High End Cameras and Adobe Connect

January 6, 2015

For some time I have been looking at ways to expand the use of high end video cameras with Adobe Connect. There are many reasons to consider higher end cameras not the least of which are optics, sensor size and quality, features, etc… If you need convincing the following should help.

Megapixel vs Sensor Size

Camera sensor size: Why does it matter and exactly how big are they?

I was recently given an opportunity to test the Matrox MX02 Mini and jumped at the chance.

box_800

 

What better way to test it than with my Canon 5D Mark III.  I have really enjoyed using this camera for both stills as well as video.

matrox with blur_HDR3_400

The Matrox MX02 mini gave me the opportunity to see how the Canon camera and Adobe Connect would  work together.  The initial setup was fairly easy. I requested the model that came with a ExpressCard/34 adapter so that I could use my laptop.  On a slightly humorous note my laptop only has a full size ExpressCard slot so a little adjustment was required.

cardboard_adaptor_400

It turns out that cardboard like duct tape has many uses. This was obviously not a short coming of the MX02 Mini but none the less easily overcome.  I decided to use the HDMI input for the test.  The Canon 5D Mark III requires a mini HDMI connector.  I thought I had every adapter made but it turns out a mini HDMI was not one of them, a quick trip to Fry’s fixed that problem.

Matrox AppsThere is software to install for this setup to work.  The installation was easy and included a number of applications. With that said in the end the only software I used was the Matrox USB Webcam Emulator utility.  As you might expect this utility allows the MX02 Mini to appear to the PC as if it were a webcam, making it easy to use with Adobe Connect.   There are five popup boxes in the USB Webcam Emulator: Video Input Format, Video Input Source, Audio Input Source, Video Frame Size and Video Frame Rate. The first three, as expected, have to do with the video device you have connected to the MX02 Mini and the last two have to do with the video output from the MX02 Mini.

Matrox Prefs

I set the output on the Canon camera to 1920 @30 fps (frames per second) IPB. In the Matrox USB Webcam Emulator I set the Video Input Format to 1080@29.97 fps. Since I used HDMI I set the Video Input Source to HDMI and the Audio Input Source to HDMI Channel 1-2. I did not test the RCA left and right for audio input source.

Adobe Connect supports six input resolutions, three for a 4:3 aspect ratio and three for 16:9 aspect ratio. The 4:3 resolutions are: 160×120, 320×240 and 640×480. The 16:9 resolutions are: 214×120, 427×240 and 854×480. Choose the Video Frame Size (video output resolution) that is closest to one of the supported Connect resolutions. For instance the MX02 Mini does not have 427×240 but it does have 424×240. The same is true for 854×480 but it does support 852×480. If you need to change the input or output parameters you may have to restart the Connect meeting/seminar room in order for the settings to take effect. Luckily this is a simple matter with Adobe Connect, simply refresh the browser tab that was used to launch the meeting/seminar room.

Make sure that you have the correct settings in Adobe Connect to match your settings in the Matrox USB Webcam Emulator. As stated previously Adobe Connect supports the following video input resolutions:

4:3 aspect ratio: 160×120, 320×240, 640×480
16:9 aspect ratio: 214×120, 427×240, 854×480

Notice that in the Connect video preference settings of your meeting room there is a slider with four steps (settings).

Video_Quality_Slider

Each of the slider steps corresponds to a particular resolution, frame rate and compression amount.  At this point we are only concerned about resolution.  The following shows the resolution for both the 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratio for each setting on the slider from right to left (highest being on the far right of the slider).

 Quality  Resolution (4:3 )  Resolution (16:9 )
 High  640×480  854×480
 Standard  320×240  427×240
 Medium  320×240  427×240
 Low  160×120  214×120

As an example, if your output (Video Frame Size) on the Matrox USB Webcam Emulator was set to 852×480 you would want to use the following settings for the video preferences in the Adobe Connect meeting/seminar room.

ConnectVideoPreferences_664

 

I found the Matrox MX02 Mini, Canon 5D Mark III and Adobe Connect to be a great combination.


Adobe Connect Mobile 2.1 Available on iTunes and Google Play

May 14, 2013

Mobile continues to be a keep element in Adobe Connect’s success. The new release has some fantastic new features beyond the already fantastic features available in the previous version.

Key new features / enhancements include the following:

  • Deliver, interact with, and track Adobe Presenter training content in virtual classrooms, supporting multiple choice, true/false, and matching questions
  • View meeting background imagery for personalization and branding
  • View two live webcams (user and another attendee), and unlimited paused webcams, simultaneously
  • Integrated conference call audio details are included in invitations sent from within the mobile meeting app (excludes iPhone, limited to NA prefixes)
  • Improved login workflow (clicking on meeting link will go directly to Mobile client and retain the URL, or direct you to app store to get the app if necessary)

You can find additional information on the Adobe Connect blog.  You can see the new client in action in this video available on our YouTube channel here.  Be sure to download the new app from iTunes or Google Play stores as soon as you can!


Camera Test

May 8, 2013

On several occasions I have had discussions with individuals regarding camera quality. There are two elements regarding quality, subjective and objective quality.  Obviously each individual can look at the image produced and make up there own mind. In some cases it is helpful to have some objective data to help elucidate the individuals assumptions. To that end I posted a simple test.

