When giving an online presentation, whether via Hangout, Webex, GotoMeeting or Jitsi Video Bridge, a screen sharing function is how the slides are presented. Screen sharing goes beyond the common death-by-PowerPoint scenario, allowing software demonstrations in real-time.
In most cases the use of screen sharing defeats a view of the presenter. This can make for a frightfully dull audience experience. I’ve long wished for a convenient way to show slides or demo software without completely losing sight of the presenter. I’ve done this myself using tools like Wirecast or vMix, but these are costly and complicated things to setup. That’s beyond the reach of most people.
In a post late last year I challenged the WebRTC community to take up this idea. WebRTC remains a battle with many fronts. They may yet bring forward such capability, but the wheels of progress turn slowly.
Happily, I’ve recently discovered an extension for Chrome called “Reflect.” Authored by Bryce Thorup, Reflect grabs your webcam stream, displaying it as an overlay on your monitor. Thus when sharing your screen, your audience can see both the slides (or software) and your webcam.
For the past several weeks I’ve been experimenting with vMix HD, a software based tool for real-time video production on the desktop. I’ve been running the free 60 day trial version of vMix HD, which runs on Windows.
It now seems very likely that I will purchase a license for the Basic HD version, since it’s very capable and costs only $60.
To understand why I’m so very appreciative of vMix HD, it helps if you know what I’ve been using in this role for the past few years…Telestream’s Wirecast.
My desktop PC is just now passing three years old. When it arrived I imaged the factory installed 2 TB hard drive, replacing it with a Crucial m4 256GB SSD for the boot volume. With a small registry tweak the 2 TB drive became home to the user profiles and related files.
The boot time of the computer was improved by the SSD. Since the boot volume was just the OS & apps it was quick & easy to backup by making an image of that volume. The fact that I make routine backups became important recently, when the SSD failed outright.
In this case I had just installed some updated to the OS, when a reboot was required. However, upon rebooting the system could not find the boot volume.
Not to spoil the punch line, but the phone can be paired to a mobile phone via Bluetooth, making it effectively a great handset for his iPhone. So it’s genuinely useful even without having a SIP line registered.
Other companies like Mocet & Invoxia (review) offer similar capability in dedicated function devices, but these cost considerably more than the GXP-2160, which is currently listed on Amazon for just $99.
I wish I could do the same with my Polycom VVX-600!