COVID Documentary, The problem of remote recording in High-Def

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Three out of the ten people interviewed for this film live in other cities, New York, Boston and Denver. I had to record their comments in 1080 HD to match the rest of the footage. I started with Zoom, paid for an account, and did a test and successfully recorded in HD, so I scheduled the first two interviews. Then, Zoom let me down. Due to the increase in volume with businesses and schools meeting up through Zoom they stopped transmitting the high Def signal for the attendee, without any notification!  Two interviews had to be redone.

GoToMeeting alows me to record the attendee in 1080HD.

I researched other apps and found that GoToMeeting would transmit the video of the attendee in HD with a Pro account costing just $20/month. I did a few tests with my wife Stephanie and my friends Dave and Doug before I scheduled the meetings. 

During the meeting I could see the attendee full screen and my image was small in the corner. One test showed me and the attendee, Doug, on the recorded video side by side which I did not want. I learned that I had to turn my webcam off so that the recording just showed the attendee and not a two-up with me on the screen. It was simple enough for the attendees to join the meeting with just a browser from an email I sent. The paramedic, Andrew, joined using his mobile device.

Check your video settings for 1080 wide screen

Two recordings were not 1080 wide screen so I had to blow the image up by 135% in the edit to fill the width of the screen which made those segments a bit softer. I must test to see if this happens on my end or the attendees end. Both must set up their video setting for 1920 x 1080 wide. The audio quality was good using their built in Mics on a MacBook Pro or the mobile device, except for a few words where the signal was slightly distorted in transmission. Overall I was happy with the outcome. After all, major news stations have trouble frequently with remote interviews.

You want to look good in any virtual meeting

Lighting is important. For myself, I have added a small, clip-on lamp to balance the light on my face. Don’t have a strong back light (window). It will wash out your color, and don’t have distractions in the background like a ceiling fan or people moving about.

It’s easier to talk to a person than a camera or your computer webcam.

I did not have a person to conduct the interviews for any of the 10 people in this film and I did not want my voice in the recording asking questions. I briefed each person with questions and topics to discuss ahead of time in an email. I asked them questions but cut those portions out of the video. For in-person interviews they spoke to the camera. Dominique, Doug and Andrew did a great job on remote interviews. It is difficult to talk to your computer screen.

Link to the COVID video on this website:  https://www.johntrotto.com/video/arizona-video-production/

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