Technology Help - Hybrid Meetings

Large Size Meetings

Setup for Large Room Webcast Meetings or Large Room fully Hybrid Meetings

Large Room 1-Way Webcast Meetings (eg 100+ members):
Typically this would be for General Monthly Meetings being held in a large Church or Hall which is not interested in providing relevant equipment, or might not have everything you require in the room.

This setup is where content is broadcast from the Meeting Room to Zoom, but there is no two way communication from the Zoomers to the Room Participants making elements of the setup easier.

This would certainly need to be a more substantial setup than a medium room, with extra complexity, but simpler than a full “Hybrid” because broadcasting is only from the Room to Zoom and “Audio Feedback” from Zoom is not likely to be an issue.

It would also allow the option of Livestreaming the Zoom Meeting one-way to a Facebook Page or a YouTube Channel.

Large Room Hybrid Meetings with 2-Way Communication (eg 100+ members):

Typically this would be for Monthly or Transactional Meetings such as an AGM being held in a large Church or Hall which requires 2 way communication between Room and Zoom Participants.

It is preferable to have either a fast broadband with local Wi-Fi, or a direct Cat5/Cat6 cable connection to the broadband router. Alternatively, if Wi-Fi and broadband are not available, but mobile 4g/5g coverage is available at the location, then a 'mobile router' is an alternative. (see Mobile Broadband Alternatives to Wi-Fi)

Diagram of a Typical Large Room Setup

Large Room Setup Pictogram

click image to enlarge
.

Photos of typical Large Room Hybrid Setup

Large Room Setup Photo 1 (courtesy of USA Minnesota Rotary District 5950)

click image to enlarge
.
.

Large Room Setup Photo 2

click image to enlarge
.
.
.

Video of a Typical Large Room Setup

The Webcast setup is very similar to the 9:17 minutes long teaching video by the USA Minnesota Rotary District 5950 showing their “Going Hybrid: Large Meeting Hybrid Tech Setup”

Rotary District 5950Largd Room Pic

at https://youtu.be/SH0EW5v8oLQ

They have also provided a Buying Guide at https://tinyurl.com/mv9f5ytp
.

Large Room Meeting Reference Information and Equipment Ideas

Typical equipment needed for a Webcast with 1-Way communication to Zoom would be :-

A main controlling Laptop with Zoom (https://zoom.us) & Iriun app loaded (https://iriun.com)
A 2nd optional Laptop for efficiently sharing PowerPoint Presentations and Videos via Zoom
A simple Audio Mixer with a Plug & Play external sound card adapter for the laptop
2-3 Wi-Fi enabled smartphones with Iriun app loaded
42” Telescopic Tripods for Smartphones with power cable extension & charger plug/cable
Wired microphone(s) or VHF/UHF wireless microphone(s) connected to audio mixer
3.5 to 6.35mm jack plug audio connecting cables x 2
3.5mm single jack to twin 6.35mm Stereo jack cable for music
XLR or 6.35mm jack plug to XLR audio cables to connect the mixer to powered loudspeakers
Fixed in-room, or stand mounted powered Loudspeakers
Fixed or mobile Projector and screen setup, or a widescreen LCD TV with HDMI inputs
Long HDMI projector cable

For a Hybrid Meeting with 2-Way Communication we suggest further additional or alternative equipment :-

A higher specification Audio Mixer with “Aux Send” or “FX Send” capability, or a 2 way USB Audio Mixer.

Refer to Reference Articles/Links/Equipment for examples of typical equipment

Capturing Live Video Images of the Speaker and Audience in the Meeting Room

Whilst DSLR cameras can be used with a wired connection to a controlling laptop running an appropriate piece of software, the setup could be deemed too expensive and too technical for most u3as.

The use of Smartphone cameras, which often boast a far higher definition than webcams, are an inexpensive option as members’ phones can be utilised without any associated purchase cost, as long as remote zooming in and out is not a vital requirement. These can be set up in multiple fixed locations, and a tablet such as iPad can be effectively used as a mobile movie camera. None of these devices are setup to relay sound, just live video images.

