Friday, January 17, 2020

Getting the Wrinkles out of Webcam Sessions

Writing a blog post in hopes of getting some advice on using a webcam to do video conference over the Internet. Within recent weeks I have done several and it is a learning experience. First, I found out my Internet speed was too slow, especially the upload speed. It is now several times faster after a call to my ISP and an increase in monthly charge. After the increase speed the video was much better and now rarely get disconnected. I did two web conferences with people across the country but wondered about the webcam I had which was several years old so I purchased a new one that had good comments on Amazon for $30. 

Web Session White Background

Geazle STEM Network

Upgraded Internet Speed

Before the web session I had yesterday I tested out the video quality by looking at my image on Google Hangouts. It did not seem very bright yet I had three studio lights. I wondered about the how well the built-in webcam microphone would work but gave it a try yesterday in my web session with Milton at Geazel STEM Network.  Milton on the other end uses earphones and I can understand why now as when he spoke to my system the sound came out my speakers and back to him through the microphone that was close to my speakers. I will try earphones next time or maybe a headset.

Web Session with Milton

After the web session I began experimenting with different background colors. First I tried my green screen background and this turned my skin color almost to purple. Next I tried a black background and now I was as white as a ghost with almost no background light. At this point the light bulb went off in my head that this was a "white balance" issue. My video camera does automatic white balance, the the webcam does not. It seems that some webcams come with software to make these adjustments, maybe there is a program I could acquire to do this.

Green Background

Blue Background

Black Background

After this I tried an old blue blanket which was better but the old gold colored blanket seemed to fix the color issue the best. Now I could get by using a gold background but it would be nice to be able to use other color backgrounds. No background color will fix the serial killer look on my face, joke related to a video I watched about talking to the camera.

I am open to suggestions while I literally iron out the wrinkles in my background sheets.

Bill Kuhl

Update on Solutions

I downloaded an $8 program for the Apple App Store that does a bunch of adjustments
on my webcam.  As for the audio loop back issue, I am thinking using a headset might be best solution.

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