How to Set Up a Video Camera to the Computer

by Chris Moore

If your computer didn't come with its own built-in camera, setting up and connecting an external camera isn't hard. A small, inexpensive web cam will quickly connect to the computer. You can also connect any camcorder to your computer and use it, especially if it's a digital camcorder. Your method of connecting the camera to the computer will depend on the type of camera you use and the type of video-capture card installed on the computer.

See if your computer has a video-capture card installed. An IEEE 1394 card works best. If you don't have a card and can't install an IEEE 1394, install an analog capture card, many of which connect to a USB port.

Connect a web cam to your computer if that is the camera you have. Get a camera with a USB connector if your computer has an internal video card, or one with S-Video or composite plugs if you're using an external card. Check the camera's manual to confirm it works with your card and see if it includes a microphone.

Attach your digital camcorder to the computer if you choose to use this. If the computer has an IEEE 1394 card, use an IEEE 1394 cable. Otherwise, you will need a plug that connects to the camera and has plugs for both the video card and the computer's audio inputs. A digital camcorder often comes with such a cable.

Use an analog camcorder if that's all you have available. This will give you the poorest picture quality. You need a cable that will connect to your camera's output port and the capture card's RCA composite ports.

Connect a separate microphone if the camera doesn't have one. This usually requires a mini stereo connection. If your microphone has a different plug (like a large stereo), get a mini plug adapter that will connect to the microphone.

Find the right place to set the camera near the computer once you know how to connect it. Most web cams can be mounted to your monitor. A camcorder can go on top of the main computer or elsewhere on your desk.

Open your video-editing program. Go to the list of available video sources and make sure the program recognizes your connected camera.

Tip

  • check An IEEE 1394 cable, also called FireWire, has a connector that looks like a stretched, rectangular hexagon. RCA composite cables have the three yellow, white and red plugs. An S-video cable uses a rounded plug with five pins on the inside. A mini stereo cable has the thin plug with the rounded tip and two black bands around it.

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About the Author

Chris Moore has been contributing to eHow since 2007 and is a member of the DFW Writers' Workshop. He received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Texas-Arlington.