One Button Studio

What is a One Button Studio?

A one button studio is a room configured for easy self-service video recording. A user (often a college professor or student) brings a USB drive into the studio, plugs it into a port, and pushes a single button to begin recording. The user conducts their presentation and then pushes a button to stop recording. Then they remove the USB drive with the video saved on it. It's that simple. The overall goal is to make the recording process as easy as possible. Many one button studios include a Revolution Lightboard, but of course this approach is beneficial for many types of videos. 

The back end of a one button studio includes a video camera, microphone, studio lighting, and a recording device that saves video to a drive plugged into its USB port. That device should have an easy to use interface (ideally “one button”) to start/stop the recording and it should perform a few behind-the-scenes functions to save the video onto the drive in a common, efficient file format (mp4 with H.264 encoding). Some OBS systems are configured to automatically turn on and off studio lighting as well. 

OBS set-ups are common at colleges and universities where the need for recording video content is well established and technical support staff is often limited.

The Origin: Penn State University's One Button Studio

The one button studio concept was founded at Penn State. PSU faculty and students created a free app that runs on the MacOS platform. They chose to share with their peers, so others could ultimately benefit as well. Read more at https://library.educause.edu/~/media/files/library/2016/5/eli7132.pdf

The PSU approach utilizes a Mac computer running the OBS app. Once a USB “record” button is pressed by the user, the app counts down from 5 seconds and then begins recording. The app displays what is being recorded back to the user via a monitor connected to the Mac. To automate studio lighting, the app is configured to optionally work with Indigo Home Control Software, which must be purchased. Some bugs have been reported with connecting current versions of Mac OS, Indigo software, and Blackmagic software required for the capture device. To assist DIY builders, an extensive equipment list and a 39 page setup guide have been published, along with workarounds for some of the known issues. 

Many Revolution Lightboard customers have configured recording studios using the open source OBS plans published by Penn State. The total dollar value to purchase the one button studio components, including a basic video camera is around $5200 plus setup and configuration time. If you are interested in learning more, all of the details of the Penn State System can be found here.

Magewell One Button Recorder

The Magewell One Button Recorder (OBR) records video directly to a USB drive to streamline a self-service recording studio and it delivers this functionality at an incredibly reasonable price. It does not offer functionality to control power for studio lights, though users often comment that a traditional light switch is acceptable for that function. 

Encapsulated in a single unit, the OBR ingests HDMI signals up to 4k60 and can be recorded up to 1080p60. The OBR also completes the file-efficient H.264 encoding before saving to the USB drive. Add this device to any of our video camera-based studio packages to allow self-service recording ability. Here is a video introducing the One Button Recorder.

 

We discuss the OBR in the below video:

Extron Studio Station

Extron makes a wide range of robust A/V equipment which can be found in many universities, including the University of Iowa. From those individuals looking for a more integrated option when purchasing one button studio materials, the Extron Studio Station was designed to offer the video recording and lighting control functions of the Penn State OBS approach in an easy to deploy commercial solution built with robust hardware.  The Studio Station is a standalone solution; it does not require an additional computer. It consists of three main components - the Studio Station module itself that does the capture and encoding; an AC Power/Device controller to trigger power to the lights and camera; and a remote control panel that serves as the user interface for USB drive insertion and start/stop. Find more details for this system here. Revolution Lightboards is an Extron partner. Contact us for more details and pricing on this system.

 

Final Thoughts/Recommendations:

  • Recording studio planning should start with a discussion of key stakeholders to identify must-have, nice-to-have, and frivolous features before starting the purchase of a one button studio.
  • Often, self-service recording is the priority. Lighting automation is excessive for many users and could be managed satisfactorily by more conventional methods - a light switch on the wall that controls ambient lights and one that turns on all studio equipment, including studio lighting.
  • The Magewell One Button Recorder delivers the critical recording functionality in a simple, low cost package that is ready to use out of the box.
  • There are some limitations/missing links to PSU’s app and setup which have caused some schools to migrate away from that approach. 
  • Extron offers a robust commercial grade solution for one touch recording and automated power control for lighting and other equipment. 

 

Discussion questions for your team:

  1. Who is the intended user group of the studio?
  2. Will the recording studio be staffed or does it need to be a simple-to-use system for self-service?
  3. Do you have a need to live stream lightboard presentations or image overlays while presenting?
  4. What type of presentations will users be recording? 
    1. Spoken presentation only
    2. 2-person interviews
    3. Lightboard Presentations
    4. Presenting while referencing a computer monitor on the wall
    5. Picture-in-picture PowerPoint presentation
    6. What background do you want? Is a simple solid color like black or gray sufficient or do you want a green screen to insert other graphics?

 

Have your answers to the above questions ready to go or want to get more input on your application? Reach out to us at info@revolutionlightboards.com or call us at (563) 949-1160 to talk through your plans or learn more about the solutions discussed on this page!

 

Here is a small sample of the many colleges using some version of a One Button recording system:

Penn State University

University of Iowa

Drury University

Helena College

Northwestern University

University of Nebraska

The University of Western Australia

University of Montana

Texas A&M University

Ohio State University

Abilene Christian University

University of Findlay

Wayne State University

Lehigh University

University of Cape Town