Can You See Me now? Microsoft Suffering New Windows 10 Webcam Strategy

It seems that others have now encountered the change in how Windows 10 handles webcams after the Anniversary update. Many applications simply never try to go beyond 720p30, so it wasn’t clear to me how many people would be impacted by this change.

After my initial post about this on 8/4 I dropped news of the trouble in the related support forums for OBS, vMix, and Wirecast. My thought was that people involved in the production of streaming media could possibly be impacted.

How ironic that in the two weeks since there’s been a flood of complaints about the Anniversary Update breaking webcam access in Skype. It hadn’t occurred to me that Skype, a Microsoft product(!), would also be impacted.

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Recommended Listening: Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History

Revisionist History Podcast Nexus5Media consumption is a very personal thing. Our favorite music, movies, whatever. It’s all very personal. I don’t usually share opinions about such material.

However, in this case I must make an exception. Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast is outstanding. If you aren’t aware of it, and I didn’t share it with you, I’d be doing you an injustice. It’s literally breathtaking. The way podcasts should be done.

The series touches on a number of important topics. It’s extremely well-conceived, written and produced. It harnesses the medium, where most others trivialize it.

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Windows 10 Anniversary Update Breaks USB Camera Functionality

This afternoon I installed the Windows 10 anniversary update to my Lenovo X1 Carbon laptop. Since it’s not my primary machine, I always update the laptop first. Also, it’s 256 GB SSD is easily imaged to a portable hard drive, giving me a way back if required.

After the update was completed I went about assessing it’s behavior. I was particularly concerned by a report I had found in the Open Broadcaster support forum indicating that people were having trouble with webcam performance post-update. I’ve just now confirmed the problem that they reported.

Post update Windows 10 does not allow any USB-attached webcams to be configured for the delivery of MJPEG or H264 encoded video streams. While initially reported by someone using the Logitech C930e webcam, this also applies to the more common Logitech C920.

Wanting to explore the scope of the issue further, I tried the AVer Information VC520. This is an all-in-one USB-attached conference room solution comprised of a PTZ camera and conference phone, not unlike the Logitech ConferenceCam CC3000e.

While the device is MJPEG and H264 capable, the updated Windows 10 system only offers uncompressed YUY2 encoding.

I confirmed this behavior in OBS Studio, vMix and SparkoCam. In all cases this limits the cameras to 720p30, where they should be capable of 1080p30.

This problem very likely applies to all USB-attached webcams. It seems that Microsoft has broken something their UVC driver or the related stack.

Coming Soon: A Pair of New USB 3.0 Webcams

You might recall my ongoing lament about the lack of innovation in what we now laughably call webcams. If not, here’s a brief refresher…the current state of the art in consumer webcams (IMHO, the Logitech C920 & 930e, released in 2012 & 2013 respectively) are getting quite vintage. Where are the newer models that address current technological front lines, like USB 3.0, 4K resolution, VP9, HEVC, etc?

Well, there appears to be some movement in this area. Although, while interesting, it’s probably not what you expect. Continue reading “Coming Soon: A Pair of New USB 3.0 Webcams”

Conference Room Systems Preach Looking Good on Video

CRS web site on hdx4500My long and continuing exploration of the evolution of webcams has reliably turned up a small set of companies that are doing interesting things. Conference Room Systems is one such company. An AV reseller in Pennsylvania they seemed to recognize that A/V tech was evolving beyond its traditional boundaries. It was moving into live streaming, in applications from corporate to churches, schools and community groups.

However, a sales organization is just that. They exist to sell things. Having spent many years in such an organization it’s familiar territory for me. Sometimes they are genuinely knowledgeable, occasionally less so.

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Online Marketers: How-To Hold Branded Blabs

OnSip-SMBlabLong-time VUC sponsor OnSIP has been running a series of video chats they call #SMBLAB. Blab is a newer, kinda Hangout-like video chat tool built using WebRTC. This week I participated in one with Mike Oeth, CEO of OnSIP, Angela Leavitt of Mojo Marketing, and Randy Resnick, founder of the VUC.

Blab is dead simple to use. It integrates with Twitter for user authentication, allowing up to four people to join each Blab (call?)  The resulting video chats are recorded. Throw in good social media integration and you can see why it’s an online marketers dream.

As nice as blab is, it’s visual presentation is a bit generic. It doesn’t have the image overlay or lower-third capability that you find in Hangouts. That means that you can’t readily add your name or company logo.

That said, it doesn’t need to be this way! You can take matters into your own hands and deliver strong, visually branded blabs…if you want to. It takes a little effort in advance, but it’s not difficult…and it will strengthen your brand presentation.

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