Back in the 70’s, there was an exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry where you could make a video phone call. It was pretty futuristic at the time, but today, video chat is a reality. All you need to get started is a webcam, preferably one with an integrated microphone, some speakers, and a computer with a video messaging client like Windows Live Messenger. Oh, and you also need a friend who has a similar setup. Once you make that first magic connection, a whole new world opens up!
Don’t worry, even if your friends aren’t set up for video chat , you can send them video mail that can be opened at any time. Or, with Microsoft LifeCam software installed on your computer, you can do some fun things with video, sound, and picture capture. Like what?
Here’s a list of fun and creative things you can do:
1.Practice a speech. The best way to prepare for a speech is to record yourself. It’s hard to watch a recording of yourself, but it will help remove any visual or verbal tics. With the LifeCam software, you can record and watch yourself, then delete all of the practice sessions before anyone else sees them.
2. Practice answering interview questions. The best way to prepare for a job or school interview is to see what you look like when you answer the questions. Make a list of questions you’re likely to get asked, and then record yourself answering them. It will help with your nervousness and it will help you answer questions more thoroughly and confidently.
3. Record a meeting. Plug your webcam into your notebook computer and use it to record a meeting instead of taking minutes. You can place the camera to get a shot of the whole room, or just record the audio.
4. Create a love note for someone. Create an audio or video recording telling someone how you really feel or how much you appreciate them. The file is saved in WMV format (video) or WMA format (audio), which can be left on their computer desktop, emailed, or even synchronized with devices like Zune. Imagine surprising them by popping up in their playlist!
5. Make a personalized greeting card. Take a picture of yourself using the video effects in the LifeCam software and send it in a greeting card. For example, for Valentine’s Day you can use the special effect that puts a heart in the picture with you, or you can get crazy and give yourself an animal nose, a mask, or a total hair makeover. The picture is saved in a jpg format that you can import into most any graphics program.
6. Make a time lapse. Take a picture every day for several days and create a time-lapse slide show of yourself. This can be especially interesting with children, young pets, or even growing plants.
7. Check your hair or make sure there’s nothing stuck in your teeth. Who needs a mirror to do a quick check when you have a webcam? Check your make-up, fix your hair, check your teeth, or get that smudge off your nose, just by watching your image in the webcam. With a webcam, you can see what the back of your head looks like (this is much harder to do with mirrors).
8. Amuse a baby or child. Make a video of a baby and play it back for the baby. Babies love to watch themselves on video, and small children love it even more. Just make sure they can’t get their little hands on your monitor. And if it’s a video of a child, you’ll be practicing how to say “No,” because they’ll keep asking for more!
9. Practice your dancing, baton twirling, or marching. Watch yourself dance before anyone else has to.
10. Tweet a 12-second video over twitter.com/12seconds. Update everyone on where you are and what you’re doing.
11. Make your own TV show and post it on YouTube or your blog. Have you ever wanted to talk about your favorite toy collection, give cooking lessons, critique films, show off your bike moves, teach people guitar, or entertain people with your antics? Build an online audience of people across the world.
12. Become a voice actor. Record audio samples narrating commercials and samples of character voices, and then send them to animators and directors everywhere in the world.
13. Add a video entry to your blog. With Microsoft LifeCam, it’s fast and easy to do! It could even be faster than writing a long blog post.
14. Send a video thank you note. When someone sends you a gift, thank them so they can see you using it. If you prefer, you can use Video Mail so you can do several takes until you get just the right level of gratitude.
If you have a friend set up for video chatting, here are some additional things you can do.
15. Save money on long distance by chatting over Windows Live Messenger. Assuming you’re already paying for high-speed Internet access, the call won’t cost you a dime.
16. Get fashion advice from a friend. Rather than risk wearing that belt with those pants when you aren’t quite sure or wearing something that clashes with your friends’ outfits, get on a video
chat with your favorite fashionista and get a second opinion.
17. Get decorating advice. Along the same lines, show your remote friends your domestic decorating challenges and get a consultation. Or get some advice on some remodeling you’re in the middle of.
18. Take a lesson. Learn to play an instrument, dance, speak a language, juggle, or cook something. There are lots of things that can be taught remotely.
19. Have a conversation in sign language. Or if you don’t know sign language, you could learn and practice with someone.
20. Share a celebration. Before you open presents or cut the cake, set up the video chat and let everyone share in the moment.
21. Read a story. Even if you are far away, you can still read a bedtime story to your child or share a story with a special kid in your life.
This is just the beginning. Unlock the power of a webcam and you’ll find many ways to share your life.