Webcasting your Classes
Thursday, February 15, 2018
by: Rob Black, GCFP

Section: Professional Develpment




More and more practitioners have attended live online classes, and many are beginning to consider broadcasting a class themselves.

This article is intended to give you a basic outline to get you started.

First, what are the benefits of webcasting your classes? Through webcasting, you can connect with students individually or as a group in the convenience of their home – or a location convenient for them. Thus you can extend your practice to people who are not able to travel to you. Maybe you have students who are away for a period (like “snowbirds”), and you want to offer them a way to maintain the spark or perhaps finding a physical location for your classes is proving difficult, and your potential students are internet-savvy.

This article is not intended to do it ALL for you – there is no information on the marketing of your class, nor how to collect the fees – those are other articles entirely! Also, if you are considering creating a one-time webinar, with lots of visuals and so on – that, too, is outside the scope of this article (but the information here will perhaps give you some ideas, and I have included a couple of links to get you started).

Paramount: You are Communicating

Much of this article is about the technology of broadcasting your lessons. However, what I find is that some of us get so tied up in the speaking that they forget that they are in a relationship with the listener, the student. The lessons are to help the student remove the hidden (habitual) barriers to listening to themselves. Thus, we do not want the technology, nor our delivery to increase the barriers – rather, the experience should continually enhance the experience of self. Here are some things you can do:


Delivery

Instructions as units of awareness. As you plan the delivery of the lesson, think about how the student will hear your movement suggestion and organize herself to do it. In a live class, you can easily observe how students are responding to your suggestions; when doing video teaching, the distance will make it harder to sense their challenges. I find that students need a picture of the initial position and the first movement as a whole gestalt. The amount of detail that students can handle will vary depending on their familiarity with ATM lessons: beginner students need time to find the initial position, so you give them time to find their legs and arms, etc. Soon, their awareness expands and they can take in more.

Weight-Bearing.
Some lessons require the student to lift part of their body from the floor – and then enact a movement. This is difficult, so be kind – tell them the whole picture, so they can begin the movement as soon as they lift. Don’t leave them in the air – let them sink back and then repeat.

Rest.
Rest between movements allows many opportunities for reflection, reconnection, and rejuvenation. However, there is the drift of attention. When a person is listening at a distance from you, their attention wanders. Thus rest periods need to be a little shorter than you might normally use.  I use my own “long breaths” as a guide – pauses are two or three long breaths, full rests are four to six. (Try it yourself – record a segment, giving yourself a variety of rest periods -- 10, 20, 30 and 60 seconds rests. Note which leaves you ready for the next movement and which mind wandering.)


Remove any sound barrier

If your students have difficulty hearing you – either too soft, or inconsistent, or its “echo-y” or too loud… or any number of other unpleasant experiences – they will be struggling to hear, rather than attending to their inner experiences. This is the reason for all the information included in this article about equipment: good equipment removes/reduces the sound barrier.


Broadcast your Intention, Not your Habits


Broadcasting seems to exaggerate habits in speaking, and some speaking habits interfere with ease of listening. Some that I have noticed in myself (a slow, soft speaker) and in others are:

  • The fade-away voice

  • Speaking slowly

  • Pushing the voice

  • Constant level – no variation in modulation

  • Rests – too short or too long

  • Accents

How is this exaggeration felt? For example, if you are a slow speaker, broadcasting seems to slow you down more, and your audience goes to sleep, or forgets the beginning of the sentence! On the other hand, you may be inclined to “push the voice” and speak more loudly or with less inflection than in normal speech--  maybe you feel the audience is not hearing you, so you raise your voice – and it sounds if you are yelling.

What to do? Practice.

Practice: the ATM® lesson of increasing quality

Probably the most important thing you can do for your students is to practice in advance – record segments of ATM lessons using the same broadcast tool and listen. Listen for:

  • poor sound quality,

  • information and pauses, and 

  • your habits interfering with the student’s ease.

