While many people make use of webcams, the simple fact is that most application software that makes use of a webcam doesn’t give the end-user much control of its settings. Most video chat or conferencing software offer only a few basic settings. Thus it is that most people don’t even consider that there are some things that can be adjusted to improve the results you get from your webcam.
Those who are more serious about streaming video may use software like Wirecast, XSplit Broadcaster or Open Broadcaster. These programs offer more explicit control of the camera settings. This week the folks at XSplit published a nice blog post offering some good guidance on setting up a webcam for optimal results.
While they address things relating to their software specifically, the advice is broadly applicable to many situations. They have a short video that shows very graphically how disabling the automatic settings of a Logitech webcam can dramatically increase the frame rate it achieves.
I would not have expected this! Like most people, I was happy with the results of the default settings, so I didn’t dive beneath the covers to see what was possible. It seems that XSplit has some nice built-in tools for measuring camera performance.
This change in settings is something that I will definitely try during the coming VUC call with Iotum.
Last weeks commentary about how larger companies need to do better at rolling out WebRTC seems to have struck a chord in some circles. Apparently there are others who feel as I do that creating yet another free WebRTC-based video chat tool is just so much reinventing the wheel. It’s a pure marketing move aimed at establishing cool-by-association with something hip, shiny & new.
However, this critique we should reserve for developers who ought to know better. More specifically, those who are already involved in communications of some sort. Citrix’s GotoMeeting for example. If you have a track record of working with voice+video then WebRTC is novel, but it should not be entirely new.
In reality, the purpose of WebRTC is to enable an entirely new class of web developers with respect to online communication. That means word of WebRTC needs to spread. It needs to leave the confines of the crowd that knows that Opus is an audio codec, and find a home with the crowd that just needs to put some nice new feature into their web application. This is migration to face a much larger audience of developers.
It’s interesting to see this migration getting underway. For example, episode #418 of Scott Hanselman’s Hanselminutes podcast features a discussion on WebRTC with Lisa Larson-Kelly who runs a blog called Learn From Lisa. The interview introduces a new course that she has created called WebRTC Fundamentals.
For anyone who has been tracking WebRTC over time the interview is bit on the cursory side, but it does what is required. It gets people who are not already into communications excited about adding a new tool set to their web development arsenal.
This sort of training for developers that is going to be crucial to getting WebRTC used in the myriad possible applications that its creators might have imagined. It will enlarge the discussion around its use, bringing to bear the imagination of a massive new audience. This is where the new toolset that WebRTC presents will hopefully inspire innovation.