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Better video from my computer

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rickaltman:
For basic Zoom chats, the little built-in camcorder on my notebook or the cheap Logitech USB cam on my desktop is fine. But I'm going to be creating live video this summer that will require more: I will need a "real" camera. So I need a device that will take the image from an HD camcorder and send it out live from my computer. I am talking about a USB capture card, yes? If so, which ones should I consider purchasing and what are the key factors? And if not, what type of product should I look at instead?

Caleb Dueck:

--- Quote from: rickaltman on March 30, 2020, 05:34:29 pm ---For basic Zoom chats, the little built-in camcorder on my notebook or the cheap Logitech USB cam on my desktop is fine. But I'm going to be creating live video this summer that will require more: I will need a "real" camera. So I need a device that will take the image from an HD camcorder and send it out live from my computer. I am talking about a USB capture card, yes? If so, which ones should I consider purchasing and what are the key factors? And if not, what type of product should I look at instead?

--- End quote ---

What size area?  What distances from camera(s) to subjects?  Is this an informal single camera thing, or an actual event (corporate, HoW, etc)?  Getting video into a computer is relatively easy compared to getting the right type and quantities of cameras, switching, previewing, etc.  Do you even need a computer, or is this going to be streamed to the web?

Dave Garoutte:
I'm in the process of setting up a 2-camera streaming setup.
I got a lot of info on youtube, especially 'photojoseph'.
Find oout what makes the most sense for what you want to accomplish.
There are lots of different levels of quality and complexity.

Brian Jojade:
Many cameras do have direct USB output of the video, so you can simply plug them in and select that as your video source instead of the built in camera.  If you're just doing a single camera, that's pretty simple.  The next step beyond that would be to work on lighting.  Lighting can make the biggest difference in how professional your video looks.  Once you have that down, then you can look at additional cameras, etc.

brian maddox:

--- Quote from: rickaltman on March 30, 2020, 05:34:29 pm ---For basic Zoom chats, the little built-in camcorder on my notebook or the cheap Logitech USB cam on my desktop is fine. But I'm going to be creating live video this summer that will require more: I will need a "real" camera. So I need a device that will take the image from an HD camcorder and send it out live from my computer. I am talking about a USB capture card, yes? If so, which ones should I consider purchasing and what are the key factors? And if not, what type of product should I look at instead?

--- End quote ---

To answer your question directly, yes what you need is a "USB Capture Card" which in this day and age is an "Capture Device" box with an HDMI input, and a USB output.

As to what to look for....

You're gonna want a minimum of 1080p capability, preferably at 60 Frames per Second.  Even if you don't start with a camera with this resolution, you'll get there eventually.

You want a minimum USB3.0 as your Capture Device output. This can come in several flavors now, including USB-C and Thunderbolt connectors, so pay attention to what your computer uses to make sure you've got the right cables for your Capture Device.

Think about if you need a "pass-through" HDMI output on your device that will feed a monitor before the signal goes to the computer.  Not all Capture Devices have this.

Two leading names for these devices are Magwell and ElGato and anything you get from these manufacturers will be good quality and do what they advertise it will do.  There are also a TON of no name or lesser known name options, all from China.  They can be a LOT cheaper, but of course you get what you pay for.  [note: i did some research and gambled on a cheaper one and so far so good.  But YMMV of course]

Now as to camera choices and the like, that is a DEEP DEEP rabbit hole.  I will say, with video lighting is SO key.  You can make a well lit subject look good with a cheap camera.  But the best camera in the world will look awful if the lighting is awful.  Garbage in, Garbage out.

Good luck!



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