My new videoconf setup

With an 8-month-old, we’ve been FaceTiming with my parents a lot, since they’re a couple provinces over. In the last few days we’ve been videoconferencing with more family and friends too, as I’m sure is going to become increasingly common.

I wanted a better setup than the phones we’ve been using. I managed to build this with stuff I had around the house for $0 yesterday.

Parts:

  • TV
  • Mac Mini + bluetooth keyboard and mouse (was being used as an HTPC and youtube machine)
  • Yeti USB Microphone (I had this from when I used to make youtube videos)
  • Canon T2i DSLR with a decent wide lens (I’ve had this forever)

The software was a little crazy to set up. I followed this guide. Live Camera lets you use a tethered DSLR as a video camera, and presents it as a Syphon server. CamTwist lets you take multiple video sources (including from a Syphon server), apply live effects or transitions, and presents the output as a video source that other apps on your Mac can use. Both CamTwist and Live Camera are sort of abandonware. I had to experiment with older versions of CamTwist until I got one to work with my particular setup.

What a difference. She engaged with her grandparents in a way that never happened before on a phone, tablet, or even a laptop. Well worth the time investment, and I’m sure we’ll find lots more uses for this.

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