Considerations for Videoconferencing Rooms

Room Layout

For videoconferencing group meetings the best layout is a U-shaped table with the display and camera at the top of the U and participants sitting around the table. This provides all participants with a similar view, allows easy sharing of materials, and optimizes eye contact with the far end.

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Interior Room Design

When considering the interior design of the videoconferencing space, the primary goals should be to make the room as comfortable as possible, de-emphasizing the technology in the room and making the user interface to the system uniform and predictable.

Specific colors are recommended for backgrounds and wall covering to enable better recognition of attendees without straining the capture capabilities of the video camera. We recommended soft, textured wall coverings, but smooth painted walls will work if colors are muted and the lighting is adjusted to suit.

Here are some other recommended paint colors/finishes:

Lilac: Benjamin Moore #1447 flat finish
Gray: Benjamin Moore #1459 flat finish
Blue/Gray: Benjamin Moore #1627 flat finish
Blue Lace: Benjamin Moore #1625 flat or satin finish
Light Blue: Sherwin Williams #SW1243 Celtic Blue, Ever Clean

Room Acoustics

Audio setup is another important component of a videoconferencing room. The acoustics of the room should offer fair sound absorption and sound insulation.

Sound absorption has to do with the elimination or reduction of flat reflective surfaces like polished floors, windows, flat walls, etc. and the introduction of sound absorbing materials such as a wall-to-wall carpet, absorption panels on the walls and/or the ceiling, and medium to heavy weight curtains in front of windows.

The improvement of sound absorption in the room helps in the reduction of reverberation effects which make sounds very dull and confusing. A 10% coverage of the total surface of the walls and ceiling with quality sound absorption panels can greatly improve the sound quality.

A very practical test to check for sound absorption is to stand in various positions in the room and clap your hands loudly once in every position. If the clap sound is crisp, clear and distinguishable, the acoustics of the room are good enough for videoconferencing.

On the other hand, if you hear diffusions as though more people are clapping their hands at the same time and the sound is louder than you would expect, then something needs to be done to correct it. Sound absorption becomes more important as the size of the room increases, especially over 30 feet in the larger dimension.

Sound insulation refers to the elimination of outside environmental noise or other sounds that could be very distracting during a videoconference. For example, while you might be accustomed to the sound of traffic just outside your office all day, your remote colleagues might find this as an unpleasant surprise during a videoconference. Problems such as these are much more disturbing in a videoconference, since participants automatically sharpen their sensory perception to overcome the lack of physical contact.

Lighting

When a training or board room becomes a video conferencing room, perception (visibility, intelligibility and comfort) becomes an even more important issue in the design. With video conferencing, care should be taken to ensure ease of use and a well defined final image.

The two main aspects of lighting for video conferencing production are control of lighting quality, producing a well defined picture, and ensuring the comfort of participants. Recessed or track lighting function well as a separate video lighting system and integrates into the conference environment more easily than television or theatrical luminaries will. Care should be taken to control daylight coming into the room to avoid the potential of reflected glare projected on to the screen.

To improve light quality, surface areas should have a high reflective range (lighter colors), preferably with matte or semi-matte finish. Conference and board room tables should not have a glossy finish and be of a higher reflective range.

For more information

Let SKC's team of integration and videoconferencing engineers design the right solution for your space. We've partnered with with manufacturers whose solutions address furnishings, lighting and acoustics in conferencing and presentation rooms.