YoloBox Pro

Thoughts and Impressions on the YoloBox Pro

Having just received the Yolobox Pro from our friends over at Yololiv, here’s a running summary of my thoughts on the device.

Initial Impressions

  • Smells like a new pair of shoes!
  • Very cheeky that there is no AC adapter…Only the USB C and A cables
  • Would like a black power cable – white stands out too much when the YBP is in the camera shot
  • Case construction is plasticy, but feels solid. Heavier than I had anticipated!
  • I like that it can sit flat on a surface and the fan grill is not blocked

Notable Wins

  • Compact form factor and swiss army knife of connectivity is an obvious win – this device is unique in its category
  • Bringing in and displaying user comments is easy
  • The ease of bringing in remote guests looks promising – I need to test this workflow out more

Thoughts

  • Want Bluetooth access for keyboard – I like the way Apple computers automatically remember the bluetooth pairing connection after plugging in and then disconnecting a USB cable 
  • Need to be able to access network settings while live streaming 
  • Does the audio bell notification of power connected/disconnected play through to program? Or just headphone monitoring? I tested this on my first livestream and the audio “ping” when power is reconnected only comes through headphone monitoring, not on to program
  • Fan is loud for a presenting environment. Because it is touch screen controlled, it needs to be placed within arm’s reach, which places the fan in front of the microphone 
  • Would love remote control (Companion, Stream Deck, OSC etc) to be able to place the screen at a distance
  • Can’t stream Privately to FB if you want to test the settings. Have to post publicly, which notifies everyone, then go to Facebook in a web browser and change to private.
  • Kept getting “Update abnormal privacy status, please click the distribution switch button to redistribute; Or the user id has expired, please re-bind your Facebook account”. However, after rebinding, error message still appears.

Bugs

  • Forgets AFV Audio settings. Livestreams sessions do not remember audio parameters. For instance, I want it to remember HDMI 3 audio in, have AFV off by default, and to have my webcam audio Off.
  • Forgets HDMI Program Out setting.
  • Forgets USBC Out
  • Forgets encoding settings and resets it to default 3000kbps. YouTube’s recommended rate is 4500, so I’d like YBP to remember that when it has been set.
  • Live stream event description is not automatically copied to the resulting Facebook post (just shows up on Facebook as DESCRIPTION)
  • Headphones have weird noise when scheduling a livestream on the white startup page

Feature Requests

  • #1 thing I want: integration with Companion, open up OSC control.
  • Assignable Inputs 1-99…. So that you can recall shows and map it to a console.
  • Add video conferencing platforms such as Zoom, Google Meet, and Skype. Use case: even in non-livestreaming productions, we often have to bring in remote clients to view a field shoot. Using a laptop is cumbersome on location.
  • Screen Capture & Auto Thumbnail update – I want to pull screen grabs from program feed and save to SD card as a PNG/ JPEG. I use this all the time on the ATEMs when setting up a YouTube livestream – I’ll grab a still, and upload the image to be the program thumbnail. It would be amazing if Yolobox could automate this – with the option to update the livestream Thumbnail, and to save the image to SD card.
  • Would like click and drag to arrange menu Icons in order of priority.
  • Would like to be able to filter comments by platform source (currently available), but also all platform comments aggregated by time – so that you don’t miss a comment on a different platform.
  • When in the “Full Screen” view of the monitor, would like to be able to view and select comments for on-air display as a screen overlay.
  • FTP access… i.e. use a laptop to load a video into the SD card via the network, or copy off a program recording without having to eject the SD card.

“Invite Guests” Feature

YoloBox’s ability to invite guests on to a livestream shows a lot of promise. These are a few findings after using it live:

  • Need a field in the web browser for guests to enter their name when they join. Currently they just show up as “GUEST42” etc. If the host doesn’t know their name (ie, a drop-in show) then there’s no way to differentiate between the “Guests”.
  • If a guest drops off, the whole screen (even if the guest was part of a 2-UP/3-UP composite) goes black. Need to retain local HDMI source active in a 2UP, or have a default HDMI source to automatically switch back to.
  • Need a more intuitive 2UP/3UP/4UP/5UP/6UP layout if a solo presenter/streamer is going to use the feature. Takes too long while on air to build composite shots.
  • 8/12/2022: Experienced the whole YoloBox Pro crashing mid-livestream while trying to bring a composite of a Guest on screen. Need an intuitive recovery mode, since when re-entering the session, the “stop livestream” button was active, even though it was no longer streaming. Without wanting to close out the session and lose the audience currently watching on YouTube and Facebook, I was able to “pause” the livestream (rather than “Stop”), and then restart it again. Took two goes at this before it started streaming to Facebook again.
  • Guest invite list – would like to remember contacts in Most Recent address book – perhaps even sync to Google Contacts.

