This design tip is part two of a two-part feature with advice for setting up a videoconferencing facility. Part I covered basic room characteristics.

Here, we take a closer look at conferencing equipment and how its positioning within the space affects overall meeting productivity.

Choose one to three cameras for each room. One camera should focus on participants' faces, while a possible second camera should provide a wider view of the participants. If it's not possible to get everyone in the view of one camera, place a camera on each side of the room and toggle between two separate views during conferencing.

Camera location may be the single most important factor for successful videoconferencing. First, position cameras between 36" and 60" (91cm - 152cm) above the floor. With a camera 36" high, your participants can be seen at eye level and their feet will also be in the picture. Make sure you choose a table with a modesty panel that covers people's legs under the table. Second, place the camera directly on top of or in front of the monitor. If the camera is too far away from the monitor, the participants will seem as if they aren't making eye contact with the alternate party. Finally, mark the floor with tape to emphasize the boundary of the camera's view. This will prevent conferencing participants from accidentally walking out of the picture.

Many video systems have built-in microphones that track a voice within a radius of six to eight feet and direct the camera to capture the current speaker. An alternate solution is to use tabletop microphones and a remote control for tracking camera view. If the speaker wishes to be mobile, however, use a lapel microphone.

Use one to two monitors (purchase a monitor intended for conferencing, not a TV). One monitor will display the participants or show documents. An optional second monitor displays your own picture, as it can be useful to show whom the camera is spotlighting throughout the conferencing session. Most monitors have Picture in Picture (PIP) to display both groups. But groups larger than four people will not be able to see the PIP box, so a second monitor is recommended for them.

Monitor Size
Monitor size depends on the number of people who will be participating in the session:

People Monitor Size (diagonal screen measurement)
2 - 5 27" - 32" (68cm - 82cm)
6 - 12 32" - 37" (82cm - 94cm)
13 - 20 Two 37" - 45" (94cm - 115cm)
>21 Use two projection surfaces (see Interactive Whiteboards)

Document Cameras
You might want to use a document camera to transfer images of printed documents or 3D objects that you want to display to the remote group.

Interactive Whiteboards  
If you connect an interactive whiteboard to a data projector, you'll have seamless, computer-based document sharing.

ISDN Lines
With each additional ISDN line, the picture and transmission quality becomes smoother. One to four ISDN lines are most common, but more lines may be necessary depending on your needs. Contact your local telephone company to install ISDN lines.

Presentation Screens
Replace traditional pull-down screens and flip charts with interactive whiteboards, such as Rear Projection SMART Boards. Then you can:
access all your computer-based information from the Board's touch-sensitive surface
write and share whiteboard notes
annotate over top of applications
save conferencing notes to a computer file

An interactive whiteboard, such as a Rear Projection SMART Board, functions as the monitor, displaying the image of remote participants and the PIP. With the Rear Projection SMART Board as part of your conferencing setup, you can share computer-based information and whiteboard notes in real time and view both groups conferencing together.

Source: Breford's Guide to Successfully Planning a Videoconferencing Room

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