Video conferencing

We have Video conferencing (VC) facilities in many of our centrally managed rooms.  VC uses a set of interactive video and audio technologies allowing one or more people at different locations to communicate via a sound and video link.  We can support on-campus, inter-campus, national and international VCs, although with non-University sites we do ask for more notice of the booking so we can plan in a test call with the unknown far site parties to mitigate any issues with the link (international requires time zones to be considered – please refer to our Notice periods).

If you are unsure about using VC, book an AV Technology Demo with us (see Training)

 

  • It can offer large cost savings in terms of time and travel, especially as it allows connection anywhere in the world
  • It helps the university meet sustainability/green targets
  • It allows you to manage your, your students or your colleague’s times more efficiently by not being restricted by location
  • It is installed in varied rooms sizes so can be used for small meetings or presentations, lectures, and seminars
  • It can also be used for teaching
  • It can be used to connect to someone who does not have access to VC equipment (although they must have a stable internet connection)

Things you need to be aware of when using VC, some of these are more relevant when using a large space like a lecture theatre.

You are on camera!  So all the rules apply as if you were in a TV studio (consider this)

An appreciation of camera and microphone use is required (AV demos can be provided, see Training). 

Note: Mics are not required in smaller meeting rooms as fixed ceiling mics will pick up audio

  • Everyone who speaks needs to have access to a microphone (and use it)
  • Do not deviate from the mic and camera set up that you’ve agreed with the AV support team, as this will add risk
  • During Q&A, if there is a problem with a handheld mic or a handheld mic was not requested, ensure you repeat the question into your radio mic/lectern mic so it can be heard at the far site, before responding to the question
  • Do not remove or turn off your microphone until the Video Conference has finished (and don’t take it with you)
  • If walking around ensure the camera is zoomed out for wide angle and you are wearing the lapel microphone

Do you like to stay in one place or move around, what else do you need to know about the boundaries of using VC?

  • If you like to stay static, then you can use the lectern mic, but do not turn around out of range and continue speaking (no one will hear you)
  • If you prefer to move away from the lectern when presenting you should have a lapel mic.  You need to tell your AV support team so they can arrange appropriate camera angles eg wide angle (consider though that a wide angle of the room will give a distant view of you to your far site audience may not be as engaging)
  • Use the comfort monitors to engage with your far site audience (they will believe you are looking at them)
  • Media content such as PowerPoint or DVDs is restricted and quality is reduced at linked sites when video conferencing (be prepared for this and don’t have a lot of small detail on your presentation slide or it won’t be seen)
  • Don’t restart the lectern PC at any time during a VC if you are sharing PC Content with the far site
  • Don’t use a laser pointer, as this will not be visible via VC at far site – you need to use the mouse on the PC so it shows on the displayed content
  • For Q&A, allow time for the microphone to be passed around, work this time into your running order

Unknowns do cause problems for the support staff and cause delays giving a less than perfect experience.  The running order of the session must be carefully planned and all details communicated with your AV support teams to ensure a smooth session (as they will need to switch audio/video feeds to allow presenting from linked sites).  Support staff do not have time to chase up running orders so you must ensure you pass this information onto them as soon as possible.  Consider:

  • Who will be presenting, are they from the Host site or far sites, or both
  • How many presenters will there be, timings and running order (time must be allowed for multiple presenters to be mic’d up between talks as there are limited mics per room)
  • Will each presenter have content to be shared
  • Q&A will require hand held mics to be booked and responsible representatives to be mic runners at the far site to handle question taking and microphone management

The technology at all linked sites must interact seamlessly for a perfect experience (audio, mics, pc, PowerPoint, cameras, switching between sites etc).  Due to this complexity, issues can occur and you must be prepared for this and allow your AV support teams time to act to overcome these, this may require hardware to be rebooted which may take 5-10 mins.

Much of this can be overcome if you have planned your session, are aware of the boundaries of using VC and work closely with your AV support team.  Help us to help you.

This depends on how you like to present, there are three types of microphones that can be used in lecture theatres as below. 

Lectern mic (lecture theatres)

This is a fixed mic located on the lectern with a limited range.  If you prefer to stand behind the lectern then this will suit you as long as you ensure you speak into it (consider how much you turn around to look at your presentation when presenting).

Lapel mic (lecture theatres)

This is a wireless mic that can be attached with a receiver to your person allowing greater presentation flexibility, if you prefer to get away from the lectern or present whilst looking at your presentation, then these mic’s will suit you.  The mics are based in a docking station on the lectern and need to be switched on before use.  After use they should be switched off and placed back in their docking station to allow batteries to recharge for the next room user.

Handheld mics (lecture theatres)

These are mobile hand held mics which are primarily used for Q&A with the audience.  These do not reside in the room but can be provided for your session.  These must be clearly requested from your AV support team when placing your VC booking (we can provide up to 2 per room).  These also have an on/off switch and should be switched off at the end of the session to preserve battery life.

Table top mic (a few seminar rooms)

This is a wired mic that will be placed onto a table near speakers.  This resides in the rooms and would be set up by AV support staff.

Ceiling mic (small seminar and meeting rooms)

These are fixed into the ceiling and mean no microphones need to be booked, set up, switched off/on; allowing more flexibility.

Please see ‘How do I book a VC?’

NOTE: If you are new to VC, you are advised to first book a Technology Demo (see Training).  This is a very informal, one to one session and should take no more than 20 minutes.  It will:

  • Show you how to use the lectern control panel
  • Explain the importance of using the mics and show you how to use them correctly
  • Explain camera angles to best suit how you will use the space in the room (e.g. wide angle for moving around, close-up to remain in one spot)
  • Explain about comfort monitors and using them to engage with your far site audience
  • Answer any other questions you may have about the equipment or its operation
  • Show you how to get help if needed during your session
  • How to dock the radio mic at the end of the session (switched off) with the mic clip secured to the mount
  • Instruct where to leave hand held microphones on the lectern in the room (switched off)
  • How to log out of lectern PC (do not shut it down)

Please request this service via the IT Helpdesk

Microsoft Teams is the University-wide supported collaboration tool and one we all have in common that enables flexible working and collaboration, you can find more information on Teams here

Host/Near Site

This is the site which is hosting the VC and is where the main presenter will be e.g. Streatham

Host/Near Site Location

This is the location i.e. building/room, where the main presenter will be e.g. Forum Auditorium

Far Site

This details a specific site that is going to link to the Host site e.g. Penryn.  AV support teams need to have contact details of national or international far sites to liaise effectively on the booking

Far Site Location

This details a specific location, i.e. building/room, at the far site e.g. Peter Lanyon LT3

Linked Sites

Any generic term for far sites linking into to the Host site

Lectern

This is a podium where the presenter will be positioned and holds other AV equipment (e.g. PC, microphones etc.)

Content

This refers to any visual displays to be used during the VC e.g. PowerPoint, Visualiser, Internet etc.

Visualiser – this is a digital overhead projector (OHP)

Mic

Short for microphones

Radio Frequency

All mics must be legally registered with a national body to receive a unique frequency for transmission, by doing this it ensures mics in close proximity to each other (eg nearby lecture theatres) do not bleed into each other causing interference

Running Order

This is the format of your session, it is important that support teams are aware of the details – who is presenting, how many presenters, timings, who needs to share content and from which site etc.

Q&A

Question and Answer session, normally with your audience