Comments

Do you have any input on your own experience with the YoloBox Pro? Comment below!

CompanionPi

Companion on a Raspberry Pi 4

When you run Companion on a dedicated piece of hardware like a Raspberry Pi 4, it ensures the central control of your live streaming production is “always on”. Your laptop is freed up to be disconnected/reconnected from the network as needed, and Companion will continue to operate unhindered.

This article will show you how to install a simple “headless” setup of Companion. Headless means the Pi will operate as a server on the network, without a display, keyboard, or mouse. You already have those peripherals on your desktop anyway! So this solution will take up minimal space with low power consumption.

We can then connect a Stream Deck to the Pi via USB for tactile control at your fingertips. And we can still very easily access Companion’s button settings from a laptop web browser, connected to the same router via ethernet or WiFi.

 

Livestream August 16, 11AM EST

 

Install

Run CompanionPi with minimal setup: power, Pi, and microSD card.

Hardware Requirements

  • Raspberry Pi 4 (4GB or 8GB) (Optional: protective case)
  • microSD card (32GB or greater capacity. Make sure you get the “A2” rating, such as the 64GB SanDisk Extreme PLUS)
  • 15W USB-C power supply (5v, 3A – example here)
  • Other hardware assumed to be in your setup:
    • A Mac or PC to set up the Pi (in these instructions, I will refer to Mac, but the same can be achieved on PC)
    • A router & ethernet switch

Download

 

Flash the microSD card

  • Insert the microSD card into your computer.
  • Use Raspberry Pi Imager to “flash” (copy) the entire CompanionPi Disk Image to the microSD card.
    • Operating System > Choose OS > scroll to bottom and select “Use custom” > then select the CompanionPi Disk Image you dowloaded previously
    • Storage > Choose Storage > choose the microSD card you inserted
    • Click “Write”
  • Eject the microSD card from your computer and insert it into your Raspberry Pi 4.

Connect the Raspberry Pi to the Network

  • Insert the flashed microSD card into the Pi
  • Connect the Pi to your router/switch via ethernet cable
  • Connect the Stream Deck to the Pi’s USB3 port (blue inner lining)
  • Connect USB-C power to the Pi
    • The first boot-up will take a bit longer, and the Stream Deck screen will flash a few times
    • The Pi has fully booted up when it displays Companion’s blank “Page 1” buttons

A “headless” CompanionPi, without keyboard or monitor.

Configure the Raspberry Pi Settings via Computer

Use the Terminal Application on a computer that is connected to the same router as the Pi.

Log into the Pi:

ssh pi@companionpi.local

(unless changed, the default password is: raspberry)

Find the Raspberry Pi’s IP Address:

ip r

Make a note of this IP address!

Configure the Pi:

sudo raspi-config

This will open up a graphical settings menu, which is easy to navigate with arrow keys and Enter:

Use the command “ip r” to reveal the Raspbery Pi’s IP Address

  • Set a Secure Password
    • 1 System Options
      • S3 Password
        • Change the password for the user “Pi”
          • <set a secure password>
          • (make a note of this password as you will need to use it next time you ssh back into the Pi)
  • Set the Country
    • 5 Localisation Options
      • L1 Locale – set your location
      • L2 Timezone – set your timezone
      • L3 Keyboard – match your keyboard layout (optional)
      • L4 WLAN Country – set legal wireless channels for your country

 

Access Companion’s Web Interface

Now that you have CompanionPi up and running, you will access and build your button layouts via your computer that is connected to the same network as the Pi.

Remember the Raspberry Pi’s IP Address you made note of in the previous step? Open a web browser and type that in, and append the port number “8000”.

For instance, mine was:

192.168.8.232:8000

And that’s it! Enjoy the extensive control of your live productions!

