Video conferencing room primerGeneral guidelines for room design and best practiceThere is no one video system that is rightfor all organizations. It is important to selectvideo components that are the best fitfor your goals and needs. This will in turndetermine the equipment required and theoptimal room solution for your use.However, the premises of your organizationmay dictate a less than optimal room solution.In order to minimize the effects of the tradeoffs needed, some know-how is required—and that is where this little guide may comein handy.D14621.03 Cisco TelePresence System Video conferencing room primer—Oct. 20111

What’s in this booklet?Video conferencing is Green.3Ten tips to advance business goals and reduce environmentalimpacts with video conferencing.3One solution doesn’t fit all.4Matching solutions to your goals .4Elements of a video conferencing solution.5A total solution.5General room design guidelines.6Interior design considerations.6Background considerations.7Lighting considerations.7Heating, ventilation and air conditioning considerations.7Acoustical considerations.7Room layout guidelines.9Microphone guidelines.10Monitor and camera guidelines.10Presentation tool guidelines. 11Document camera. 11PC presentations. 11Whiteboard. 11Best practices. 12D14621.03 Cisco TelePresence System Video conferencing room primer—Oct. 20112

Video conferencing is GreenOne of the most effective ways to reduce CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissionsis to reduce unnecessary travel. On average, our customers find that videoconferencing reduce the need to travel by up to 30%, while improving theirbottom line.Work/life balance. Employees who are always on the road often reportmore stress, less productivity and reduced job satisfaction. Video removesthe need to travel, increasing morale, productivity, and collaboration.Distance learning. Schools and training facilities get an added lessonin conservation when they connect via video to remote institutions toenhance learning opportunities and save on costs.Ten tips to advance business goals and reduce environmentalimpacts with video conferencingR&D. Designers and researchers around the globe can hold videodiscussions about product design, carry out component modifications, andadvance development timelines, without increasing their carbon footprint.Telecommuting. Enable people to work from home while still being fullyengaged in the workplace with a face-to-face connection. Save on real estateand operational costs, while increasing productivity and morale of employeeswho don’t spend hours in traffic.Team building. Multiple offices don’t have to mean isolated teams. Videoallows remote team mates to see each other as often as if they were in thesame office, building camaraderie without associated travel.Access to remote experts. Connecting customers and employees to experts andadvisors over video no matter where they are located saves time, money and carbonemissions, and increases customer satisfaction and loyalty.HR recruiting. Video-based screenings of out-of-town candidates cutcosts and carbon emissions by eliminating travel, while allowing hiringmanagers to read candidates’ facial expressions.Global meetings. Whether meeting with the board or your global team,there’s no need for a flight. Just a short walk down the hall or a quick call fromthe desk and everyone can meet face-to-face.Real-time collaboration. Organizations can deal with large amountsof rich data and collaborate in real-time from multiple locations with thevisual and multi-media capabilities of video conferencing, instead of losingproductivity from rigorous travel out into the field.Customer briefing centers. Video unites purchasers, clients, sales staff andengineers in real time without travel to facilitate instant decision making andcollaboration.D14621.03 Cisco TelePresence System Video conferencing room primer—Oct. 20113

One solution doesn’t fit allThere is no one video system that is right for all organizations. It isimportant to select video components that are the best fit for your goalsand needs. This will in turn determine the equipment required and theoptimal room solution for your use.However, the premises of your organization may dictate a less than optimalroom solution. In order to minimize the effects of the trade-offs needed,some know-how is required—and that is where this little guide may comein handy.Matching solutions to your goalsHow you answer the following questions will help you decide how thepremises to be used for the video system should be designed. How do you envision your company using video conferencing? What kind of information do you exchange—product details,spreadsheets, multimedia, high security information? How many people would participate in each type of meeting, in eachlocation? Would meeting room systems be installed in dedicated video rooms orwould they be installed in rooms also used for other purposes?D14621.03 Cisco TelePresence System Video conferencing room primer—Oct. 20114