You can see an example of this in a video by John Butler of Ravenshead u3a.
iPad used as Mobile Camera
https://youtu.be/i7QwR8YuvuU
.
.

Using free software such as Iriun (https://iriun.com) turns them into usable mobile cameras for live streaming, transmitting their live camera image back to the laptop via the room WiFi. They can also be mounted on a cheap freestanding tripod running off their own battery, although we recommend plugging in a charging cable connected to mains power with an electrical extension cable, or a fully charged powerbank block, throughout the meeting.

See this instructional video on YouTube from Tech for Toastmasters for the Iriun setup process

Using Smartphones with Iriun Softwsre

at :https://youtu.be/MMkw5Irn2kc
.
.

Using a PTZ HD Conference Camera - A more expensive but comprehensive solution to capturing Live video images in a Meeting

PTZ stands for Pan, Tilt and Zoom. A camera with PTZ functionality features a rotating lens with directional and zoom capabilities, and the camera can be controlled remotely. It can pan left to right and tilt up and down. The lens also zooms in and pulls out, providing imagery at various distances.

The camara comes with a USB lead for direct connection into a Laptop's USB port and configuring the basic setup is essentially Plug & Play, with it only needing to be selected as the Video Input source in Zoom. A typical PTZ camera comes with a remote control which allows preset focus and zoom settings to be stored for capturing different part of the room from the the one position, invariably set on a high robust camera tripod.

This manufacturer's promo video gives a very quick overview of how their PTZ camera works : Tenveo 3X optical zoom HD PTZ camera

Audio Feedback Issues in Large Meeting Settings

Audio feedback is the ringing noise (often described as squealing, screeching, etc) sometimes present in sound systems. It is caused by a "looped signal", that is, a signal which travels in a continuous loop.

In technical terms, feedback occurs when the gain in the signal loop reaches "unity" (0dB gain).

One of the most common feedback situations is shown in the diagram below- a microphone feeds a signal into a sound system, which then amplifies and outputs the signal from a speaker, which is picked up again by the microphone.

Audio Feedback Loop Pictogram
. click image to enlarge
.
.

Audio Feedback can also happen when two Zoom logins and therefore two devices with both microphones & loudspeakers, such as phones or tablets, exist with the same user in the same room.

On a larger scale that also exists with multiple amplified sound sources in a meeting room, more on that later.

The problem can occur in Medium and Large Room settings as explained in this video by Toastmaster’s Hybrid Meetings specialist Markus Seppälä at https://youtu.be/7tFPAEmGijM in which he describes how it is necessary to “Disconnect Audio” on all devices that could possibly create a sound input or sound output except your main source.

To overcome the issue of “Audio Feedback” in a Large Room Meeting setup a decent quality Audio Mixer is essential. To a non-techie they may seem complicated to use with all the sockets knobs and sliders, but with a little learning obtained by watching YouTube instructional videos, the mystique around their use can quickly be dispelled.

Behringer Xenyx Q802 USB mixer click image to enlarge
.
.
.
.

The critical element an Audio Mixer will need to have is an “”Aux Send” or “FX Send” output socket to enable a hybrid meeting setup using the “mix minus” principle to avoid “Audio Feedback”.

Let us explain the technicalities of why this is important….

In order to run a Hybrid meeting in a large meeting setting, you have to “mix” the sound input from the microphone(s) within the room with the sound from the Zoom meeting participants, and then broadcast it out to both the room speakers and the Zoom meeting.

The big technical issue with that is the “audio feedback” that is generated from Zoom (you may have experienced it when one person logs in to a Zoom meeting on 2 devices) unless you have sussed out a techie process called “Mix Minus” which prevents “feedback” from the Zoom call on the combined main sound output to the room and Zoom call.

Since this is quite a technical topic, it is easier to watch an instructional video rather than create a written explanation.

Setting Up s Mix-Minus photo The best explanation we can find of the “Mix Minus” setup required using an audio mixer is by Ray Ortega on YouTube at :- https://youtu.be/au47Ferbxfc with written documentation at https://thepodcastersstudio.com

Since the video dates from 2014 it describes a setup for broadcasting with Skype, but it is the same principle for Zoom.