 

Update CompanionPi

If a new version of Companion becomes available, you can update easily, without having to go through flashing the image process.

Open the Terminal Application on your computer and type the following:

ssh pi@companionpi.local   (hopefully you changed the password by now, otherwise the default password is: raspberry)

Once you have logged into the Pi, type the following command to run the update:

sudo companion-update

 

Tips

  • Make sure the Stream Deck is plugged in before you power on the Pi. If the USB connection is disconnected, cycle the Pi’s power to reboot the Pi, since CompanionPi will search for Stream Decks on startup.
  • Add a button to Companion with the variable text $(internal:all_ip) to show all IP addresses available. That way, if you ever move the CompanionPi to a different network (ie between the studio and a location shoot), you will be able to see at a glance what IP address has been assigned to the Pi on the new network, without having to connect a laptop to ssh in to check.
  • Once you have CompanionPi up and running on your network, use Companion Satellite to connect a Stream Deck to any other computer. That way you can maintain a single Companion installation from a distance.
    • For instance, say you have CompanionPi running permanently in a rack. Then you connect your laptop over Wifi, and a Stream Deck to that laptop. Using Companion Satellite, you’ll enter CompanionPi’s IP Address to operate your production remotely (because you like coffee breaks from the outdoor sofa).

Install DJF Companion Profile on a Mac

Running Companion is one of those “easy when you know how” things. This article will show you how. Easy!

Companion also runs on Windows and Pi. This article will focus on a Mac installation.

There are 6 Segments we will dive into below:

  1. Companion 2.2.1
  2. Blackmagic Switcher Software 8.7.1
  3. Stream Deck 5.2.1
  4. VLC 3.0.17.3
  5. VICREO 5.0
  6. H2R Graphics 2.8

 

** UPDATED JUNE 1, 2022 **

1. COMPANION (2.2.1)

Download Companion:

    • The DJF Companion Profiles require running Companion 2.2.0 or later to support the most up-to-date features and modules.
    • You will not be able to operate or install this profile using Companion 2.1.3.

 

Open Companion

    • Companion’s Web Server icon will be in the top-right menu bar. Click it to open the tray.
    • Check the server is running locally on 127.0.0.1 (easiest setup).
    • Set the Port to 8000 (or 8888)
    • Launch GUI in a web browser.

Install the DJF Companion Profile

    • Navigate tabs to Buttons > Import/Export.
    • If you already have your own custom Companion setup, click “Export” to save a backup of your profile first!

 

  • Replace Current Configuration (recommended)
    • Select Import. Choose the DJF Companion Profile file (ends with “.companionconfig”)
    • Select “Replace current configuration”.
      • **Note that this will wipe all existing Companion pages, so make sure you’ve backed up any essential work first!

  • Individual page import (not recommended)
    • Note that the DJF Companion Profile pages are heavily inter-connected, hence it is recommended to “replace current configuration”. While you can copy and paste buttons quite easily after the initial “replace current configuration”, importing individual pages will require manually updating the Page-jump actions, plus you must be careful to target the correct instance label of a module when importing.
    • If you still wish to import individual pages, note that there are also several “backend” service pages need to be imported to very specific pages to maintain integrity:

 

        • Backend service pages for v3.1:
          • Extreme………..Pages 55, 56, 57, 58
          • Pro………………Pages 83, 84
          • PTZ……………..Pages 86, 87
        • Backend service pages for v2.5:
          • Pro………………Pages 22, 23

 

    • Once those backend pages have been imported to their specific page numbers, you can import individual pages to any other Companion page.
      • If dealing with a dual profile that contains both Extreme and Pro, make sure you target the correct instance (i.e. “ext-atem” and “pro-atem” are completely different implementations of the same ATEM Module).
      • Note that any Menu or Page-jump buttons will need to have their action “Set surface with s/n to…” updated manually.
    • For example, if you wanted to import the Extreme’s VLC page:
      • Import DJF Companion Profile Pages 55, 56, 57, 58 to their respective Pages, 55, 56, 57, 58 in your Companion profile.
      • Import the Extreme VLC (Page 30) to whatever blank page you have available in your configuration.
      • Update the Page-jump button actions (ie VLC’s Button #1) to target your configuration layout.

