There are times when you might need to snap a photo or record somehome video with your PC's webcam. Mac users have PhotoBooth at theirdisposal, while Linux users can always count on the amiable Cheese.Unfortunately (and surprisingly), Windows users are left in the dust.Most of the purchased laptops and netbooks do come pre-installedwith Cyberlink Youcam, but it's not free and you won't have it once youformat your system (unless you've an HP computer
). For the rest of us, there are some very unusual yet useful tools that'll do the job just fine.
Windows Live Movie MakerWe start with unusual tool #1 - Microsoft's own Windows Live MovieMaker. As its name suggests, WLMM allows you to create casual moviesand personal videos from an input stream of photos , music and videos.For what it's worth, it can also record and create videos from yourwebcam.
Download and install Movie Maker from here
,and launch it from your Start menu. Now click on the "Webcam Video"button on the ribbon, and Movie Maker will turn on and show yourwebcam.
You can then record to your heart's fill and Movie Maker will createa nice video for you. To get photos, you have to split the video intoframes and extract the required frames from it.
Media PlayersThe 'geekier' media players, like VLC and Media Player Classic, canstream directly from your webcam which you can then record usingbuilt-in functionalities.
Media Player Classic
Launch Media Player Classic, and press Ctrl + V (or go to File ->Open Device). Choose your webcam, set your audio source to "Videocapture device" (you can use your built-in microphones, but I alwaysgot a very loud static-like noise from it), and click OK. Media PlayerClassic will now stream your webcam, which you can then record usingCapture Settings (press Ctrl + 8, and tweak your settings).
VLC PlayerIn VLC, press Ctrl + C (or go to Media -> Open Capture Device),and choose settings as shown in the screenshot. As with Media PlayerClassic, you might want to turn off the audio to avoid the irritatingnoise. Once VLC shows your webcam, you can either record it (asdetailed in this post
) or simply take snapshots using Video -> Snapshot.
Windows (Itself!)When your webcam is connected via USB, Windows will show it as aseparate device under Computer (My Computer in XP). You can also findand launch it from Devices and Printers in Windows 7. Windows allowsyou to take snapshots from USB connected webcams.
Cameroid (all platforms)Cameroid
is an online webcam appthat offers PhotoBooth-esque effects and allows you to save yoursnapshots, or share them online. The app is Flash-based, yetsurprisingly lightweight and easy-to-use. There must be numerous othersimilar webapps, so do let us know if there is anything else that youuse.
Taking occasional snaps or recording family clips with webcams willnever be a tough task again, with these nifty tools at your disposal.