• SteveB

Update on my piano teaching setup

Updated: Dec 27, 2020

At the start of the pandemic, I looked at creating a good quality setup for teaching piano online. Nine months later, I've experimented with different approaches but have got a working setup that seems to do the trick.

  • I initially used OBS software to mix several camera sources, but have since moved to Ecammlive, paid software for Mac only, which is more suited to those with less technical knowledge. It also allows separate 'scenes' to be setup, enabling you to (for example) move between an overhead shot and the teacher's face.

  • I initially used EpocCam app to turn my iPhone into an overhead camera, but have since moved to Filmic Pro as I find it more reliable.

Overhead shot of the piano with a circular picture of the teacher's face
Overhead shot of the piano with a circular picture of the teacher's face

A screenshot of four different 'scenes' in EcammLive that allow camera switching
Ecamm 'scenes' that allow me to switch cameras

Here's a schematic of my latest setup (as I've just started to use a Mac Mini). To achieve the result in the first image above, I used a Macbook laptop in place of the Mac Mini, to show the teacher's face.

Note: you'll notice there is a hardware mixer, but also Loopback virtual microphone that also allows mixing. This is a personal choice: hardware mixers are good if you want tactile control over several sources. Virtual cabling software like Loopback allows you to create complex routing in software.

The main challenges in developing a piano teaching setup have been:

1) finding a good app to turn an iPhone into a pseudo webcam for overhead piano shot. I started with EpocCam but it wasn't reliable enough. Currently using Filmic Pro which is impressive. For 2021, I'd like to replace the iPhone app with a mirrorless camera to get an image that has less lag (when teaching, moving hands across the keys can appear laggy).

2) fixing problems with Virtual cameras, to ensure they work with Microsoft Teams on Mac. This has involved using terminal code, downloading older versions of Teams, and using the Canon webcam utility.

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