Recording the PowerShell Summit

So, we did have one enterprising fella use his Webcam to record the Summit sessions he attended. Once he gets with me, we'll get those online so you can see.

We are trying to think really hard about formal recordings for next time. It depends a lot on what folks want. For example:

  • Pointing a camera at the front of the room is easy and cheap. We worry that the audio might suck and that you might not be able to read on-screen code - although many presenters make their code/slides available for download.
  • Putting software on presenters' machines to capture what they do is out of the question. There are MORE than enough moving parts already going on in the room - this just won't work out consistently.
  • We can get one-button-recording devices that capture everything the speaker does on-screen, and an audio feed. You don't get to SEE the speaker, and these are about $1000 each, plus sundry cables and adapters. For several hundred more, we can add a picture-in-picture from a camera feed.

So we can do cheap-o... well, cheaply. And if folks are happy with that, we'll do it. We can do pretty awesome-looking for pretty-expensive... and that's going to require a fundraising campaign. We aren't Microsoft, and recording three rooms, along with possible general sessions, is going to take about $8-$12k in equipment. Our goal, however, would be to give the videos away for free once a year's event sells to its "break even" attendance point.

Live streaming won't happen. Meeting venues get like $5,000 per day for a 5-10Mbps pipe. Yeah, you thought they made money off the $80/gallon coffee. We just can't afford the bandwidth to livestream. We're not even always sure we can turn on WiFi for people to check e-mail. It's that expensive.

Please drop some comments. Knowing what kind of video people are willing to accept will really help us plan this out for next time, and we need a lot of lead time to do that.

About the Author

Don Jones

Don Jones is a Windows PowerShell MVP, author of several Windows PowerShell books (and other IT books), Co-founder and President/CEO of PowerShell.org, PowerShell columnist for Microsoft TechNet Magazine, PowerShell educator, and designer/author of several Windows PowerShell courses (including Microsoft’s). Power to the shell!

13 Comments

    • What exactly would you suggest we learn? I'll note again that streaming from the live event is not an option, nor is doing a virtual event INSTEAD of a live event. If someone wants to do a virtual event, I'd be very willing to support that - but it would not be the PowerShell Summit. The in-person networking and conversation was as important as the content, and the Summit will continue to be an in-person event. That doesn't exclude other kinds of events.

      • I think what they are doing is probably more pertinent to user groups. Just throwing it out there because once it is done they will have shown a good model for conferences on the cheap.

        • Well, no... they'll have shown a model for livecasting video on the cheap. A conference isn't just about content. It's also about the social interaction, the networking, and the ad-hoc idea sharing. It's the feedback to team members as they demo stuff, and the side conversations that literally help drive product decisions and new techniques. I think there's a place in the world for BOTH... but when talking about recording a live event like the Summit, we aren't considering abandoning the in-person-ness of it.

  1. I always start with what would be ideal and then back down from there if the money can't be found.

    So that said, ideally the 3rd option of recording what is going to the screen along with the audio feed from the mic (there is a mic right?). This ensures that you can see the screen clearly and the words. An extra video feed of the speaker is a nice to have but its the first thing I would cut to fit the budget.

    So what do we need to do that and what would it cost per room? What kind of video is going to the screen? HDMI? I assume the audio is separate?

    • We have to probably assume VGA at a minimum, and we may be able to provide HDMI, in terms of what's going to the screen. And yes, audio would be separate, from a mic.

    • And, specifically, something like http://www.epiphan.com/products/recording/vgadvi-recorder/ would effectively "do it all," with one-button recording (important as we don't want to staff the thing). Albeit $2500 a pop plus accessories ;). So that's $7500 for three rooms, plus appropriate adapters (VGA->DVI, for instance) and splitters (so we can also feed the projector; it doesn't have a pass-through). We're thinking an IndieGoGo campaign to fund this if it's the way we end up going.

    • Don thank you for the feed back. Invaluable. I get the limitations, and understand the requirements. As I said I will research options and see what I can do. I hope it is possible as I see how much information is being shared. I am certainly a beneficiary.

    • We'd looked at a few solutions like this, but they still require a PC. That can't be the presenter's PC, obviously, and although you can get a sufficient laptop cheaply, it becomes one more set of moving parts to fuss with on site. TechMentor did a pilot with one of these and it was just a cluster-F. We're also trying to avoid the need to have staff (more mouths to feed and beds to pay for) in every room to run the recording stuff. Plus, adding in laptops makes the whole kit a lot harder to ship around, store, etc. That $200 device might save $2300, but it doesn't give us a turnkey, solid-state solution, and if we can't do this EASILY and make it transparent, I don't want to do it. I don't want people who paid money to be on-site to have to wait while we figure out how to do recordings for people who won't even be paying for them :).

      • I agree on the requirements. Thanks for the real life feedback on using that model. Clearly the goal us to plug presenter's computer in as the always would with just the need to press Record at start and Stop at end. I'll look more.

        Come close to NYC and I'll run it in one room.

        • I should have also said that the videos should be paid for. At least until the cost is covered. I wonder if a training company would do the recording in return for rights to sell? We could put a price cap on it. Just thinking out loud.

          • I'd rather not get involved in licensing *someone else's* presentation for resale ;). As a professional presenter myself... it's icky. We haven't ruled out charging for the videos... it's just, honestly, my suspicion is three people would do it. *Everyone* wants it on the TechEd model. Free. That's why we'd do a fundraiser to build the infrastructure. If it doesn't raise enough funds, then it's because nobody wanted it enough to help pay for it.

            And right now we're sticking with the Seattle area. That's where the team is... the only reason they can participate as much as they did is because we're right there. They've got some kind of full-time programming job or something, I dunno.