Zoom Readings Are Live

Here’s the TL; DR version: I’ve officially launched live video readings via Zoom!

Zoom screen

For those who want a little bit of background, here’s the story: I’ve been procrastinating. I should have launched live video readings a long time ago, even before Covid struck. But I didn’t. There was always something preventing me like my Internet service wasn’t good enough, I didn’t have a decent camera, and so on.

Then, when the Coronavirus struck, forcing us all into lockdown, I had to face the reality that I wouldn’t be doing face-to-face readings for a long time. Although I started years ago just doing virtual readings, I’d all but abandoned them when I started doing events, parties, and regular sessions at local venues. So, as soon as we went into lockdown, I should have started video readings then. But I didn’t. 

I wanted to get it right. I did some tests using Zoom (my initial platform of choice, because lots of people have been using it for work or school) with my daughter. I learned its ins and outs. I did some tests with some valued friends. I even did a couple of readings for clients (I told them I had not officially launched the service but would offer it to them as an option). Then I started looking into the possibilities of getting a better webcam, instead of having to use my phone (that debacle is described in my recent blog post). 

No more excuses. Yesterday, I added the code to the Order page here to enable live video readings via Zoom to be selected. I’ll be adding other video chat platforms soon, once I test them out. I’ll be using my laptop’s webcam pointed at me, so you can see me when I talk with you, and my phone will be in a holder, pointing down at the cards on the table, so you can see those too. I’ll also soon be adding some helpful information about using the Zoom application, but for now, the service is up and working. Except for the odd glitch from the software and internet connection, the experience is close to what you would experience from getting a reading from me in person. Give it a try!

Webcam Woes

webcam

COVID-19 has forced a lot of us to change the way we do business. Until the virus hit, I was doing most of my readings in a face-to-face setting, either in private appointments or at events and parties. For the foreseeable future, that side of my business is no more. All my services at the moment are virtual.

When I first started, I only offered emailed written readings with a photo of the cards I drew. Then I added recorded video readings. But I have never offered live video readings before. 

When giving in-person readings, I’ve always made a point of showing people exactly what I saw in the images on the cards. I had people sit right next to me, as opposed to sitting opposite me at a table, so they had a better view of what I saw, and so it would be easier to point things out to them. I’ve even found that sometimes, the person I’m reading for saw something they believed to be relevant in the images on the cards – and I love when that happens! 

I applied the same principle to my recorded video readings. I bought an adjustable gooseneck phone holder so my phone could be positioned over my desk so I could easily show the cards in the video.

When thinking about live video readings, my ideal setup is to use two cameras – one to show me, and one to show the cards on the desk. Recently when testing live readings on Zoom, I used the webcam on my laptop pointing at me, and my phone in the gooseneck phone holder pointing at the cards. This was not ideal, as I often had to access my phone’s screen, and that was inconvenient when it was in the clamp of the holder.

I started looking for a separate webcam to use pointing down at the cards. I follow a few deal-spotters online, and one offer caught my attention. It looked like it had impressive specifications at a really good price. The product listing also stated that it came with a tabletop tripod, which I thought might be handy. It was a new listing on Amazon, so it didn’t have any reviews yet. I took a chance and ordered it.

It arrived pretty quickly, but when I opened it, there was no tripod. I contacted the seller via Amazon, and they responded, saying that they would send out the tripod within about two weeks. But when I connected the webcam to my laptop, I was horrified with the results. There was a massive “fisheye” effect. When I put some cards out in a row, the two cards in the middle looked great, but beyond that, the cards appeared to drop off out of sight. I tried to correct the effect with software, but it didn’t improve things. Not only that, but after a day or two, the joint between the bracket (made to hook over a laptop or monitor screen) and the webcam, which was supposed to allow a degree of positioning, went floppy, and there was no way to tighten it up. When I went back to the listing on Amazon, I noticed that it had been amended to omit mention of the tripod. Then I saw that there were recent reviews, which all mentioned the same things that I experienced. I contacted Amazon immediately, and they quickly refunded my money.

Once I started looking again, I realized that webcams are in short supply post-Covid, presumably because so many people are using them for work or school. Lots of cams with good reviews are out of stock, and there seems to have been a lot of cheap, poorly specified cams that have been dumped on the market to fill the gap. 

So for the time being, as I prepare to announce the official launch of my live video readings service via Zoom, I’ll have to start by using my phone as my second camera, while I keep an eye out for the return of a decent webcam at a good price.

