There are lots of crazy ways to capture video on a Mac. My video software supports any video source that can be captured with a standard “Quicktime digitizer component.”
In the past, capturing footage from a tape-based DV camcorder was a real-time operation. The Firewire cable was the only way to get the footage onto the computer, so it was built into Quicktime. (This also makes it possible for my software to see your live DV camcorder stream.)
Modern HD camcorders use memory cards, so they don’t include many options for streaming their realtime signal to a computer. Digital still cameras offer “Live View” modes but each manufacturer does it in their own incompatible way, so I can’t support them directly. Thankfully, HDMI capture devices are reasonably affordable and support a wide range of HD cameras.
|Apple iSight or Facetime Camera||Supported, but exposure is automatic. You may be able to enable manual exposure after installing the amazing UVC-CTRL. (Apple never bothered to enable the manual exposure features in their default iSight driver, but after many years UVC-CTRL offers hope!)
NOTE: The FaceTime HD camera in modern Mac laptops (2013 Retina models) lacks a QuickTime driver. (Thanks Apple!) So none of my software will work with these cameras. I’m waiting for my development environment (MAX) to be updated to support the new capturing system that Apple is forcing us to use, but it might take awhile. In the meantime you may be able to access your camera using syphon-camera and send the feed to my software using Syphon. (Some of my apps support Syphon, some don’t.)
|“UVC compliant” USB webcams
||Supported. Most inexpensive webcams fall into this category. Even if the cam says it’s Windows-only, plug it in and it will probably work. Exposure is (unfortunately) automatic, but some cameras support manual exposure after installing the amazing UVC-CTRL. (Apple never bothered to enable the manual exposure features in their default webcam driver, but after many years UVC-CTRL offers hope!)|
|PS3 Eye USB webcam||Supported. It’s cheap and good quality. The MACAM driver allows this camera to be used on the Mac and it supports manual exposure. The official MACAM download is out of date. (The latest CVS build might be better.) Meanwhile the folks on the OpenFrameworks forum have hacked together much better versions that support manual white balance, better default settings, multiple cams on one computer, etc. 1) Follow this link and scroll down to the files that start with “macam-ps3eye…” (I’ve used “macam-ps3eye-manualwb-defaultVGA.zip” with great success.) 2) Follow the installation instructions on the MACAM site. 3) Start the MACAM app and adjust the gain and shutter parameters. 4) Choose “Save Current Settings” from the Control menu. 5) Now open my software and the camera’s exposure will remain locked.|
mostly expensive “machine-vision cameras”
|Supported. These Firewire cameras offer uncompressed capture, and generally work great. There are too many to test. (Note that the IIDC standard is obsolete and Firewire ports are disappearing from Apple computers).|
(NTSC or PAL)
|Supported. (The camera and computer must have a Firewire port, which are disappearing from Apple computers).|
|HDV cameras||HD capture from HDV devices is not supported. The cam must be able to send a standard definition DV signal over its firewire port (usually selectable in the camera’s menu). (Note that Firewire ports are disappearing from Apple computers). The image in my software will therefore be standard definition, not HD. (I know that iMovie and FCP capture HDV, but Apple does not allow third party software to access their capture code. It would be painfully slow even if they did.) But… most of them stream their signal in realtime over an HDMI cable. That HDMI feed can be captured by a PCI card which you must install in your computer. See “HDMI Capture Devices” below.|
|AVCHD (memory card) HD cameras||Not directly supported. (They don’t stream their HD video signal in a format that I can access). But… most of them stream their signal in realtime over an HDMI cable. That HDMI feed can be captured by a PCI card which you must install in your computer. See “HDMI Capture Devices” below.|
|HD Digital SLRs & other large-sensor still cameras(Canon 5DmkII, 7D, 60D, Panasonic GH2, etc.)||Not directly supported. (They don’t stream their HD video signal in a format that I can access). But… most of them stream their signal in realtime over an HDMI cable. That HDMI feed can be captured by a PCI card which you must install in your computer. See “HDMI Capture Devices” below. (As of 2011, most DSLRs have onscreen displays visible on the HDMI feed, or the resolution is lowered during recording, or both.) *2012 UPDATE: I’m starting to add Syphon support to my applications. Try the amazing Canon2Syphon to convert the live USB feed from your Canon DSLR into an almost-HD Syphon stream, which will show up in any Syphon-compatible app! Camera Live does the same thing but seems to work much better. (Requires Mac OS 10.7 or above. The link leads to the source code. To download the compiled app just read down the page where it says “You can download the app here…”)|
|Panasonic HVX200 and HPX170 cameras
DVCProHD format cameras that shoot on P2 memory cards
|Supported. You need to have Final Cut Pro installed to use these cameras, otherwise my software cannot see them.
The following formats are NOT supported:
After you choose the DVCProHD input in my software, you may need to unplug and re-plug the firewire cable to get the image to appear.
|Other still Cameras||Not supported. Most still cameras do not work with my software. As of 2011 I don’t know of any compact cameras that stream an HD video signal over HDMI (see the DSLR section). The HDMI ports on compact cameras seem to only work in playback mode, not record mode.|
|Networked “IP Cameras”||IP cameras are surveillance cameras with wifi or ethernet jacks that broadcast their video data over a network. They are not directly supported but you can try the IPCAM2SYPHON app to convert their data to Syphon streams. Some of my software is Syphon compatible and thus it should work.|
HDMI Capture Devices
|Blackmagic Capture devices||Blackmagic Design makes devices for capturing HDMI video. They work fine with my software*. They allow you to stream a realtime HD signal from the HDMI port of most camcorders directly into your computer. (This is the best solution for most HD cameras.)• The Decklink and Intensity Pro PCI cards are for older Mac Pro towers. They have a few frames of latency, but are otherwise perfect.
• For Mac laptops (2011 or newer) there are Thunderbolt boxes (Intensity Shuttle, Intensity Extreme, UltraStudio Express, UltraStudio Mini Recorder). I haven’t personally tested these with my software but I’ve been told by my users that they work fine.* NOTE that BlackMagic’s standard QuickTime driver does not support all frame-rates and resolutions. The free Black-Syphon utility from the makers of VDMX uses the BlackMagic SDK to efficiently capture all standard formats and convert the feed to a Syphon stream. Some of my apps have Syphon inputs so this is a potentially perfect solution.If you are thinking of capturing the output of a Panasonic GH2 camera, there are issues. As of 2011, the Mac driver for the Intensity Pro will not capture the strange crippled HDMI signal that this camera produces. Apparently the Windows driver does, and Black-Syphon probably does too. See below for another solution.
|Matrox MXO2 Mini||The MXO2 Mini is an external box that connects to your choice of interfaces: PCI (for towers), Expresscard (for older Mac laptops), or Thunderbolt (for Mac laptops from 2011 or newer). It’s more expensive and bulkier than the Blackmagic devices. It also has more latency (about a half second) but it’s the only laptop-compatible HDMI capture solution that I’ve personally tested.
* As of 2011 it’s also the only way to capture the crippled HDMI signal produced by the Panasonic GH2 camera.
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