How to: Make Video Calls with Skype

By James Maguire

March 17, 2009

You'll need a strong Wi-Fi connection to take advantage of this cool calling app over a wireless network, but it's great for business or pleasure. (Just be sure you keep a mirror nearby.)

Making a Skype video call is not only free but also remarkably easy. If you’ve got an Internet connection and a Webcam, nothing stands in your way.

But be warned: this means the age of video calling has arrived. When a phone call means your caller sees you, it’s now rude to be doing 18 things as you talk. (And please, no personal hygiene maintenance.) Oh, and it’s easy to record a video call--meaning any of your calls could end up on YouTube.

If none of this deters you, here’s what you need:

• Download Skype. It’s free. Register as a user and create a user name.

• If you want to record your video call, download Call Graph or Pamela (for Windows), or Call Recorder (for Mac).

Now, turn on your Webcam and make sure your space is well lit. Boot up Skype and click on the name of another registered Skype user (you’ll need to add their user name before you call).

Once that person answers the call, click on the little video icon near the bottom of the screen. Presto! You’ll see video of the person and he’ll see video of you. (Have you brushed your teeth recently?)

[Click here to view a sample Skype video with tech pundit Mike Elgan.]

User tips for Skype video calling:

It’s natural to want to look at the video of the person you’re calling, instead of looking into your Webcam’s eye. But only if you look into the Webcam will it appear you are facing the viewer. One solution: position Skype’s video screen as near to your Webcam’s eye as possible, so you appear to be facing the Webcam.

Video Skype sucks up a lot of bandwidth. If you’re on a shaky wireless connection your Skype connection might waver or drop. Shut down everything else (such as your browser or your second computer) that also hogs bandwidth.

In Skype, go to Preferences to change any parameters. For instance:

• You can make a video call using the “Picture in Picture” option (like in the sample video here) or “Side by Side.”

• If you’ve got the disk space, you can record at higher quality settings, or capture a larger video picture with better audio.

• You can use your built-in Webcam, or connect a high-end video camera for a deluxe recording.

Smile! You’re on camera!

Article courtesy of Datamation. In the original version of this article, we stated that "Side by Side" mode would make each caller’s video equal size. This is not the case. We regret the error.



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