Instead of just communicating over the internet with text and emoticons, people
are beginning to realize just how easy and fun it is to send video clips through
cyberspace. Webcam setups range from simple to complex, and increasing the
complexity is only a matter of adding functionality through software, custom
code and/or equipment connections.
A simple Webcam setup consists of a Digital Camera attached to your computer,
usually through the USB port. The camera part of the Webcam setup is just a
digital camera - nothing out of the ordinary so far. The "Webcam" nature of the
camera derives from the software. Webcam software takes a frame from the digital
camera at a preset interval (for example, the software might grab a still image
from the camera once every 30 seconds) and transfers it to another location for viewing.
If you're interested in using your Webcam for streaming video, you'll want a
Webcam system with a high frame rate. The frame rate indicates the number of
pictures the software can grab and transfer in one second. For streaming video,
you need a minimum rate of at least 15 frames per second (fps), and 30 fps is
optimal. To achieve high frame rates, you must necessarily have a high-speed
Once it captures a frame, the software broadcasts the image over your Internet
connection. There are several broadcast methods. Using the most common method,
the software turns that image into a JPEG (compressed) file and uploads it to a
web server using File Transfer Protocol (FTP). You can easily place a JPEG image
onto any web page in this manner and post your webcam images on the internet.
If you don't have your own Web server or web site, you can also use your web cam
to send a video email. First, launch the software that comes with the camera.
Depending on the model, the process of e-mailing and recording your video
messages may vary. Press Start or Record to begin the video message. Click Stop
and then preview the video. You can then click E-mail or Send, which
automatically opens your default e-mail program.
When sending a video e-mail, the longer the video message recorded, the bigger
the attachment will be, so make sure the recipient's computer can handle the
size. The recipient of the e-mail does not need special software to see your
video message; they simply choose to open the attachment and the mini movie will play.
Another increasingly popular way to use your web cam is a chat session with
webcams in "real time" with instant messaging (IM) programs. During an IM chat,
there will be an option to start the webcam right on the screen, or under the
Options or Tools menu. In Windows Messenger, for example, the words Start Camera
are on the right-hand side of the screen. It is also possible to adjust the
volume, window size, and video resolution with IM options. The person on the
other end also needs a webcam to visually chat.
Adjust your camera's focus, point it toward your face, and most importantly,
look right into the "eye" of the webcam so your friends on the other end see
more than just your forehead. Keep in mind that some webcams require an
additional microphone to record audio.
Don't expect terrific video quality. It's often possible to adjust the video
resolution by toying with the webcam's software settings, but the higher the
quality, the choppier the video frame rates will be. Webcams can also be used
for remote security monitoring, but beware of hackers who could intercept your
video feed and then spy on YOU. Make full use of passwords and encryption.
Brian Lee is co-owner of [worldcameravideo.com not found],
offering a large selection of digital cameras, camcorders, webcams, security cameras, and more.
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