Want to learn how to connect a video camera to be a webcam and maximize your Internet chatting experience? Most people already have a digital camcorder for either personal or professional use, so there's absolutely no need to spend upwards to one hundred dollars on a separate webcam of comparable quality. With this simple guide, you can purchase a few simple components and turn the high-quality digital video camera that you already have into the webcam that you'll grow to love.
To connect a video camera to be a webcam, you will need:
- A digital video camera
- A video capture card (For desktop computers) or external device (For Macs or laptops)
- A desktop PC, laptop, or Mac
- Computer-compatible microphone/headset
- An program that allows the use of a webcam, such as AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo Messenger or Skype
- A high speed Internet connection
- Purchase a video capture card or device that matches your video camera. This involves going online and looking for a card or device that is compatible with your make and model of digital video camera. Most digital video cameras have a standard yellow composite output, while the nicer, more expensive ones also have an S-Video output. The real trick here is finding out what outputs your camera has, then matching them to a card or device that will coincide with both your needs and your budget. Note that buying and installing a video capture card requires opening up your desktop computer, so be sure to install the card as per the instructions it comes with. (Most cards install in the standard PCI-slots on the PC's motherboard, which is the area where the monitor is installed) If you purchase an external video capturing device, (Preferable for Apples or laptops) hook it up to your computer as per the device's instructions. (More likely than not via the USB slot)
- Intialize the capture software. As with any new device that you install onto a computer, you need to set up and configure the software for your video capture device. Otherwise, whatever program you wish to use with your webcam will refuse to recognize your video camera as an input device. More often than not you will need to restart your computer several times during these installation and configuration processes.
- Hook up your camera to your capture device. Now comes the point where you physically connect the video camera to be a webcam. As stated before, most digital video cameras have a standard yellow composite output. Your digital video camera should have the necessary cables to connect the video camera to your computer's video capture device. If your camera did not come with these cables, or if you have lost them, stores such as RadioShack or Target should carry them. Once the camera is connected, turn on the capture device's software to make certain that the digital video camera is sending signals to your computer. As for audio, it's recommended to use a microphone or headset as this will dramatically increase the quality of the speech you send into your computer.
- Set up the webcam program. Most internet messengers have ways to integrate a webcam into the program's main features, though more likely than not the process will involve going to a menu labeled "Audio/Video Set Up." From there, you need to select your video camera as the input/capture device and, if you're using it, the external microphone or headset as the audio capture device.
- When you're ready to start the webcam chat, turn on your digital video camera. The feed will directly run from the camera to the digital capture device. The audio should run directly from the microphone into your computer. The combination of the two will thus complete your fully integrated webcam experience.
Instead of spending so much money on a single purpose device, why not just connect a video camera to be a webcam? The process is simple, the components are inexpensive, and you already own half of the materials. All it takes is a few simple steps and you are ready to fully enhance your Internet experience.