Elements of a video conferencing solutionDesk or personal video conferencing systems. These systems aredesigned for personal or single-person use and include video VoIP phones,executive systems and PC-based systems optimized for use in the officeworkstation, home office or even the coffee shop.The five essential components in a telepresence video conferencingsystem are:Industry applications. telehealth, distance education, defense and otherindustries have special video systems designed to meet their specificapplication. You may find that your applications match up to a specializedsolution. Camera and microphone capture the image and sound at one location. A codec converts the video and audio into a digital signal andcompresses it before sending it out over the network. At the other end, a codec decompresses the signal and feeds the pictureto a monitor and the sound to a loudspeaker.Centralized management and scheduling tools. The Cisco TelepresenceManagement System (TMS) enables you to control an increasingly complexcommunications environment without decreasing the level of service—orsignificantly increasing associated support costs. With a managementsystem, you can perform remote diagnostics and system upgrades, controlassociated resources and link to third-party communication tools, generateusage reports and calculate your return on investment.A video call can incorporate two units or many, with considerable optionsfor functionality.Depending on your application requirements and budget, you will havenumerous options for the video solution you choose. There is a system forevery workspace—from boardrooms to desktops and from field locationsto manufacturing floors.Multipoint Control Unit (MCU). With MCUs, you can join multiple videoand voice participants into a single conference. You can find MCUs thatoffer High Definition continuous presence to ensure the quality of your HighDefinition units across the whole network, and ones that are highly scalablemedia services engines that grow with your business demands.A total solutionAn end-to-end telepresence video conferencing solution incorporatesa full suite of video systems, infrastructure for multiple environmentsand centralized management tools. You can expand it even further byintegrating with external devices and productivity tools.Video infrastructure. As video adoption in your organization grows toinclude multiple sites and advanced functionality, you will require networkinfrastructure to support your solution.Your end-to-end solution may include some or all of the following products:Video infrastructure ensures: That users on different networks can connect through the same videosolution. That bandwidth can be regulated. That calls across different networks and user domains can connectsecurely with NAT-firewall traversal*.Immersive creates the most realistic in-person meeting experience andprovides an ideal platform for communication and interaction. Meetingparticipants feel as though they are having a conversation with colleaguesright across the table—even though they may be miles or continents apart.The telepresence category can include immersive, room-based telepresenceenvironments and personal telepresence systems for executive desktops.An intelligent infrastructure component such as Cisco’s TelepresenceVideo Communication Server (VCS) can make your network more reliableby ensuring that all calls are routed properly, convert IP addresses intodirectories for one-click dialing, and allow your video units to interoperatewith phones and other devices.Group Video Conferencing Systems (also called Multi-purpose or Roomsystems) These high-quality systems are designed to be used in meetingrooms, boardrooms, auditoriums and other shared environments. HighDefinition video conferencing solutions can offer the same clarity of pictureand sound as the immersive systems.D14621.03 Cisco TelePresence System Video conferencing room primer—Oct. 2011* NAT (Network Address Translation) is a technique that hides addresses of a private network behind a singleIP address on the Internet. NAT Firewall Traversal is a general term for techniques that establish and maintainconnections traversing (NAT) gateways.5

FindMeNow you can call the person, not the device. With applications such as FindMe, a partGeneral room design guidelinesFindMe.Now you cancallCommunicationthe person, notServerthe device.With applicationsof the TANDBERGVideo(VCS), callerscan find you dyouregardlessof whereof where you are. Individual video users can log on to a Web-based interfaceand asedinterfacewhere and how they are contacted. If a user will be away from the desk,andfor example, hecontrol where and how they are contacted. If a user will be away fromor she can have inbound calls to a video unit automatically forward to a cell phone.the desk, for example, he or she can have inbound calls to a video unitautomatically forwarded to a cell phone.Once you’ve chosen your video solution and prepared your infrastructure,it will be time to deploy. That means setting up the best possibleexperience for your users.C O M M U N I C AT I O NDEVICESI WA N T T O R E A C HSOMEONE, BUTI O N LY WA N T T ODIAL ONE NUMBER,NOT ALL DEVICESYou can use video in many workspaces—boardroom, manufacturing floor,work station or home office.3GH.323IPA few simple adjustments (and a few things to keep in mind) will ensurethat your meetings have the best possible image and audio quality.PERSONANSWERSTHE CALLWHERET H E Y WA N TSIPContent ServerContent Server. By adding a content server, you can record and streamvideomeetings—suchas company-wideannouncementsor trainingsBy addinga content server,you can recordand stream videomeetings——tosuch asbecompany-wideshown to a cements or trainings — to be shown to a wide audience atImmersive room (left) and a group video conference system or room system (right).Interior design considerationsa time mostandconvenientfor viewers.PeripheralsAccessories.There is a wide range of peripheralequipment that can enhance your visual communication environment. HighPeripherals and AccessoriesDefinition and wide angle cameras, as well as upgraded speakers andmicrophones,enhancethevisual andaudio experience.With documentThere is a widerange ofperipheralequipmentthat can enhanceyour visual tsviavideo.nication environment. High Definition and wide angle cameras, as well as upgradedYoucan connectyour video systemsVCRs,whiteboardsandspeakersand microphones,enhance totheDVDs,visual andaudioexperience.With documentdocument and multimedia applications via your PC.When considering the interior design of the video conferencingworkspace, the primary goals should be to make the room as comfortableas possible, putting less emphasis on the technology. Specific colors arerecommended for backgrounds and walls to enable better recognition ofthe participants without straining the capabilities of the video cameras.Recommended colors are soft, textured wall coverings, but smoothpainted walls will work if colors are muted earth tones and the lighting isadjusted to suit. When considering furniture and walls be aware of colorand physical characteristics that may make your video or audio input haveto work harder.cameras, you can transmit drawings and other documents via video. You can connectyour video systems to DVDs, VCRs, whiteboards and document and multimedia applications via your PC.Immersive telepresence rooms provide a total control of the lighting,furniture, walls and floor and one will then have more freedom to opt forother solutions regarding choice of materials and colors, cf. the use ofblue glass panes in the immersive room shown above.D14621.03 Cisco TelePresence System Video conferencing room primer—Oct. 20116

