How to Improve Video Quality in Video Conferencing
Updated: Dec 17, 2021
Video quality in a video conference (VC) is important for an immersive experience. While we convey our words through audio, producing a good quality video to go with it conveys non-verbal cues that could be a whole new language on its own. Clear visuals are what sets immersive VC experiences apart from an ordinary teleconference. The main purpose of VC is to have that face-to-face communication between numerous participants in different locations. These days, hybrid meetings are increasingly becoming a necessity with remote employees staying at home while some are starting to go back to the office. Because of this on-site participants have an advantage over their remote counterparts by seeing other people face-to-face. However, remote participants should never feel left out. Hybrid meetings must have the capability to ensure the clarity of video (and, of course, sound) every time. So how do we ensure this during your VCs?
Read on to find out about problem areas that threaten your video quality and some related tips on how to improve it.
Network Connection Stability
The first consideration should be having strong and stable network connectivity. Quality video streaming has much to do with the network connection. Since we need the internet to connect us to our meeting counterparts, we need it to be stable to prevent disconnection and annoying pauses during the call. We also need the network to be strong to allow a good quality video to push through to the other side. By doing so, we can prevent the VC from being a séance session with participants asking, “Karen, are you with us?” or “Is Chad here? Chad, can you hear us?” Also in line with that, some VPNs and Wi-Fis are generally not designed to support real-time media. VPN split-tunneling for your VC platforms and connecting to more stable internet connections may help improve your overall VC quality.
Bandwidth requirements for the good video quality of different platforms ranging from about 1.8 Mbps to 4.0Mbps. Of course, a connection as slow as 600kbps (consistent up/down bitrate) could still work, only if you do not mind a grainy, poor video quality. Some platforms also take up different bitrates for share screen and video output. VC service providers often give priority to audio over video. So if you want to make sure the video you send and receive are of high resolution, ensure your network connectivity is not the minimum requirement to run the platform. Going beyond the maximum rate required to have the best video quality would bring you a step closer to a good video. In other words, purchasing the latest, pro-grade hardware and paying for expensive VC platform subscriptions would not pay off if your network cannot keep up with your bandwidth requirements. However, when using VC platforms, other factors must also be considered.
VC Platform Restrictions
Not only do VC platforms consider bandwidth, but they also factor in the video layout, frames per second, and the resolution you want. Many VC platforms do not automatically provide high resolutions due to the traffic of their numerous users. You may need to enable HD features. In Zoom, for example, a free subscription would give you 640x480 pixels as the highest resolution. Further, only the following users can get meetings in 720p quality:
· Pro account holders or higher
· The meeting has no more than two participants
· A Zoom Room or Conference Room Connector joins a group meeting.
If you meet these requirements but are still not experiencing an HD quality, you may need to contact Zoom support to have it activated for you from their end. Further, a 1080p resolution will only be activated for a few special cases such as a large-format broadcast event. This means that Zoom deals with each subscription independently especially when it comes to HD video conferences. Microsoft Teams, on the other hand, used to provide 1080p videos for all users. However, since the pandemic struck and demand for Teams increased, the company has limited the quality to only 720p.
There are alternative VC platforms that offer up to 4K video resolution for real-time conferencing. However, subscriptions need to be paid. Conversely, there are other less expensive options to improve video quality.
Lighting and Positioning
Certain camera brands and downloadable software allow for touch-ups like low-light enhancement features. To aid your equipment, users should consider being in rooms that optimize the use of natural lighting and bright-colored walls which look much better on video. Of course, you have to set up your camera so that the light does not obstruct the other line’s view of you. This technique does not technically increase the video resolution per se, but it does, however, improve the overall video quality.
VC Device Limitations
For business setups, conference rooms and boardrooms of large companies are seeing improvements to their VC equipment. However, small- to medium-sized meeting rooms are more often used for collaboration among employees, hybrid meetings with remote colleagues and clients, training, and more. Instead of huddling together in front of the laptop’s webcam, it would be safer and more professional to have a wide-angled conference camera. However, not all front-facing cameras can maximize the view for remote participants. Good video quality requires a reliable camera that can capture everyone effectively. For example, cameras with less than 100° horizontal field of view (FOV) are usually best for one to two people only. 100° and more FOV cameras can accommodate small- to medium-sized rooms with podiums, TVs, or presenter's table at the front. However, 360° cameras are specifically designed for meeting rooms to capture all these and still give you good video quality.
The Coolpo AI Huddle Pana is an intelligent video conferencing device. It is plug-and-play to ensure fast and hassle-free connection. However, as times are fast-changing, our needs shift constantly as well. A downloadable software called Coolpo Tools provides users with device updates, allows configuration of the camera presets, and so much more. If for a time, you want to use it as an ordinary webcam, you can choose to hide the panoramic view and have only one frame to capture you. Once that's done, a simple click on the program will let you choose another option, depending on your needs. Because of its high-quality camera, users need not worry about the video resolution from the camera. As long as other problem areas are taken care of (i.e., network, VC platform, lighting), you can rest assured of your video conferencing quality. Did we mention that Coolpo Pana also comes with an integrated surround speaker and smart microphones? Its automatic feature captures both sound and movement cues from on-site participants very smoothly. Visit www.coolpolens.com for more info.
An immersive VC experience requires good audio and video. Hearing and being heard are key to good communication. However, being able to see one another as if in the same room is important to convey a "clearer picture". People can say so much more with their actions. For this to be possible during hybrid meetings, all problem areas must be checked thoroughly to prevent future mishaps. Once that is done, not only would you have immersive experiences, but hassle-free meetings as well.