Video conferencing out of the meeting room

Remote and flexible working is of course part of ones daily life now.  If we are not remote workers personally, we certainly know a few who are.  Data is accessible in the cloud and mobile phones and the Internet have made interpersonal communications easy, even from opposite sides of the World.

As the World shrinks, our workforce and our customers can be easily reached at any time and from any place.  Of course it’s not just the convenience; using the Internet rather than travel means we can reduce cost, increase efficiency and productivity whilst reducing our effect on the environment.

Many of us work with colleagues from all over the World and in different time zones.  Increasingly, we now communicate with those people via video link, whether it’s in a conference suite or from our desks using systems like Lync or Zoom. This use of video brings benefits over telephone and email.  It’s said that when we communicate, 55% of our message is expressed through body language and 38% expressed through tone of voice.

Even as a video conferencing service provider, I would still argue that there is no substitute for face-to-face meetings.  Large group meetings, presentations and workshops are still important but with teams spread from one continent to the next, it’s often not possible to get everyone in one room and that’s really where video conferencing comes in.  Large venues, hotels, conference and exhibition centres allow us to get large groups together but we often can’t get everyone in the same room.

Historically, event organisers have avoided complicated video links and streaming on the Internet and instead opted for simpler, safer options. With websites like YouTube now accounting for more than half of Internet traffic, video over the web is much safer, more reliable and resilient.  Event spaces are also realising the value of offering high quality connectivity to their clients.  We regularly run concurrent meetings on different continents, have over flow rooms on the other side of the world or join teams from different jurisdictions all together in one virtual place in order that they benefit from each others experiences.

If you want to know more about how we might be able to make this work for you, please feel free to give us a call…


Calling all events / AV / tech companies…

We challenge you to join us!

Present Communications have entered a team into the famous Tough Mudder competition on the 16th August 2014 in Cirencester.  We are due to start at 11am.

Tough Mudder has raised over £600,000 over the years for Help for Heroes and the Tough Mudder course requires each group to work as one, come together and complete the course as a team.

We’re excited about it and we hope you can join us.  You’re more than welcome to join our team or enter your own.  If you can’t join (or if you can), please donate and help us help Help for Heroes.


PUNCH! takes on a life of its own.

Customers don’t really want to have to understand the technicalities of an IT/VC solution.  They don’t want to deal with their IT team or the outsourced IT company looking after the venue which they’re about to hold an event at.  The reality is however that our job as Video Conference providers are not able to provide a solution unless we have the support of the in-house IT team.  Until now…


PUNCH! takes a normal internet connection, any connection, and automatically assigns a fixed public IP address to the device that is plugged into it.  You don’t need to speak to the Internet providers or understand how it works.  So we thought we’d take it one step further. Why don’t we use it to Video Conference over wifi?  Or why don’t we use it to provide a wireless access point?  Well, that’s what we did.  Then we had a little play with them!


etc.venues – In house AV is the best way!

I started the business that would later become Present Communications ltd back in 2007 after leaving etc.venues where I worked as an in-house technician. For me, the role of in-house technician is a massively important one whether that person is actually employed by the venue or by a third party contractor. By working on site, it is much easier to know the workings of a venue, the building, the tips and tricks required to make everything run smoothly.

Seven years later, we’re still supporting etc.venues. We are the recommended supplier at ten (of twelve) of the London venues and as a result, we know the venues better than anyone. We know the technology better even than the teams on site who refer to us for information that is more within our expertise than theirs and I believe that is exactly how it should be. I know when I go to a supplier, I want to talk to the person who uses the equipment day in day out and who knows the product.

As a result of this type of relationship, customers get the best service and work is always completely efficiently. I believe that some of our best work is done in these venues because we know the rooms, the technology and the staff. We know how they work and we know where our customers can use the most appropriate equipment and what to use most cost effectively. It’s a model that has worked well for the venues over the years and it’s worked well for us. And why do they stick with us? Customer Service!

So here is a big thank you to etc.venues for many years of business and hopefully many more years to come!!


