Recommended equipment for lecture capture using Replay
This document details equipment recommended by the Replay team. This list is non-exhaustive and deals mostly with equipment of which the Replay team has first-hand experience, and omission from this list does not mean that the equipment is unsuitable for use with Replay. The Replay team can offer advice on which equipment would be best suited for your needs, so if you have any questions please get in touch via email@example.com.
- 8GB RAM minimum, USB 3.0
- Core i7 processor
- Windows 7 or 8.1
- Microsoft Office 2014 (PowerPoint)
- Panopto manual or remote recorder v4.9 or above
- Kingston USB 3.0 128GB DataTraveler stick (non-essential, but recommended for USB recorder version of Panopto)
Mac OS X
- 8GB RAM mimimum, USB 3.0
- Core i7 processor
- Mac OS X 10.8 or above
- Microsoft Office 2011 or 2016 (PowerPoint), and/or Keynote 6.
- Panopto OSX recorder v4.9 or above
The Windows version of the manual recorder is more full-featured than the OS X version (e.g. the OS X version is limited to one camera and does not currently permit webcasting). Replay can be installed on Mac hardware using Windows and Boot Camp.
Ideally, the computer(s) will be permanently located in the lecture theatre, though occasionally a presenter will wish to use their own laptop. There are several ways Replay can be used in this scenario:
- The presenter can install the manual recorder on their laptop (Windows or Mac OS X), and manually start and stop the recording. Once the recording has been uploaded to the server, the presenter may remove the recorder from their laptop.
- A second computer with a capture card can capture a projector feed. This computer would also require an audio feed from a microphone near the presenter.
- MXL ProCon Series AC-404 - http://www.mxlmics.com/microphones/web-conferencing/AC-404/ - approx £65. Our recommended choice.
- Samson UB-1 boundary microphone – approx. £70
- Easy to use plug-and-go solution: Beyerdyamic MPC 70 USB boundary mics; can be configured to be permanently switched on, once plugged into the PC, as well as a switch to provide +10dB more gain, so they’ll pick up the lecturer’s voice even when they wander well away from the microphone
- Sennheiser EW112p G3 microphone set - approx £500 (provides much better quality audio, but is more expensive and trickier to use as it must be passed between speakers and probably requires an AV staff member on hand)
- Any camera with HDMI or SDI output, as budget dictates. This could be a GoPro all the way up to a professional Sony camera. New cameras are released constantly, and the Replay Team can advise on the best solution for your budget.
- Webcam - either the built-in webcam of a monitor or laptop screen, or an external USB webcam such as a Logitech C920E (approx. £150)
- Automated cameras come in different shapes, sizes, resolutions and cost. Depending on the size and angle of your lecture theatre you may wish to look at a variety of cameras.
- Network IP cameras. These transmit video over the network via an Ethernet cable. They can also be powered over the same Ethernet cable, and can be easily controlled from a remote location. The recommended brand is Axis (www.axis.com) and there are various models depending on your budget and needs. Contact the Replay team for the latest advice, but expect to pay between £500-800.
- Remote pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) camera. We recommend the Panasonic AW-HE40 (approx. £2500) which comes with either a HDMI or an SDI connection, and a 20x zoom lens. This is a more expensive option than an IP camera because of the PTZ functionality, whereby the angle and focal length of the lens can be adjusted. A good option for very large lecture theatres. However, in most instances, we have discovered that a fixed network IP camera is more than sufficient, as once the camera has been installed and the frame has been set, the camera is rarely adjusted.
If using a camera, we recommend connecting it to an additional Windows PC of the minimum spec (possibly at the back of the room), and to use the Panopto remote recorder instead of the manual recorder. The remote recorder can be installed on both the back PC and the presenter’s computer, and synced to deliver a single recording from both streams. Attaching a camera directly to the presenter’s PC is usually difficult due to long trailing cables through the audience area, and will place more strain on the presenter's processor during the presentation, making the computer more likley to crash.
Cables and connectors
Required when using HDMI or SDI cameras:
- Magewell XI100DUSB converter – available in HDMI or SDI versions, and allows you to feed a camera with one of these outputs into a USB socket on a PC or Mac. Approx £200.
- Basic HDMI cables (try not to use greater than 30m – if you need to run a very long length, consider a Startech USB to CAT5 converter, and run the length as Ethernet). Consider the trip hazard of running a long length of cable from a camera at the back of a room to a computer at the front. SDI cables can be run for up to 60m.
The Replay team has found that the following equipment/software does not work optimally, for the reasons given:
- Blackmagic Mini recorder - this is appealing due to its low cost, the fact that it can be powered via a Thunderbolt port, and because it has both SDI and HDMI inputs. But we have noticed a significant lag (> 1s) between audio and video when using it with the OSX recorder. Panopto support has confirmed this as a bug, but do not know if it will be fixed.
- Logitech C930E webcam – Cardiff Law School reports this has an auto-focus bug, and the older C920E model is a better option as of July 2014.
- Revolabs xTag lipstick microphones – we found these to be very quiet and extremely poor quality when used with Replay. Avoid.
Panopto’s list of recommended equipment
This list is extensive, but a little overwhelming. It contains Panopto recommended kit as well as equipment recommended by customers: http://support.panopto.com/equipment
Alternatively you can download the Quick Start Equipment Guide from Panopto.