Can You Use A Digital Camera As a Webcam For Screencasting?

I stumbled across this question in the Camtasia Users Group forum on LinkedIn.

question - can you use a digital camera as a webcam for screencasting and camtasia

Can an external camcorder be used as a webcam for screencasting software?

The quick answer is yes.  In fact, both Camtasia Studio (Techsmith's screencasting software for windows) and Camtasia Mac (the Macintosh version) will generally recognize modern HD camcorders that are connected via a high speed cable (e.g., USB 2.0+, Firewire, HDMI, etc.)

Admittedly, I'm hedging a bit by saying that Camtasia will "generally recognize" these camcorders because it will also depend on the configuration of your computer.  Obviously, if you have a computer from the Jurassic age, then this may be a non-starter for you.

Now, getting past the basics for a moment: even if your screencasting software recognizes the external camcorder, it doesn't mean you're home free.  My experience has typically been that after you've successfully captured the video and screencast, something is almost always out of sync.

A typical set up might go like this:

  • External camcorder video and its audio comes in on one track
  • External audio source (from a high end microphone perhaps) comes in on a second track
  • The video recording of the computer screen (screencast) comes in on a third track

multiple media tracks in screencast need to be synchronized

Each of these tracks is basically its own channel.  And, depending on the speed of your computer's processor, as well as the speed with which each of the media sources (i.e., video + audio from external camcorder, audio from connected mic, and video capture from the screencasting software recording movement on the screen), then it's not unheard of to see these all show up on the timeline of your screencasting software out of sync from each other.

Can you re-synchronize media tracks that are out of sync in Camtasia? [Video]

Yes.  That's the subject of the video below.  Take a look... But, I warn you, it isn't for the faint of heart.  (But I kid.  It's not really that scary... well, maybe just a little...)

(Caution: This video is not for the faint of heart!)

Can this be supplemented with hardware?

Now, there's likely some of my readers who've augmented this setup with hardware.  If you've done that before, please share the type of hardware you've used.

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About Mel

Mel is the online training architect and screencasting wizard at Kareo, one of Forbes' 2013 list of 100 Most Promising Companies in America. He's also the creator of Digital-Know-How, a training website devoted to developing learners' skills for screencasting and web video course development. Mel is also the chief blogger of; Mel's personal blog. The comments and opinions you read here are Mel's and not associated with any other company.
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