Listen, then evaluate – what was not quite right; what difference can you make? Repeat. How to listen? Use your Zoom account to record yourself, so you can listen (and even watch).


The Equipment Basics

Your WIFI. First, you must have reliable internet. Imagine being half-way through your class and your signal drops – your students cannot find you. They will be lost and confused.

How can you check your internet? There are more and more people offering regular classes; join one and follow for a few classes. In the process, you can attend to your audio and video reception. If the class drops-off then you know that your line may not be 100% reliable. I found that my WIFI has a little unreliable partly because so many neighbors have WIFI. So, for important broadcasts, I use the wired (“Ethernet”) option.

The Webcasting Platform. The most stable and cost-effective platform at the time of writing is Zoom. You can subscribe for free (allowing unlimited reception and 40 minutes of broadcast). Or you can subscribe to one of their various accounts.

Equipment. This article has a whole lot of information about equipment, from which computing device to use, to microphones, webcams, and more!

Planning your Webcasting. Webcasting requires additional preparation that you might not regularly do. Thus, I have included checklists to help you.

Recording. Perhaps you want to record your webinar for your students. I've outlined several ways to do this below.


Using Zoom for Live Online Classes

There are quite a few videos on YouTube about Zoom. Here are some that I found useful for participants: "Welcome to Zoom Training" by Zoom. 

Learning about organizing your Zoom Meetings

• Amber Smithson's "How to do a zoom webinar" (quick overview first 3 minutes) Including how to present (share) presentation notes and recording. 

• George Kao's "How I Use Zoom -- Best Video Conferencing Platform." At 14 mins, it is a little long, but he does go through all the steps in detail. He demonstrates using two video sources, which is common.

◦ A weaker version, "Zoom general user overview"


Setting up and running Webinars

• Holistic Communications' "How to Setup, Manage and Run a ZOOM Webinar." A little slow and pedantic, but gives ideas for even large meetings.   


Microphones: 
Why use one?

Most computers or tablets/
smartphones come with microphones as part of their video package. However, I have found that the quality of the audio is poor on laptops; even on phones and tablets when speaking close to them, the sound is acceptable. However, in making presentations, often you want to have your tablet at a distance from you: the quality of the pickup degenerates with distance from the internal microphone. Thus an external microphone is perhaps the first consideration.

I have researched quite a number of low-cost alternate audio input sources. There are two basic choices: wired or wireless.

Here are some low-cost options for microphones:

For a basic, clip-on microphone, that is compatible with your IOS (e.g.iphone) or Android (e.g. Samsung Galaxy) device go to Amazon and look for: "Lavalier Lapel Clip-on Omnidirectional Condenser Microphone" you will see a listing of many under $20. Or, a local electronics store. I have used these and find their performance adequate.

When considering a microphone, here are some considerations:

 

  • Sensitivity. This suggests how "small" a sound will be picked up by the microphone. Studio microphones are designed to pick up sound only very near the microphone (e.g. singers hold the mic close to their lips). Some low-budget microphones are very sensitive, perhaps too sensitive.


  • Frequency Response. The represents the degree to which the recorded sound seems "natural." Voice recordings for ATM lessons may not need the same quality microphone that is needed for recording a symphony. Some cheaper microphones pick up the higher pitches, leaving the voice sounding slightly "tinny."


  • Sound overload or "clipping." Some microphones are so sensitive that louder sounds get "clipped" or distorted.


You will find that the microphone in your iPhone is remarkably good for pickup in the vocal range (Apple engineers ensure this).

For closer to studio-level quality, especially if you are broadcasting only from your office, there are a variety of USB microphones, here is an excerpt from a recent review:

For those simply wishing to sound a bit better on web conferences, video calls, or the occasional YouTube appearance, or needing a portable microphone, the Samson Meteor (description farther down on the page) is a good compromise. It fared better among our expert sound panel than many microphones two or three times its price and is the easiest of all the mics we tested to simply plug into your laptop (or iPad) and start recording.


