Following on from my previous post dedicated to all things software related required for hosting a MacBites Live this post addresses the hardware I’ll use on 4 June to provide a 3 hour live stream.
Need to catch up on part 1? Read MacBites Live: Part 1: The Software.
As regular readers will know I have more than one work area. My main working space is a huge desk sporting a 2017 27″ iMac and a 3 monitor setup. That’s where I’ll be during the MacBites Live using every inch of available screen real estate for all those apps I mentioned last time.
The way I always setup my screen space is to work from left to right. The left-hand monitor is a 23″ model with a display resolution of 2560 x 1440. This is just as well given all it has to display during a live broadcast!
The first app is Audio Hijack that routes all the audio from my microphone, Mike’s microphone, Apple’s live stream, MacBites Siri and anything else we need to hear. All this audio is output to a virtual Loopback device which in turn becomes the single audio source for Adobe Connect. If you’ve used or even heard of Soundflower then you’ll understand the role of Loopback. If not then the short version is that Loopback provides a virtual audio device that Audio Hijack can send audio from multiple sources to a single destination which in turn becomes the single source of audio for Connect. It’s actually more difficult to explain than it is to do … honestly!
Once Audio Hijack is recording it can be minimised to the Dock. Next on the left is Nicecast. If you recall from part 1 that is the application I use to broadcast the audio only stream. Sadly now in maintenance mode but currently still functional so I’m sticking with it for now. Again this is a case of set it and forget it so once it’s broadcasting I minimise it to the Dock.
Next on the left monitor are my email and Twitter clients. It’s always crucial to be in touch especially when folks are trying to log in for the event. Inevitably there will be mails and messages from MacBiters asking for assistance.
The main application that needs to be working is Adobe Connect and that takes pride of place on the middle screen, the main iMac. This single window contains everything I need to manage the entire broadcast aspect of the event. It controls the audio, video and other elements shared with attendees. That’s where the chat takes place too, so absolutely critical!
Often Apple broadcast the live stream to only be compatible with specific browsers. For this reason we share our live stream in Safari via Connect which makes it viewable in any browser. This solves a problem for those stuck at work with only incompatible browsers available for the duration of the event.
That Safari window taking the live stream from Apple consumes the whole of the right-hand monitor. Again this is a 23″screen but configured at a resolution of either 1600 x 900 or 1280 x 720 depending on how well the Internet connection is holding up.
Talking of the Internet connection, we are blessed with an amazingly fast connection here at MacBites HQ. Recently upgraded to 385mb down and 22mb up we don’t usually have any problems with that aspect of the setup.
Droplr runs in the menu bar as does Dropzone. I use Droplr to share files and links with everyone in the chatroom and Dropzone to share files and links locally with Mike. These are 2 utilities I use all the time, not just during live events.
Yoink is another fantastically useful utility I use all the time but it really comes into its own during a live session when I’m juggling links and files. Yoink provides a shelf to temporarily park items while you collect together all the items to be passed on. This shelf displays on the left edge of each screen when you begin to drag items. This is perfect when you have so many apps displayed that there’s no chance of using the Desktop as a collation point.
The Recorder Pro app, used as a backup recording mechanism is run on an iPhone. I’ve used models as far back as an iPhone 4 for this task and they’ve all handled the job perfectly.
Now so far the missing hardware has been my ever increasing collection of iPads. Fear not, at least 2 iPads are used as secondary devices connected to the Connect room. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been unceremoniously dumped out of Connect, on my Mac, during a live session. With a secondary connection on an iPad I can continue to talk with attendees while I persuade the Mac to reconnect.
My microphone is a critical element of talking live online and that is constantly connected to my Mac for all the other work I do. So the microphone set up I use for a MacBites Live is identical to all the other audio work I do and I’ll detail that in a separate post.
So that’s the hardware out of the way. In the final part of this series I’ll outline all the other elements it takes to get that 3 hour live show from an idea to something that actually happens.
See you next time!