The first interview was with Sky News, and was in a studio. I had a few days notice. It was all very scary and new, but one can get used to anything. These days it is much more relaxed. RT tend to give a couple of hours notice.
Interviews with BBC were also in a studio. I have been in three different studios now. When RT called for an interview, with only a few hours notice, they suggested a studio, but then said "or we could use Skype". Well, I am not a Skype user, but a choice of install Skype or spend all evening travelling to and from a stupid for 3 minutes on air - I chose Skype.
It was pretty simple - install Skype, wait for a "call", and live TV interview.
- I used the apple headphones as they avoid any issue with feedback or noise cancelling.
- The mic is not that good, but was OK - probably better than the one in the screen/Mac.
- Later interviews I had grown a beard and so the mic would make a scraping noise, not good
- I used the in build camera in my Mac
- It claims to be HD - I am not sure of the spec, could just be 720, and does not look that good
- It is a tiny camera, so never going to be brilliant
- It points at an odd angle, so I either had to tilt up the Mac (which showed all my ceiling lights behind me) to lower my chair stupidly low. I chose the latter.
Whilst waiting for the call on Skype I googled a bit to see if I could use the Canon DSLR camera as a web cam. I found a solution, which was very clunky, but worked. I have since seen some other s/w that supposedly works more directly with the camera, but not tried that.
The process is pretty simple though...
- Install CamTwist
- This creates a new web cam that can be used as video input on the Mac
- It actually does (in this case) screen grab of the desktop - you pick a rectangle
- Beware - it has settings for the web cam size that default to something tiny - you go in to a menu to set those (I picked 1920x1080) and restarted it and the apps using it
- Run the EOS utility for "live view" on Mac screen
- Point the CamTwist virtual webcam input window to the EOS live view window
- This means a 4k video camera displayed on a scaled window on a small part of a 5k Mac screen, captured and called to present to be a 1920x1080 webcam. Messy, or what.
- Be careful no other windows pop up over the live view at all as they will appear!
As you can see, the video is not that bad, but something horrible has happened with the audio! I sound a lot more Micky Mouse than usual and I seem to be stuttering!
From what we can tell, when I plugged in the H4n it offered 44.1kHz or 48kHz. I just picked the default (44.1kHz). I can only assume something (maybe Skype) assumed it was 48kHz, and so processed the audio as higher pitched, but then kept running out of audio and so repeated a fraction of a second hence making me stutter.
This is not the end of the fun and games though.
First off, getting the camera to play ball...
- I had to set the HDMI mode not to overlay the usual focus and settings controls. There is a menu for that.
- The HDMI out is 1080, and can be 1080p or 1080i. I set 1080p (why not) and 50 fps.
- The recording is separate. I did have set to 4k 25fps, but obviously that means some processing to get to the HDMI, and seemed to add a video lag compared to sound (even using cameras own mic). I changed to match HDMI 1080p/50fps. Seems better.
- You still need the EOS utility to set live view - this allows you to lock the camera so it is actually mirror up and feeding video without timing out. Just setting video mode and not recoding soon stops. I could have recorded as well I guess. May be a nice idea next interview.
- I may have to find a mains power adapter for camera to ensure the battery does not catch me out. Thankfully interviews are short, but sound/video checks first and so on can take time.
- The EOS live view lets me play with focus and stuff as well, which is fun, so live I can change focus to another person - would be good if we had two people interviews and a camera operator.
Turns out A/V sync issues are a nightmare!
- To start with, I was not sure how to test - I FaceTimed my son - he said sync was shit and audio like a second behind video.
- Eventually I decided simpler to record using Photo Booth and play back to check.
- I found audio ahead of video slightly in most cases, even when audio is direct in to external mic. I think I have managed to improve that a lot by changing video record mode to match the HDMI settings to minimise any processing being done.
- It seems that actually the H4n on USB works just as well as via line out to camera, so USB will get better quality direct in to audio devices.
- Unfortunately, at one point, I managed to create the huge lag with audio behind, but not quite work out how. So clearly, testing is needed before I go live.