Also, consider checking out "The Best USB Computer Microphones for Home Recording 2017" and a review of Lavalier microphones.

Microphone input to Apple Computers


One of the awkward aspects of using external microphones with Apple computers is that there is no input for external microphones. Fortunately, there is a workaround: you can bring in the microphone via a USB Audio Adaptor. There are a great number available at Amazon.com. One such adaptor is shown below (TROND® AC2 Aluminum External USB Sound Card Stereo Audio Adapter ) The price for most is under $10. I use an early model by Garmin that cost about $40.

Understanding Microphone Input to iPhone and iPad


Watch an entertaining video on understanding the microphone input to iPhones and iPads. 

Smartphone plug challenge. Microphone input for most manufacturers of smartphones and tablets have special plugs with three bands (see image, the plug on the right side has three bands, whereas the standard headphone plug has only two). This third band allows both microphone and headphones on the same jack (plug). To have microphone input to these devices, you need a microphone that is Apple-compliant.

Note: iPhone models from 7 onward have no audio jack - you need to use the Lightning plug. Here is a youtube video of guidelines.



Lightning Adaptor For External Microphone 
Check Amazon for current devices - each month more devices are available. Search for “lightning adapter for microphone.” I recommend you get one that also allows the power to pass through. And make sure it shows that the microphone will work -- e.g. the 3-band plug (TRRS).

Wireless
For live classes in which you demonstrate some function, you may not want to be located close to the computer, or have long microphone wires. This leads to consideration of wireless options.

Wireless is a great idea, but it pushes you into areas of increased technical skills. If you are familiar with audio technology and enjoy fiddling around, then go ahead.

Wireless Transmission and technology

VHF ("FM" or "2.4 MHz") and UHF. Cheaper systems (under $150) use the VHS band and reviewers often complain about sound problems. UHF is the higher frequency bands and the sound quality reports are consistently very good. UHF costs mostly above $200, and commonly $400.


More pieces: Transmitter, Receiver, input to your computer and software.

The wireless option means that you will have a microphone on your body with a small wire to a transmitter. Then you will need a receiver for that signal, with an output from the receiver that is compatible with your computer (or you need adapters). For some of us, that is a lot to deal with.

There are a number of reviews of wireless microphones. Read this reasonably up-to-date review

Recent wireless recommendation. For the audio review, I tried the XIAOKOA UHF 2.4Ghz wireless system (priced at Amazon; $35 for the lavalier version). See the audio comparisons to evaluate.

Wireless Products to avoid. Avoid systems like Pyle-Pro PDWM96 Lavalier Wireless Microphone System. This system uses the FM band (or VHF or "2.4 MHz"). This product has very primitive electronic compression circuits, as well. I have found that that the pickup has poor range and sound quality. Also, many have a 1/4-inch plug which requires an additional adaptor.


Wireless Mic Alternatives

An interesting video by the folks at Video Alchemy recorded in 2014 titled, "Wireless Mic Alternatives" gives some interesting ideas.


iPhone as Wireless Microphone
When you are broadcasting with Zoom, you have the option of having more than one source for your broadcast. You can be projecting the video with one Zoom account (usually the main one), and then you can log in to your broadcast with a wifi-enabled device that has a microphone. That means you will be controlling two devices.

How I use my iPhone as a microphone (using an external clip-on or lapel microphone). I start the Zoom broadcast with my laptop. Then I turn on Zoom with my iPhone and log on. I turn off its video and ensure that the audio is broadcasting. Thus, external Zoom participants get the best quality audio. (Note: you need to mute the audio on both your iPhone and computer to avoid feedback. A little annoying, but I got used to it).

The Last Word- Bluetooth – the other wireless method
More and more devices are using Bluetooth technology to play music wirelessly. I initially tried with a Bluetooth over-the-ear microphone – and was profoundly disappointed with the results. Nevertheless, since it broadcasted well to speakers, I hold out a bit of hope for this technology. The reviews, however, are all focussed on Karaoke. On the other hand, a review of the Sony ECM-AW4 demonstrated good sound and range. $135.


