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Connecting external cameras

Sometimes, you might want to give your webinars a more professional touch: better picture quality, crisp audio, a studio-like stage, etc.  For those special occasions, your computer’s built-in webcam and earphones might not cut it… it’s time to plug in an external pro camera and microphone!

The setup is fairly simply, but you will need a bit of extra of hardware to connect everything together. The complexity will depend on whether you want to plug in one single external camera, or whether you want to go full ninja and sport a multi-camera production!

 

A single external camera and mic

By far, the simplest way to wire in an external camera and mic into your computer is via a USB Capture HDMI Adapter. This adapter is nothing but a dongle where you input your camera’s HDMI cable and your microphone’s mic+audio jacks, converting all that into a single USB output that will go straight into your computer.

You will find plenty of them in Amazon, such as for example the Elgato Camlink 4K or Magewell USB Capture HDMI Plus, but shop around as prices range significantly depending on brand and specifications. Whichever you buy, just need to make sure it converts HDMI to USB input for capturing video, and make sure your search query includes the term “video capture”.

Finally, right before entering your live room, WebinarJam will ask you to select your default audio and video device. Make sure to point both to your capture device of choice (see above).

 

A multi-camera setup

If you want the full potatoes, giving your webinar a studio-like production quality, nothing beats multiple cameras shooting your event from different angles. You will certainly need a bit more of an installation overhead, plus a human operator whose job is to switch in real time the input signal from the different cameras.

Let’s go step by step.

STEP 1: Connecting your VIDEO Sources

Firstly, you’ll need a piece of kit to plug in multiple cameras and to switch, in real time, between those camera sources as your webinar event takes place. A popular and affordable example would be the Black Magic Design ATEM Mini.

This hardware allows you to plug in multiple HDMI sources (Cameras, Computers, etc.) and then “cut” between them on the fly. The HDMI output on this device will be sent to your computer running WebinarJam.

 

STEP 2: Connecting Your AUDIO Source

Because you are now using an external switcher (the ATEM Mini), you need to make sure you have a microphone connected to send audio as well as video to the WebinarJam computer (via HDMI).

Any microphone with a 3.5mm output will do the trick, such as for the example the Fifine 3.5 mm Plug And Play Microphone. Plug the “Audio Out” from the microphone into the “Audio In” on the ATEM switcher.

 

STEP 3: Allowing WebinarJam to receive the ATEM MINI HDMI signal.

Although your computer may have an HDMI plug, that is usually an output signal. As a result, it will not receive the video input signal. For your computer to receive the video from the ATEM HDMI output, you need a capture device turning the HDMI signal into a USB signal… WebinarJam will view this device as a webcam, allowing you to use it.

You will find plenty of them in Amazon, such as for example the Elgato Camlink 4K or Magewell USB Capture HDMI Plus, but shop around as prices range significantly depending on brand and specifications. Whichever you buy, just need to make sure it converts HDMI to USB input for capturing video, and make sure your search query includes the term “video capture”.

 

STEP 4: Instruct WebinarJam to grab the input signal from the capture device.

Right before entering your live room, WebinarJam will ask you to select your default audio and video device. Make sure to point both to your capture device of choice (see step 3 above).

Finally, remember to conduct several test webinars before you go live whenever using 3rd party hardware. Sometimes it takes some tweaking and trial/error to the get the entire set up properly wired in, and you don’t want to do that in the last minute!

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