Emily D., Ohio
I’m attempting to teach a student (my mom) via Skype. We have the first lesson on Tuesday and spent way too much time trying to set up the cameras tonight. I have a MacBook, with a 2.4 GHx Intel Core 2 Duo processor, using OS X 10.6.8, and she has a new PC, using Windows 7. We’re both using built-in cameras, mine is iSight. We have to shoot the video from the top of the piano, which means automatically that it’s upside down. However, she was able to mirror the image so that her right hand is on top. Apparently that feature isn’t built into Skype for the Mac, and you can’t control iSight separately from the program.
So, I downloaded the trial version of iGlasses, which fixed that problem, but brought up a worse one: lag time. Now that it’s essentially using a non-built-in camera, there’s a fairly horrible lag time. This is worse than having the keyboard reversed.
If you were at the Detroit SM Workshop in August, we covered a number of things regarding Skype, but I don’t remember addressing this issue. Appreciate any suggestions you may have.
Melani M., Georgia
I haven’t had a major problem with lag time, although sometimes it is jerky and you have to repeat things. As far as WHERE to place the camera, I use an external camera on a mic stand with a boom arm. That way, you can place the camera wherever you need it, AND move it around if you need to focus on one end or the other of the keyboard. This has worked very well for me.
Mark M., New York
Take a look at my online lesson FAQ, this section in particular:
A separate external camera placed behind and above you is the best option. The next best option is to use the built-in camera while placing your laptop not on top of the piano but slightly behind you and off to the side, for an over-the-shoulder shot. A decent webcam or camcorder should not add lag-time compared to the computer’s built-in camera.
John H. for Evan H., Kansas
Skype video performance is related to the speed (or sensitivity) of the camera’s sensor and ambient light levels. The camera’s software chooses a shutter speed which produces adequate brightness and color saturation if ambient light level is adequate for the camera’s sensor. However that shutter speed and the corresponding sensor refresh rate may result in slow or jerky performance if the light level is not enough to permit a higher shutter speed. You can check this by going into the camera’s control software and manually increasing the camera’s shutter speed. Higher speeds will reduce or completely eliminate slow and jerky performance but the image will be darker – maybe too dark to use.
If this is your result you can either buy a newer camera with a more sensitive sensor or increase your ambient light level so that the automatic shutter control will select a higher speed.
FYI, we are evaluating software which permits simultaneous operation of multiple webcams so that your students can see your face and your fingers/keyboard at the same time. They could provide the same imagery for you as well. More on this in a couple of weeks.
Jenny S., Australia
I have been using Skype for a few years now. My students are 100’s of kilometers away in central Queensland. I use the phone line for sound and Skype for picture. We mute the sound on Skype. The phone line is much more consistent for us. The visual helps me to see hand positioning, fingering etc etc even when it has delay. We both use headsets on our phones.
Original discussion started February 20, 2012