Traveling with Electronics : Dreams of Streams 2020

“Dino, I had an epiphany…and I realized that an 

epiphany is somethin’ you should already know!.”

Mark Weber


On January 1st, 2020, I moved my newly constructed tiny house on wheels to the

rural four corners area for a self imposed period of reflection and spiritual retreat.

With no fiber optic network or WiFi at hand, the data plan on a newly acquired

smart phone was to be my only link with the outside world.



 Dreams of Streams in the Time of Distance Performing : Rehearsing : Teaching 

When the Covid-19 lock-down forced us into the surreal world of Zoom-Distancing

where performance, rehearsal and lesson became a hyphenated live-stream-event,

I started doing some research into the available tools one might need to navigate

the new normal. I reached out to a few good friends for feedback as to how they

were answering the questions that we all as performers are being forced to address.

Myra Melford, Miguel Frasconi and Mark Mosher each provided a wealth of insight

through their experience with the subject of live streaming.


This DinoBlog is the result of my research with as much information as I could

gather about the range of currently available options, the gear I decided to go with,

plus links to the best tutorials I could find. I hope you will find this information useful

in your research as we all respond to this telematic social construct.


The video component & the gear I went with

Every aspect of video production makes audio production look like a wooden flute

in terms of complexity & cost so the criteria for my search was based on 3 things : 


1- ease of interface with existing gear  

At this point in time even the simplest singer songwriter rig will have a mic, an

audio interface and a smart-phone which now must connect with any new gear

getting high-resolution multi-source external audio attached to the video (synced)

during capture is the biggest issue to be addressed.


2- simplest manifestation of widest range of possibility 

What is the minimum amount of new gear you will need to acquire, to capture

audio/video, in order to stream it live or to edit and construct content for later

upload with the most sophisticated results.


3- lowest entry fee 

What gear will give you the most bang for the least buck.  


Here is the list: Total cost around $500

(not including lighting and stand options for your unique situation)


Apps - phone or tablet $50 

This is actually enough to capture/stream or create/upload

using only your phone or tablet


$30 : video & audio editing, logo creation, text animation, effects, color grading

Lumafusion is another example of how much innovation is going on with tablets.

I am simply blown away by what you can do with it and by how easy it is to do it.

If you are looking to up your game with visuals this is the best place to begin.







Filmic Pro 

$15 :gives you access to all the controls of your phone’s camera & microphone





$5 : audio recorder, top & tail editor and librarian


Storage & Transfer

iXpand thumb-drive $25+ depending on size (lightning/usb)

micro SD card $25+ depending on size (for the Mevo)


Hardware $400

Mevo Start Live-Streaming Camera with built in SD recorder   

Controlled by your phone streams directly to any platform in 1080p, face tracking,

84 degree wide angle lens with up to 8 additional static zoom shots with 2 pan

speeds, six hour battery life, mems mic array & stereo external audio input)








At this point in time I feel the Mevo Start checks the most boxes and hits the

sweet spot between simplicity & possibility with a single piece of gear.


This tongue-in-cheek teaser video introducing my new studio was shot with my

phone & Mevo. All of the graphics, text animations, editing, effects, color grading,

layering and audio multi-tracking was done on my phone and an iPad in lumafusion.

It was a big fun dive into video!  


I can take the Mevo, my phone and my MPC-Live, out into the woods,

livestream/record a solo performance with out any other technology required.


midi capture of my MEVO vs MPC improvisation : 300 bars 1/4 time 120 BPM 960 PPQ


I look at it like this : Because I compose in the moment, the capture of that

composition needs to be part of the instrument itself, not a mysterious layer of

complexity piled on top of what I’m doing. This has always been true for me and

the only thing that is different now is that a visual capture has been added to the

existing sound or midi capture, it’s all one instrument.


My friend Mark Mosher takes the same approach as he explains here 

I view this entire rig as a multimedia “instrument”.

