Near, far, wherever you are, directing a video remotely is firmly within your reach. By using an HDMI-to-USB converter and your favorite video conferencing software, you can share a video feed from your video camera with anyone, anywhere in the world. With this setup, there are a slew of possibilities to remotely direct a video. No matter where they might be located, folks can contribute opinions on subjects like set design, shot framing, and line readings.
Here's how it all works!
First off, you'll need a camera that has an HDMI output. Ideally, your camera is capable of outputting video over HDMI while still showing up on your camera's LCD screen. Today, most video cameras and higher-end DSLRs can handle this, but you'll want to make sure your camera outputs both video and audio over HDMI so that you can see and hear what your camera is shooting.
Next, you'll need an HDMI-to-USB adaptor. Look for one that has an HDMI loop, such as the USB Capture HDMI Plus adaptor from Magewell, which allows you to still use your HDMI output to hook into a monitor.
I've come up with a handy list of some HDMI-to-USB adaptors I’ve tested and used successfully:
With the HDMI adaptor, your video camera feed will essentially show up on your computer as a webcam. From there, you can use a video conferencing or video chat tool to share your camera's feed with anyone. At Wistia, we love Zoom, but you can use programs like Skype, Google Hangouts, Appear.in, or even FaceTime. Heck, you could even go live on Facebook if you'd like!
Recently, the Wistia Creative team rented a giant video studio outside of Cambridge to film our new front page video. We spent two days in Canton, Mass., shooting a group of Wistians dancing and getting down to the video beat in front of the camera. It was a blast!
The concept for this particular video hinged on involving two members of the team who weren’t able to join us in-person during the shoot. Our motion graphics extraordinaire (Billy Woodward) was working from Brooklyn, and the project's head designer (Eric Smith) was working from his home in Spokane.
Once on location, I set up a Zoom meeting using the live feed from our C200 in the studio. From about 3,000 miles away, Eric was able to help us with the set design and shot framing. And from Brooklyn, Billy was able to guide us on areas like shot blocking, on-screen action, and camera settings. It was a seamless way to get more eyes on the shoot and help make it the best it could be.
While the shoot was firing on all cylinders, I shared a link to the Zoom with the rest of the company in our team Slack. In fact, I kept the "meeting" going for just about the entire production day, which was a great way to share the work being done with Wistians who were still in Cambridge.
The team seemed to love getting a window into what we were working on off-site. But it was also an awesome opportunity to build excitement around the project and keep everyone in the loop on the hard work—and intricate dance moves—that were going down in the studio.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, here’s how the final video turned out: