Basics of Webinar Equipment - dummies

Basics of Webinar Equipment

By Sharat Sharan, John Carucci

Anyone who’s ever been a serious photography hobbyist knows that a camera is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to your webinar equipment. You need all sorts of accessories to make it work. The same holds true for video gear for your webinar. A video camera on its own can’t do much, unless of course your goal is dark, shaky video clips.

How to choose a video camcorder for your webinar

The most obvious piece of equipment, the video camcorder takes on many forms, from built-in webcam to a high-end studio camera. And depending on the scale of the presentation, probably somewhere in between lies the right match for your needs.


How to choose a microphone for your webinar

Just about every recording device that most people own today includes a microphone, but not all can provide the pristine audio quality that you’ll require for the audience to clearly understand what you have to say.

Although a built-in microphone pales in comparison to using a separate microphone, it’s not always possible when using a webcam (because it may not support an auxiliary cable).

Whether you’re looking to capture the sound of a group by using a shotgun microphone, a stick mic for conducting a stand-up interview, or a microphone clipped to the lapel of the speaker, there are clear advantages to using a separate microphone held away from the camera.

Here are some choices:

  • Lavaliere: It’s the clip-on microphone often associated with television interviews. Also called a lapel mic, it attaches to the subjects’ clothing about six to nine inches from the mouth.


  • Stick microphone: Used for a variety of situations ranging from speaking on a stage to conducting a stand-up interview.


  • Shotgun microphone: Mounted on a stand or on a pole with a technician holding it over the speaker, this type of microphone can pick up sound from longer distances. It works well with a moderated panel or interview format.

How to choose an audio mixer for your webinar

It’s the cool-looking console in a recording studio with all the sliders. Of course, you don’t need anything that sophisticated. But when you’re combining sound from multiple sources into a single channel or signal, it’s necessary to use a mixer.

In addition to altering sound levels, the audio board lets you tweak the signals’ level, frequency content, and dynamics to refine the sound quality. Although many webinar situations can simply do without an audio mixer, whenever you introduce two or more audio sources, using one is a good idea.


How to choose a tripod for your webinar

The tripod is your three-legged friend for many reasons, with the most obvious being that it allows you to keep the camera steady. They come in a variety of sizes and types and are constructed of various materials. They all do the same thing, and yet each has its own purpose in specific situations.


Consider the criteria for finding the best one for your needs:

  • Price: With a range in price from very affordable to ultra-expensive, most tripods do the same job, but vary when it comes to size and durability. Sturdy models on the affordable side tend to be relatively heavier than their more expensive counterparts.

  • Materials: The cost of a tripod goes up as the weight goes down. An aluminum model costing around $100 suddenly costs $500 when it’s made of the more durable and lighter metal alloys like carbon fiber.

  • Size: Moviemaking requires a tripod with a height that at least meets your eye level; otherwise, it’s not going to be comfortable to use.

  • Controls: It sounds trite, but the controls for extending your tripod play a big part in its ease of use. Some lock by turning; others use clips or control knobs. When you can, pick a model with controls that change quickly and seem intuitive to you.

  • Separate pieces: Less expensive tripods are usually sold as a whole unit with legs and a head, whereas more sophisticated models are purchased separately. Affordable video tripods work well with DSLRs, but if you feel your needs warrant it, buy the legs and head that suit your needs.