At my studio, Studio Deep Roots, we have two beloved dance and movement spaces. My classes have been primarily held in the Warehouse Studio, which is our larger space, and is also our performance space for haflas and music events. When COVID-19 closed down the studio, I quickly set up our live streaming classes in the smaller studio--The JewelBox--as it was easier to control environmental factors that would effect the quality of the stream and our comfort as instructors, such as light, sound, and heat.
Over many weeks of tweaking and fine-tuning the details, we were able to come up with both sound and visual quality for our classes that has been great. Students have reported our classes as some of the highest quality they have experienced in streaming classes--in presentation and content--and that is high praise indeed given the massive influx of opportunities they have right now. It made all the hard work worthwhile.
Bonus: it's plug n' play! So any teacher who comes to rent our space can--with a little tutorial on how to turn on the proper lighting--plug their laptop into the system and be able to stream their high quality dance classes from this space using this great equipment. Check it out.
The JewelBox is still good to go for live streaming (pictured). BUT, skip ahead to Phase 2 approaching in our area, and the possibility of holding hybrid classes. Our small studio would not accommodate more than a couple of students with social distancing; it's really only ideal right now for streaming from. It was time to get things set up in our larger studio. Which was an entirely different animal. High vaulted ceilings, less ability to control light sources, and needing to take future students in the room into account meant it was starting from scratch in some ways. But we're tweakin' it and getting there. This is the setup right now.
The Warehouse Studio
The view from in Zoom. A screencap from one of our class night Zoom feeds.
The setup looking toward the control center and television. I don't have all the lights on yet, but you can see how getting it across the room to the instructor, without making the whole room too bright, is an issue I have been working with. We've always loved the warm lighting in here, and I don't want future students in the room to feel they are under glaring lights all of a sudden. The TV occupies a space where an ottoman used to be, so it isn't taking up any student space for later.
My control center. I am waiting for shipment of a new cabinet, but this should all be able to tuck away more in the corner there, so the laptop cart is not blocking half the doorway.
Closer view of the control center sound system. I haven't spent too much time cleaning this up yet because I know a new cabinet is coming and will just have to be redone. The mixer at the back is the studio sound system that goes into the speakers only. The front mixer is the Zoom mixer, into which all the sound is fed and then split out as needed. On the left is the receiver for my lavalier mics.
View at the control center. I use my laptop camera as the welcome/chat camera. As students are checking in from the waiting room, this is where I greet them. It is also where we chat between and at the end of each class. the ring light makes me look fabulous on camera, BTW!
You can see the octopus of outputs on my USB hub hanging on the left there. It connects me to two cameras (the USB and the camcorder) mounted on the television, mirrors my laptop on the TV, and connects the mixer and sound inputs, all in one unit.
View from where I stand on camera, back toward the control center and front door.
View from the instructor's zone to the TV. This screen mirrors my laptop, which I put in Gallery View when the students are all logged in. The centrally mounted cameras help reinforce the feeling I am talking to them right here in the room with me. When I am talking and not specifically demonstrating, I stand a little closer to the camera as shown here.
View of the 50" TV when I am close to the mirror. I can see this screen and the students well enough while facing the mirror to know if they are on track, if they are wanting to ask a question, if there are any stragglers in the waiting room, and if there is a chat question popping up I should check in on. I am in Spotlight for them, and they can see my back and front by using the mirror.
So that's a tour of what the Warehouse Studio looks like right now. Unfortunately, we're stuck back in Phase 1.5 level restrictions in my county, so I'm still all alone in there when I'm teaching. But I'm far better equipped for when the time comes for us to be able to dance together in the same room AND online at the same time!
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Shay is the owner, director, and headmistress of Deep Roots Dance, Studio Deep Roots, and Deep Roots Live! Sharing the exciting and surreal journey into teaching online during the time of COVID-19, and the joys of staying connected to community when it seems the world is literally trying to keep us apart.