Cameras

You are strongly advised to test cameras with the demonstration version of each application before purchasing software.

Cameras are basically split into three main types,

    Webcams

    Digital still cameras

    Cam Corders


Animate It!, I Can Animate and I Can Present work with cameras that have a USB webcam connection and that are able to give a LIVE FEED (drivers should be installed if supplied with camera) or a firewire DV camera (you may need to purchase a firewire card for your computer). Cameras should be plugged in and switched to record mode in the case of DV cameras before launching either application.


Webcams

Animate It!, I Can Animate, and I Can Present will work with a USB webcam. A range of High Definition web cameras are available on the market and these are ideal for use with our products. You should check with the manufacturer ‘s website to determine if you need to install drivers. We would recommend cameras that are ‘plug & play’ and therefore do not require drivers to be installed.

As an entry level inexpensive camera we currently recommend the Kinobo B3 HD, and for a more expensive option, the Logitech C920. Both cameras are plug & play and work on both Windows and Mac OS X. Cameras should be plugged in and switched on if required, before launching either application.

Digital Still Cameras

Unfortunately manufacturers have removed both the live feed capability and the software interface for us to be able to control them remotely in order to capture a picture. This effects not just our software titles, but other similar applications.

DSLR cameras - Not currently supported in Animate It! I Can Animate or I Can Present however it is possible to install third party applications that allow the DSLR to used as a ‘high quality’ web cam.

Camcorders

Camcorders no longer have a firewire port and the manufacturers no longer supply a live view feed through USB. We are therefore unable to control the capture of a picture from these devices. There are a number of high end camcorders that retain a firewire connection and may be used, but we strongly recommend testing these using the trial before purchase to ensure all features work with your camera. Please also check the manufacturers specifications. We are aware that the firewire to thunderbolt converters on Apple computers may cause issues.

Mobile Device Cameras


It is also possible to use a mobile devices HD camera with all of the applications. It is connected using a FREE third party App. If you want to try this out, then download the guide. *Apps vary and we strongly suggest you try FREE versions before committing too purchase any third party Apps. Find out more...

HD Webcams are a good entry level.


Available through Kudlian

More About Webcams

Webcams capture the image in front of them and send it to a device such as a computer. The computer can transmit the image over a network to long-distance viewers. The entry level B3 HD webcam can be used with all three of our products.


Webcam Connections

Webcams are typically connected to a computer or laptop in a few different ways. Some use a standard USB cable, while others employ a FireWire cable, which is often faster a than USB cable. The higher speeds of data transference enable better video quality. However, FireWire connectivity is also a bit more expensive than USB and has largely disappeared from web cam use.


Webcam Cost

Webcams are fairly simple and inexpensive to manufacture. Those cost savings are usually passed along to the consumer, resulting in affordable prices on a wide range of webcams. However, some top-of-the-line webcams are made with special materials and high-grade parts such as the lenses. With webcams generally, the more you pay the better the quality


Internal Components

Within the average webcam, buyers can expect to see a image sensor and a lens, supplemented by additional electronic components. Some webcams also feature a microphone. Webcam lenses come in a few different varieties, reflecting the needs their owners might have. The standard plastic lens found in most webcams has some adjustability, whereas the less popular fixed-focus lenses lack this versatility. The lens can make a big difference, either go with a recommendation or better still try it yourself. Before you reject a web cam because of poor images you can;

Check the lens is clean,

Check to see if it is a manual focus camera, and if it is, try focusing it!

Image sensors within a webcam are usually CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) for cheaper models and CCD (charge-coupled device) for pricier webcams.


Understanding Resolution

One of the vital considerations in the purchase of a webcam is the resolution. To understand why resolution is important, buyers first need to know what it is and how it affects picture quality for a webcam.


The resolution of an image, whether a video still or a photo, is the amount of detail it possesses. Digital images are composed of many tiny pixels, or coloured dots. Together, all these pixels create the image. The more pixels are present in the image, the higher the resolution is, and the more detailed the result can be. For a crisp, clear image, buyers must have a webcam with high resolution.


