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Using Pro Cameras in a USB World

By: Chip Bobbert II

Often times we have events, projects or circumstances that require us to use high end cameras with software that is really only designed for USB cams. Professional and Prosumer gear almost always lacks the USB interface so this can be a challenge. Pro’s typically use SDI video connections while Prosumer products usually use the HDMI standard. There are a ton of PCI/PCIe cards and capture devices out there from companies like Blackmagic, AJA and Matrox that bring our video into the computer. Unfortunately, programs like Skype, WebEx, Screenflow and the like don’t often pick up on those devices as a valid input. So what’s a video professional to do, give up on their pro gear and use a $59 Logitech?

One cool solution is to use Wirecast. Yes, this is a piece of software for streaming but it has one extremely valuable and almost unknown feature, “The Virtual Camera Driver”. Wirecast, which takes virtually any popular input device and typically streams to a streaming server or live streaming service will also easily convert that same stream to be a “USB’ish” output. This will allow you to take your professional and prosumer video gear and leverage it against popular soft conferencing services like WebEx and Skype or rapid E-learning software like Screenflow or Camtasia. You get the added benefit of using Wirecast to add effects to video like lower thirds, multiple cameras and other enhancements if you so choose. To see how this is setup, take a look at our demo video shot in the self-service, open-to the-campus MPS Recodring Studio!

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