Background considerationsHeating, ventilation and air conditioning considerations Remember that the camera also shows what is behind you. A calmingbackground with a neutral color, medium contrast and soft texture willbe the best to have. We recommend walls without patterns. Avoid moving backgrounds such as curtains in a draft or people walkingbehind you. This may reduce image quality and distract the attention ofthose on the far end. Do not place the camera facing a doorway. Choose a table that is light but not reflective. A light natural wood is agood choice. Avoid unnecessary furniture or clutter in the room.The equipment installed in your video conferencing room may generate aconsiderable amount of heat. This will depend on your choice of equipment,but keep in mind such things as the fact that larger monitors generatemore heat than small monitors do, more people in a room will generatemore heat than few people will, and so on. This may force you to considermodifications of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system.Acoustical considerationsAny current conference room can be adapted for use as a video conferencingroom by making adjustments based on the needs of video and audioequipment to capture signals.Lighting considerationsAlthough the term video conferencing emphasizes video, the acousticsshould by no means be forgotten. Audio communications should be as clearand uninterrupted as possible, otherwise the purpose of video conferencingwill be defeated because people will not experience natural communication. Avoid direct light on people, presentation materials or the camera lens.Direct light tend to create harsh contrasts and shadows. While there are several concepts popular with designers, one keydesign parameter appears throughout most recommendations. Toeliminate shadows, a combined lighting arrangement ratio of 60/40 forceiling and wall lighting is often recommended. Wall lighting should beindirect and such lamp arrangements are readily available from a widerange of suppliers. The key here is to equalize the available light on theparticipants and eliminate shadows, dark backgrounds, and bright spotsin the center of the conference table. “Daylight” type lamps are most effective. You should avoid coloredlighting that might tint your image. Special attention should be given to eliminating as much natural light aspossible from entering through windows. The sunlight is very differentin nature from artificial light in terms of color temperature, and createssharp contrasts in the room, which in turn may confuse the automaticadjustment mechanisms of most cameras for video conferencingsystems. Effort should be put into establishing uniform lighting in theroom, and using curtains or opaque blinds to cover the windows will help. Take care when placing whiteboards directly behind people or wherelighting may reflect and cause glare. Highly reflective whiteboardsshould be avoided. If they are not required, remove them altogether.D14621.03 Cisco TelePresence System Video conferencing room primer—Oct. 2011If the audio is good, minor glitches in the video can also be tolerated withoutconcern. The acoustics of the room should offer fair sound absorption andsound insulation.Sound absorption and diffusion is needed to reduce the influence offlat reflective surfaces like polished floors, windows, ceiling, flat walls, etc.This is done by introducing sound absorbing materials such as a wall-to-wallcarpet, absorption panels on the walls and/or the ceiling, and medium toheavy weight curtains in front of windows. The latter may also help to keepnatural light out.Sound diffusion is improved by making surfaces less flat. Large decorativeobjects irregular in shape will help. Furniture, in particular of the softupholstered kind, will also help.The improvement of sound absorption in the room contributes to thereduction of reverberation effects which tend to make sounds very lively andconfusing.In general terms a 10% or more coverage of the total surface of the wallsand ceiling with quality sound absorption panels can greatly improve thesound quality.7

