Worktank is helping executives around the globe transform their home offices into professional broadcasting and video conferencing studios with webcams, lights, headsets and peripherals designed for online gamers.
Each year, Worktank produces hundreds of virtual events and video broadcasts for companies across the globe, and helps thousands of executives look and sound their best. For many, that means helping to transform a home office into a professional broadcasting and video conferencing studio. The irony is that the best tools to achieve this aren’t marketed to executives, they’re designed for online gamers.
Choose Your Aisle Wisely
Walk into any big box electronic store and you’ll discover that the best gear for video conferencing and virtual broadcasting is located not in the office section, but the aisle designated for online gamers. Keyboards, mice, headsets, desktop lights, and even webcams with integrated ring lights (like Razer’s Kyro Pro) are designed and marketed for the online gamer, yet they’re ideal for anyone looking to set up a home studio for webcasting and virtual presenting.
The online gaming industry came alive long before the pandemic forced the workforce to a home studio, so in a sense, gear designed for gamers to broadcast on Twitch and YouTube had a head start in product development and marketing.
Compare gamer gear to peripherals designed for business productivity and you’ll find there’s a greater variety of affordable options – and it all comes lit up in neon pink, red and green, not just business black.
Gamer gear is also better.
Keyboards: The Right Touch
Let’s start with the basics: home studio peripherals. Standard-issue office keyboards and mice are uncomfortable and offer little feedback. While often expensive, gamer keyboards are far more versatile, comfortable, clicky, responsive, even fun, with LEDs to brighten up your desk. When you think about how much time we spend with a keyboard and mouse, proper ergonomics and a sense of play matter.
After testing about ten keyboard and mouse combinations, I found Logitech’s game-focused sub-brand G Series to be the best. The Logitech G Series G815 or the wireless G915 sibling are built to last, with hyper-responsive, clicky switches, fantastic programmable RGB-colored keys, and easy-to-punch media keys for controlling your meeting audio or playlist. While its responsiveness took a little getting used to, the Logitech G Series G502 Lightspeed mouse is light and fast, and will round out your central desk controls.
Other standouts include the fantastically nerdy company Glorious PC Gaming Race with its mechanical keyboards and precise tactile switches that allow you to obtain the exact feedback you want. Other companies like Razer (their premium Huntsman v2 Analog keyboard is tops), HyperX Gaming, SteelSeries, Roccat and Corsair make hundreds of awesome products with marketing to persuade you to stay within their ecosystem for keyboards, mice, headsets and webcams.
Our advice? Spend an hour in the gaming aisle at your local Best Buy, where most keyboards are on display for you to try. Also, don’t forget to pick up an extra-large mouse pad, like the Razer Strider, that spreads across your desk, feels good on your wrists, and lights up.
Check-Check Your Headset
As we call out in Building the Ultimate Desktop Studio, headsets aren’t for everyone, but if you’re willing to give one a try, online gaming manufacturers make all-in-one headsets with integrated mics, eliminating the need for separate mics and speaker combinations.
Bose markets its premium integrated QuietComfort 35 II Gaming Headset to the serious big-budget gamer, but we found Logitech G PRO X Wireless Lightspeed Gaming Headset to bring the premium feel, while being more budget-conscious. Logitech also offers super light on-ear integrated headsets – like the Logitech Zone 900 Noise-Canceling Wireless On-Ear Stereo Headset – that are well made, comfortable and less claustrophobic than an “over the ear” headset. And, if you choose wired over wireless versions, you’ll save a lot.
Lighting with a Twitch
Before the pandemic hit, companies like Elgato began offering lighting for online gamers to use while previewing and reviewing game titles for millions of followers on platforms like Twitch, and that put Elgato ahead of the curve in making affordable lights for virtual broadcasts and home studios. For $200, you can buy two Elgato Key Light Air lights that include adjustable stands for a small desktop footprint, and feature a desktop app that allows you to control light temperature from cool to warm. They’re also dimmable to help you match the light you need based on the time of day.
While Elgato faces little competition in this category, professional lighting manufacturers are stepping up home studio lighting in 2022. The Godox ES45 E-Sport LED Light Kit directly competes with Elgato and, for about the same price as the Key Light Air, Godox offers a high-quality light that bolts to your desk and takes up less space. It features similar lighting variations controlled via either an app or a nifty detachable remote.
Tying It All Together with Stream Deck
Another favorite gamer tool is Elgato’s Stream Deck, which is a master control to all the tools you employ in your home studio. I have to admit, I didn’t understand Stream Deck’s value until we installed it and realized that one little (highly-customizable) box helps control all facets of the home studio. From muting the microphone and controlling headset volume to turning on the key light, Stream Deck is a masterful way of centralizing most of your gadgets. Also, if you’re broadcasting from your home studio with multiple camera and audio inputs, Stream Deck ties in perfectly with broadcasting software like Open Broadcaster Software (OBS Studio) or vMix, allowing you to punch a key to change a shot or trigger a lower-third or graphic.
Look and Sound Your Best
At Worktank, we focus on producing dynamic, multi-faceted virtual event broadcasts for thousands of global viewers. While our broadcast facility is on a much higher level than a home studio, we recommend these tools to up your game, so that when we cut to you in a virtual broadcast, you look and sound your best.