The key thing to understand prior to running the show is that the mixer’s normal output to the room loudspeakers is an analogue signal. The output from the “Aux Out” or “FX Out” output socket is the one which needs to be converted to a digital signal that can be selected as an audio input source in the Audio settings on Zoom on the laptop. Selecting this digital source is done using the small up arrow on the Zoom audio control when you are running the Zoom session.

In order to bring the digital source into the laptop it will require either a “plug and play” USB sound card such as one available from Sabrent, Dynamode or Techrise, a far more expensive audio interface such as a Focusrite Scarlett Solo audio interface unit, or a higher-end specification USB audio mixer with the digital output built-in via a USB in-out cable to the laptop.

Wi-Fi or Data Signal

The most important thing you will need is a reasonable Wi-Fi signal.
The signal from the broadband router or hub in the home may be adequate. If you are doing this from a public place, you may find that there is a sufficiently strong public Wi-Fi signal to do this - although you may have concerns about the security of using public Wi-Fi.
If you do not have a strong enough Wi-Fi signal, instead you will need to use a mobile data connection from your phone. If you do this, you will need to check that you have sufficient capacity within your mobile phone data allowance. As a guide you may need to allow about 800 MBs per hour for the Zoom call (although we have not yet been able to test how much data a Zoom call would use, and it will probably depend on the equipment you use and other factors).

For reliability, the Wi-Fi or mobile data signal will need to be strong enough to support two-way communication on Zoom and any Wi-Fi usage of linked smartphones. Whilst broadband speeds of 10 mbps upload speed and 30 mbps download speed are ideal, the absolute minimum upload speed will need to be in excess of 4 mbps, and the minimum download speed will need to be in excess of 10 mbps.

In public venues, Wi-Fi connections to the broadband router can often be unreliable, especially if it is a public system accessible by many users on their mobile phones or with limited geographical coverage within the venue. To ensure reliability of a Zoom session, it is recommended that a hard wired connection is made between the laptop and the venue’s broadband router, using a single long CAT-5 or CAT-6 ethernet cable.

With a venue wi-fi system, sometimes coverage is patchy, and blackspots exist where wi-fi coverage is non-existent. It helps to wander around the meeting room with a tablet or mobile phone and test the download/upload speeds using an app such as Ookla Speedtest (https://www.speedtest.net) comparing the results to the signal close to the router/Wi-Fi source.

One solution could be to utilise a Wi-Fi range extender, such as a Netgear Tri-Band Wireless Mesh Internet Booster Range Extender.

Refer to the Reference section for more information on wi-fi range booster/extenders.

HDMI Connections & Limitations

With a larger room setup, there will invariably be a large separation distance between the AV Desk position and the HDMI Projector or Large HDMI LCD TV Screen.

Once the length of HDMI cable needed exceeds 20 metres, there is the potential for a break-up in transmission, as HDMI cables have an effective maximum effective transmission length.

There are options to ensure that a reliable signal is maintained at longer distances, using 2 cables of up to 15 metres in length, and an HDMI equaliser/extender/repeater, as explained and recommended in this video
How to Extend an HDMI Signal
at: https://youtu.be/schw4k1dx-Y
.
.

Connecting a newish Laptop with only a HDMI Output socket to an old VGA Projector

Primarily, there are two kinds of HDMI to VGA converters – active and passive. Active converters have a power port that will allow you to use them with low power ports and usually include an audio output jack. Passive converters usually output images/video and aren’t compatible with low-power HDMIs. You should know which port you have before making a purchase decision.

You should also consider the ports and cables that you have available. For example, if you have a laptop with an HDMI port and a screen with an existing male-to-male VGA cable, you need a male-to-female HDMI to VGA adapter. But if you need to plug a Chromecast device into a VGA monitor, you should go for the female-to-female HDMI to VGA adapter instead.

This is an example of a more expensive active HDMI to VGA adapter used by a member of our Tech Team which has proven to be reliable over a period of time : Belkin HDMI to VGA Video/Audio Adapter

Example Large Meeting Room Layout

Large Room Setup Diagram

click image to enlarge
.
.