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Maximizing Light

Maximizing Light
Distance education and/or videoconferencing rooms in colleges and universities often have state-of-the-art cameras, codecs, and microphone mixing systems, and often have bandwidth far in excess of most corporate videoconferencing users. What often gets overlooked is the amount of light that shines on the interactive participants. The simplest and least expensive way to upgrade a distance learning classroom’s quality is to increase the amount of light that illuminates the participants. A light meter is a low-cost ($100-$200) device that no distance education specialist should be without. A reading of 60-75 foot-candles, as measured while holding the meter’s detector vertically (facing the camera) at each seat at 42” above the floor, is optimal.

There are plenty of opinions about whether directional lighting or indirect lighting is best (and affordable), but without enough light, the apparent quality of the output of the room is diminished. One of the most striking deficiencies of distance education rooms without sufficient light is the on-camera appearance of instructors and students with darker complexions. In order to gain enough contrast to see facial details and expressions, up to 75 foot-candles can be necessary.

Typically, the least expensive way to add more light is to put in more fluorescent fixtures. Make sure that the color temperature of the tubes matches that of the existing fixtures–its more important that the new lights match the existing than they conform to a given standard. Compared to upgrading to 3-CCD cameras and a better codec, adding lighting is a simple and inexpensive upgrade for any videoconferencing or distance learning system (and if you play your cards right, it comes out of Facilities’ budget instead of the technology budget). | 0 Comments

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