Volunteer roles

During a DebConf we do not have enough people to carry out all the tasks that need doing for the whole event. We rely on volunteers to run the equipment in the rooms while talks are taking place. Some people volunteer for a single talk, while others volunteer for several.

There are five roles that need fulfilling:

Camera Operator

There are two cameras in the room, each operated by one team member. Generally speaking, one camera is meant to point at the speaker, and the other at the audience. However, these allocations can change if needed. For example, during the talks, the audience camera can be used as a second shot of the speaker. The speaker camera can also be pointed to the audience, if there is a discussion with many people distributed around the room, for instance. When the speaker is pointing at something, it is useful to provide context by showing what their hand is pointing at, otherwise, those watching at home will not know where to look.

A camera should not be moved while it is in action (i.e., while the tally light is illuminated), as the stream encoding makes movement uncomfortable for the audience to see. If movement cannot be avoided, it should be slow and smooth. Any movement should also be communicated to the director beforehand, so they can decide to take the camera off action. If communication to the director fails and the camera points to a totally wrong direction, a quick fix is appropriate, since slow movement would largely increase the time the wrong thing is filmed. The camera operator and director should be in visual contact every once in a while so the director can request specific shots as needed.

Room Coordinator

The room coordinator is responsible for ensuring that all equipment is working, and that all necessary volunteers are present, set up, and know how to do their role. If someone does not arrive in time, then the coordinator must find someone to replace them, or take their place.


The director controls what is recorded and goes out onto the stream, using voctomix. It is essential that the director monitors IRC, which is set up on the Voctomix PC, so that the video team can contact the director about any issues.

Voctomix offers three ways to display multiple cameras:

The first is to fullscreen the ‘A’ camera. The fullscreen shot should not be used continuously for a long time. The shot should change between the speaker, audience and slides as needed. These changes need to be communicated with the audience camera operator so that they can get shots of people paying attention.

The second is called Picture in Picture, which renders the ‘B’ camera over the bottom right corner of the ‘A’ camera. This can be used to display the slides while still allowing the viewer to see the speaker in the bottom corner and should be done only when the presenter’s camera picture does not hide any of the slide on the screen.

The final method displays the two cameras side-by-side, but this is not a very useful method as it leaves both too small to see clearly after encoding.

Between talks, and after talks finish for the day, the director should leave Voctomix on Stream Loop. This displays our Sponsor Loop on the stream, which is removed from the published recordings.

Sound Technician

The sound technician operates the audio mixer and is responsible for ensuring that audio is clear and intelligible on the stream and recordings as well as in the room itself. The sound technician must know how to operate the audio devices and mixer, as this role is critical for not only the video streaming and recording, but also for the talk itself.

The channels on the mixer are labelled, indicating to what device each one corresponds. The common audio inputs are the wireless and headset mics, the speaker’s computer, and the ambient mics (to get the room sound). The outputs include the streaming/recording and the room speakers, which are controlled by sliders on the right side of the mixer.

The headset and wireless microphones use disposable batteries (9V or AA, depending on the type), so care must be taken that these are replaced regularly (once a day to once every second day, depending on how much use they have had). The headset mic must be placed on the speaker’s head carefully. It should be placed on the same level as the speaker’s mouth, not so far away that it does not pick the speaker up clearly, but not so close that it picks up the speaker’s breathing.


The talkmeister introduces the speaker, keeps track of the time and coordinates the question and answer sessions. At the end of the talk they also thank the speaker. Often the coordinator and the talkmeister are the same person when there are not many volunteers.

Speaker introductions should include a small amount of background information. Talkmeisters should also remind audience members to wait for the mic before asking a question, as questions asked without the mic will not be heard on the stream and recording.