Most new camcorders come with USB or FireWire ports, making them easy to connect to a computer for video editing. But what about webcasting? Many webcams are the size of a ping pong ball, with easy procedures for transmitting audio and video. But Canon camcorders, and even some of the high-end SLR cameras, can also be wired to act like webcams.
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Things you need
- Canon camcorder or camera with a FireWire port
- FireWire cable
- Computer with FireWire connection and graphics card
- Canon installation CD (comes with camera)
Your Canon camera comes with software that will allow it to be used as a webcam, according to Best Buy's Jose Ortiz, a New York-based Sales Associate in Digital Imaging. Begin by installing that software so your computer will recognise the device for webcasting. Your computer won't recognise it automatically (unless it was custom-built and has the Canon software pre-installed). The software will also let you know during installation if your computer doesn't meet the minimum requirements for running your model of camera as a webcam. If you don't have the installation software, search Canon's website for a downloadable version.
Connect the camera to the computer using the FireWire cable. The camera should be turned on when you connect it to the computer.
Once you install the software, Canon will create its own program folder in your computer. Go to your Canon system settings in that folder. Set the camera function to "webcam." (This setting may also appear as "live stream.")
In your settings, you also need to be sure the video you stream through the camera isn't being stored on the camera. Check your settings to be sure the data is being stored on external memory (such as your computer's hard drive), rather than internal memory. If you use the camera's internal memory, then the camera will stop streaming when the memory runs out--even though you'll see yourself onscreen. It's just like having a camera without a memory card--you can "snap a picture," but it won't be stored anywhere.
Tips and warnings
- You may lose some image quality while streaming, depending on the quality of your camera. Many Canon camcorders and cameras take very high resolution pictures, but be sure your computer's graphics card is able to support that resolution. If you put the system on minimum settings, it won't give you full image quality as a webcam. Check to be sure your computer will support the image quality you want, and set your options accordingly.
- The software should automatically stream any data recorded from then on, but an older-model computer or a computer with firewalls may not stream properly. For older computers, their processors may not be fast enough to use a high-end Canon camera or camcorder as a webcam. The best way to work around that would be to upgrade the computer with a faster processor (to move the data) and more RAM (to manage the operation). For firewalls, you can set a permission that would allow the streaming to work, without disabling the entire firewall. Windows Vista and Windows 7 should notice the device automatically and ask you for permission to stream; if you do this then the firewall exception would be created automatically. For other systems, you might want to consult technical support.
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