I see you, too

I see you, too

By Richard Heller

I see you, too

Last week we looked into using a web camera as a videophone. This week, let’s look at other uses for this low-cost device.

One of the easiest things to use the camera for is to create video clips. By turning on the camera and pointing it at a subject, you can make movies. Though it’s not as sophisticated as a camcorder, you can still capture video good enough for websites or e-mailing to friends. With the video on the computer, you can edit it, add special effects including sound, fades, wipes, titles, etc.

Another use is to create time-lapse photos. This is ideal for a student doing a science fair project on plant growth. There is also software available that will allow your camera to be used as a security device. It will monitor the area around your computer and will start recording video when motion is detected. This is great if you want to see who is using your computer when you aren’t at home. There is also an option that will let you connect to your computer from work, turn on the camera and let you check the house.

One other use is to use the camera to take stop-motion recordings. All you need to do is press the button on the camera, a picture is taken, you change the position of the object, take another picture, and before long you are creating your own Gumby or Mr. Bill movies. This method of animation is still being used in movies of today.

The web camera can also be used to take snapshots or still image photos. You can take a snapshot every time you press the button, every so many seconds, for as long as you specify, or you can have it take snapshots until you tell it to stop. It’s an ideal way to take pictures of the new baby, whether human or made by one of the automakers.

The web camera can be purchased for as little as $30. Recently, one local retailer was selling a camera for $5 after a mail-in rebate. As you spend more money, you get higher resolutions, ranging from 400X300 pixels to 800X600 pixels or Super VGA. The higher-end cameras also offer better lenses, built-in microphones, and video editing software. Some of the new web cameras can be disconnected from the computer and can be used to take photos and a few seconds of video on its built-in memory. After you reconnect the camera to the computer, you can transfer the data to do editing or printing.

The web camera is an ideal peripheral for the kids; they can create videos, videophone with their friends, and it can be used for school projects. It’s a lot less expensive than allowing your kids to use the camcorder, and you do not have to buy additional hardware in order to connect it to the computer. As long as your computer has a USB port, you can just plug it in. Lights! Camera! Action!

Richard Heller is an independent computer specialist who specializes in repairs, installation, upgrades, technical support, Internet sharing, data recovery and diagnostics. If you have any computer or service-related questions, please send them to The Rock River Times or e-mail technorh@mindspring.com.

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