Remote Guests - Skype Information

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Skype

Download the latest version of Skype from http://skype.com - it's free.

Make sure to have a good Internet connection and test Skype quality prior to your appearance. If you are able to, you may improve Skype call quality by setting a fixed port and enabling port forwarding on your router.

Position your camera so that you'll be looking into it most of the time when you're speaking. Speak clearly and with ample volume, ideally in a room without much echo and few background noises.

We strongly recommend using a USB headset for your appearance. If you wish to buy one on your own we recommend the .audio 655 USB Headset. They run about US$30 on Amazon.com. Do NOT use a Bluetooth headset - they sound terrible.

In any case you must at least use headphones to avoid echoes that will disrupt the show. Make sure that you are using the best microphone you have access to and that the outbound microphone volume level is set appropriately both in your computer OS and within Skype. Skype also has its own internal setting for audio input. If unsure what microphone is selected, check the "Sound In" device in Options->"Sound Devices" or call the Skype echo testing service and tap the microphone.

Tips

  • Setup
    • Make sure you have the latest version of Skype. For Macs, it's Skype->Check for Update.
    • We strongly recommend using a USB headset for your appearance. If you wish to buy one on your own we recommend the .audio 655 USB Headset. They run about US$30 on Amazon.com. Do NOT use a Bluetooth headset - they sound terrible.
      • Please do not use the built-in laptop microphone if at all possible. This is only for use if we have exhausted all other options. If the laptop mic must be used, then find some iPhone/iPod headphones and plug them in so you hear the audio through the headphones. This will prevent echo coming back into the FCA studio mix.
      • USB headset does not mean a headset with two connectors that look the same as those for iPod headphones. It means that it is plugged into your computer via USB.
    • Video: you have several options
      • Built-in camera: If you have a new computer, chances are it has a built-in webcam. That should be sufficient.
      • External webcam: This is OK, too. We get excellent results on both Mac and Windows with the Logitech c920 webcams.
    • Ethernet connection rather than Wi-Fi, please. If at all possible please connect directly to the ethernet rather than using Wi-Fi as you will have a much greater likelihood of looking and sounding good.
      • Are you using your home network? If so, ask others on your network NOT to watch YouTube or do anything that uses lots of bandwidth.
  • Noise
    • Headset feedback: It's possible that there could be feedback from your headset cable. You will not hear this. Try calling "echo123" on skype and testing your audio for a few minutes. If you hear the feedback (sounds sort of like a tapping pencil), then you will need to sit on any slack in the headset's cord to prevent it from making the noise.
    • Multiple USB ports: You will want to make sure the webcam and USB headset are plugged directly into the USB ports, not through a hub.
    • Will your office-mate or family member be shouting nearby? Close the door and put a sign on it that says: "Shhhh! Business phone call in progress. Please don't come in before X o'clock."
  • Skype Audio
    • Always make sure you have the latest version of Skype.
    • Skype overwrites the computer's audio and video settings. And these settings usually need to be re-set each time you plug in the headset. On a Mac, go to Skype->Preferences->Audio and select your USB headset for "Audio output" and "Audio input." Leave the "Ringing" setting to your built-in speakers (this is so you can hear it ringing if you've stepped away from your computer. In Windows, go to Tools->Options->Audio Settings. There you will be able to select your USB headset for Microphone and Speakers, but leave "Ringing" set to "Windows default device."
    • We recommend editing the Skype XML preference file to turn off its "Automatic Gain Control" and "Echo Cancellation" following the instructions here http://thepodcastersstudio.com/skypeaudiocontrols/.
    • When restarting Skype, call "echo123" and test your audio with "the Skype lady." Tap your headset's microphone to make sure the audio is coming from that source. If your audio sounds hollow or has an echo, then your audio is coming from the laptop microphone.
    • Unplug any other headset or earphones plugged into that computer. They may conflict.
  • Skype video
    • On a Mac, go to Skype->Preferences->Video and select your "Built-in iSight." Check "Enable Skype Video" and "Automatically receive video from: People in my Contact List." Enable iSight camera. When connected with Leo, select the teeny-tiny button that looks like the profile of a video camera.
    • In Windows, go to Tools->Options->Video Settings. Select your webcam. Check "Enable Skype Video" and "Automatically receive video from: People in my Contact List." When connected with Leo, select the teeny-tiny button that looks like the profile of a video camera.
  • Video
    • Check to see how you look by using Skype Video settings.
    • Consider your camera. Most built-in webcams are plenty good for our purposes, but if you are purchasing an external camera, you might try something like the Logitech c920 webcams.
    • Consider your lighting. Please have a stronger light in your face than you do at your back, instead of being backlit. If you have a pretty view behind you you'd like to show off in the shot, make sure you have at least two strong lights pointing right at your face. Yes, it's bright, but it can make a beautiful shot.
    • Frame the image well. Usually, the best way is to have your head almost touching the top of the frame, and your head be in the top three-fifths of the frame and your chest the bottom two-fifths (enough to put your name in the "lower third" of the screen). And please, put the webcam just at the top of the monitor you are going to be using, so you're pointing right at it as you're on your computer. No sideways views, please.
    • Enable video automatically. Don't wait for us to ask for you to send video. The conversation will begin right away - make sure you're sending video.
  • Advanced Privacy Settings
    • For the purposes of your call, please go into "Privacy" settings (you may need to click on "Advanced") and allow calls, chats, and video from anyone, and show you're online. After the show, you can revert these settings to be whatever you like.



Creative Commons Credit: These Skype recommendations were adapted and modified based on Twit.tv's guidelines.