This article provides guidelines for selecting and preparing a room for your VidyoRoom system.
Because windows create audio reverberation, less than 20% of the room should have windows or other vertical glass walls. Also, natural light coming from windows varies considerably, which can affect the quality of the video. Therefore, if your room does have windows, you should install acoustical window treatments or blackout curtains.
Flooring, Walls, and Ceilings
A room where the floor is carpeted, the walls are composed of drywall, and the ceiling is suspended typically provides the best acoustics. Of course, you can select a room with different surfaces (such as tile floors or concrete walls), but these are often more reverberant, and therefore, may affect the sound quality.
A cost effective way to improve acoustics is to add carpeting or rugs if your floor is not carpeted. You may also want to consider adding acoustical sound panels to the walls.
Noise and Temperature
When selecting the room in which to install your VidyoRoom, keep these noise and temperature considerations in mind:
- The room where the VidyoRoom is located must be equipped with Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) equipment. Remember, however, that HVAC equipment can raise the noise level in the room.
- You should consider which rooms are nearby and try to select a room that is not adjacent to frequently noisy areas, such as cafeterias or reception areas.
The quality of the sound is just as important as the quality of the video. You want the dialogue between participants to sound like everyone is in the same location, which means that you need quality microphones placed in the right spots. You may choose to hang microphones from the ceiling, embed them in the table, or place them on the table.
Microphones pick up sound reverberating off hard and flat surfaces in the room. You can dampen reverberations by installing noise-dampening ceiling tiles, fabric-wrapped acoustical panels on the walls, or a combination of both.
The color of the walls within the camera field of view can impact how the far-end participants perceive the video quality. If you want the far-end participants to see higher quality video, ensure that the wall at which the camera is pointing is non-textured, non-patterned, and not reflective.
Painting the wall a muted color, such as beige or blue-gray, looks better on video than bright white or dark colors. As a general rule of thumb, the brighter the room is, the darker the walls should be. For example, if your room has no windows, dark carpeting, and the overhead lights are not extremely bright, you should consider painting your walls a lighter shade, such as pale blue or light beige. If, on the other hand, your room gets a lot of natural sunlight, has light-colored carpeting, and has bright overhead lights, you should consider painting your walls a slightly darker shade, such as tan or medium gray or blue.
If you want to test colors before painting the walls, try hanging fabric of various colors on the back wall to see which color looks best on video.
The room in which your VidyoRoom is located should have evenly dispersed, ambient lighting. For the best lighting, use LED lights. Although the upfront cost for these is higher, the long-term cost is lower. The direct fluorescent lighting that is common in offices is not recommended because it causes harsh shadows on the faces of the participants. In addition, its brightness can vary considerably at different parts of the room. If you cannot change the fluorescent fixtures, get full spectrum bulbs designed for video.
The ideal color temperature should be between 3,000° and 3,500° Kelvin, and about 70 foot candles of intensity at the subject.
Lighting for video can involve as many as four lighting positions (which are explained below), with the Key Light being the most important. For most multi-purpose conference rooms, a strong color-balanced Key Light supported by additional full spectrum lighting in the room will work well. Just remember: you don't want meeting participants feeling like they're in a television studio.
Here is some additional information about the lighting positions:
- Key Light: Light shining on the participant from the front. These lights are generally placed high and at the center, or to each side of the seating area if two are required. Aim them downward at a 45° angle to light the participants’ faces without causing their eyebrows to cast a shadow over their eye-sockets.
- Fill Light: Lights shining on the participant from the front, but placed at a low angle to soften shadows under the eyes and chin.
- Hair Light: Lights at the rear of the room, above the participants and aimed downward to help separate the participants from the background.
- Backdrop Lighting: Lights above and (if space allows) between the participants and the background. Two lights are usually required, each aimed toward the opposite half of the background to evenly light it.
In addition, always ensure that no lights are pointing in the camera lens, and avoid pointing any lights directly at the displays. If possible, you may want to hire a lighting designer and have the lighting professionally installed.
Room or wall vibration can be caused by HVAC equipment, heavy machinery being used nearby, trains passing by, and other factors. If the wall on which the camera and displays are located vibrates excessively, the camera may also vibrate. This vibration may be noticeable by the far-end participants. Therefore, if you have known vibration issues, consult the building manager or an architect to determine the optimal placement for the camera.