effective set-ups on skype

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Seumas Macdonald

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Oct 9, 2014, 9:04:39 AM10/9/14
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So we've done a couple of sessions of Scottish Gaelic over Skype. The great obstacle is trying to work out effective set-ups, because of the limitations of not being in the same physical space and manipulating the same objects. I'd be keen to hear from others who have done wayk through skype or other similar media, and any tricks/suggestions/techniques you've found useful.

Seumas

Jay Bazuzi

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Oct 9, 2014, 10:07:20 AM10/9/14
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In addition to language, I do a lot of my professional work over Skype. Some techniques I've learned:

Video is required. Quality of audio is a little more important than quality of video.

Logitech G930 is what i use. Blue Snowball is an amazing mic, but its hard to keep it close to your mouth.

As for cameras, most built-in laptop cameras are poor quality, and you have few options for how to orient to frame your picture. Get a separate HD webcam. Some can go on a tripod, and there are tiny tripods that work well on a table.

Frame your picture carefully. Include your full face and hands and the props, but nothing else.

A full-size monitor works better than a small laptop screen, because you will be further away from it.

Network latency and quality matters. Wired Ethernet connections are slightly more reliable than WiFi. Bandwidth is not a big concern after about 5Mb/s.

Computer speed does not matter.

Choose a small number of TQ: Obviously! props. Bigger than normal. A book is good. A coin is not.

Have your play partner copy your setup as closely as possible.

Don't wait for a perfect setup. Do the best you can with what you have today (Mumble) and improve each time. Include Skype issues in your No-Grief Debrief.

You will get Full much faster, perhaps sooner than you hoped. Stop while you are still having fun.

If you plan to start at 2 o'clock, but spend the first 20 minutes on technical issues, it's disheartening. Allocate time for working out those issues. After a while you will develop fluency here, too.

1-1 play doesn't stick as well as group play. Consider recording your sessions, especially if the opportunity was precious, so you can copycat it later. Recordings make people a little uncomfortable, though - be respectful.

-J on a mobile device

On Oct 9, 2014 6:04 AM, "Seumas Macdonald" <seumas...@gmail.com> wrote:
So we've done a couple of sessions of Scottish Gaelic over Skype. The great obstacle is trying to work out effective set-ups, because of the limitations of not being in the same physical space and manipulating the same objects. I'd be keen to hear from others who have done wayk through skype or other similar media, and any tricks/suggestions/techniques you've found useful.

Seumas

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Evan Gardner

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Oct 10, 2014, 3:59:18 PM10/10/14
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great suggestions.

And thank you Jay for being so specific on some of the tech stuff available. I think that helps a lot.

Another TQ I have used for video takes a bit to set up but is very worth it:  Suspension of Disbelief. Putting aside the idea that this is just a story and allowing yourself to stop reminding yourself that this is "just a movie."

This is a concept from theater or the movies where if the set up is done right, or enough right, the audience "believes" they are in that place and time that the film is taking place. The spectator forgets they have gone to a movie theater are transported to that world and believe they are a part of it. So like "artificial immersion" the masters of the scenery take take pains to create an environment where it is possible to believe you are a part of that place and time and it is necessary to communicate in that language to survive. Why don't movies and movie theaters have "smell tracks" to accompany the audio and video tracks!


Set up an environment where both players "think" they are in the same room. A few years ago John Graham from New Zealand and I had our first meeting ever over skype.  When the video feed came on line we both burst into laughter because we had both (uncoordinated) set up identical rooms! We both pointed our cameras into white corners. We both set up blue table clothed working surface and were both wearing similar shirts! Imagine if we had both actually planed the environment to perfectly match.

Once you figure out your "perfect props" for the language then try to get duplicate copies for each of the players.  You can go to amazon.com and order a set for yourself and a set for your partner. Or you can go to your local "cheep junk" store and buy identical items and then send a package to your friend that has a set of identical props as to the set you have at home. Now that you have identical items, in identical rooms,  it will be easier to "give" these items back and forth "through" the screen. With Identical objects it looks like you are "giving" someone an item if you push it directly at the camera and then your partner picks up their object from just off camera and "pulls" the object "through" the camera. Then the "giver" drops their prop out of camera and it "looks" and "feels" like the item has actually been exchanged.

When I did that session with John Graham in New Zealand our "suspension of disbelief" was blown when I gave him an American Dollar and it turned into a New Zealand dollar coin "through" the screen! I instantly "remembered" that we were half a world away from each other.

I love what you said Jay about not waiting for everything to be perfect before you start. But look around the house and see if you and your conversation partner have similar colored tables or table cloths, similar shaped and colored cups or rocks or pens. American dollars are often a pretty easy thing to find all around the world and can make a good prop to begin with.

On Thu, Oct 9, 2014 at 6:04 AM, Seumas Macdonald <seumas...@gmail.com> wrote:
So we've done a couple of sessions of Scottish Gaelic over Skype. The great obstacle is trying to work out effective set-ups, because of the limitations of not being in the same physical space and manipulating the same objects. I'd be keen to hear from others who have done wayk through skype or other similar media, and any tricks/suggestions/techniques you've found useful.

Seumas

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Seumas Macdonald

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Oct 16, 2014, 12:56:48 AM10/16/14
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Thanks to both Jay and Evan for chiming in on this. Jay, I particularly found your technical advice helpful; there's not a lot I can do to change my set-up at the current time but I will keep this in mind for the future. Evan, the only US bills I encounter here are $100!

Jay, I was going to ask if you have any recommendations about what to use to record a skype session.

Seumas

Arne Sostack

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Oct 16, 2014, 12:02:43 PM10/16/14
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I'm pretty happy with evaer for recording. It has improved a lot over the last year. Evaer.com
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