Changes due to Coronavirus/COVID-19

Due to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak and the measures we are all being advised to take, all my regular public tarot sessions (at Cai’s Café in Metuchen, NJ, The Coffee House in Edison, NJ and Holiday Inn Clark-Newark Area) are canceled until further notice. I’ll post an update when that situation changes.

In addition, and again until further notice, I’ll no longer be giving face-to-face readings.

I will be available for written and video readings via email, as usual. I’m also considering the logistics of giving live video readings.

If you have any questions, please let me know via my contact page.

Please be safe and well – this too shall pass.

Online Readings Available Once Again

Screenshot of Order PageAfter a short period of unavailability due to other commitments, I’m pleased to announce that online readings are available once again. Go to the Order a Reading page to see the available options.

 

 

Video Readings Now Available

Screenshot from video tarot readingAs I wrote in an earlier post here, I recently experimented with video readings. The reaction was fantastic; the people who received them all gave me positive feedback, referring to things like the “personal nature” of the readings, and how they enjoyed seeing the process of me actually doing the reading. So I’m very pleased to announce that video readings are now available to everyone! You’ll find them listed on the Order a Reading page.

So, what are the differences between the two types of readings I’m now offering, and which should you choose? It’s largely down to personal preference; but I wanted to describe some key features of each, to help you make a decision:

Written Readings:

  • are easy to refer back to.
  • are searchable.
  • can easily be compared with subsequent or past readings.
  • are organized versions of my thought process.

Video Readings:

  • are a record of your reading as I did it live.
  • are very personal – like a conversation between the two of us.
  • allow me to point to areas of cards to illustrate a point.

In addition, I’ve found that, simply put, some people find the written format easier to follow, whereas some find the video format easier to follow.

Finally, for those wanting a really comprehensive reading, I’ve also provided a combination written/video reading option, which gives you the best of both worlds at a discount price.

 

Order Your Reading Here

Video Readings: You Like Them… You Really Like Them!

As I wrote recently, I’ve been looking into expanding my services. One area I’ve been exploring is video. Initially, I figured that live video readings via Skype would be a logical next step. I thought that it might work well if I could find a device to hold my phone parallel to a table so the camera showed a spread of cards on the table as I did a reading. I found a gooseneck-type holder that fit nicely on a lap desk I already have. That was the easy part. I had absolutely no idea if I would feel comfortable doing a reading live on video – that was the real challenge!

In order to help meCameraman to practice and iron out any wrinkles, I decided that, for a limited period, I would give my clients a recorded video reading as a free bonus with a regular reading and ask for some honest feedback. There was definitely a bit of a learning curve and I did encounter a few technical issues, but thankfully, with the help of a friend who is a video expert, I was able to overcome them and so for a short while, I’ve been sending out video readings. I was anxious to find out what people thought of them.

I was completely blown away by the overwhelmingly positive response! Here’s just one excerpt from an email I received with feedback, “Graham, I have to tell you how much I LOVED the video reading! What a great way to connect with your clients! It was so personalized…” Incidentally, it turns out that there are some fans of my English accent out there too!

Not only has this feedback convinced me that I was on the right track when I considered offering video readings, but I’ve decided that the recorded video readings stand well enough on their own to be worthwhile offering separately. In fact, I will be launching recorded video readings before I offer any other additional services. Look out for an announcement soon.

Thank you to my clients who acted as guinea-pigs during my little pilot project and gave me such great feedback. You’re the best!

 

 

(Image courtesy of vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Free Video Readings!

Free buttonIf you follow my page on Facebook, you’ll know that I’ve recently been looking into other formats and venues for my tarot readings. One of the things I’ve been experimenting with is video. I’ve done some tests with my phone, Skype, a special holder on an arm and a lap desk. The idea is that hopefully I’ll be able to do live readings via Skype, while being able to show the cards and point to elements in the cards on video. I may also consider adding recorded video readings.

For a limited time only, while I’m ironing out the wrinkles, anyone ordering a reading directly from my website (this offer does not include readings offered via Fiverr.com) will receive a recorded video version of their reading as a free bonus, in addition to the regular PDF text file with photo that I usually send.

I would love to hear your feedback about the video readings if you get one. I’d also like to know whether you’d be interested in live readings via Skype if I offer them in the future. Finally, if you have any ideas of services you’d like me to offer, please do get in touch. Simply comment on this post or use my contact form.