One of my 2020 goals was to start presenting more. The easiest, and most cost efficient, way to do that is by presenting remotely. Another goal I had was to start creating Big Data Cluster videos for my YouTube channel. These two goals required a different set of tools. I also had no idea how complicated video recording could get. I finally got everything setup the way I want and a few friends asked me about my setup. This blog post will list everything I use and lessons learned.
My Office Setup
Desktop: Mac Mini (2018) – I ordered the 16 GB model and installed 32 GB myself. It ended up being a lot cheaper to do it myself. I create a lot of virtual machines and having more memory is worth it. I was tempted to max out the RAM to 64 GB but with my recent eBay purchase (see below) that won’t be necessary.
Server: HP ML350p Generation 8 – I bought this server off eBay. It was initially for $600 but I reached out to the seller and asked if they could do it for $450 and they agreed. The server came with 96 GB of RAM and 2x 6 Core processors (total of 12 physical cores). I upgraded the RAM to 320 GB and the processors to 2x 12 Core processors (totaling 24 physical cores). This server is more than enough for my Big Data Cluster lab. A few things to note; when you first boot up the server it *is* LOUD! But when it finally is done booting up it quiets down a lot. Second, it *is* heavy. This server is between 60-80 lbs easy. I don’t even remember how I got up 3-flights of stairs!
Microphone: Movo LV4-O2 XLR Phantom Power Lavalier Omnidirectional Microphone – I also have a Shure SM7B but do not use it for the videos I create. The Movo LV4-02s work great. I did purchase the “2 pack” just in case one got lost or damaged. Having a backup mic is priceless! I plug the Movo directly into the Focusrite Scarlett Solo (2nd gen) as you can see in the picture. It provides the 48v phantom power needed to run the microphone and works very well. I don’t any type of external phantom power thing (like the Cloudlifter). The Focusrite plugs directly into the back of my Mac Mini via USB. (Note: The 3rd generation of Focusrite Scarlett Solo is out and you can purchase that here.)
My desk: Autonomous Smart Desk 2 (Business Edition) – I purchased this in July of 2018. Initially, I thought I’d get tired of standing and would eventually need a chair. It’s been 1.5 years and I haven’t used a chair. I absolutely love it. One thing that did annoy me at first was all that standing made my feet ache. So I purchased a standing desk mat: Topo Comfort Mat by Ergodriven. This mat is awesome! My feet don’t ache any more (woohoo!) and whenever I record videos, or give presentations, I use the bump outs on the mat as “markers” so I know exactly where to stand and be center in the camera. Ha!
Ring light: Neewer RL-12 LED Ring Light – I never knew how important lighting was until I started recording videos. This is a must if you plan on recording videos or even doing live webinars. I place my ring light directly behind the desk as you can see in the image below. The ring light is also important when using a green screen in combination with the “chroma effect” in Screenflow.
Camera: Logitech BRIO – I’ve been using this since the first day I started recording videos and it’s served me well. It never fails, it’s sturdy and clear.
Displays: BenQ 32 Inch 4K and LG 27UD58-B 27 Inch – The BenQ is my primary monitor (on the left) and the LG is my secondary monitor (on the right). Whenever I am presenting and do a screen share the attendees are seeing my secondary LG monitor.
Green screen: Elgato Collapsible Green Screen – This is amazing. It is sturdy, has an awesome clip case, and easy to setup. The dimensions are: 1480 x 1800 mm / 58.27 x 70.87 in (screen); 1645 x 105 x 115 mm / 64.76 x 4.13 x 4.53 in (retracted). I’m 5’6″ (as in the image below) so it works fine! If you’re taller than me, you can always rest the green screen on wooden blocks or anything sturdy to prop it up a couple inches.
Screen Capture: Screenflow – I use a Mac and Screenflow works great for me. I have tried Camtasia, but I ended up gravitating towards Screenflow. If you plan on using your green screen, then you must use your ring light. The chroma effect in Screenflow is awesome! Makes editing videos so easy! Once you’re done recording, click on the video icon (see image), then click on Video Filters and choose Chroma Key. Click Add and there you go! It couldn’t be simpler.
Well, that’s my 2020 home office studio setup! If you have any questions, leave them in the comments or contact me. I’d be more than happy to help you.