivcam/
If you do not own wireless earbuds, I have experimented with lavalier mics made for phones. I found this brand cheap and reasonable quality. https://amzn.to/2yxrEj1
There are two main downsides to broadcasting with your phone
1) The small screen makes it impossible to monitor other spectators, yourself and controlling zoom mid-stream. For this, I recommend having a computer or laptop nearby and connect to the meeting thru both the phone or computer. In Zoom, you can connect both at once.
2) When using your phone, you are dependent on your battery and wifi. Both can fail you. For the battery, just make sure you have a power source connected. As for the wifi, make sure it's good. I have friends who have used ethernet to lightning port adaptor for iPhones. I have not experimented with this but here is a link to products like that if you want to try it out.
For iPhone: https://amzn.to/2xHmlgU
A friend also had a good experience with an android phone and used something similar to this. https://amzn.to/2xRvmUC
Laptop set up
Laptop computers allow you to connect via Ethernet cable and will enable you to monitor and control the zoom meeting. Most portable computers have an ok camera, but a very bad microphones.
I found out that I owed a product than can double as a USB interface and USB microphone: the Zoom H1 (no relation to the video meeting software) https://amzn.to/2zlizKl
You can either plug a high-quality microphone in it and connect the device to the computer via USB. You use its high-quality built-in mic directly as a USB mic.
That's it for now.
One last note on lighting. Most cheaper cameras will perform much better when well lit. I own two very cheap lights by Neewer:
https://amzn.to/2WGZlGZ this 26 dollar light take regular batterers and work fine if placed close to you. It can be placed on a small light stand or table stand I told you about at the beginning of this article. They do not come with batteries or a power cord.
If you have any recommendations, feel free to add them in the comments. Will update more elaborated setups