Camp Record Beta Test Four: DrupalCamp STL 2015

Following a successful MidCamp and with some new ideas how to improve the kit, I was eager to hit the road for more testing. Problem is, I'm a freelancer with a limited budget, and getting to camps comes out of my own pocket. On a lark, I tweeted the following:

Planning a #drupalcamp and need your sessions recorded? Sponsor me & I will record your sessions. Ping me! #drupal /cc @drupalstl @tcdrupal

— Kevin Thull (@kevinjthull) April 8, 2015

To my delight, both Twin Cities and St. Louis camps took me up on my offer. Of course, the stakes are even higher now, because it's no longer my own money on the line.

But I'm also feeling more confident about this solution and improve on the process with each camp. Connecting to non-HDMI-capable laptops remains the biggest challenge overall. I've added in a couple (full) DisplayPort to HDMI converters and even successfully tested a new VGA to HDMI converter that got my ancient Sony VAIO to display on my home flatscreen:

The new VGA to HDMI converter shows promise. My ancient Sony Vaio WinXP laptop just connected! #drupalcamp pic.twitter.com/PXb0kBvsCl

— Kevin Thull (@kevinjthull) June 16, 2015

And at DrupalCamp STL I finally got the 100% success rate that I've been shooting for! Three sessions needed fixing in post, but overall, this camp went very smoothly. A huge bonus was the fact that the two rooms were next to each other, minimizing the distance to cover when trying to coordinate laptop hookups and verify timely starts and stops of the records.

Twin Cities is next week, with a much more challenging schedule: five concurrent sessions across two buildings and multiple floors. My Fitbit will likely hit a new high. That, and I need to finally get down to some documentation and podium signage. It's time to share the knowledge I've gained and get more hands and minds involved.

And now for the learnings from DCSTL:

  • swapping thumb drives throughout the day means recordings can be posted during camp
  • well-timed presenter starts/stops means no trimming, which means more recordings can be posted during camp
  • one room had screen flicker and setting the PVR resolution to 1080 helped (typically, the resolution needs to come down to 720 for this, as well as fixing color shifts)
  • having extra SD cards means bad audio can be fixed during down times, which means more recordings can be posted during camp
  • power strips at the podium shouldn't be assumed, and the powered USB hub and voice recorder both have short plugs
  • never plug the powered usb into the laptop, because that can kill your record if resolution changes or the laptop goes to sleep
  • taping down individual components means less cord chaos throughout the day
  • access to ethernet port with a reasonably large pipe going up will get videos posted faster