Testing Blackmagic Web Presenter

Blackmagic Web PresenterWe are rapidly moving towards the start of our new Master’s programme Music, Communication & Technology. This is a unique programme in that it is split between two universities (in Oslo and Trondheim), 500 kilometres apart. We are working on setting up a permanent high-quality, low-latency connection that will be used as the basis for our communication. But in addition to this permanent setup we need solutions for quick and easy communication. We have been (and will be) testing a lot of different software and hardware solutions, and in a series of blog posts I will describe some of the pros and cons of these.

Today I have been testing the Blackmagic Web Presenter. This is a small box with two video inputs (one HDMI and one SDI), and two audio inputs (one XLR and one stereo RCA). The box functions as a very basic video/audio mixer, but the most interesting thing is that it shows up as a normal web camera on the computer (even in Ubuntu, without drivers!). This means that it can be used in most communication platforms, including Skype, Teams, Hangouts, Appear.in, Zoom, etc., and be the centerpiece of slightly more advanced communication.

My main interest in testing it now was to see if I could connect a regular camera (Canon XF105) and a document camera (Lumens DC193) to the device. As you can see in the video below, this worked flawlessly, and I was able to do a quick recording using the built-in video recorder (Cheese) in Ubuntu.

So to the verdict:

Positive:

  • No-frills setup, even on Ubuntu!
  • Very positive that it scales the video correctly. My camera was running 1080i and the document camera 780p, and the scaling worked flawlessly (you need the same inputs for video transition effects to work, though, but not really a problem for my usage).
  • Hardware encoding makes it easy to connect also to fairly moderate PCs.
  • Nice price tag (~$500).

Negative:

  • Most people have HDMI devices, but SDI is rare. We have a lot of SDI stuff, so it works fine for our use.
  • No phantom power for the XLR. This is perhaps the biggest problem, I think. You can use a dynamic microphone, but I would have preferred a condenser. Now I ended up connecting a wireless lavalier microphone, with a line-level XLR connection in the receiver. It is also possible to use a mixer, but the whole point of this box is to have a small, portable and easy set up.
  • 720p output is ok for many things we will use it for, but is not particularly future-proof.
  • It has a fan. It makes a little more noise than when my laptop fan kicks in, but is not noticeable if it is moved one meter away.

Not perfect, but for its usage I think it works very nicely. For meetings and teaching where it is necessary to have a little more than just a plain web camera, I think it does it job nicely.

Come study with me! New master’s programme: Music, Communication and Technology

It has been fairly quiet here on the blog recently. One reason for this is that I am spending quite some time on setting up the new Music, Communication and Technology master’s programme. This is an exciting collaborative project with our colleagues at NTNU. The whole thing is focused around network-based communication, and the students will use, learn about, develop and evaluate technologies for musical communication between the two campuses in Oslo and Trondheim.

Interested, apply to become a student!

New Master’s Programme: Music, Communication & Technology

We are happy to announce that “Music, Communication & Technology” will be the very first joint degree between NTNU and UiO, the two biggest universities in Norway. The programme is now approved by the UiO board and will soon be approved by the NTNU board.

This is a different Master’s programme. Music is at the core, but the scope is larger. The students will be educated as technological humanists, with technical, reflective and aesthetic skills. We believe that the solutions to tomorrow’s societal challenges need to be based on intimate links between technological competence, musical sensibility, humanistic reflection, and a creative sense.

A core feature of the programme is the unique two-campus design. The student group is physically split between Oslo and Trondheim, 500 kilometres apart, but with a high-quality, network-based multimedia connection that allows for discussions, socialising and playing music. As a student you will get hands-on experience with state-of-the-art facilities, including motion capture systems, music production studios, and large loudspeaker arrays. The theoretical components include acoustics, music cognition, machine learning and human-computer interaction.

Music Moves on YouTube

We have been running our free online course Music Moves a couple of times on the FutureLearn platform. The course consists of a number of videos, as well as articles, quizzes, etc., all of which help create a great learning experience for the people that take part.

One great thing about the FutureLearn model (similar to Coursera, etc.) is that they focus on creating a complete course. There are many benefits to such a model, not least to create a virtual student group that interact in a somewhat similar way to campus students. The downside to this, of course, is that the material is not accessible to others when the course is not running.

We spent a lot of time and effort on making all the material for Music Moves, and we see that some of it could also be useful in other contexts. This semester, for example, I am teaching a course called Interactive Music, in which some of the videos on motion capture would be very relevant for  the students.

For that reason we have now decided to upload all the Music Moves videos to YouTube, so that everyone can access them. We still encourage interested people to enroll in the complete course, though. The next run on FutureLearn is scheduled to start in September.

New MOOC: Music Moves

Together with several colleagues, and with great practical and economic support from the University of Oslo, I am happy to announce that we will soon kick off our first free online course (a so-called MOOC) called Music Moves.

Music Moves: Why Does Music Make You Move?

Learn about the psychology of music and movement, and how researchers study music-related movements, with this free online course.

Go to course – starts 1 Feb

About the course

Music is movement. A bold statement, but one that we will explore together in this free online course. Together we will study music through different types of body movement. This includes everything from the sound-producing keyboard actions of a pianist to the energetic dance moves in a club.

You will learn about the theoretical foundations for what we call embodied music cognition and why body movement is crucial for how we experience the emotional moods in music. We will also explore different research methods used at universities and conservatories. These include advanced motion capture systems and sound analysis methods.

You will be guided by a group of music researchers from the University of Oslo, with musical examples from four professional musicians. The course is rich in high-quality text, images, video, audio and interactive elements.

Join us to learn more about terms such as entrainment and musical metaphors, and why it is difficult to sit still when you experience a good groove.

  • FREE online course
  • 3 hours pw
  • Certificates available

Educators

Alexander Refsum Jensenius Alexander Refsum Jensenius

Diana Kayser (Mentor) Diana Kayser (Mentor)

Hans T. Zeiner-Henriksen Hans T. Zeiner-Henriksen

Kristian Nymoen Kristian Nymoen

Requirements

This course is open to everyone. No technical knowledge of music or dance is required.

Get a personalised, digital and printed certificate

You can buy a Statement of Participation for this course — a personalised certificate in both digital and printed formats — to show that you’ve taken part.

Join the conversation on social media

Use the hashtag #FLmusicmoves to join and contribute to social media conversations about this course.

Go to course – starts 1 Feb