Video
You are broadcasting via video to enhance the participants' experience. Thus you need to pay some attention to your side of the video.
The most compact system would be the cellphone and microphone. You can broadcast using the onboard camera on the cellphone and the microphone. The downside is that your movement is limited to the length of the cord for your microphone. For broadcasting the video, you will want a stand for your cell phone. There are lots of stands even under $6 (Amazon) and many between $10 and $20.

Video Considerations

Bandwidth of Broadcasting. Currently, Zoom has the best quality video and audio, and, when they are good, they are very good. But there are times when there is not enough bandwidth and the video is the first to suffer. Know this before you begin, or you may be disappointed.

Two aspects of bandwidth affect your broadcast. The first is the wifi signal that you use. From time to time, the signal from the router that you are using may drop. Zoom is pretty good at informing you of this, but, when you are busy teaching, you might not notice. If the router is used for an organization, it is worthwhile to check with their IT person and ask if they have a commitment to providing a consistent and strong wifi signal in the area that you will be using for your classes. If they cannot commit, then you may need to operate more in what I think of as “experimental” mode, and inform your students at-a-distance that quality may vary).

The second aspect of bandwidth (which was a bit of surprise to me) was that the students at the distance may encounter unexpected drop-offs in their wifi. One student had a great deal of difficulty when she moved her computer to another room -- there was enough bandwidth for surfing the 'net and email, but not enough for a continuous broadcast.

Video Source. I was not satisfied with the camera on my 2009-series MacBook, so I bought a USB webcam by Logitech - mid-range price, and have been very happy with it. (Note to PC users: it has some nice additional software for making small adjustments in focus etc).

Cost. There are many choices now online (on Amazon, I think you can get an equivalent one for about $25. but why not get a better one for $40?).

Benefits. Higher quality than the 
onboard camera; you have many choices for positioning the camera, separate from the computer.

Drawbacks. sometimes you need to plug in the camera before starting the computer (depending on the operating system); you need a stand.


Stand for the video camera. I had a small (6-inch) tripod which met the basic need. To attach the camera securely to the stand, you need some device to attach to the screw at the top. I could have drilled a hole through the camera mount. Instead, I used an extra mount and used rubber bands to secure the two together.

Lighting. Poor lighting leads to poor video quality. No matter how good your camera is, if your lighting is dim, then the video quality will be poor. There are cameras that will give you quite a good video in low light circumstances -- for megabucks.

If you are sitting at your desk and broadcasting, you have some options for increasing the felt-sense of your image while broadcasting. Here are two videos with inexpensive hints on lighting:

· Lighting On The Cheap (2013)

· Lighting In Your Home (2014) 


My setup

After reviewing my needs and wishes, I decided that I needed:

  • a (laptop) computer as the main broadcast source


  • a USB camera attached to the computer


  • a wireless microphone.



Above is my set-up. The computer (a 2009 MacBook recently cleaned with a new operating system installed) has Zoom installed and works great! The battery is weak so I have to always have it plugged in.

The USB Camera on a 6-inch stand. (it was broadcasting at the time and you can see me on the computer screen taking the picture)

The “wireless microphone”: my cell phone with an external microphone. This, too, is connected to Zoom and you can see the video from the other computer on the screen of the iPhone.


The parts for the camera - the tripod, mount and video camera.



Recording

I like to record my classes -- and have done so for about 15 years. While recording and sharing the recordings has never been easier, nevertheless it still is a bit of a learning curve, and so for this article, I won't go into a lot of depth.

Zoom provides a very nice recording feature and I have been reasonably pleased with the result. It stores two files, one that is audio-only, and one that is audio & video.

As I distribute the audio recordings to my students, I want reasonably good quality audio (I do not aspire to studio-quality sound from live event recording).