If you are in the position to choose, keep in mind that irregularly shapedrooms are acoustically better than the commonly encountered shoe-box shape.Opposing parallel surfaces may cause flutter echoes stemming from the soundbouncing back from the parallel surfaces over and over again. A very practicaltest to check for this is to stand in various positions in the room and clap yourhands loudly once in every position.Cisco recommends Reverberation time (RT) should be within 0.3–0.6 [s] in the octave bands 125–4000 [Hz]. The acoustic absorption should to the extent possible be distributed on the walls in addition tothe ceiling to avoid flutter-echo effects from parallel walls. If you are not going to put absorption on all walls, put the absorption on non-opposing walls tominimize flutter echo effects in all directions. Distribute the absorption elements about the walls, avoid absorption clusters. The ceiling is recommended to have an absorption factor 0.9 in the octave bands125–4000 [Hz]. This will normally require a mineral wool ceiling of good quality. The walls should preferably have sound absorbing fields at the side, front and back walls. Ifperforated or slotted panels are used, the opening area of the panel must be at least 20 % ofthe panel area. Sound absorption on walls could also be made with mineral wool wall panels, curtains or otherabsorptive materials. Carpet on the floor is strongly recommended. All walls around the room should have a sound insulation of R’w 48 dB ( STC 50). The door should have a sound insulation of Rw 38 dB ( STC 40). Background noise level should ideally be 30 dB(A). However, a background noise level 35 dB(A) will be acceptable. This includes both noise from technical installations (airconditioning, in particular) and outdoor traffic noise etc.If the clap sound is crisp, clear and distinguishable then the acoustics ofthe room are good enough for video conferencing.On the other hand, if you hear diffusions as though more people areclapping their hands at the same time, there is flutter echo present andthis will affect the sonic quality of the room. This will call for absorptionon the parallel surfaces. Although not always attainable, sound absorbingmaterials work better if they are mounted at a distance from the wall—typically 0.2 m (8”). This may interfere with the architectural ideas behindthe look of the room.Sound insulation refers to the elimination of outside environmentalnoise or other sounds, that could be surprisingly distracting during a videoconference.The problem often is that while you might be accustomed to the sound oftraffic just outside your office all day, your remote colleagues might findthis to be an unpleasant surprise during a video conference.Such problems are much more disturbing in a video conference, sinceparticipants automatically sharpen their sensory perception to overcomethe lack of physical contact.Sound insulation works both ways, in addition to reducing the amount ofoutside noise, it also enhances the privacy of your video meetings. Forbusiness critical meetings this may be of great importance.D14621.03 Cisco TelePresence System Video conferencing room primer—Oct. 20118

Room layout guidelinesThis avoids having an attendee in that seat, who can neither see themonitor nor be seen by the camera, and permits the assembled group toview the remote part of the meeting. The arrangement also creates a clearwalkway into and around the table.New video conferencing rooms that are fortunate enough to beconceptualized in design from the start—and are dedicated specificallyto the application—are easy to implement. Unfortunately this may notalways be the case.Larger meeting rooms designed for 10–30 people will normally workbetter if the seating is arranged in a U form.A video conference is directionally oriented by the visual focus capabilitiesof the camera. This should therefore be taken into consideration whenworking with room layouts. Allowances must be made for furniture,additional wallboards, etc.The size of the attending group is not only depending on the actual roomsize itself. The room layout will also determine how many participantsmay attend. The actual seating arrangement is then defined to allow theparticipants to see and be seen through the conference.A larger meeting room often works better with the seating arranged in a U shape.This can also be achieved by letting the wide side of the table face the camera.Distance learning applications with larger audiences (typically 30 peopleand above) may require a more traditional auditorium or classroom layout.To enhance the experience, several monitors may be used. The belowexample shows a configuration with remote and local speaker, a separatepresentation monitor and two extra monitors to provide a better view forthose seated in the rear.There is a minimum distance required for the camera to capture all of theattending participants. This should be taken into consideration when doing thelayout. Also keep in mind that if the room is also to be used for other purposesthan video conferencing, steps should be taken to avoid any layout conflicts.Furniture manufacturers have developed conference tables specificallydesigned to allow meeting attendees to see and be seen by the videoequipment. There are several sources available for specialized videoequipment including custom conferencing tables and matching cabinets.Remote presenterLocal presenterSmall meeting rooms. The best capture angle for the video camera is a“down the table view” with the end seat closest to the camera empty.Distance learning applications often work better with auditorium or classroom layouts.One thing to keep in mind here is that the remote lecturer should be ableto talk to the students. A camera collocated with the monitor showingthe remote presenter will enable the students to communicate withthe lecturer as they are looking at the monitor and thus provide naturalcommunication.Small meeting rooms normally work best with a “down the table view” arrangement.A slightly slanted table (right) may work better in some cases.D14621.03 Cisco TelePresence System Video conferencing room primer—Oct. 20119

