Special FX Skyping

When I went to Germany in February, Peter and I discovered Skype. It’s so much fun that it inspired Peter to buy us (as well as his parents) high-quality web cams, and upgrade my computer so it could handle said webcams. Like other technologies we’ve embraced, it’s so revolutionary that it by far surpasses other forms of communication. When Peter wanted to add some Amazon gift certificates he’d just received at home into his Amazon account while he was at work, I just had to hold them up to the camera so he could read them, instead of me having to carefully read them out. The grandparents laughed to see Neil still in his pajamas at noon; without Skype they never would have known. And yes, while using Skype we are beginning to be increasingly aware that we are broadcasting ourselves so there’s certain things we can’t do which we could get away with on a phone. And did I mention that with Skype we can make videocalls around the world for free?

Recently, I discovered that the state-of-the-art webcam Peter sent me came with a set of video effects. This is the sort of thing non-geeks are terrified to witness. I pasted a video crown on my head. Peter found an avatar option and turned himself into a cartoon monster:

I laughed and laughed, and turned on the horror movie effect:

Peter tried being a totem pole Tikiman instead:

Yes, his lips and eyes really move when he talks! Well maybe I offended the Indians with my blog entry about the Stanford powwow, because now I found myself with an arrow through my head:

It didn’t hurt. Peter became a deep sea diver:

I showed him he could talk to the hand:

That is really my mouth and my left and right eyes superimposed on my hand. Peter decided to go incognito:

Later I had to call him back to show him my nose job:

Look at my piggy nose! I have a piggy nose! We went on and on like that in geeky glee. Peter even downloaded more effects, avatars, and accessories online. I laughed myself to tears.

Unfortunately, the avatars and accessories only work when a single person is in front of the camera, and unless Peter and I are talking directly to each other, our Skype calls are usually a group broadcast, complete with dancing children, pointless gymnastics, and endless attempts to fix the lighting. So get Skype, it’s fun! Well, at least for us. And if you don’t want to see a laughing woman with a piggy nose, you can always turn off the video reception on your end–we won’t know!

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