Resolution Options for Webcams

You can find a broad range of resolution options. Lower-end webcams start at 320x240 pixels, while others may supply 640x480 pixels . Top webcams usually offer some level of high-definition resolution, perhaps supplying 720p on a regular basis. Some webcams achieve 1080p, which results in full high-definition quality visual output. However, these high-quality HD webcams only manage this superb resolution quality if users have a computer with powerful enough hardware and components. These settings can however be manually changed in the camera settings panel.

They also need to use a service that supports 1080p in order to enjoy this quality. If the service or the computer does not offer sufficient support for true high definition imagery, users can still enjoy excellent image and video quality, but it is not 1080p. All three of our applications benefit from using an HD webcam but I Can Present specifically needs a web cam that is able to operate at a high frame rate, specifically at 25 to 30 frames per second (fps). I Can Present will try to match your computers power with the optimum size of image and number of frames per second to give you the best results.


Resolution Terminology Explained

Sometimes, the wording on the webcam packaging can be confusing. Some webcams have labels that refer to megapixels (MP), while others list the resolution differently. The chart below correlates a few different ways of phrasing the resolution terminology, all of which mean essentially the same thing.


Label Terminology  Horizontal by Vertical Pixels          Total Pixels

2.0 MP webcam        1600x1200 pixels                              1,920,000 pixels (or nearly 2 million pixels)

1080p webcam         1920x1080 pixels                              2,073,600 pixels

1.3 MP webcam        1280x1024 pixels                              1,310,720 pixels

720p webcam            1280x720 pixels                               921,600 pixels


In actuality, a 720p webcam may not be better than a 1.3 MP webcam, provided that all other factors are equal. The 1.3 MP camera, though it does not bear the distinction of being a high definition device, boasts more pixels than the 720p webcam. Buyers must consider every aspect of resolution and frame rate if they want to get the top value for their money.


Deciding on the Right Resolution

For home video chats with family, a high-definition webcam may be enjoyable, but it is not necessary. A little image fuzziness from time to time is acceptable, even expected. However, for professional use, a webcam with higher resolution may be the ideal choice. If buyers plan to take part in web conferences, client meetings, and brainstorming sessions with colleagues via video chat, they need a webcam with accurate video capture and pristine resolution that presents them in the best possible light. For users who film themselves for professional or business purposes, such as teaching online classes, high resolution is important as well.

If users cannot decide which level of resolution is right for them, they should perform a few test runs. If possible, shoppers should borrow a few different webcams and test each one with the help of a friend or family member. With a little experimentation and research, buyers can find the right balance between value and resolution quality. We try to offer advice on the web cams that work well with our products and those we offer directly we do for good reason, these being quality of image, appropriate FPS, ease of use, and cost. We also consider the implications of using the device in challenging environments.


Balancing FPS with Resolution

Closely related to the resolution is the frames per second or FPS. Even if the webcam has excellent resolution, if the FPS is not up to par, viewers may experience jumpy, lagging video. The FPS, or refresh rate, needs be fairly high with for example I Can Present, so that viewers can discern all the movements and expression of the person they are watching and enjoy a seamless video experience.


Unfortunately, many webcams with a high refresh rate of 50 to 60 FPS only reach this benchmark by lowering the resolution. Buyers need to make sure that they balance their need for a clear, crisp picture with their need for smooth video. Typically, casual users opt for a refresh rate of about 24 frames per second, which is ample FPS for chatting with family and friends. Professional users may want about 30 FPS, which strikes a good balance with resolution quality.


Conclusion

When selecting a webcam, seek advice if you are not sure as you need to consider many different factors. First, you need to think about the resolution you’ll need for their purposes. Then also decide how you will want to position the camera in your workspace since this determines whether you will need a clip-on webcam or a standalone model, for our three applications, having a tripod mount is really useful but not essential.