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Video Conferencing Room Design

Video Conferencing Room Design

Jay Brant • May 30, 2013 •

A few adjustments can help ensure your video meetings have the best image and audio quality possible with your chosen equipment.

The Background

It’s important to remember that the camera will also show what’s behind the participants. The background wall, therefore, should have medium contrast and a soft texture to enable better recognition of participants without straining the capabilities of the camera, or the eyes of the remote participants. It’s also recommended to avoid patterns, since they can confuse the camera and make strange effects.

You may also want to avoid backgrounds that could move, such as curtains in a draft, or people walking behind you. Movement in the background can distrack borh remote-end participants as well as the camera’s automatic focus functions.

Important Tip: Never face the camera towards the doorway. This only makes interruptions more distracting for all users.

Whiteboards, although often useful in video communication applications, may cause lighting problems. If a whiteboard is placed directly behind participants, the lighting may reflect and cause glare. Highly reflective whiteboards should be avoided. If they’re not necessary, it’s best not to have whiteboards in the background.

A Note About Furniture:

You’ll want to make sure your table, as well as all surfaces in the camera’s field-of-view, is not reflective, and a lighter color. All unnecessary furniture and clutter needs to be remove from the room.

The Lighting

Avoid direct light, particularly direct light on people, materials for presentation, and the camera lens. To eliminate shadows, a common method is to use a combined lighting arrangement ratio of 60:40 ceiling to wall lighting. “Daylight” lamps are most effective, and you definitely want to avoid colored bulbs that will cast strange hues on your video capture.

Ideally, there should be no natural light entering the room through the windows. Sunlight has completely different qualities than artificial light and will create sharp contrasts in the room and confuse the automatic adjustments that most video conferencing cameras have. The end goal is to have uniform lighting, which eliminates stak contrast and reduces shadow.

Temperature and Ventilation

It’s important to take into account how your new equipment, and those using it, will affect the climate in the room. Monitors will produce heat, and the more of them you use, the more noticeable this will be.

The Acoustics

The acoustic qualities of the room you choose for video conferencing are very important. By ensuring that audio communications are as clear and continuous as possible, natural communication is easier to achieve. With good quality audio, video glitches don’t have to affect the collaboration experience and will have little effect on the overall conversation. However, poor audio quality can completely ruin a video call, making communication near impossible, and far from natural.

To ensure good sound quality, the room needs adequate sound absorption and diffusion. Proper sound absorption will minimize the echo caused by flat, reflectie surfaces like polished floors, flat walls and windows. Wall-to-wall carpet is preferable for acoustical reasons, and heavier curtains in front of windows can serve the dual purpose of reducing acoustic echo while preventing natural light from entering the room. Absorption panels may also be mounted on the ceiling and walls.

Diffusion of sound is improved by ensuring less flat surfaces are present. This can be achieved by mounting large, decorative objects on the walls and using large upholstered furniture. It is important to also make sure these objects are unobtrusive in the camera’s viewing field.

Generally, the goal is 10% minimum coverage of walls and ceiling with sound absorption panels to improve sound quality.

Important Tip: If you have a choice (such as if you’re constructing a new building), keep in mind that irregularly-shaped rooms are acoustically better than the popular rectangular shapes with 90° angles and flat, straight walls. The common “shoebox” shape causes parallel surfaces that allow echoes to flutter as the sound bounces back and forth repeatedly.

Sound Insulation

Sound insulation will work to eliminate the outside and environmental noise of a building or room. Although on-site employees may be used to the noises, such as the sound of phones ringing or traffic noise that bleeds into the building, it could prove to be quite a distraction to your remote participants.

Sound insulation, in addition to keeping outside noises out, also keeps conferences more private by keeping sounds inside the room. This could be a great benefit for many types of interactions.

Next we will discuss proper layout of the video collaboration room to deliver the most effective communication for all participants.

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