For your online video session or conference, don't ever use a webcam that produces results like you are seeing now.
That well, duh" piece of advice is my way of raising the subject that a ast night, a public relations representative for Internet videoconferencing and telephony service provider SightSpeed sent me something I would like to share with you now.
This is a 10-point tutorial on how to make your PC and surrounding work area video-ready for Webcam-based video conferencing.
To make sure you and your setup are, in fact ready for video conferencing, SightSpeed suggests that you:
- Place the webcam on the top, center, of your screen or monitor : By placing your webcam on the top-center of your computer, it will appear as if you are looking at the person you are conversing with. If you place your webcam on the side of your monitor, the other party will only get a side view. This is only a good thing if you love your profile. Having the camera in the center also allows you to watch the person you are conversing with while making it appear as if you are keeping eye contact with them.
- Make sure you have good lighting: It is crucial that you have good lighting. If there is a bright window or strong lighting behind you, it will make you look dark—but direct sunlight can make you look washed out. To achieve the perfect color, close your blinds or curtains and use indirect lighting to illuminate your face (no tanning required).
- Position yourself correctly: You should not be too close or too far from the camera. Your face should be the centerpiece. When properly composed, you should appear with your head and shoulders nicely framed in the picture.
- Use a good webcam: SightSpeed can transmit 30 frames per second, which is what televisions receive. Some webcams cannot keep up and detract from what otherwise would be a good image. In the case of webcams, price infers quality. As a rule of thumb, stay away from anything under $50 and look for CCD sensor cameras to get better picture quality.
- Headsets and sound quality: The best way to ensure good audio is by using a headset with an attached microphone. This will eliminate feedback problems, such as echoing, and background noises that might occur when using a computer with speakers and a microphone.
- Limit your movements while on camera: Movements like waving your hands or rocking in your chair will cause a lag in the video. It may also make the other participants to become dizzy and sick to their stomachs.
- Dress for TV: If you wear clothing with large patterns, shiny clothing or distracting jewelry, slight movements will cause the video software to spend a lot of time compressing and decompressing the images on your clothing. This will make your face and head movements unclear, and these are the most important.
- Internet connection: Broadband service is recommended over other Internet access services. Your connection speed, as well as the connection speed of the person with whom you are conversing, directly impact the quality of your video experience. Slower connection speeds result in fuzzy or paused video and choppy audio.
- Be yourself: Speak naturally and clearly. Imagine that the person you are conversing with is in the same room as you because…they are. Enjoy!
- Be Safe: Don’t give out information that you wouldn’t give to a stranger. Just because it’s the Internet doesn’t mean it’s safer! And hey…you can always “google” the person before you meet on SightSpeed! Know the person you’re talking to.
All of these pointers, along with an average one-minute video explaining each, can be accessed from this page.