Sounds absolutely fantastic, recording video with Skype, isn’t it? Well, it is sort of hard to believe, even with the latest version of Skype, optimized for video and with video recording software like Call recorder for Mac or SuperTintin for PC.
After installing the latest version of Skype on PC (there is no new version for Mac yet), I indeed found out that the video performance had improved as well as the size. So, recording video is possible in theory and I thought this was a good moment to test this myself with a couple of friends who were patient enough to indulge me.
Both Call recorder and SuperTintin offer recording remote video(the interviewee(s)), local video(the presenter) or both. The recorded video was very good in both applications, I tested with a high end camcorder and a regular webcam.
While testing these applications, Call recorder came out best with no deformation in the audio. While SuperTintin made a real mess of the audio, it created static which wasn’t there during the interview tests. Whatever I tried, static was inserted in the end result. Static can be removed with a noise removal tool , but it is an extra hurdle you have to take and there is not really a proper reason for it in the first place. So, SuperTintin has a long way to go before it becomes useful. Call recorder offers better audio quality. See also Recording an audio interview with Skype for more details on the audio options.
But the real problem, and that is why I do not go deeper into detail regarding both applications is that bandwidth is a killer.
Why recording video interviews on Skype do not work
From all the tests I did on Mac and PC, none of them synchronized video and audio properly, at least not at a decent size like 640×480 or 480×360. I didn’t bother test smaller sizes because this is the 21th century, we are not going to watch tiny videos on big monitors, I leave that to mobile fanatics 🙂
The fault is not with the applications themselves but with the limitations of the internet connection and the performance of the average computer. So, the conclusion is that we are not there yet in regard to recording good quality video interviews with Skype.
I can imagine that if you have fiber glass connection with speeds starting from 1Gbps, and you have a MacPro or PC compatible with loads of RAM, it is possible to get a perfect result, but in the Western world, and at this time of writing, recording video on Skype is utopia, alas. China and other Asian countries have already high speed fiber optic connections since a couple of years.
To quote from a survey of broadband users by the Fiber to the home council:
Direct fiber services were found to be, on average, much faster than those relying on copper in the last mile, according to survey respondents, who were asked to test their Internet connection speeds at www.speakeasy.net and report the results. FTTH users reported an average download speed of 10.4 megabits per second, 51 percent faster than the average reported by cable modem users and 593% higher than what was reported by DSL users. The full article can be read here.
To end with a positive note: It is not going to take forever, so you can expect in the foreseeable future that perfect video interviews will be possible. The USA is making a real effort to support areas where they plan to make Fiber to the Home a priority, but in Europe we are asleep as usual. Stay tuned 🙂