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Equipment used at ASLU
(Educational Technology)

A brief look at Dr. Bill's instructional equipment choices:
 


Question:

Hello Bill
Thank you for replying to me. As I mentioned in my YouTube comment, I work at a Deaf School in ██████████████. .... One of our Deaf Teachers, ████████████, is really interested in the setup you use for your videos so that he can make his sessions more engaging. He ... came across one of your YouTube videos which is exactly what he is looking for. Are you able to tell us:
What size screen you are using (is it a computer monitor or TV?)
What brand/model is the stand you are using?
What camera you would prefer to use (is it a web cam or professional camera)?
What app do you use to display the text? We would really appreciate any information you can provide. It's a great setup with two people presenting.
Any other information you think might be helpful
Once again, thank you for your help with this.

Regards,
████████████
IT Trainer
 


 

Hello ████ and ████!

Nice to "meet" you (via the net and email).

Here's my current setup:


Monitor: 55 inch Panasonic TV. 16:9 aspect ratio mounted in portrait mode (9:16). However, you can use a different size TV by moving it closer or further back to fit proportionally. It is becoming harder to find a 55 inch TV these days and you might find yourself needing to go with 65 inch or 40 to 43 inch. Keep in mind though that the larger the TV the more difficult it is to move around and manage.

A monitor I wish I had:
Link: https://www.amazon.com/SAMSUNG-Tracking-Xcelerator-Enhancer-QN55QN90D/dp/B0CV9PZK5Z

The stand I use: Displays2go Television Stand with Floor Mount (modified with Galvanized Hanger Strap for additional support / immobilization)
Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06XMQSMKL/
Link: https://www.amazon.com/Oatey-33923-Galvanized-Hanger-Bagged/dp/B000FSVUDS

Recommended stand: TAVR Universal Floor TV Stand Base for 32-70 Inch TVs up to 110 Lbs with Swivel Height Adjustable Mount.
Link: https://www.amazon.com/TAVR-Universal-Adjustable-Tempered-Storage/dp/B07MKK75K8/

A webcam I use: Logitech Brio 4K Webcam (this can double as a production camera but you need to download the "Logitech Camera Settings" app or the legacy "Logitech Gaming Software" to control the exposure so that the video stays consistently lit without swings in lightness and darkness.
Link: https://www.amazon.com/Logitech-Calling-Noise-Canceling-Correction-Microsoft/dp/B09NBWWP79
https://www.logitech.com/en-us/software/capture.html
Link: https://support.logi.com/hc/en-us/articles/360025298053-Logitech-Gaming-Software
Link: https://support.logi.com/hc/en-hk/articles/360025290213-Logitech-Camera-Settings

The webcam I wish I had: Logitech MX Brio Ultra HD 4K Streaming Webcam, 1080p at 60 FPS
https://www.amazon.com/Logitech-BRIO-Pro-701-Webcam/dp/B0BFJ4CRKD

A camera I use: Sony a7S II ILCE7SM2/B

A camera I wish I could afford: Sony Alpha 7S III Full-frame Interchangeable Lens Mirrorless Camera

Display software: Microsoft PowerPoint. Configure the settings to adjust the display of the PowerPoint slide to match the dimensions of your screen in portrait mode.

Additional notes and discussion:
If you can do so safely, consider tilting the display screen slightly down at an angle so as to direct reflections from the studio lighting away from the lens of your camera. Safety is a big issue here because you don't want a large screen TV falling onto yourself or your recording partner. Consider securing the screen with a serious connection (rope or wire) to the wall -- even if you are using a sturdy stand.

The standardized connection holes on the back of a TV for mounting are called VESA (Video Electronics Standards Association) mounting holes or VESA mount. Most VESA mounts use M4, M6, or M8 screws, which correspond to 4mm, 6mm, and 8mm in diameter, respectively. The size of the screw depends on the size and weight of the TV or monitor being mounted.

M4 screws: These are typically used for smaller TVs and monitors, usually up to around 27 inches in size and weighing less than 15 lbs (6.8 kg).

