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Skype randomly zooming during video calls

First, a little background. I was on a Skype call a short time ago and noticed that Skype would randomly zoom in and zoom out during the call. It seemed to happen at random, and I couldn’t figure out why, nor could I find any way of controlling it.

My Asus T100’s camera does have a user-controllable zoom, but it is zoomed all the way out when this is happening. It does not have face-following, a feature commonly blamed for this issue in Skype.

Here’s a shot of the Video Settings dialog in Skype, for anyone interested.

Skype_Video_Settings

After some digging around the web, I’ve found a logical chain of forum posts that seem to indicate what the issue is, and point to a potential fix.

First, this blog post from another user who had the same issue, and he worked around it by installing and using ManyCam. This did work to resolve the issue, but requires ManyCam be running and adds the extra resources that it requires. If you decide to go this route, I strongly recommend areful reading during the ManyCam installer. It’s full of add-ons.

Second, this thread on yCombinator suggests a few things: 1) That lack of bandwidth is causing Skype to switch the camera to a lower resolution, resulting in the zoom; and that 2) lack of movement in portions of the cameras image is causing it to zoom. Theory 1 seems more plausible.

Third, this post on the Skype forums suggests that Skype’s video resolution can be forced by editing an xml file. Quoted with edits:

It’s impossible to change either the capture or stream video resolution in the Skype GUI. But the capture resolution can be changed by adding for example this:

<Video>
<CaptureWidth>1280</CaptureWidth>
<CaptureHeight>960</CaptureHeight>
</Video>

directly under the <Lib> tag in %AppData%\Skype\shared.xml. The other supported resolutions also work. Check that it works from Call -> Call Technical Info.

Of course, make sure that you are forcing a resolution that your camera supports, that your PC has enough processing power to support, and that you have sufficient bandwidth for. Otherwise, you will experience undesirable effects. 640×480 is a good choice for many. 1280×720 would require a webcam capable of 720p HD capture. A 1.2 MP camera could give a resolution of 1280×960.

I used 1280×960 above as my camera is 1.2 megapixel. However, in my Call Technical Info, my camera is capturing at 1280×720, and zoom is correct. In one instance the camera zoomed in, and the Call Technical Info showed that it was capturing at 240×360. The zoom is definitely connected to the capture resolution, but changing the xml settings does not guarantee that Skype will force the resolution under all (or any) circumstances.

I’m also going to add that this is directly targeted at Skype for Desktop, not the Windows 8 app. If you are able to try this, please let me know your results. 

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