2021 Streaming Kit

My streaming setup post last year got an amazing reception — there are similar setups being used by executives across the board, from companies fundraising to several I know of with 100B+ valuations. Since that original setup, I’ve updated my own usage of hardware and software combinations to achieve similar or better results for about a quarter of the cost. So here’s the latest and greatest, and below I’ll talk about why the changes.

Video: Camlink, cable, and tripod are still the same, but the camera goes from an A7R IV and a separate lens to an A7C with a kit lens, which saves about $3,000. You also don’t need the dummy battery because the A7C runs great off USB-C.

Lighting: More is more, so I usually use two Key Light Airs (linked above) instead of one. If I’m on the road I’ll pair two Aputure RGB lights with two Lume Cube monopods.

Audio: My best audio advice is to upgrade to an M1 Macbook Pro so your computer is fast and the fan is never on, and position the laptop out of camera view but close to you so the built-in three-mic array picks up pretty good audio from you with no cables or earpieces. (Here’s a singer recording a song on the pre-M1 16-inch version, and note she has to remove fan noise in post-processing.) For bonus points add Krisp.ai ($60/yr) so you get background noise and room echo magically eliminated in real-time.

Teleprompter: The Glide Gear is much easier to set up and way cheaper than my old recommendation. Instead of an external monitor, I use an iPad and the MacOS Sidecar feature. I still don’t have a great way to reverse the screen; in the comments, I’ll share some of what folks have recommended to me.

The above setup removes 75% of the cost without sacrificing any quality.

I’ve gone through every permutation on audio, including using a MixPre-3, NoiseAssist plugin, and a MKH416 shotgun mic ($2k+ total), but I never use that setup unless I’m recording a fancy audio-only podcast.

Why am I using the Sennheiser SC30 in the above photo? Well it was an unusual situation…I was on the side of the road, next to an RV, with logging trucks rumbling by. Sometimes you don’t always know where you need to do a broadcast. 😄

Behind the scenes! We were recording what became this panel.

2024 Update: Everything still stands but if you can find an Elgato Prompter it really helps. I’m using these RGB lights for lighting more now. And BetterDisplay is a great MacOS utility for rotating screens and such. I’ve dropped Krisp.ai because the built-in “Voice Isolation” feature on MacOS is pretty good.

13 thoughts on “2021 Streaming Kit

    1. Check out the video and see! I don’t hear any background noise on my audio, just some streaming artifacts. (I sent them a high quality video and audio recording but I think they just used the video.) Between the headset and Krisp.ai I think it worked great.

  1. A lot of people have noted that the SwitchResX utility can mirror a MacOS monitor: https://www.madrau.com/

    According to this Stackexchange from Jon Topper: “I couldn’t see a flip option to SwitchResX so I contacted the author, who replied quickly to say that he’s hidden this feature because it no longer works consistently across all new macs. You can option-click the menu icon to see all the hidden features, including this one.”

    I still haven’t found the best way to do this for a Sidecar display though, as that would make my iPad use a lot easier!

  2. I can tell a fellow photographer from the setup and bokeh, quality work Matt. Interesting find from my side: I’m using the Cam Link myself (with Nikon D800) and one day I needed a 2nd dongle so I bought a cheap one from Amazon (~ $20) to add another angle plugging in my old GoPro. Interestingly, the colours and contrast from Cam Link come flat, great for post processing. However, I find the Amazon’s no-name more suitable for daily live calls, as the colours come more vivid out-of-the-box. By the way, great & important conversation on the video you linked, thanks for sharing!!

  3. Actually, one more thing I would add here is when you are recording content to be edited later on (so not streamed/ broadcasted live). We started using https://riverside.fm/ after few unsuccessful takes via https://zencastr.com/. The premise of both tools is to capture high resolution footage on a local machine and then upload high quality files for each speaker separately. So, for live conversation the quality is limited so that it demands less bandwidth, whereas the actual production footage is captured locally and always has the source quality (even 4K if you’d like), no breaking signal, no noticeable compression artefacts etc. I strongly recommend for virtual events or any video/ podcast content that you shoot remotely and then edit.

  4. I like the behind the scene picture. And to be honest, I think the setting and especially the background in the resulting video is the best I’ve seen for quite a while. The natural colors and environment’s really calming and relaxing for the eye and all in all much more pleasant to watch than all the usual indoor office walls and bookshelf settings of other streaming video sessions since the pandemic.

    Also you’ve applied the golden ratio and put the eyes of the portrait shot on 2/3 of the vertical line. Most people somehow tend to put their eyes in the middle (1/2) of the video setting and provide a bit to much of unnecessary space above their head and the video/stream immediately looks less professional; no matter how good the equipment.
    Btw, my calculation said your latest and greatest is round about 1/3 (not a quarter) of the cost from last year, but that surely also depends on the delivery costs (500-700$) if someone would order that from an european country.

    Have a Happy [WordPress] Birthday week!

    And check your emails if you’d like to fix the broken link/transcript in the above mentioned post.

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