Web Based Video Conferencing - What is Web Video Conferencing

There are many ways to set up live web based video conferencing. It can be as simple as an inexpensive webcam on an individual computer or as complex as a professional television studio.

A live video broadcast is easier to set up than a web conference because the webcast is only going in one direction. Web conferences usually require that all participants can see and communicate with each other and also be able to see any supplementary material.

The greater the number of participants in a web conference the greater the need will be for a centralized director who can oversee the progress of the conference and assign personnel in the case of technical difficulties.

Web Video Conferencing

Web conferences can be as simple as two people using an Internet messaging system such as MSN messenger, or as complex as several meeting rooms simultaneously broadcasting and receiving video, sound and graphics over the Internet.

This simple setup can be extended to small groups with each participant using an individual workstation consisting of a computer and camcorder. Each workstation can be viewed by 3 or 4 people, so as long as most of those are acting as observers rather than active participants, this setup can suffice.

A step up from this simple workstation setup is to have dual PC's. One computer for full screen display of important graphics or for the speaker who has the 'floor', and the other for split screen display to show all the participants and any other supplementary material.

Once the number of active participants reaches a certain point, each conference 'node' will have to be hosted in a specially prepared room with microphones, video displays, amplifiers and speakers. Each conference room may need several video cameras for people and for documents.

In addition to the audio and video equipment, some conferences may require the use of equipment such as fax machines, scanners and digital cameras so that documents can be transmitted in a number of ways. A desktop sharing application which allows participants to see and manipulate programs may also be needed.

Because of the potential complexity of a large web conference, it must be planned well in advance and each conference node must be properly set up to send and receive video, audio and documents. The preparations would ideally come under the responsibility of one person who can make sure that all the equipment is ready and working correctly.

Webcasts

In comparison to web video conferences, webcasting is usually much simpler, although it can present the same challenges as web video conferencing if multiple video sources are used. Most webcasts, though, are simple one camera one studio affairs that can be handled with just a few people.

A simple webcast can consist of one or two people on screen and one person acting as the camera operator and technician. Of course, webcasts can also be full scale studio productions with several cameras and microphones and a director managing the action.

During any kind of professional webcast it is always a good idea to have a technician on hand to make sure that the video is streaming correctly and to attend to any problems that may arise. Otherwise, a well planned webcast could be lost in the netherworld of cyberspace.

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