M6 screws: These are the most common and are used for medium-sized TVs and monitors, typically between 27 and 65 inches and weighing up to 50 lbs (22.7 kg).

M8 screws: These are used for larger, heavier TVs and monitors, usually over 65 inches and weighing more than 50 lbs (22.7 kg).

The length of the screws also varies depending on the specific mount and TV. VESA mounting packages often come with a variety of screw sizes to accommodate different scenarios. It's important to use the correct length screw to avoid damaging the TV or monitor. The screw should be long enough to securely attach the mount to the display but not so long that it damages internal components. If you find yourself needing to modify your setup to fit your local needs it can help to use washers or spacers to take up any extra length in the screws and create a snug fit. I go into detail about the screws because you might need / want to order extras to help secure the screen to the stand. Having the right screws helps the process go more smoothly.

The brand of TV isn't important but you want something reasonably high quality, configurable, and capable of a high refresh rate. Why? To reduce the "rolling shutter effect" or "screen flickering". This occurs when the refresh rate of the monitor displaying your PowerPoint slides doesn't match the shutter speed of your camera. It generally isn't a problem when using a webcam but if you use one of the high end Sony video cameras and set the shutter speed high -- the camera's shutter captures the image of the screen at a different rate than the screen is refreshing, resulting in the appearance of horizontal bands or flickering in the recorded video.

Using a higher refresh rate on the monitor showing the PowerPoint slides can help reduce the rolling shutter effect in the recorded video. When the TV refresh rate is higher, the monitor updates the displayed image more frequently, which can better match the camera's shutter speed.

For best results, match the camera's shutter speed to the monitor's refresh rate: If your monitor has a 60Hz refresh rate, set your camera's shutter speed to 1/60th of a second. For a 120Hz refresh rate, use a 1/120th of a second shutter speed, and so on.

Screens designed as computer monitors tend to have higher refresh rate options (it isn't too hard to find a 240Hz monitor) but tend to be smaller.

If you use a TV screen expect 120Hz (or 60Hz) for most TV's.  However, I have seen large screen (55 - 65 inch) 480Hz TV monitors available (in the year 2024) for less than $1,500.

Why does shutter speed of your camera matter? The faster the shutter speed, the less blur in the resulting video. Much of the time this is not overly important but if you ever plan on pulling individual frames from the video (to build static images of signs) you will be glad for as high of a shutter speed as possible because the individual frames look like photographs instead of blurry screen-grabs.

Don't confuse shutter speed with frames per second (fps).
Shutter speed is the length of time the camera's sensor is exposed to light when capturing each individual frame.
FPS refers to the number of individual frames captured or displayed per second in a video.

My point here is that the webcam is fine for video that will never be dissected. If you plan on dissecting your video and creating screen grabs for a book or other product you are going to want to either use a LOT of light, your high end camera with a high shutter speed, or plan on signing rather slowly.

If you have any other questions about my setup or process feel free to reach out.

If ███████████ has a training budget I'd be happy to come visit in person and discuss ed tech, recording, or any other topics.
For example the Singapore Association for the Deaf had me come to a workshop on visual language linguistics. They then had me come back and do another workshop on pedagogy for their sign language instructors. (I'll paste my bio below.)

Again, nice to meet you and best wishes in your recording endeavors.
Warm regards,
+ Bill
________________________
William G. Vicars, Ed.D.

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Bio: William G. Vicars, Ed.D., (a.k.a. "Dr. Bill" of ASL University) is a former full-time, tenured, full-professor, and researcher at a Sacramento State University where he served as coordinator of the American Sign Language and Deaf Studies bachelor degree program. He is Deaf. He holds an earned doctorate in Deaf Studies / Deaf Education from Lamar University in Texas, and has over 30 years of experience instructing and providing workshops in a wide variety of settings including internationally (Singapore, Guyana, etc.) in-person and online. He is the director of Lifeprint.com -- one of the world's most popular web destinations for learning about sign language and Deaf people. Through his YouTube channel at https://YouTube.com/@sign-language he shares ASL instruction with over 400,000 subscribers. He is married to Deaf culture researcher and pundit Bee Vicars, MFA.
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