Tools for creating a hybrid space

The Corona crisis gave us the motivation to transform L200 to a hybrid space, allowing small groups people to connect to online conference, like our own BigBlueButton room, with good quality of sound and image.

In this page we will collect all the basic equipment needed to create a hybrid space with a low cost, using existing infrastructure, but also methodological aspects for organizing hybrid meetings. Complementary material focusing on the moderation of the online space are available in this page.

Equipment for sound

The most important device a USB audio interface.

We have tried Steinberg UR22C and EVO 4, and both work well but Steinberh is more robust, but also more expensive ~170CHF compared to ~120CHF.

Such an interface allows you to use multiple analogue microphones, two if you don't have a proper mixer and more if you have one (as many as the mixer's inputs).

Equipment for video

For video the key component is the HDMI capture device, which similarly to the USB audio interface allows to use as a web camera, good DSLR cameras like the Panasonic GH5, or any camera with proper HDMI output while in operation.

As HDMI capture device we have tried the J5 Create JVA04 and it works perfectly, but there are more alternatives in the range of 80-180 CHF. But note that many such devices suffer from latency issues.

Using a DSLR camera as a webcam is ideal for zooming on the speakers, while a less expensive USB camera (logitech has a wide range of options of HD USB cameras) could be used for capturing the whole space in a more "static" frame. For this you will need an extra computer, which could be used also for recording the session and/or used for online moderation. For this purpose, recycled old computers running linux would be good enough.

For more advanced set-ups you can buy a video mixer, like BlackMagicDesign's ATEM Mini Pro, which can mix up to 4 different cameras and 2 microphones (one of which could be the output of a mixer) through a very friendly and intuitive interface. It can also stream directly to online streaming services without the need for a computer. You can watch a panel organized at L200 by NeNa1 livestreamed with the use of this device.

Related article: How to use (almost) any camera as a web cam