Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode #398

In the old days, streaming video was a novelty. Before the Covid-19 pandemic made video conferencing ubiquitous, many people had never even heard of a video conference.

Today, it seems everyone is using Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, or other services for both business and pleasure. Now that everyone is doing it, here are some free services you can use to make your live videos stand out.

Open Broadcaster Software (OBS)

Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) is a complete multi-camera video switcher/editor. With it, you can create virtually unlimited sources, including your computer screen, webcams, microphones, animated text, prerecorded video, still images, and more. Then, you can enable or disable any source at any time, add transitions between sources, add titles or captions, mix audio, and more.

OBS is a free video switcher and effects box for the Mac.

OBS is a free video switcher and effects box for the Mac.

There’s also a Multiview mode that lets you monitor up to 8 sources and switch between them with a click or a keystroke.

It’s not as polished as MIMO Live (which I wrote about last May), but it’s entirely usable, and you can’t beat the price—it’s free.

Descript

Descript combines video editing and transcription (voice-to-text) in a unique package that allows you to edit audio (voice) by editing text. It can also detect unnecessary utterances (ummm, errr, uh), allowing you to delete them with a single click.

Descript makes editing audio transcripts easier (and more fun).

Descript makes editing audio transcripts easier (and more fun).

It’s an interesting approach that’s easy to use. The free plan lets you record, edit, and mix audio and video and includes three hours of free transcription. After that, subscriptions are $12 a month (10 hours of free transcription a month) or $24 a month (30 hours of free transcription a month).

If you need to transcribe video quickly and inexpensively, Descript could be just the ticket.

Vidrio

Next, if you want your screen sharing sessions to stand out, check out Vidrio, which claims to make screen sharing “holographic.”

Holographic? Perhaps, but it's a cool effect.

Holographic? Perhaps, but it’s a cool effect.

I’m not sure it’s holographic, but it is a slick little trick that uses opacity to allow you to “blend” what’s on your screen with what your webcam sees in real-time.

It’s easy to use, works with Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and most other screen-sharing services, and is free during the COVID-19 crisis. If you want to impress your friends and coworkers with something they’re unlikely to have ever seen, give Vidrio a try.

The Room Rater

There is one more thing courtesy of my wife—the The Room Rater (@ratemyskyperoom) on Twitter. It’s just what it sounds like—a Twitter account that rates the rooms people are streaming from on a scale of 1 to 10.

Declutter is not a city in India. May need a storage unit. Less is more. 6/10

Great room. Great depth. Pillows. Art. Plant. It’s not cluttered. It’s interesting. 10/10

You can spend way too much time looking at Room Rater...

You can spend way too much time looking at Room Rater…

If you’re concerned about how you look when you stream video, Room Rater is a great place to discover what looks good (or bad) in other people’s live streams.

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