One goal in designing this “instrument” was to accommodate the following

use cases while being air locked in a performance cockpit where my

performance flow would not change whether I’m performing:

  1. Music sets in-person
  2. Music + visuals sets in person
  3. Music + visual sets via live stream
  4. Music + visuals sets in person simulcast via live stream

Mark Mosher 



What is OBS 





Stream vs Upload : It’s all about the bandwidth

From the top down it's : hardwired fiberoptic network - wifi - data plan.

In my current situation, recording my “live from the woods”  60 minute solo

onto the Mevo and uploading it to my YouTube (AudioLog) channel requires

far less from my data plan than actually live-streaming would. It is still a one take,

real-time unedited performance, it just arrives at YouTube a little later.


I’m going to take this a step further in regards to the video component.

Here is a short performance (one take real-time-live-sequencing) on the

MPC-Live, plugged straight into the Mevo and recorded. I dropped the file into

Lumafusion and turned the visual into a graphic novel look with some edge lighting.

I did not edit the structure or alter the music in anyway. I find this a much more

enjoyable visual experience than the straight video look and to be honest,

in most cases when I’m watching a live-stream music event, I often enjoy the

music much more with my eyes closed, watching my personal behind the lids

visual interpretation of the sound waves, as the grid of zoom widows feels distant.

 MEVO vs MPC (as a graphic novel)



spoiler alert, those zoom choir and orchestra videos you’ve seen, aren’t live!


Because I have my little room of sonic sanity I can continue playing solo during this

time but I really miss Conduction, which for me is a form of QiGong. I looked into the

possibility of doing a remote telematic Conduction and this is where Myra and Miguel

enter the conversation with some interesting insights.


I reached out to Myra Melford to see what was going on at UC Berkeley :

Hi Dino,

Yes. Great to connect! looking forward to your blog.

Here's a link to the software i've used for telematic concerts between UC Berkeley, Stanford,

UC San Diego - and beyond.  don't know how useful it is for home set-ups, but it's worked

great for networked performance between CA and South Korea, Switzerland and the East Coast.




This is only audio - I was thinking of the issue of being able to play live over the internet -

that's what this is best for.

In terms of video - I don't remember the name of the program - but the one we used that

had virtually no visible delay was super expensive - and being developed by a guy at UC Irvine,

I think.  The other video we used always had a terrible delay - so we started projecting scores and

other imagery, stuff like that. 

It's called LifeSize - we tried it in developmental stage - I can see it's being use for video

conferencing now, but here's a mention of it in an article about telematic performance 


Myra Melford

Professor of Music

UC Berkeley

Director, Berkeley Connect in Music 2018-20

Townsend Center for the Humanities Fellow 2017-18

Jerry and Evelyn Hemmings Chambers Distinguished Professor in Music 2014-17

Guggenheim Fellow 2013



I reached out to Miguel Frasconi, who just completed a series of 14 weekly

Zoom performances each one lasted 30 minutes followed by a 10 minute talkback,

which brings us to the issues he encountered. 


Each member of the ensemble has to reach a certain base line of gear

(microphone, camera, lighting and audio interface) to have a unified quality. 

Latency : the 20 millisecond delay which is always fluctuating per member

as individual bandwidths shift (multiply that by 12 players).

This unfortunately renders anything with a beat a non starter.


While there is a backdoor set-up you can do in Zoom 

to get stereo turn off auto-gain control and get a wider frequency response


Zoom can only handle 3 continuous streams at the same time.

If your group is larger than a trio you will also have to leave allot of space or

you may discover very short drop outs in the broadcast. 


Of course there’s the issue of monitoring & recording, as Miguel explains :

Hey Dino,

The weekly Experiment Zoom shows have been totally thru Zoom, with no other software.

I’ve attached a photo of my setup. But basically, I plug two mics (one for glass & talking,

the other for toy piano) and my stereo modular feed into my old Mackie mixer that is then

fed into my RME Babyface audio interface that goes directly in Zoom on my laptop.

