Last year was all about change. People had to adapt, move away, or even think of new ways to perform effectively in their jobs. Interpreters, of course, felt the hit too because the global pandemic forced many events to be cancelled; from meetings, to conferences and launches, everything an interpreter could go to.
However, this was not the end. Many companies decided to hold online events; they moved everything they had into websites and decided that interpreters should be present as well. That was great news for the profession because interpreters would not have to stop working. Nevertheless, in such a demanding profession, having to do this job from home, wouldn’t change anything. This could even result in extra problems. For example, interpreters may not have the adequate equipment, or even worse, they may not be well informed about it.
The Importance of Having a Good Quality Video
There’s no doubt that interpreters are professionals who are always prepared for every eventuality. Even though it can go unnoticed when working on-site, having a great personal presentation is essential. This also applies when remote working. Although it is not always necessary to have a camera on during a conference or any online event, it is recommended that they have it on, because showing facial expressions, gestures, and hand movements can give a lot of extra information during the meeting, therefore, making the message easier to comprehend.
This is often a topic that is not talked about in detail or even mentioned. Some interpreters need to have a camera on but sometimes the integrated camera on a laptop is not enough. Having a good quality virtual image is necessary, and there are other options for optimum performance.
Best Cameras for Online Meetings
Sometimes, the integrated camera in a windows laptop is not as good as the MAC camera, and therefore, most people try to look out for the best quality cameras. Of course, there are a lot of options when it comes to cameras for your laptop or PC, USB cameras, non-USB, and even apps that allow you to connect your smartphone – that usually has a better camera quality than a laptop – and use it as a virtual camera.
1.USB Webcam: In this category, we can find budget cameras that can improve the interpreter’s presence. However, we need to check the image quality as well as the frame rate, resolution, among others, which will be talked about in the following paragraphs.
Considered one of the best webcams on the market, according to Gant Laborde, we have Logitech C920: The little lens has lots of potential and reaches a quality of 1080p Full HD – as the official website describes it – but not everything can be perfect. This camera is less aesthetically pleasing, considering the speakers that are integrated on the sides of it.
Another well-known USB camera is Cisco TelePresence PrecisionHD. Although this camera does not offer a quality of 1080p, it is not so far behind, offering 720p and the best audio quality you could ask for – as stated on their official website.
2.Non-USB cameras: the most common practice nowadays, when it comes to streaming, live videos, and even some virtual conferences, is to have a non-USB video setup. Having a 4k camera on a tripod has many benefits, such as a detailed image, better sound quality, and others. However, it could be overly complicated to set up or carry anywhere else.
The best non-USB cameras in the market, according to EposVox can be a bit pricey, such as the Canon M-100 + 15-45mm lens, or Lumix DC-FZ80 20-1200mm Lens.
3.Smartphone devices: with new technologies, it is possible now to use your phone as a webcam. Most smartphones have better cameras compared to integrated ones in laptops. So, interpreters could use this option if buying a new camera is not on their budget, or as a backup plan. The app Droidcam or iVcam are excellent alternatives and work well on most devices.
All the cameras mentioned previously have certain characteristics that are vital when present in a video conference. A good camera should allow at least 30-60 FPS, which makes the image smoother and of better quality. Another thing to consider is the screen resolution that cameras could display: Full HD screen resolution is ideal, in other words, 1920 x 1080 px is ideal. The idyllic ISO for cameras is just the standard, as a lower ISO can make movement slower and a higher could produce “noise” on the image.
To get a perfect virtual presence, and make this as similar as a 1-1 interaction, the camera should be just above or below eye level and four feet from the face, to make more of the body visible. This all could be enhanced with lighting. The recommended setup includes white light and not yellow, which makes the image opaque, as well as having too many lights which could cause an overblown image. Avoid windows behind your chair or working space, as this could make you look like a shadow or generate an underlit picture.
Taking all this into consideration, a good camera, the correct position and settings for it, and light settings could make the interpreting task more enjoyable for the listener, as this could appear as close as reality; they would not be just looking at a black square or just pixels in a bad quality image, instead, they have the interpreter in front, or at least, visible in some part of the screen.
The interpreter does not need to be hiding, even though they are not recognised easily when working on-site, and in an interpreting booth, but remote interpreting has changed things up. It is more common nowadays to see interpreters on the screen, and therefore, it is always necessary to be prepared, or at least, be well-informed about certain equipment that could take part in your next video setup, which could allow or improve the delivery of an outstanding interpretation.
/By Catalina Tapia // Intern, TRANSLIT//