Zoom Cooking Classes
Things I Use & Recommend for Your Zoom Cooking Classes
- Make sure you’re running the latest version of Zoom. They publish updates periodically so make sure to launch prior to class to install the update. Don't try to do this right before class, it takes several minutes.
- Reboot your computer prior to the session. Then run only the Zoom application prior to the event. I generally start Zoom 15-30 minutes prior to class to check everything
- Close email and any other apps that send notifications or pop-ups
- Test your audio and video!
- Test your screenshare, if using
- If showing a video via screenshare, make sure to click in using computer sounds and optimize video!
- Practice screensharing the video a few seconds to make sure it’s working
- Use the Waiting Room feature to control when people enter your class and not in the midst of your set-up or testing!
- Use the resources and free classes on Zoom's website, they are invaluable!
This computer turns into a tablet, detaching from the keyboard. Makes it really easy to mount in a tripod.
I use a docking station to power my tablet when disconnected from the computer keyboard and it has multiple USB outlets for my external keyboard/mouse, speaker/mic splitter, overhead camera. It also has CAT5 outlet for hardwiring to network.
Tablet Tripod Bracket
It was the only one in stock at the time on Amazon so I went with it and really like it. Very sturdy, easy to use and adjust. This screws onto a regular camera tripod.
Laptop Tripod Stand Option
If you only have a laptop, you can do the same thing with a laptop stand! I’ve never used this but it has good reviews on Amazon and is inexpensive.
Use tripod lighting to illuminate your face and work area from the front, not overhead. This will prevent shadows.
I use tripod umbrella lights. The ones below are not exactly what I use, as I got mine from a neighbor who was giving them away and I don’t know what brand they are. I use two to get adequate light distribution. The umbrellas are great for diffusing the light and preventing hot spots.
I also have a ring light right in front of me on a selfie stick that I attach to my camera mount with a dual head grip (see overhead boom section below).
I know people worry about being corded during a cooking class, but your video and sound quality will be leaps and bounds ahead of those using Bluetooth sound devices. Wireless devices will degrade your Zoom for the viewer. You can get long cords, secure them to your apron/clothing, and manage them just fine. You aren't moving too far out of the camera view anyway.
USB Microphone and Headphone Adapter
My Surface Pro doesn’t have headphone or microphone ports on it and neither does my docking station, so I use a USB adapter. It came with my lapel mic, but you can buy it separately if you already have a lapel mic.
If you use a switcher (see below), you don't need this. You simply plug your microphone jack into input on the switcher.
A lapel (Lavalier) mic will be focused on what sound you want picked up (your voice), not an omni-directional mic in your computer which may pick up cooking sounds and amplify them, especially a spoon hitting the side of a bowl or pot. This lapel mic comes with a 20-foot long cord and the USB adapter noted above.
The style you use is completely up to you. They can be be wired or Bluetooth (they won't mess up your bandwidth).
You want headphones so:
- You don't get feedback from your mic picking up your computer speakers.
- You can hear viewer questions clearly while you are cooking.
I started out using webcams and then switched to cameras and a switch.
I used the same webcam for front and overhead. I love Logitec because they have an app to load onto your computer where you can finetune the setup of each webcam with settings for brightness, contrast, color, and how wide the field of view is. You can really customize things.
There are tripod booms out there. Here’s one but also the light stands and grip heads your can use to build your own with a selfie stick.
I now use two Sony ZV-E10 Mirrorless with 10-18mm Lens Vlog Cameras, one for front and one for overhead, instead of the webcams. This was recommended by my camera shop for what I'm doing. This gives better image quality and allows me to use a switch (see below) so I can use multiple cameras on platforms other than Zoom, such as Streamyard, that don't have a way to otherwise switch between cameras.
This is McGyvered out of several parts. A Kupo Articulated Arm is attached to the ceiling by a bracket with a bolt that screws into the end (I found the right size bolt at the hardware store). I can adjust this arm at four different places to bring the camera right where I want it to be.
On the camera end, I have a Manfrotto Super Clamp that clips onto a Zuma Screw Clamp with Ball Head attached that my camera mounts to. The Ball Head allows the camera to swivel for finer adjustments without having to loosen the articulated arm. Note, I cannot find the Ball Head I use on Amazon, but there is a combination Super Clamp/Ball Head that would work (in fact, I may get this as a replacement!).
I wanted to be able to quickly remove the camera from this and got a SmallRig Quick Release Clamp and Plate, but it's not my favorite and I may switch to something else. The lever on the screw to tighten runs into the base of the camera and is a pain to use.
The Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro HDMI Live Stream Switcher is great! Very easy to use and set up. You can live stream directly to many social media platforms or use it as the camera input on your computer through USB mini. You can connect up to 4 cameras, 2 microphones, and do all kinds of fades and effects.
The Switcher is necessary when you use cameras instead of webcams as cameras use HDMI connections, not USB. The Switch takes the HDMI input from your cameras and runs a single USB line to your computer. Then you can simply switch between cameras on the Switcher and the feed goes to your computer. It's slick!
I use a little USB wired keyboard that I keep to the side of my island to simply toggle between cameras while teaching. I put stickers on the ALT and N keys so I don’t have to search for the keys while I’m talking, I just know I use the keys with stickers on them!
I can also use shortcuts to turn off my audio and video, and most importantly, mute viewers if their mic is on and a dog starts barking in the background, etc. Here’s link to Zoom keyboard shortcuts for PC, Mac, Linux, and iOS.
I absolutely HATE the mouse touch pad on the folding keyboard, so I use a wireless mouse, which is so much easier and more efficient. You'll be using the mouse to spotlight and un-spotlight yourself, share the video, run polls, etc., so it's well worth having it. I like this one as it connects via Bluetooth, you can change the battery (most are coming without any way to change the battery and you have to throw them away when the battery dies—ludicrous!), and has an on/off switch so you can conserve battery power when not using.
USB Hub Splitter
If you don’t have a docking station, or if you run out of USB ports on your docking station to plug in the mic adapter, keyboard, wireless mouse, and cameras, you can get a splitter to give you more ports.
I use an induction burner on my island so I don’t have to cook with my back to the camera or have a second overhead camera. Mine is a Vollrath Mirage Cadet. I got this because:
- It's portable for when I do in-person classes
- Doesn’t have knobs sticking out that could get snapped off when moving it into my kitchen or to in-person classes
- Economical price with restaurant-quality equipment
- Quiet fan doesn’t get picked up on my lapel mic
If a magnet sticks to your pan or pot, it will work on the induction burner.
Consider a folding table outside view of the camera to set things on. You can keep appliances or serving dishes here and it’s a great place to put dirty dishes quickly.
I use baking sheets to organize supplies for each particular recipe on.
These are great for mise en place. I use various sizes, from 4-ounce (the size I use the most) to quart.
Over the Cabinet Door Towel Holder
Keeps the kitchen towel off the counter but still accessible.
Blue Painters Tape Marks the Spot
If you’re teaching these often, you can speed up your setup time if you mark the location of your tripod feet on the floor. This way you can quickly set back up without testing and testing and testing the lighting, camera distance, etc.
Where to Get Equipment
- Go through what you have and see how you can adapt it.
- Electronics or camera store
- Facebook Marketplace!! People are always selling used equipment
- Buy Nothing Project groups on Facebook
- Thrift store
- Restaurant supply store
Other Resource Categories
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