Using the audio pickup of the video.
The quality of the audio that the video camera picks up degenerates the further the speaker is from the microphone.

Recording with your phone.
All 
smartphones have good recording software and so this is a very reasonable option. -- if you use an external microphone. See the section on microphones.


Webcasting Equipment Suggestions

Basic: Online class – broadcast from your office

 

Audio

Video

Considerations

Accessories

iPhone or tablet

Placement of microphone can be problematic

Consider an external mic (3.5 mm--TRRS)

Device video is acceptable

What will audience see

Consider lighting on you

Stand for microphone

Computer or laptop

Microphone with device is poor

Purchase an external mic (see text, esp. USB microphones)

Device video is not acceptable

Purchase USB webcam

What will audience see

Consider lighting on you

Stand for webcam




Intermediate: Broadcasting a live class

 

Audio

Video

Consideration

Accessories

iPhone or tablet

External mic with long cord (3.5mm-TRRS)


Or a second device with microphone

Device video is acceptable

What will audience the see? 

Ensure sufficient lighting on the target

Extension wire for microphone


Computer or laptop

External mic (see text, especially USB microphones)


Or a second device with microphone

Purchase USB webcam

What will  the audience see

Ensure sufficient lighting on the target

Stand for webcam



Advanced: Webcasting – Seminar Style


Overall Considerations: What will audiences see? Practice lighting on areas. If sharing pictures or video – practice in advance – process of switching the screens, and broadcasting the video. Practice displaying powerpoint presentations. Check all audio sources in advance. Check how the host will recognize questions from the audience…. (plan using Murphy’s Law)

Host: Needs good audio for introductions and other communications. Host ensures the correct video and audio sources.
Host also mutes participants and manages communications from web audience.
 

 

Audio

Video

Considerations

Accessories

iPhone or tablet

Placement of microphone can be problematic-- 
Consider an external mic (3.5 mm--TRRS)

One device for fixed video, second device for moving the camera

Stand and/or tripod for microphone and also video source

Second source very helpful

Second source very helpful

Audio Feedback with 2 devices

Switching broadcast between devices

Computer or laptop

USB microphones

USB webcam

Stand and/or tripod for microphone and also video source

Second source very helpful

Second source very helpful

Audio Feedback with 2 devices

Switching broadcast between devices

 


Equipment Options

Basic-Cheap

Moderate

Studio Quality

Comments

Lapel Microphone for iPhone/iPad (3.5 mm – TRRS)

IMDEN Lavalier Microphone($8.90)

BOYA BY-M1 Lapel Condenser Microphone ($18.16)

Condenser microphone (check recent reviews)

See review section for articles giving more in-depth information about microphones.

Microphone for computer or standard device (3.5 mm – TRS)

IMDEN Lavalier Microphone($8.90)—comes with TRS adapter.

See review section for articles giving more in-depth information about microphones.

Wireless Microphone

Bluetooth microphone

I have tried several options in 2016, and was totally disappointed. Maybe there will be better options in the future, for example the Sony ECM-AW4.


The review demonstrated good sound and range. $135.

VHF Wireless Microphone

VHF is the range for FM radio and TV. Microwave ovens often make noise in this range. For cheaper mic units (under $300), there is a lot of static and lost sound.

UHF Wireless Microphone

UHF, or Ultra High Frequency, is higher than VHF. Higher-quality walkie-talkies use this range. Sound quality is better, static is less. Cheap models use poor transmitter/receiver circuitry, so should be avoided.

PA Quality Wireless Microphone

When you have the need for a $600+ unit, you are well beyond this review…

TRRS to TRS converter

Amazon has a variety of options

iPhone/iPad Lightning converter

Caution: some do not support microphone – check details or comments.

 

 

 

iPhone tripod Adaptor

Tripod Mount Adapter, Walway Universal Cell Phone Clip Holder ($4.99)

 

 

 

Microphone Stand

Check your needs – short (click for example, $17.99) or tall/expanding (click for example, $23.49).