Microphone guidelinesMonitor and camera guidelinesFor small groups of people a single microphone will normally suffice.Systems supplied with more than one microphone have been designed touse all the microphones supplied. These microphones should be placedas far apart as possible from each other to minimize the interference.Note that there are Cisco microphones designed for ceiling mountingavailable.Viewing distance depends on the size of the monitor you will be usingand the number of people gathered around the table, as indicated in thebelow fig. Note the way viewing distance is defined here. See sidebar forrecommended viewing distances.Make sure that no speaking participant experience obstacles blocking theview to the microphone at all times.ViewingdistanceMicrophone should be placed away from noise sources like computer andprojector fans placed on the table. The noise from such sources is oftenperceived as surprisingly loud by the remote participants.Viewing distance varies with monitor size and is measured as shown.For distance learning applications and other classroom and auditoriumlayouts (see the previous page for more on this), make sure there aremicrophones located so that the lecturer (the remote speaker) can hearthe audience whenever needed.Our multi-purpose system cameras have a horizontal angle of view ofaround 70 . Minor variations exist between the different models.You may need to take the angle of view into account when decidingwhere to put your camera. Keep in mind that if the camera position differssignificantly from the monitor location you will obscure the feeling ofnatural communication.For systems with the camera attached to the monitor, this may call for carewhen deciding the room layout and the number of seats.Cisco recommendsAssuming the use of a 1080p monitor with an aspect ratio of 16:9, we recommend thatyou start out with the following viewing distances: 42” monitor: 1.5 m / 4’ 11” 52” monitor: 2.0 m / 6’ 6” 65” monitor: 2.5 m / 8’ 2”Note that these figures should be regarded as guidelines only. We do recommend that you trythings out on-site before fixing any mounting position.Cisco recommends Place no obstacles between participants and the microphone. Participants should have afree view to the microphone at all times. Avoid putting equipment with noisy fans close to the microphone. Auditoriums should have microphones among the audience to enable communication withthe remote lecturer.D14621.03 Cisco TelePresence System Video conferencing room primer—Oct. 2011One thing that may modify the validity of the above guidelines is the number of people alongthe table. Persons sitting at—or near—the end of the table may feel that the distance to themonitor is too far for them, in particular during presentations. In such cases a larger monitor isrecommended.Also note that if you sit too close to the monitor, the camera will “look down” on you. This maypartly disturb the feeling of natural communication for the remote participants.10

Presentation tool guidelinesPC presentationsPresentations residing on a PC, on a computer network, or anywhere elseaccessible from the PC, may also be shown on during a video conference.Most Cisco TelePresence systems and all codecs allow computers toconnect to the video system.You may enhance the telepresence experience by adding presentationsources, such as a document camera, PC based presentations or externalvideo sources—for example by playing back a DVD.PC presentations enable all participants, local and remote, to share apresentation. The presenting computer is then the only computer needed.Observe that a video conferencing room also may be used as a localmeeting room. The monitor may then serve as presentation monitor forthe local meeting.Document cameraIf you need to present objects or paper based documents, a documentcamera may be used.The camera is normally mounted above the meeting table, but may, iflocal conditions dictate, be mounted above any table in the room.Presentation using a computer as source.WhiteboardIf you want to include a whiteboard in the video conferencing room, werecommend that you consider investing in a second camera rather thanrelying on the idea that the whiteboard can be viewed from the maincamera.To ensure a good view from the main camera, the whiteboard mustnormally be placed so that it opposes the main camera. The glare of ashiny whiteboard may be very disturbing to the remote participants.Many Cisco TelePresence systems support more than one camera and youmay easily switch between the two cameras with the remote control.Document camera, principle of operation.The document camera is accessed by selecting Presentation with theremote control and then specify input source (what you would like towatch).D14621.03 Cisco TelePresence System Video conferencing room primer—Oct. 2011Consider using a second camera for the whiteboardrather than relying on the idea that the whiteboardcan be viewed from the main camera—see text fordetails.11

If you are going to do presentations you are normally going to make useof duo video. That means the use of two video streams, one showingthe presentation and the other showing the presenter—or the group ofpresenters. Small systems may force you to choose between showingthe presentation or the presenter.For duo video some attention is needed. Duo video is often shown sideby side with half the screen showing the presentation and the other ha

Group Video Conferencing Systems (also called Multi-purpose or Room systems) These high-quality systems are designed to be used in meeting rooms, boardrooms, auditoriums and other shared environments. High Definition video conferencing solutions can offer the sa