Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Recording Video Chats

Following up on my previous post, I've enlisted Norma's help to find a way for non-techie end users to be able to record such conversations for on demand viewing. The idea being that one can do "online guest lecturers" this way in a low cost and low stress manner. One can try Skype or Oovoo or some other video chat software in a live classroom setting, but the occasional network hiccup or other mishap might make that less satisfying. We seem to be more tolerant of video quality on demand as long as the audio can be clearly heard.

So yesterday we futzed with Pamela, a helper application for Skype that does the recording. (Note that you need the "pro" version of the software that does have a fee but there is a free trial period. You can't do video recording with the free version.) The video that Pamela records is what shows up inside your Skype video call window. That is either the person at the other end of the chat or that with a picture in a picture view of you, as a thumbnail. (Oddly, my video works but that picture in the picture function doesn't work on my computer. It worked fine on Norma's.)

Pamela records that picture window faithfully. Unfortunately, it introduces a kind of reverse latency. The sound come first and then the picture come a moment later - you can hear laughter from a joke and then see the the person laughing afterwards. This is not bad for a joke itself, but it is unsettling for viewing a serious conversation.

We will experiment with Pamela some more, because it seems promising. But for now I'd use it only for audio recording. Those can be "Pamcast." And because of the comparatively low bandwidth in use while recording, I expect those to have reasonably good fidelity.

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