Sound, Light and Video – the importance of thinking it through…

We’ve all been there.  It mostly works but it just isn’t good enough.  We’re watching TV or playing a computer game.

So imagine you’re sitting on an aeroplane, you’re watching an in-flight movie.  The quality is really bad.  It gets worse, it becomes so annoying that you have to turn it off.

Now think about that.  What was so annoying about it?

Imagine the video is all wavy and you struggle to make out the picture but the audio is fine.  Now imagine the audio is so bad you can’t hear anything but the picture is fine.  Which one are you more likely to be able to take.

When we watch a video, it’s the audio we need as much as, maybe even more than the video.  We can live with a pixelated image although we might rather it was perfect.  But bad audio will give headaches and cause us to be constantly struggling to hear.

So make sure you use a supplier who understands not just the IT aspects but also the video and audio aspects of the project.  Make sure you use Present Communications ltd.


Video Conferencing, Webcasting and Sustainability

Sustainability is of course the buzz word here. But it doesn’t mean anything more than ‘good business’.

  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Social Sustainability
  • Economic Sustainability

These are the three key drivers for any business.  What this means is ‘can you operate this business for the foreseeable future without damaging the environment, will people like my business and therefore keep coming back and will I make enough money?’.  Lets hope that the answer to those questions is yes.

Business travel is on the rise and it’s one of the faster growing causes of environmental pollution.  It’s also very expensive.  During the recession, many companies implemented travel bans alongside wider cost cutting exercises. During this period, along with the general increase in internet bandwidth and video traffic, people have become more comfortable with internet video and video conference suites and expect a higher quality video link from their suppliers.

That’s where we come in.  We can save money by providing high quality links over the internet where satellite might have been required in the past and in doing so, we can also help companies meet their travel reduction and carbon emission targets.  And all this whilst primarily increasing productivity by bringing people together from around the world to work together.


Corporate clients require only the best equipment…

When it comes to the ultimate in connectivity and flexibility for video conferencing, there really is no substitute for Cisco’s flagship codec, the Cisco C90.

Having spent the last year trying, testing and comparing the C90 to similar products from the same and competitor brands, it has become apparent the Cisco’s product, part of the C-series, released since they bought Tandberg a few years ago has the relaxability in terms of connectivity particularly that the competitors just don’t offer and it’s these features that make is so useful in the live events industry where no two jobs are ever the same.

I can honestly say that we’ve used so many features on the unit that literally aren’t available on other devices, such as DVI input on the main video channel or even just HD-SDI inputs.  Actually clean output busses are handy as well as balanced line level in and out.

So what are we going to do about this.  Well, we just bought two more!


Video Conference service provider or AV company…?

What is the difference between an AV company who do video conferencing and a specialist video conferencing service provider??

Most AV/event production/rental houses will claim to be able to do video conferencing and indeed many of them actually own their own equipment and know mostly how to make them work.  So if I buy a Ferrari, does that make me a Lewis Hamilton?

Setting up a big sound system not only requires a knowledge of power amplifiers, system controller and mixing desks but also requires a good ear if you want it to work well.  Similarly with video conferencing, a good working knowledge of the equipment is necessary but so is a knowledge of IT and networking, phone lines, ISDN, IP, H.323, H.239, H.264, CIF, QCIF, HD, 720P, dual stream, people & content, bandwidth, firewalls, NAT, port forwarding etc etc.  The list unfortunately goes on and on.  Once you’ve got that covered, you then of course have the local connectivity side of things; VGA, HDMI, DVI, SDI, HD-SDI, Composite, Component, S-video. And then there is the audio…

You get the picture.

Present Communications is a specialist video conference provider.  We offer the finest technical support along side our equipment and in many cases offer a ‘brand-free’ service to other production companies and act seamlessly as your video conferencing team.


Webcast, videoconference, telepresence, teleconference or virtual event???