 

Set ATEM Module’s Target IP Address

    • Under the Connections tab, click “Edit” for the “atem Blackmagic Design” module. Update the Target IP to the IP address for your ATEM Mini/Pro/ISO, and for your ATEM Mini Extreme/ISO if running dual systems.
      • **Note: it is recommended to keep the instance labels the way they are (i.e. “ext-atem” and “pro-atem” etc.) Changing the instance label names will update most – but not all – variable names, and will leave some button text (i.e. the BLK button) unable to find the new name.
      • **Note: you can find the ATEM IP using BlackMagic’s “ATEM Setup Software”. Setting a static IP address is recommended.
    • All other modules (VLC, H2R, VICREO, OSC) are pre-set to local 127.0.0.1 and don’t need to be changed.

Set the Home Page

    • Under the Surfaces tab, click the green “Settings” button for the “Elgato Streamdeck Plugin” (or the actual Stream Deck serial number, if running Companion solo).

 

        • Slide the Page number for your specific profile’s HOME PAGE
          • DJF PROFILE v3.1
            • 32-button Extreme…………………..PAGE 1
            • 32-button Pro…………………………PAGE 66
            • PTZ……………………………………..PAGE 88
            • Vertical Pro…………………………….PAGE 96
            • Vertical Extreme……………………..PAGE 98
          • DJF PROFILE v2.5
            • 32-button Pro…………………………PAGE 1
            • 15-button Pro…………………………PAGE 31
            • Vertical Pro…………………………….PAGE 71

Make Changes to Companion’s Settings

    • “Remove the Topbar on all buttons”:
      • Go to Companion > Settings > Navigation Buttons > “Remove the topbar on each button” > SELECT “Enabled”.
      • **Note that the PNGs and text layout on the DJF Companion Profile buttons have been designed for the full 72 x 72px.m The buttons will look squished unless you remove the topbar.
    • “Enable OSC”:
      • Go to Companion > Settings > OSC > SELECT “Enabled”.
      • Set the OSC Listen Port to “12321”.

Troubleshooting:

    • If your Stream Deck is plugged in but the Companion buttons are not showing up, go to Companion’s “Surfaces” tab, and click “Rescan USB”
    • If you’d like to run this without a the actual Stream Deck hardware (i.e. use it on a computer or tablet instead), click on “Emulator” in the top left corner. Locally, the address will be http://127.0.0.1:8000/emulator
    • If there’s a conflict while running Elgato Stream Deck’s native software simultaneously with Companion, quit both applications.
      • Then try opening Elgato’s Stream Deck software first;
      • then starting the Companion server secondly.
        • (Make sure the Companion Plugin within the native Elgato Stream Deck app has been installed – see “Stream Deck” installation instructions below).
    • **Note: The DJF Companion Profiles require running Companion 2.2.0 to support the most up-to-date features and modules. Some functions will be missing if you try to operate the profile using Companion 2.1.3.
Read More

ATEM MINI PRO RIG

Compact, portable, mountable. Fully self-contained power, networking, and monitoring.

Save time and space when you arrive on set with a self-contained ATEM Mini Pro / ISO rig. Don’t bother updating network settings as you move between the office, home, and location with a built-in router. A single V-mount battery or AC adapter powers the whole system and eliminates cable clutter. Mount it on a tripod, or place it on a desk. Save footprint and cable runs by stacking laptops, mixers, cameras, or autocue on to the rig itself.

This ATEM Mini Pro / ISO rig was designed almost entirely using off-the-shelf, universal video production parts. 15-mm rods, rail blocks, NATO clamps, and 1/4-20 cheeseboards makes it highly customizable with existing production production equipment. Plus, when you out-grow your ATEM Mini, there’s no wastage since all these parts can be re-purposed in other kits, such as camera rigging.

 

Read More

Free DJF Companion Switcher Profiles

Welcome!

These downloads are standalone switcher pages. Test out your network configurations and Companion modules (ATEM, VLC, H2R, VICREO) for switching, graphics, video playback, and slide control. Import it into a new or existing Companion configuration to easily add network control of an ATEM switcher.

If you want to extend your capability, check out the full-featured v3.0 profiles for both ATEM Mini Pro and Extreme below.

And please do join the mailing list to keep track of my Companion updates as well as production tutorials!

