How to Set up the Perfect Video Conference
Video conferencing is now more accessible than ever thanks to high quality USB webcams and professional video conferencing cameras. Audio and video conferencing solutions are important, but getting the right video conferencing setup can make a big difference in the quality and effectiveness of your video meetings.
But what do you need to consider in setting up a conference room for video conferencing so that you can get the best performance from your online meetings?
Taking the time to think about how a video conferencing room is laid out can have a big impact on the image and sound quality achieved on your video conference calls.
Windows can present a particular problem and you should try to have any windows in front of any participants on a video call. This is because during daylight hours there will be a high contrast created between the outside and internal light, high contrast is difficult for even the best video conferencing cameras to deal with and will often mean facial features of participants will be difficult to see.
Windows can also create problems for sound quality too, glass is a very reflective surface meaning that audio can echo around a room. Drawing blinds on windows will help to reduce any sound reflection, helping to reduce potential issues such as echos.
Where participants are sat should also be a consideration. If there are only a handful of people in the room, try to avoid sitting at opposite ends of the room. With some video conferencing cameras now featuring intelligent zoom which focuses on the people talking, people sitting far apart means the video feed will be moving from one end of a room to another which could be quite distracting.
You may also want to consider the amount and position of any furniture in the room, it’s not uncommon for participants to leave or arrive part way through a video conference. Obstructive furniture can mean a smooth, quiet entrance or exit is hindered, introducing disruption and distraction for others.
As has already been mentioned, positioning a video conference camera facing a window can be a particular problem for contrast and being able to clearly see participants. But there are also other considerations relating to camera position when it comes to your video conferencing setup.
Try to position the camera at eye level to those on the call who are in the room. If you’ve ever been on a call where the camera is offset higher or lower than the participants, you may have found it unnatural. Placing your camera at eye level feels more natural as it replicates the experience of talking to someone in real life.
Centralising the camera in relation to the monitor being used to see others on the call also helps create the sense of talking directly to participants. This is often a trade off between the monitor and camera position, but placing your camera just under the monitor (if wall mounted) will often provide the best position. Bot the JPL Agora and Spitfire ship with a tripod, making it even easier to position your video conference camera.
Without trying to turn your video conference call into a Hollywood production, good lighting will make a real difference to the quality of the image which your video conference camera is able to record.
Without installing TV studio style lights though, what can you do? Letting a good amount of natural light into your video conference room is a good start as this will help to brighten the room. Good office lighting will also help, especially at times of day when you might not get the most natural light into a room.
You could invest in specific lighting for video conferencing, but in reality, how many people will actually use it? When time is tight and meetings need to happen, you need simple, easy to use video conference equipment.
The quality of the sound on your conference calls will depend on a range of factors:
- The type of furnishings in the room
- How big the room is
- The position of the microphones
- The power of your speakers
Surfaces in a room can reflect or absorb sound, shiny surfaces will reflect and potentially create echoes. On the other hand, soft furnishings will absorb sound and deaden the noise though in most meeting rooms this shouldn’t be a concern.
More likely to affect the sound, both in terms of pick up and broadcast, is the technology you use. A video sound bar with integrated camera, microphones and speakers such as the JPL Agora is more than capable of picking up conversations at a distance of 10m, perfectly suited to most meeting rooms.
Likewise the powerful speakers on the Agora mean anyone on your call can be heard clearly.
Separate microphones can provide a benefit in larger meeting rooms, if you choose to use a stand alone microphone, be sure that your video conferencing camera has a microphone input to allow your audio to connect seamlessly with your conference call, yet another feature present on the Agora.
Nothing is worse when trying to communicate via video than a fuzzy picture. Camera quality plays a huge role in the perfect video conference, from the lens right down to the sensor.
A glass lens from a reputable lens manufacturer, such as SONY, will help to reduce visual distortion from the moment an image enters the camera.
You also want to couple this with a large image sensor, preferably a CMOS sensor as these are best suited to high speed image capture. It’s why well known camera manufacturers like SONY use them in their DSLR cameras.
Always be sure to check the specification carefully, some video conferencing camera manufacturers don’t always include this information up front. This means you could potentially end up paying more for something of a lower spec.
Network Quality and Internet Speed
A question we get asked frequently is “what internet speed do I need for video conference calling?”. We’d suggest a broadband connection of at least 2Mbps to get a good quality of video call. Though as you might expect, the higher the Mbps, the better.
The speed of your broadband connection is not the only thing to consider. If you’re doing other work while on a video call or if others in your office are using the same connection to perform other tasks, the broadband connection speed will need to be higher, due to other tasks taking up bandwidth.
Set up the Perfect Video Conference with JPL
If you’re struggling to decide on the right solution for your business, don’t be afraid to speak to an expert who knows what’s what. The JPL team is always on hand to support you in making the best decision for your business and are able to answer any questions you may have.