SALT LAKE CITY — When Rowdy Gaines stepped into the 1984 Olympics to compete in multiple swimming events, he gave his best performance and walked away with three gold medals. Since retiring from competition, Gaines has made a name for himself as a major TV network swimming commentator and a coveted public speaker, two careers that changed dramatically in 2020 when COVID-19 struck.
After nearly a year spent participating in virtual events and sports coverage through a basic laptop webcam, Gaines recently upgraded his gear to professional-grade ClearOne Aura© cameras and a speakerphone that has completely changed his presentations and capabilities.
“Since the pandemic hit, I’ve done hundreds of video calls and speeches, including for major corporations or Olympic sponsors,” Gaines said. “It took a while to realize that the laptop camera and microphone I was using were pitiful, and the low-quality picture and sound detracted from the audience experience. Upgrading to ClearOne Aura with multiple cameras and a pro-level speakerphone has given my calls 4K video quality and perfect audio clarity, but the powerful features like auto framing may be an even bigger deal, long-term.”
With a total of three cameras, Gaines can now offer broadcasters multiple angles while working from home, in addition to utilizing special features such as AI-based automatic framing on the UNITE® 50 4K AF that moves and zooms the camera to best capture everyone in a room. All three cameras also offer remote-controlled pan, tilt and zoom, with the UNITE 50 4K ePTZ offering video up to 4K and up to 3x digital zoom, and the UNITE 200 providing 1080p quality with a 12x optical zoom.
“I work about 25 sporting events a year, and as remote collaboration for broadcast continues to evolve, it’s almost magical to have equipment that I know puts my best face forward and presents an image that’s up to the quality of professional TV production,” Gaines added. “It’s definitely an investment for the future, and anyone who uses basic gear for video conferencing, whether it’s for church presentations, work meetings or on TV, should be looking at upgrading their collaboration equipment with ClearOne.”
Gaines also marveled at the ability to take ClearOne gear with him, so the quality is enhanced no matter where he is.
“I’m taking the UNITE 50 with me to Athens, Georgia, where I have to travel and speak at a virtual event,” Gaines said, “It’s a confidence booster to know that I can provide the best presentation possible even when I’m on the road, and I’ve already received compliments on the high quality from organizations and event attendees.”
The core of Gaines’ new collaboration gear is the ClearOne Aura Versa 50 package, which combines a UNITE 50 ePTZ camera with a CHAT 150 speakerphone and a Versa USB Hub. The camera offers a 4K, 120-degree ultra-wide view lens with a 3x digital zoom, while the speakerphone delivers HDConference® audio and plug-and-play simplicity with the Veras USB Hub. Adding the additional UNITE 50 4K AF and UNITE 200 PTZ cameras gives Gaines greater flexibility and presentation options that can help set him apart as a speaker and presenter in the future.