It’s an awesome portable Switcher page that’s easy to import to any Companion profile! 🙂

Note that the v2.0 DJF Companion Profiles mentioned in my 2021 YouTube Companion tutorial videos have been superseded by these free trials of the Home Page v3.0 (below). The download does not include the native Stream Deck application profiles or the ATEM Macros that are found in the full v3.0 package.




Get Companion release updates!

FREE 1-PAGE SWITCHERS

A MORE POWERFUL
ATEM MINI PRO & EXTREME

The DJF Companion Profiles below are recommended for use with an Elgato Stream Deck XL, Regular, or Mobile app for best user experience.

The layouts also run without Stream Deck by using a web browser on a computer, tablet, or mobile.

FULL-FEATURED DJF COMPANION PROFILES v3.0

SEE ALL PROFILE CONFIGURATIONS

Photography Tutorial: Sunset self-portraits using off-camera fill-flash

Getting creative with random kids in Bali… I found myself alone on the west coast of Bali with time to kill. If you’ve been to the island, you will know that every single sunset is spectacular: vibrant, detailed, textured. I have a camera & an off-camera flash… time to play!

caption

Exposing for the sky at sunset will make your foreground subjects silhouette

Silhouettes are great. Their shapes can be simple and distinct, and allowing your subject to go completely dark to expose for the sunset means the colors will remain rich and saturated. You’ll retain the details in the sky and present a more accurate mood. However, if you want to get the detail of the person in the foreground, you can either create a HDR image with multiple photos, or, use a flash to fill in your shadows.

The light was changing rapidly and a local crowd gathered to watch me muck around with a number of setups. This kid (top) wandered into my frame, so I picked him up to use him as a prop! This photo would be a silhouette if not for the flash, so if you’re interested, here’s how you would accomplish a shot like this:

  1. Set your camera to manual exposure, and place it on a tripod. Make sure you are shooting RAW instead of JPEG so you have maximum latitude in this high contrast setting.
  2. Adjust your ISO, aperture, and shutter speed until you have a correct exposure for the sunset. My settings here happen to be ISO400, f8, 4sec.
  3. I’ve set the focus manually to a spot I marked in the sand, and f8 will keep the image sharp so I have a little latitude to move around.
  4. Place your flash to the left or right of camera to get more shapely shadows. You’ll need a wireless trigger on your camera to trip the off-camera flash. Put your flash in manual mode, and test out how much power output you need to expose the subject.
  5. I have a remote shutter trigger in my right hand on a 2 sec delay. This allowed me time to pick up the kid before the camera fired.
  6. Because the burst of the flash is so instantaneous, the kid and I are sharp even though we’re moving. The black shadow beneath me is the trail of my silhouette over the remaining 4 seconds the shutter was open to expose for the sky – basically me putting the bewildered little guy back on the sand and returning him to his mother.

I’ll write another post soon about how to shoot a similar setup during daylight, as there are some basic principles you can follow to get your settings in the ballpark before fine tuning for the particular environment.

To finish off, here is the actual image I was going for… something I could use on a website to illustrate a photographer in action in a dramatic location (despite that – if you know anything about speedlites – I’m “adjusting” the wrong side of the panel, and, really, you should never look into a firing strobe in the first place….). But it pictoralizes a “behind-the-scenes” nonetheless.

Setting a speedlite to manual power to compensate for an exposure set for the sunset

“Crushed” Feature Film Shoot

This week I’m shooting set photos for my fellow AFTRS alumni Megan Riakos on her debut feature film Crushed. It’s also starring one of my best friends Sarah Bishop!

Our set is a vineyard in Mudgee, with DP Mike Steel at the helm, another friend who has shot one of my own films.

Good to be back out in the country side. There are fires casting a smoke haze over the whole region though, giving the sunset an extra red glow.

And as the sun comes up over the vineyard, that’s a wrap on Crushed!!

Crushed Cast and Crew

Check it out on Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1eIV0HQ

Ava DuVernay: What do you want?

I love this advice from filmmaker Ava DuVernay at the 2013 Film Independent Forum. The last question put to her was: “Should we keep making 50K films, even if they don’t launch us to Sundance?” To which Ava replies, “the question is, what do you want?”

Why are you doing what you’re doing? Why do you make films? What does success in filmmaking look like to you?