Simply choose a typical resolution and click the test button. The video that you see show up in the application is not to scale, it is 1/3 scale. The key element is the frame per second metric and the capture size. Not all cameras will support all of these resolutions so you may notice that the capture size is not the same as the resolution that you selected.

 

Capture


Firefox

November 5, 2012

Well after years of being a firefox user I am switching. I have had enough of the crashing and updates. I have run chrome for some time as a secondary browser and it is much more stable. I know there is a Flash plugin issue but it is easily fixed.

 

Disable the PPAPI Flash plug-in and enable the NPAPI Flash plug-in in Chrome as follows:

1.    Type chrome://plugins in browser tab (Figure 1).

2.    Expand Details in the upper-right area of the screen if needed.

3.    Click Disable for the PPAPI (out-of-process) Flash plug-in Type.

4.    Check if there is at least one NPAPI Flash plug-in listed below the PPAPI Flash plug-in. If it is, make sure at least one NPAPI Flash plug-in is enabled. Then make sure to refresh the Connect meeting client tab in the browser.

5.    If no NPAPI Flash plug-in is listed, then it needs to be installed from get.adobe.com/flashplayer . After installing it, make sure to refresh the Connect meeting client tab in the Chrome browser.

 

Thats about it. This issue should be resolved early in 2013. You might want to wait for that update but for me I am moving now.

 


Adobe Connect Connection Test

September 17, 2012

I have had numerous requests for a connection test that allows a user to enter the specific server they are trying to connect to as oppose to a generic test that tests port and protocol access to an external server. I created a simple application that does just that, allows a user to enter a connection string to a server they are attempting to access. You may ask, how would they get the connection string? If they are having issues someone will need to send them the connection string (i.e. email, IM, etc…). This could also be used to test connectivity to a new on premise server. So how do you find a connection string to an Adobe Connect Meeting? Simply have someone launch a meeting, hold down the shift key and select “About Adobe Connect” from the “Help” menu.

Find an Adobe Connect Meeting connection string.

Find an Adobe Connect Meeting connection string.

If you were holding the shift key you would then see the following dialog box.

Adobe Connect Meeting connection string

Adobe Connect Meeting connection string

Copy the text, notice that it starts with rtmp. Open the connection test application and paste the text as seen in the following:

Adobe Connect connection test application

Adobe Connect connection test application

 

Notice that there are three separate and successful tests. Adobe Connect can make connections using variations of the rtmp protocol as well as use different ports. It is a good idea to test using rtmp, rtmps (rtmp over SSL) at a minimum. It is a simple matter to change the first reference to rtmp to rtmps and to change the first reference to port 1935 to port 443.  As an example the following string will test a connection to the server using rtmp over port 1935:

rtmp://arzbs8.adobeconnect.com:1935/?rtmp://pcparapg06:8506/meetingbs3app/545995061/679960997/

The following connection string to the same server will test a connection using rtmps over port 443:

rtmps://arzbs8.adobeconnect.com:443/?rtmp://pcparapg06:8506/meetingbs3app/545995061/679960997/

This application has not been extensively tested and is provided as is with not warranty or support.

So how do you get the application? Simply fill out the registration at the following link. Once I approve the registration you will receive an email with a link to download the application.

Registration

I hope you find it useful.

 

 

 

 

 


Adobe Connect Extended Characters

August 13, 2012

I threw together a simple tool that enables a user to simply access diacritical marks in an Adobe Connect meeting. I intend sync capability to this in the near future but for now it will allow you to see and enter diacritical marks and then cut and past them into a whiteboard or note pad. Download
Simple Virtual Keyboard for Adobe Connect

Easy access to extended characters.

Seeing Outside the Box

November 15, 2011

There is a saying that I frequently use, “every thing is easy as long as you know how”. I am not sure where I heard it but it makes a lot of sense. There is another saying that fits nicely with the first, “when you are a hammer every problem looks like a nail”. Ok enough with the sayings but just think about those two saying for a minute and you will see the problem with most training on the web today.

Many subject matter experts will come at the subject that they understand in the same way and dismiss confusion as stupidity because they are too close to the subject. They have very good reasons for this approach, reasons that they can for the most part articulate. The problem is that for the most part they do not have the ability to see the issue, subject or problem from another persons perspective.

Another problem that I see all the time is that if I know how to create documentation I end up taking the same approach for training. This is a common approach to nearly all tasks and that is the reason that the first cars look like horse drawn carriages. That is what the designer understood.

The word visionary means something different to me than the popular or widely accepted definition. When I think of a visionary I think of someone with the ability to see or imagine from another persons perspective. I am not sure if that is the correct way to express that idea but it is important enough to try again. If I can under stand a customers concerns, needs, requirements, etc… that would make me a visionary.  All to often you will find a visionary that has the ability to see an issue from one perspective but not another. For instance you might find a visionary that understands a developers concerns, interests and issues but has no clue what a marketing manager needs or requires. This problem is compounded by timing (fiscal quarters, delivery schedules, etc…). I can hear the response now, “I do not have time to make the changes to this training, our delivery date is next week”.

To sum up this short rant, please do not point to reorganized documentation and call it training.

 

 


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