 

 

 

Microphone (USB)

CAD U1 USB ($18.99)
Samson Go Mic
Portable ($32.30)

Blue Snowball iCE ($49)

HEIL PR40 ($399) with a FOCUSRITE 2i2 PREAMP ($149) (see: The Best Podcast Microphones on the Market)

Before purchasing, check the online reviews and, in Amazon, the comments of purchasers.

Video: Web camera

TeckNet C016  ($12.89)
Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000 ($24.45)

Logitech C615 ($27)
Logitech C920 ($58)

 

 

Stand

See Amazon

Tripod

See Amazon

 

 

 

Lightning

Lighting on the Cheap (2013)

Lighting in your Home

 

 

 




Reviews

USB Microphones - Budget

· The Best Microphone for an Under $50 Budget

· The Best USB Mic on a Budget (June 2016)
 

USB Microphones - Quality

· The Top 10 Best USB Microphones in the Market (Aug 2017) 
· Best USB Microphones (August 2015)


Lapel Microphones

· The Top 10 Best Microphones for iOS Smart Devices (Aug 2017) 
· The Top 10 Best Lavalier Microphones in the Market (Feb 2017)
· Best Lapel Microphones (April 2015)


Podcasting Microphones
 

· The Best Podcast Microphones On The Market (Nov 2017) 


Webcam

· The best webcams 2017 (Aug 2017);
· The best webcams of 2018 (Nov 2017)


Comparisons of different set-ups.


Microphone Comparisons

How do the microphones actually compare, side-by-side? In order to evaluate the quality of each, I used a zoom room and recorded reading aloud a passage from the Awareness Through Movement book (pp 8,9, from the Preface).

I used two set-ups, reflecting how some users might choose their set-up:


1. Using the iPhone (SE) as the broadcast tool:

  • the internal microphone

  • the microphone with the earbuds

  • the microphone with a higher-end headphone (Monster)

  • an external microphone recommended by experts: Boya BY-M1 (available thru Amazon)

  • wireless Microphone (XIAOKOA 2.4 G Lavalier) (available thru Amazon)

2. Using a computer (perhaps also similar to a laptop)

  • Microphone with the webcam

  • Wireless microphone (XIAOKOA 2.4 G Lavalier) (available thru Amazon)

  • Samson GoMic (USB mic, available thru Amazon; equivalent to the Blue series)

3. Laptops. Audio pickup with two older laptops -- a useful comparison as many people have older devices 

3a. Older MacBook (2009)

  • Internal Microphone

  • Samson GoMic

3b. Windows (Win 7 pro, approx 2014)

  • Internal Microphone

  • Samson GoMic


WHAT TO LISTEN FOR...



Ready to begin? Download this helpful checklist!


Rob Black, a practitioner in Calgary, Canada, has volunteered in many roles within the Feldenkrais community, locally and internationally, starting in 1994, including starting and editing the first 12 issues of SenseAbility. Other areas of interest include connecting practitioners with low-cost technology and using technology to increase the ease of developing and maintaining a practice, hence this article!
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Comments (2)
Annie Thoe
2/18/2018 8:54:36 PM
Wow, Rob-- great research and after recording and publishing 39 ATM Albums, I agree with your research and also appreciate all the video clips to compare microphones, etc. I have several microphones I've tried-- my wireless Samson microphone worked well for quality but it's a headset variety, which isn't great for video. I end up using a wired lavelier microphone for my Youtube channel videos because of quality and aesthetic-- not having something sticking on my face! I haven't bit the bullet to invest in a really nice wireless microphone yet. But look forward to hearing if folks find one they love and that is reasonably priced. I'm also curious about having two microphone inputs (-- a splitter for that perhaps? ) in order to have co-teaching situations. I'd love any information on that. Thanks again for this great contribution. Excellent!


Marcia Oliveira.
2/18/2018 5:00:56 PM
Hi Rob, very clear and useful. Thanks


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