It’s like watching Avatar on a black and white TV: the power and pop of your best designs relayed through a grainy webcam image, and rendered mute.
Pixelated visuals and fuzzy audio may be fine for making that video call home, but to impress potential clients and collaborate with fellow designers the standard of presentation has to move beyond the amateur.
There are a number of video conferencing tools available online today, but not all are suited to the unique requirements of modern design. You’re going to need storage space, you’re going to have to be able to demonstrate and collaborate visually, you’ll want to be easy to reach, and you’re going to want to personalize your online environment
Video Conferencing for Design Professionals Means a Large Storeroom
It isn’t the sexiest angle of the business, but, let’s face it, graphic files are some of the largest pieces of internet freight on the move today.
Even final Photoshop files regularly tip the scales at 300mb if you’re working with dozens of layers–and, of course, those numbers are dwarfed by .PSD files and all things video. So you’re going to need a video service that can accommodate some really heavy lifting if you’re to effectively collaborate or showcase your best work.
Unfortunately, while most of the free video conferencing services available make use of cloud storage systems, many don’t offer a shared file repository that can handle files larger than 250mb.
You could look to an integrated service like Google Hangouts ($10 a month for unlimited storage) or Slack, which is soon to add its own video service, but this may be one occasion where it’s best to fork over a little of your hard earned cash.
Let Me Show You
Once you’ve found somewhere to house your work, you’ll need to find the best way to display it. Supported video resolution in HD 1080p is common among paid services. Some, like OmniJoin, can scale from low-res right up to HD depending on your needs.
This higher video quality affects not only your beaming smile captured through the externally facing camera, but also the images you display by sharing your screen. This will ensure your work is viewed as intended–after all, it’s hard to convince that potential client of your expertise when you have to repeatedly tell them it will look better in person.
Higher quality imaging is also important in collaborating with other designers. While shared screen viewing is common, a better option for the designer comes in being able to remotely access your colleague’s computer. Services such as Citrix GoToMeeting allow you to effectively collaborate on live graphics programs like Photoshop by letting remote users control your own desktop. It means your colleagues can actively contribute to your work, or give you a quick example of how they’re envisioning a change to a design.
A Video Conference to Call My Own
To make your video conference experience as personalized as possible, find a service that lets you add your own branding and artwork to the walls of your virtual meeting room. It’s also helpful to be able to set up the conference call to reflect the nature of the conversation. ClickMeeting features customizable spaces that allow you to position a shared screen featuring your work in the middle of the caller images, so you can present your creative like an artist’s canvas at the center of an online auction.
Similarly, Custom Video Chat lets you literally brand your video conferencing by white-walling the space around your chat windows and letting you affix your company logo as you see fit.
If you really want to stand out, using the Personify app, in conjunction with a high-end visual scanner, will let you remove the chat windows all together so that only your head and torso (or full body, if you’re so inclined) will appear on screen. Now you can project your more defined image onto any background you can present on a shared screen. And it need only be your desktop’s home screen–just clear the clutter and position a clean, clear logo across the top and open your work folio in boxes in the foreground. As an added advantage, now that your hands are freed from windowed captivity, you can accurately point to objects in this shared space.
More Than Just a Pretty Face
Once you’ve got the right system in place, you can personally guide clients through your ideas and previous designs, and work through the to-and-fro of reaching a final product in real-time and without the hassle of an endless email chain. The right system is like a great business partner–it helps you sell your work by showing it in the best light possible, and is flexible and customizable enough to let you be your most creative.
Image source: Flickr CC user Intel Free Press