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Video Conferences: The big (or small) picture

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You could be forgiven for thinking that a video conference is an unglamorous ordeal that you occasionally witnessed during films and TV from the 1980s. Alternatively, you may find the mere mention of it summons to mind the image of two faces conversing via video call with the cameras on their devices frankly too close for comfort. At Perception, we’d like to dispel these opinions on what is essentially an invaluable, time-saving tool that’s at the disposal of more people than ever.

There are two aspects to video conferencing:

The temporary setup – this could consist of nothing more than a couple of people communicating with webcams and microphones using laptops.
The permanent boardroom installation – this setup ranges from the minimal projector and projection screen combination to the maximal soundproof tiled room boasting multiple lighting fixtures and state of the art microphones.
We understand that not everyone gets as excited about utilising the latest and best technology to enhance the video conference experience as we do. But then again, not everyone has been in the technical event production business for the last decade mastering conference planning, equipment and AV.

You could say that we’ve had the Goldilocks experience of experimenting to get the best results.

Here are some of our thoughts on getting your setup “just right”.

Invest in the Best
The video conference is a money saving method for meeting with clients and colleagues without having to leave the building.

But there’s no point in saving time and money on a video conference if a dodgy internet connection and antiquated laptop are perpetually marring the quality of the event, costing you exactly what you seeked to save in the first place.

Get the Light Right
All too often are we hearing reports of poor visibility for all parties concerned in video conferences. The good news is that this can be eradicated easily through careful consideration when planning for the kinds of light at play in the conference room.

Here are some general lighting no-nos:

Try to prevent any possibility of direct light shining in the face of the camera lens.
Take precautions to ensure that the lighting in the room is not too stark or direct.
When selecting a location to conduct a conference, try to find a room with no external windows (sometimes this can’t be avoided, but measures can be taken to reduce the impact of intense natural light – see more below).
And here are a few enlightening steps to tackle the above:

Choose a room with no windows.
If you have to use a room with external windows, use vertical solar-blocking or black-out drapes or blinds with minimal to nonexistent fabric patterns.
Use indirect and/or diffused fluorescent lighting systems either separately or simultaneously to provide a gentle and consistent lighting effect.
Sound Abound
The world’s a noisy place, and unfortunately that can become very apparent in what you thought was a quiet video conference room. If you do not have a sufficient amount of sound-absorbing elements, echo and reverberation will wreak havoc with any sound that emanates from inside the room. To alleviate the symptoms of awful acoustics, you can install carpeting and drapes to soak up some of the excess noise.

You can even go to the lengths of kitting out your conference room with soundproof tiles. That’s right, what used to be considered part of the recording studio domain is now considered imperative for businesses all over the world too.

A good microphone is also a must, just don’t place it anywhere near the speakers unless you’re paying a homage to drone pioneers Black Sabbath. You should avoid tampering with it whilst it’s in action too.

Critical Visuals
For the best visuals, we recommend a powerful projector with a matching powerful lumens count. The lumens are responsible for a greater source of light from the projector than the existing amount in the room. This is important for reducing potential glare.

We also recommend a large projection screen, with 6ft width being your absolute minimum.