Arndt Hochstetter: The Virtual Office

This project is supported by:

Video of the Virtual Office

Interview with Arndt Hochstetter



The idea of the virtual office project is to connect two offices in different towns via streaming video and audio for some days. This connection is integrated in a video installation giving the impression of a view into the other office. In each office, one in Frankfurt and one in Berlin there's a beamer and a camera. The beamer projects the image of the other office in real-size and real-time on the wall. We use q-dsl internet connections to realize high quality real-time video and sound. A longer duration, in this case three days, creates an atmosphere of presence to the persons of the other working space. If we feel the presence of another person we aren't forced to communicate like on the telephone. We have the freedom to just have a look or to talk or to make nothing.

The background of this idea is the growing pressure to be flexible at work. Instead of travelling to the clients or business partners we can work together via the internet, even at complicated projects. We can discuss aspects of the projects, have a look at details and share the work like in a real office. The internet connections become cheaper so that an efficient connection is available for almost everyone.

The virtual office project wants to find out how it feels to have a partner working next to you, but in a different city. How is the workflow, how is the atmosphere?


For the project I chose the office of my partner Sascha in Frankfurt and the office of the agency mc-quadrat in Berlin. I created the installation-situation in 3D to find out camera perspectives, how to place the furnitures and eventually find problems. I installed four Mini DV video cameras and two beamers. In Frankfurt we used two new 2,6 GHz PCs, also a 400 MHz Apple Labtop. In Berlin I had a 1,25 GHz Mac and a 400 MHz one. At the final installation we used the program i-visit 2.8b9 on MacOS 9.2.


The installation was planned to take place from 23rd to 25th of april 2003.

up to 19th of april:
I looked for different softwares and found out their functions. In Berlin I pressed forward the new network-installation, because of an old server and firewall which couldn't let through the rtsp protocol that we needed for all applications.

20th of april:
I was driving to Frankfurt to install the beamer, furnitures and camera.

21st of april:
In Frankfurt we were installing all this and tried to stream via real producer, but no success.

The ordered q-dsl connection in Frankfurt hasn't come in time. In Mainz the real server was updated. In Berlin I installed the Quicktime streaming server on my computer.

We tried to stream via Apples Quicktime Streaming. We had some connections, but the server mixed the directions. Sometimes we heard our own voice or saw our own video. The stream needed about 8 seconds to the other town, so that we couldn't really communicate. The image quality was bad, also voice quality. We managed to stream in both ways just once. We also tried real streaming, but the server allways disconnected and the computers crashed down. I installed a second Quicktime streaming server on my second computer.

24th of april:
We had a Quicktime stream in both directions using two servers. It worked constantly but with a huge delay and in a bad video- and voice-quality. We tried real streaming again and again but could't create a constant stream. We started to try I-visit and CuSeeme. Both worked, but without sound. The built-in microphones of the DV-Cams haven't been recognized.

25th of april:
With an external microphone and a pre-amplifier I installed the sound-connection. In the evening we had a fine, but non fullscreen I-visit connection with acceptable real-time video and audio. We could talk free between Berlin and Frankfurt.


The technical problems have made it impossible to create the virtual office for a longer duration. The two hours of connection that we had, gave us an impression of the effect we intended.
The technology is still very complicated and needs specialists in that topic. Unfortunately we couldn't create the atmosphere of presence for the planned three days. The creation of a communication in real-size, real-time sound and view to a partner in a different town has worked.


streaming software:

Quicktime streaming:

System: Mac OS 10.2.1
Server: Quicktime Streaming Server 1.0
Client: Quicktime Player 6.1.1 pro
Producer: Quicktime Broadcaster 1.0.1

Real streaming:

System: various
Server: Helix Universal Server
Client: Real One Player 9.0
Producer: Real Producer 8.5.0

conference software:

I-visit 2.8b9
system: various

CuSeeme 1.0b10
system: various

internet connections:

Frankfurt: t-dsl (768k/bit down- 192k/bit upload)
Berlin: q-dsl (1024k/bit down- 265k/bit upload)


webcam: 2 x miniDV 1 Chip
Dokucam: 2 x miniDV 3 Chip
2 Beamer


1 PC 2,6GHz windows
1 PC 2 x 2,6 GHz windows
1 Mac Labtop 400MHz Mac OS9/OSX
1 Mac 2 x 1,25 GHz Mac OS9/OSX
1 Mac 400MHZ Mac OS9/OSX

Thank you:

Tjark Ihmels
Annette Forsch
Meike Müller
Sascha Kaurin
Kay Märthesheimer
Sven Salzer
Frank Hochstetter

Berlin, 5.5.2003, Arndt Hochstetter


Biographical info:

1972 - Born in Freudenstadt
1997-1999 - Assistant graphical design agency Adler und Hubert, Mainz
1998-2000 - Assistant various film projects
2000 - Diploma Media Designer (FH-Mainz)
2000-2001 - Designer/Mac-Operator Postproduction 'Das Werk', Frankfurt/M.
2001 - Designer at agency for multimedia interior design Luxoom, Berlin
2001-.... - Independent media designer: Motion design, Postproduction, Print, Foundation of Cremedigital, Concept, Motion, Graphics
2003 - Foundation of 'Lichtgestalten', Agengy for motion design