We have experience in many kinds of web, video and telephone conferencing. Some methods are much easier, cheaper and more reliable than others and some are obviously less so. Most people don’t really know the difference between these methods. In fact, there isn’t really a standard definition for each as everything is still developing so quickly at the moment. The current ‘trend’ is for collaboration and inter-operability between these different systems and this can work with varying degrees of success. The Internet has made these types of communication more accessible but the Internet is not always appropriate.

Some of the terms we are most familiar with include skypegotomeeting and webex. So what are these and why are  they important? This type of communication isn’t new. MSN messenger has been offering ‘video chat’ for over 10 years and ‘voice-over-IP’ for 15 years. It is typically used for point-to-point communications on a personal computer. Webex and gotomeeting have gone one step further and allow for document sharing, instant messenging and video chat for multiple users. These work over a normal IP connection to the internet. This type of communication hasn’t really been given a name yet so most people refer to the software they’re using although it is sometimes called telecollaboration. These systems are often used for document sharing and run along side a teleconference.

Many of us are familiar with conference phones, often used in boardrooms. These are essentially speakerphones. Boardrooms are often linked together for meetings using a bridge or virtual meeting room. This is a teleconference. But we can also connect another person or a teleconference to an entire conference room. A presentation could be given over the phone or a number of people who are unable to attend could listen using their phone.

videoconference is really an extension of the teleconference but with added video. It might be for a small meeting or it might be for a larger conference. It allows people to interact both ways and presentations can be lead from the near or far end. Content sharing is also possible using an additional screen although the same level of interactivity is not possible as the content is streamedand not shared. Videoconferencing has traditionally been done over ISDN which provides a guaranteed point to point connection but now more videoconferencing uses the internet, eliminating call charges. A bridge can also be used to link multiple sites and/or users with interaction often managed by the bridge.

One of the problems with videoconferencing is that some people believe it doesn’t make the user feel truly immersed and comfortable and so a face to face meeting is always more productive. Videoconference system designers have taken this criticism on board and now design conference rooms with telepresence built it, making it feel like your colleagues are in the room. This is achieved through intelligent camera, speaker and screen placement so that colleagues appear life size and sound ‘appears’ to be coming directly from them.

These systems are all interactive to some extent but the number of users is limited. Webcastingallows an event, seminar or presentation to be broadcast to a (potentially) unlimited number of people. Webcasts are accessed using Internet enabled computers or many Internet enabled device (ipad, iphone, blackberry etc). It is possible to stream video, audio, content (slides or otherwise) or any combination. It is often possible to customize the interface and therefore integrate some type of feedback and/or interactivity such as chat, twitter or simply email.

Virtual Events haven’t really become popular yet but some big players in the webcasting world are focusing a lot of effort on this new concept. It’s like webcasting meets second life. Whilst attending a virtual event, it is possible to walk around and network with other attendees as if in a computer game using typical Internet communication methods like chat and voip. Other attendees might host meetings or webcasts, which are accessible via the virtual event. U2 famously held the first online concert inside second life.

So, I hope that provides a quick overview to all the different technologies and I wish you luck with each of them in the future.


Firewall problems are a thing of the past – introducing PUNCH!

Firewalls, NAT, port forwarding, words that strike fear into the heart of even the most veteran video conferencing engineer.

There are many ways to set up a codec on a network.  You can allow the codec access to a public IP, NAT to the codec or use simple port forwarding if you think you’re brave enough.

Any of these options require assistance from the in-house IT expert.  Of course that IT person should also be handy with video conferencing and understand the specific port requirements and also how H.323 work.  When you find that person, send him to me, I have a job going.

There are lots of ways that a firewall can be bypassed.  Some are much more complicated than others but mostly they require a lot of configuration.  What is really required by the industry is a way to just PUNCH! through any firewall and present the Video Codec to the outside world on a public IP address outside (and not related) to the network it’s on.
Well, we have this product and if you haven’t guessed already, it’s called PUNCH!  Each device is plugged into any network via the PUNCH! and that device is automatically configured with a public IP address on our network which will work with your Video Codec or any other device.

Don’t believe us, give us a try!