How-to: Webcams

How do I make a video call?

A video call is a one-to-one, live, video conversation over a network or the Internet. A video call goes beyond e-mail, text messages, and long distance phone calls. It enhances personalized communication and brings people close together by allowing you to both see and hear the person on the other side in real time.
Making a videocall is as easy as sending an instant text message, using a webcam, your computer, the internet, and instant messaging software (for example Windows Live Messenger or Skype). You can use video calls to carry out local and long-distance relationships with family, friends, and colleagues without leaving home.
Usually there is no additional or long distance charge associated with a video call since instant messaging software uses a broadband Internet connection to transmit voice and video.

Group video calls
A group video call is a one-to-many, live, video conversation over a network or the Internet.
In most cases, video calls take place between two parties/computers - you and the person you call or who calls you. However, some instant messaging programs (for example, Skype) allow group video calls between multiple parties/computers in different locations.
Check the documentation for your instant messaging software to find out if group video calling is supported.

To make a video call, each participant must have the following:

  • A computer with a high speed Internet connection.
  • A webcam.
  • A headset or speakers and microphone on your computer.
  • An instant messaging client that supports video, for example, Windows Live Messenger, Skype, iChat, or Google Talk.

You and the other participant(s) may have different types of webcams, computers, and high-speed internet connections. However, you should all use the same instant messaging client and make sure that you are included in each other's buddy or contact lists. This makes it easier for you to find the other person online and start a video call.

Start a video call

  1. Install the instant messaging software on your computer.
  2. Create a contact or buddy list.
  3. Locate the person you want to call.
  4. Initiate a video call.

If you are already engaged in an instant messaging text conversation with another user, choose the option to initiate a video call. When the person on the other end accepts the video call, you're ready to go.

You will not be able to make a video call if the person you want to call:

  • Does not have a webcam installed,
  • Does not have the same instant messaging software installed, or
  • Is currently offline.