Why is Video Conferencing So Brutally, Terribly, Embarrassingly, Craptastically Awful?

This morning I did something I hate doing: I did a recorded video conference call. I hate taped video conference calls…

  • Because people, including me, look the wrong direction and it makes me feel nauseated.
  • Because I can’t stand seeing me, especially if there is a prospect of running into me over and over, so I avoid that all costs (including walking by mirrors or windows).
  • Because I hate how San Fernando-porn-shoot awful they look, a reminder that we’re all small and weak and will one day (soon) die.
  • Because of how you can’t position the cameras correctly, so people mostly end up looking waaay down or waaay up, like a conversation between pharmacists and patients alternating as one another.
  • Because of the mad things you have to do to record the calls, like today where I used Apple Quicktime, while Brad Feld used Windows Moviemaker, and we talked over a phone line across Skype to a VOIP set at his place, all the while recording to a file that we then uploaded to another place where they edit it to make it look natural, despite its inherent unnaturalism. And did I mention that during this video call we couldn’t actually see other? Well, we couldn’t. Don’t ask.
  • Because of how people wear these dreadful headsets, like Dr. Who working at Dallas air traffic control, an awful mix of bed-robes and mike booms.
  • Because of how tough it is to light the stuff, making mostly people look top-lit and craggy, like something from an old Hammer monster flick.

Why can’t we have this stuff just work? Why isn’t it easier to record live video and make it look right? Why do you have to do so much crap to make it work? Yes, yes, I know about Justin.tv, Mogulus, and all that sort of thing. I want it all in a box, cheap, complete with camera, something where you can just plug it, swing out a light stand, and roll.