PTZ Cameras as a Conferencing Solution

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When your corporate meetings and classes can't get together in the same room, looking for a complete solution to make video conferencing easy becomes a necessity. One of the most versatile camera types for video conferences is the PTZ conference camera, so let’s look at some solutions for your meetings, classes, and events.

Logitech Rally 4K PTZ Conferencing Camera
Logitech Rally 4K PTZ Conferencing Camera

PTZ cameras are ideal for installing in a static location while maintaining the ability to pan, zoom, and tilt to capture different parts of the room for multiple speakers and visual subjects. Their compact forms are designed to be mounted on a cabinet, wall, or ceiling, on top of monitors, on tables—pretty much anywhere. Wide-angle lenses allow the cameras to capture the entire room or conference room table, while the zoom function can isolate the active speaker.

Owl Labs Meeting OWL Pro 360 Degree 1080p Smart Video Conference Camera
Owl Labs Meeting OWL Pro 360 Degree 1080p Smart Video Conference Camera

Combining multiple PTZ cameras into your conference gives you even more options for quickly switching to different parts of the room, between wide and close-up shots, to a white board, or to a document. Current technology even allows you to set auto-tracking on your PTZ camera, such as with the Panasonic Auto-Tracking server software, so the camera can follow specific speakers automatically, without intervention.

Panasonic AW-SF100 Auto Tracking PTZ Software Key
Panasonic AW-SF100 Auto Tracking PTZ Software Key

Let Them See You

There are a few different options for your conference room PTZ cameras:

  • All-in-one streaming cameras like the HuddleCamHD, PTZOptics SDI, or AViPAS HD.
  • Cameras like the Marshall Electronics USB/HDMI or Lumens that require a computer or video switch to share on the Internet.
  • Most PTZ cameras support remote control options such as serial remote, IR remote, video switching, or software control.
  • There are numerous choices, such as resolution like HD or 4K, and connection method, such as USB, SDI, HDMI, or NDI.
  • Cameras with integrated recording like the Panasonic 4K PTZ camera using SD cards. If the camera doesn’t feature a drive or SD card recording, the video output such as an HDMI or SDI port can be used to record onto a DVR or record your stream using software.
  • Bring your own camera. There are all-in-one conferencing packages that allow you to use your own cameras, such as DSLRs, camcorders, or smartphones, that include everything you need to capture your cameras, edit, record, and stream, such as SlingStudio and its components.
SlingStudio Mobile Production Kit
SlingStudio Mobile Production Kit

Also consider your local network capabilities, where you’ll get power from, e.g., PoE (Power-over-Ethernet), whether you might need to convert your signal by encoding or decoding the video for streaming, what monitors you’ll use, and all the other required hardware and cabling.

Pearstone HDA-106 High-Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet
Pearstone HDA-106 High-Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet

Let Them Hear You, Too

Most PTZ and webcams are only cameras, so be sure to consider how you’ll send and receive your conference audio. Since conferencing is generally done in a closed environment, you may opt for professional sound installations or just basic microphones to convey your audio clearly. However, when you are in a conference room with many individuals, you may need to address noise canceling, a wide pickup range, power options, and how the mics will connect to your conference stream.

Shure MX418DC Desktop-Mounted 18" Cardioid Gooseneck Microphone
Shure MX418DC Desktop-Mounted 18" Cardioid Gooseneck Microphone

Be sure to consider:

  • The size of the room and how many mics are needed.
  • How many individuals will be speaking.
  • Where the mics need to be placed.
  • How the mics will connect to your conferencing system and whether you need a mixer.
  • Whether your mic needs to be mounted, such as the Stem Audio Ceiling, or put on a table.
  • Dynamic versus mics that require power.
  • Whether you require mics to connect to your computer.
  • Don’t forget the speakers!
JBL Control 28-1 High Output Indoor/Outdoor Background/Foreground Speaker
JBL Control 28-1 High Output Indoor/Outdoor Background/Foreground Speaker

There are several web-conferencing starter kits available that include various components such as microphones, encoders, switchers, remote controllers, and everything you need to get your PTZ conference room up and running, such as:

Datavideo EZ Streaming Package B with 1080p PTZ Camera, Switcher, Streaming Encoder, HDBaseT to HDMI Converter
Datavideo EZ Streaming Package B with 1080p PTZ Camera, Switcher, Streaming Encoder, HDBaseT to HDMI Converter

Browse the B&H Photo website for more PTZ camera solutions, and let us know how your PTZ environment setup is progressing in the Comments section, below.

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