Family Zoom Studio

If holidays 2020 have demonstrated anything, it’s that our current video-chatting gear, built for the desk not the living room, doesn’t scale to groups.

A comfortable couple can get by, huddled in front of a shared laptop, but otherwise, unless everyone has a web-camera device of their own, audio and video quality plummet into indecipherable fuzz (and even with a one-device-per-person setup there are bandwidth and audio feedback issues to contend with).

Oliver and I have tried a combination of a wide-angle external webcam and a screen projector, but ergonomics and site lines have proved challenging. That said, this setup has allowed for a more casual stance and freedom from having to maintain eye contact; it also provides others with more context for our setting, as they can place us in the room we’re in, as opposed to just the wall slice we’re in front of.

My ideal setup would combine individual close-up cameras for each person with a context-setting wide angle, plus smart enough audio processing to filter out feedback. A useful upsell accessory would be a downward-facing camera that could be used for object sharing, tabletop game play, and so on.

I wonder if this could be achieved with a single ceiling-mounted device that would use face-detection to carve out the individual person-streams, plus directional microphones to isolate voices.

I would be willing to engage in nightly beta testing, by way of Zoom-charades, if the opportunity presented.


Oliver (fs)'s picture
Oliver (fs) on January 2, 2021 - 17:14 Permalink

Have you considered using lav mics or stereoheadsets? That’s a readier solution than a directional mic. For a wide angle of everybody I guess a cheap mic mixer/multiplexer could enable you still to mic everybody individually

Oliver (fs)'s picture
Oliver (fs) on January 3, 2021 - 05:07 Permalink

Hmm....I’m thinking you might go some distance to a cure cheaply by using lav mics and a mixer, because that way everybody is close-miked

Oliver (fs)'s picture
Oliver (fs) on January 3, 2021 - 05:15 Permalink

Disregard please my “Hmmm” comment, which is how I started before I came to write and post my first comment. Somehow mobile Safari remembered that first text and typed in the box when I revisited the browser tab, then seeing it I assumed it was a comment I’d failed to post and clicked “Save” too hastily

Karen Charette's picture
Karen Charette on January 4, 2021 - 22:23 Permalink

We would definitely be up to beta testing charades, but maybe not quite nightly, lol.