Friday, April 10, 2009

Video chat with Alena

It's usually really hard to capture Alena doing the things she does on video. Part of it is that it's hard to get the right moment, and part of it is that she just wants to see herself on the camera.

Well, we have found a new way to overcome these obstacles while talking to family at the same time! Our video camera can be hooked up to the computer and used as a webcam, and while we talk with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, &/or friends, we can simply record the video - thus capturing exactly what's happening! Observe:

The great thing is that she can interact with others and receive instant visual feedback by seeing her movements on the monitor in real-time. She loves it. We're going to do it more often.

Curious about how we can use our regular video camera as a webcam?

Good, because it was a great discovery. I had thought about getting a webcam off and on, but I was deterred for a couple reasons: most are sleek & compact, but the frame rate they captured is way too slow to produce video of a decent quality. If you stayed still, the picture was decent, but as soon as you moved around, it was really blurred. Moving my hand across frame would leave behind a trail like TV networks used to do to make hockey pucks more visible on televised games. I never really looked for a high quality webcam because I wasn't willing to spend more than $20 for a camera that you use a few times a year.

About four years ago, I bought a TV capture card for our computer for $14.80 (inflation-adjusted - it only cost me $13 back then). Basically, it allows you to connect your computer to your cable TV to watch & record TV shows, or hook up your VCR/DVD player to transfer video. (I've used it quite a bit for those two purposes) When we bought our camcorder a couple years ago, I discovered on some online forums that the capture card is recognized as a webcam and that I could connect the "S-video out" on the camcorder to the "S-video in" on the TV capture card. That means that I could turn the camcorder to "stand-by record" mode, set the TV tuner card source to S-video, and use it as a regular webcam! The best thing about it, though, is that since it's a decent-quality camcorder, you don't get any of the frame rate issues of a webcam. Plus you can zoom, use effects, and even play back videos that are on the camcorder. (by the way, having the TV tuner card recognized as a webcam source also means that you can let the person you're talking to watch live cable TV...) And, of course, you can simply hit the record button like we did...

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Blogger Courtlin said...

How come I haven't video chatted with Alena yet?

10:34 PM  
Blogger Lark said...

I enjoy this over and over again.

10:40 PM  

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