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

A camera operator is in charge of one of the cameras. There are two cameras, one for the audience and one for the speaker. These allocations are guidelines, however, and they can change if needed. During the talk, for example, the audience camera can be used as a second shot of the speaker. And the speaker camera can also be used pointed to the audience, mainly if there is a discussion with many people distributed around the room.

The stream encoding makes camera movement difficult for viewers to see, thus the active camera (the one which has an illuminated tally light) should not be moved until the other camera is active. Sometimes movement is unavoidable, and in these cases the movement should be slow and smooth. These movements should be also communicated to the director. It is also a good idea for the camera operator to look at him every once in a while so they can request specific shots as they needs.

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.


The coordinator is responsible for ensuring that everything is working and that everyone is setup and knows 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. This is done using voctomix. He must communicate with the camera operators to ensure smooth and accurate recording. The Voctomix PC has IRC set up and the director should monitor this, as this is how the video-team will try contact him 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. This needs 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. This 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. This is not a very useful method as it leaves both too small to see clearly after encoding.

Outside of a talk, 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 the audio that is being streamed and recorded as well as the sound in the room itself is intelligible. The sound technician must know how to operate the audio devices and mixer that he uses, 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). As outputs, we have 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).

Attention must be paid to how the speaker positions the headset mic. 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.

Talk Meister

The talk meister 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 talk meister are the same person when there are not many volunteers.

When the talk meister introduces the speaker, a little background information about them should be given. Also instructions should be given to the audience about waiting for a microphone when they want to ask questions. People asking questions without a microphone is not good for the recording or streaming, as the question will not be heard.