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Puppet Kaos - where Kelvin Kao plays with puppets and tell random stories

Video Chat

I bought a new toy – a new web cam! More specifically, a Logitech QuickCam Chat. And I went on my first video chat with my friend Walter whom I haven’t seen for a while. It’s nice to be able to see and hear each other even though we are not face to face. This certainly beats the telephone… of course, that is, when you don’t look like crap that day. But then again, I look fabulous every single day (okay, now that’s just totally not true).

I noticed something interesting though. Many youtube videos that involves someone talking into his/her webcam has this problem: They seem to be looking down instead of at the camera. This is because webcams are usually mounted above the monitor, so when the user is looking at the monitor, his or her eyes are looking below the camera, instead of at it. When I noticed myself doing that though, I quickly corrected myself. I guess that’s some sort of a puppeteer’s instinct.

Oh yeah, you thought this post is going to have nothing to do with puppetry?

When we puppeteer (and if there’s a monitor or the camera’s LCD screen), we are usually looking at what’s being filmed. Since we can’t really see through the puppets eyes, we pay attention to the monitor and tilt the puppet’s head to make it appear as if it’s looking into the camera. In the case of the video chat, I can see what the web cam is picking up as well, and I naturally tilted my head and looked into the camera. It’s like I am puppeteering myself. Hm, certainly didn’t expect myself to do that but it came quite naturally.

Ah, this is fun. Anyone want to do a video chat with me? Leave me a comment or drop me an email. :-)


  1. November 24th, 2008 | 9:20 am

    You know, I do the same thing. I also move the chat window to be as close as possible to the camera to minimize the difference between looking at the camera and looking at the screen.

    Mary Robinette Kowal’s last blog post..Launchpad success

  2. November 24th, 2008 | 11:18 am

    Yep. I totally know what you mean. I just pretend that the little green dot telling me that the camera is on is actually a person with one bright green eye. It’s harder than it sounds.

    Sarah Bray’s last blog post..Gwen Bell on Entrepreneurship

  3. November 24th, 2008 | 5:42 pm

    @Mary: Yeah, I didn’t do it that time, but after that I was thinking I should do that next time. This is exactly like the art of where to place the teleprompter.

    @Sarah: What? You and your wild imaginations, Sarah. For me it’d be much easier to picture it as an one-eye alien robot, not that I do.

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