Videoconferencing recommendations

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Recommendations

Delivering a lecture or presentation by videoconference does require some thought and consideration for the benefit of the participants at the far end room(s). The recommendations offer some videoconference common sense if you like.

Introduction

Videoconferencing and Audio Visual Services (VAVS) usually establish the required connection(s) a few minutes prior to the allotted lecture/presentation time but cannot always guarantee the optimum camera adjustment and audio levels.

Camera and microphone

For the benefit of the far end audience, the presenter camera must be adjusted by zooming, panning and tilting to ensure the presenter is visible at all times, and that the presenter’s position in relation to the microphone is within its design limits for optimum audio quality. Many rooms are equipped with wireless microphones (lapel/handheld) to allow full freedom of movement. The responsibility and final adjustment of these two vital pieces of the videoconferencing puzzle, rests on the presenter.

Training

If you are not familiar with how to operate the AV equipment, please make an appointment with the technical staff prior to your real time event as they are more than happy to show you how it all works. More often than not, experience shows that the less you know about the videoconferencing venues, the less accurate your expectations and the less enjoyable the audience experience.

Resolution

In many instances today, the JCU videoconferencing delivers high definition and widescreen format as a standard.  General enhancements in videoconferencing hardware, compression techniques and codec algorithms will steadily improve the videoconference experience.

Videoconference enabled venues at JCU

There are three distinctly different videoconferencing rooms at JCU – small, medium and large. Generally you need to select a room according to what is on your agenda. If for example you intend to have a large amount of interaction with the far end, we recommend selecting a smaller room due to its superior audio setup. A large room might be required due to the anticipated size of your audience but bear in mind then that interacting with a large far end audience is generally very limited due to the lack of audience microphones. Some of the medium sized videoconferencing rooms are fitted with ceiling mounted audience microphones thus enabling a degree of interaction.

Given the level of interaction, staff meetings over a videoconference link are most suited to the smaller rooms unless of course the number of participants exceeds the room limits in which case a medium sized room should be chosen.

Presenter & presentation

All the JCU videoconferencing rooms are capable of handling three concurrent video streams.  What this means is that you as the presenter can send a view of yourself, and the view of your presentation to the far end audience at the same time as you can receive the camera view of the far end audience. The JCU videoconferencing venues are fitted with a Desktop PC, document camera and in some cases a wireless collaborative device, with cables to connect a laptop computer, each of which can be sent as the presentation.

Beyond point to point videoconferencing

Presentations and lectures are increasingly delivered to more than one far end room, which requires some more conducting on the presenter’s part. When the participating rooms start appearing on the screen, common presenter practice is to carry out some testing with each one of them to make sure they can see you, see your presentation and that they can hear you. One person in each far end room needs to be close enough to a microphone for this to occur or else make some visual indication the transmission of video and audio is satisfactory. Once each test is carried out, the far end rooms should then mute their microphones so that private conversations, sneezing, scraping of moving chairs, mobile phone ring signals etc. do not interfere with the presentation. At the end of the session the microphones should be unmuted and the presenter invite one room at a time to pose any questions they may have. Given the microphone setup in larger venues, the person may have to approach the bench in order to get close enough to a microphone before posing a question unless a roving microphone, like those in the larger videoconferencing venues at JCU, is available.

Feedback

Although we are doing our utmost to keep up-to-date, we invite you to share your experiences and suggestions with us in order to make videoconferencing even better.

Glossary

AV – Audio visual

Codec – Common name for a videoconference unit

Far End – the room(s) to which you are connected

Resolution – Relates to the number of pixels, frame rate and codec capability

VAVS – Videoconferencing and Audio Visual Services

JCU VAVS Team
January 2016