The main problem with Zoom is that it does not allow you to monitor what you send it,

only what others are sending to it. I use the RME Totalmix interface software to mix together

what I send to zoom and what zoom sends back to me, and listen to everything from the

headphone output of the RME. Matching the balance between the two streams is

a real shot in the dark. I visually try to match the input/output meter levels In Totalmix

to keep things balanced.

I use two cameras in Zoom, one, the laptop webcam, and the other an old Zoom video

recorder that has a webcam feature. It’s really easy to switch between the two.




Here’s my setup

A follow up call with Miguel, revealed a couple of other issues he found.

The host can only mute or unmute the other players as there is no mixer, so the

final mix is as he stated above “a real shot in the dark”, but what was more

disturbing was when he told me that the recording of the performance

(which can’t be done in stereo from the host computer, but rather from another

computer and another zoom account listening to the live-stream), often does

not sound like the mix from the host computer.


But Wait…..There’s More!


Miguel turned me on to another weekly Zoom series done by a 16 piece group  

doing a combination of written material and gesture (there was a conductor),

so I checked it out to see how they handled the fundamentals of dynamics,

mix and blend. I want to make it crystal clear that my comments are in no way a

critique or judgement of the music, the musicians, the conductor or the

organization hosting the series, only my observation of the sonic limitations of the

Zoom platform itself.

I listened on headphones to a very dry, questionable mix,

lacking in dynamics, ensemble blend and air. 

It was very hard for me to actually get to the music, but it clearly revealed the

limitations of the Zoom platform for ensemble music.



***update 7/22***

JAMKAZAM - is a multi-user streaming service that began with an audio only model (like jacktrip), but has recently added a video component by adding an additional computer/member of the ensemble to specifically handle the broadcast mix for the event. It's an interesting approach and underlines just how network intense adding video really is.




We are all in the same situation as musicians, just trying to find a way to get

together and play. I have great respect for everyone who is engaging with the

current streaming technology, as they are bringing to light the issues that

need to be addressed in the next evolution of technology. 


The New Venue (it’s just not here yet)

We are in a surreal transition period trying to get nuanced musicality out of a

platform designed for a conference call with pictures and I am sure that there

are developers at Zoom, Google, Spotify etc. hard at work in a race to create

The New Performance Venue. A multi-user streaming service that can handle

multiple streams of high res video and high res stereo sound (with minimal latency),

that includes an output mixer at the host site with EQ and Reverb and a monitor

mixer at each participant site. Someone is going to solve this issue, especially

if our physical reality continues on it’s current path, but for now for me,

attempting a Zoom Conduction would only be a pale portrayal

and until our government steps up with some clarity of vision and seriously deals

with the Covid-19 situation, attempting a Conduction in the physical, would be

moronic. For now, I’m on the virtual upload solo tour! 


Samplr (no really…..don’t lift a finger)

If you follow my blog, you already know I have big love and respect for

SAMPLR and Marcos Alonso. It is my instrument of choice for live-sampling

and because of how beautiful the interface is, it is a perfect fit for a down shot

video capture on the Mevo. Again the headphone out from the iPad is plugged

straight into the Mevo. I have the wide shot plus two more close up shots and

the Mevo is randomly switching between them at a relaxed pace. You can clearly

see the direct relationship between sound and gesture/capture and how expressive

an instrument Samplr truly is, and if you aren’t already hip to it you’ll discover a

very useful (undocumented) feature if you look closely.



New Conduction Recordings Just Released 

Until Conduction can be safely practiced again,

here are some wonderful recordings of Butch creating magic.


The Butch Morris Estate has re-released HOMING one of his most popular recordings



NuBlu Orchestra is releasing 12 performances with Butch, one a month for a year 


The first release took place in this beautiful venue in Bergamo, Italy

and the sound was exquisite.


until next time then…..stay home, stay safe, meditate…..

wear a mask when you must go out…..dino