Ask Hermie

Ask Hermie: Let’s Talk Turkey!

Hermie is the consummate AV Professional, having lurked behind the scenes at Herman Pro AV and Herman Integration Services for years. When it comes to the professional audiovisual business, Hermie walks the walk and talks the talk. In fact, he doesn’t just talk about AV stuff until he’s blue in the face, he’s done it so much he’s blue all over! So, if you have a burning AV question, just “Ask Hermie!”

Dear Hermie,

This question might be for the birds, well at least for one bird in particular – the Turkey! I am hoping you can help me, Hermie. My family has decided not to travel for Thanksgiving this year. Instead, we want to have our traditional Holiday dinner via Zoom. Since you’re an Audiovisual expert, I was hoping you could give me some technical tips on how to set up and deliver a high-fidelity virtual feast for my remote family. C’mon, Hermie, let’s talk turkey! 

Signed – Tele-Turkey in Telluride

Dear Tele-Turkey,

Celebrating Thanksgiving via Zoom doesn’t have to mean gloom. There are some simple ways to ensure a fun family event that’s almost as good as being together in person. Thinking about it as a true blue (well, all blue) AV professional, I’d approach your virtual festivities like I would any Pro AV installation – with a plan!

Let’s talk about equipment. It’s important to remember that you’re not limited to the camera and microphone that’s built into your laptop. Using a better camera can offer richer colors, wider angles, and an overall more realistic image for your remote guests to enjoy. An HD or even 4K webcam can really boost the impact of the images you stream online. If you have a DSLR Camera lying around you can use things like an Elgato CAMLINK 4k to connect your DSLR to your laptop and use it as the camera for your Zoom call, giving you access to all the pro camera settings and effects your DSLR is capable of!

Another tip to remember is that you can log onto your Zoom Thanksgiving from multiple devices to give your virtual guests different views of your household and Thanksgiving spread. Just remember to only connect your audio from one device to avoid any echo or feedback. You could have an iPad or tablet logged into the meeting and pointing at your fireplace for mood. You could hang an iPhone or Android phone face down from the dining room light fixture giving your “guests” a bird’s eye view of your table with the turkey and all the trimmings.

Just as you can use an external camera for a better quality video call, you can also use an external microphone to improve the sound quality of your virtual Thanksgiving celebration. There are many great USB mics that easily plug into your laptop. If you have a small group of immediate family members in your home you can also use a portable conference room speaker such as the ones by Bose, JBL, etc. so everyone distanced around the table can be heard.

Aside from the technical side, make sure all your remote relatives have a chance to participate. Before everyone digs in to eat, go around the zoom and let everyone on the call say a few words and share something they are thankful for.

And finally, since you’re having a digital feast, why not record it! Zoom makes it easy to record and save a video of your call. That way you can share Thanksgiving with others who couldn’t make it, and also have a great memento of your 2020 virtual Thanksgiving!

You know, now that you’ve got me thinking about it, I’m going to talk to Mrs. Hermie and suggest we do a Zoom Thanksgiving for our distant relatives too!

Have a safe, healthy, and happy Thanksgiving!

Do you have a question for Hermie? Email and he may answer your question here in a future column.