Hardware Settings: Web-cams and OS X...

mfreakz's picture

Things seems to run really slowly since Christopher is gone for his wedding holidays... ;) To help each-other, here is my purpose: A topics for newbies and "not so newbies" Quartz Composer users, about a question that seems to be technically a recurrent matter in hardware settings: Web-cams and OS X...

Find a good OSX Compatible Web-cam seems very very difficult. Internet's forums doesn't solve anything, some hadware could be describe as good for Tiger and bad for Leopard, many users just speak about iChat and doesn't know about Quartz Composer... Apple resellers doesn't understand anymore (Many doesn't know about Quartz Composer or Developer tools as well !) they just sell family computers ! Apple stay dumb on the subject and doesn't sell any solution and as you could see, iSight isn't on the market anymore and if you don't have a new attached/include iSight (some "old" computers don't have one, neither the latest and quickest MacPro, and above all, some project need to have a separate one !) this could be really problematic !

  • Which web-cam do you choose for your Quartz Composer video input ?

  • USB or FireWire Web-cams (the best result about quality but above all the most quick and computing-free solution) ?

  • Which Web-Cam Brand is really OSX compatible ?

  • Does Fire-Wire DV Camcorder works as a Video Input in QC ?

  • Does HDV or DVC-Pro HD Camcorders works as well (Do you need a Final Cut/Quicktime plug ins to use those HD Cams) ?

  • Does DV, HDV, DVC-Pro HD Camcorders works in real time, and do they increase quality without increase computing ?!!!

  • Do you find a way to use many and different Video Inputs ?

  • Do you find an USB or FireWire capture card that works as a Video Input (for Laptop, MacMini, Small Hackintosh) ?

  • Do you find such a good Capture Card in PCI format for a MacPro (does it works as well) ?

It's time to share your experience in such a jungle and bad documented question: Video Input cards and Web-Cams !

monobrau's picture
Sony PS3 Eye

I'm quite happy about the PS3Eye that works together with macam software.

Specs: - USB2 - 24/30 fps (on a last gen. macbook pro) - 640x480 - Fixed wide angle(!) 75deg. or fixed normal angle 56deg. - Around €50 - Very good in low light conditions - Works perfectly in Quartz composer

Pro's - Really clear image - Fixed focus (good for motion tracking etc.) - Wide angle - Works good in low light conditions - Cheap

Con's - No manual setting for color correction/aperature (means constant light conditions if you're doing background differencing or more advance computervision tasks) although it adjusts itself quite fast - Seems to take some processing power

monobrau's picture
Firewire DV/capture cards/multiple inputs

I've used different firewire DV cams without problems in quartz. A firewire capture box like the Canopus series work fine as well.

As for multiple inputs, i've succesfully used a usb cam, 1 firewire dv cam, a unibrain firei firewire cam and my isight at the same time in quartz. The isight and usb cam need quite some processing power though.

Now I'm using a sony vx1000 dvcam for live video input. The camera is completely manually adjustable (i never found a webcam that is fully manual on a mac) and delivers a clear image trough firewire. Perfect for background differencing or more advanced CV tasks.

mfreakz's picture
USB Vs FireWire Webcam, and DV input...

Thanx to share your experience ! Does Macam's software/driver not too buggy for a professional use ? Doesn't it use more computing resource than a plug n' play one ? Maybe there is an increase of processing power with the USB2 bus, it seems more efficient to use FireWire. Does DV Camcorders appear automatically in the Video Input Patch settings, when they are pluged ? Is there some tricks to use DV Camcorders with QC ?

mfreakz's picture
Camcorders are the best Hardware for sure !

Could you tell us more precisely wish Canopus Capture Box you've try successfully. Does the FireWIre DV Cams seems to use processing power ?

If you have other Webcam (USB/FireWIre or Camcorders + Capture Box solution) let me know the brand and model. Do you work on Tiger, Leopard ? Does it change something for you when you have upgraded your system ?

monobrau's picture

macam never coused problems with my setup i've used in an installations with the ps3eye and that's still running fine. I think (but i'm not a video tech pro) all usb webcams use somekind of compression on the videostream that the computer has to decode first. I've used the canopus ADVC110 to get a feed from a matrix switch. It worked just like a dv cam. As for speed i think firewire is the way to go, as it has a lower (or none?) compression and is therefore less depending on your processor (please correct me if i'm wrong). The DV cam appears in the settings panel (cmd-2) in the video input as a new video device. If it doesn't restart qc and try again.

I've never tried some newer HD cams though that only have a usb2 connection. Annyone got experience with that?

monobrau's picture
Firewire DV/Unibrain FireI

I think a live firewire feed is less demanding on the processor. And a manual 3ccd cam delivers a good image with the flexibility to adjust your image on the camera itself.

I worked on tiger and now leopard, no big transition issues. If you're serious about quartz composer, the latest version is really recommended.

I've tried the Unibrain FireI for a day, but I wasn't really content with the image quality. It was speedy though

Specs: - Firewire - Multiple camera support (only tried it with another firewire dv cam, worked) - 640x480 - 30fps

Pro's: - Firewire, low compression, means faster rendering - Very usable for multitouch applications (fast framerate, low latency, ability to remove uv filter) - Manual focus

Con's: - Aperature/color correction/white balance not manual controllable on osx - Slow automatic adjustment of aperature and color correction - Image quality low compared to dv cam/newer usb cams - Quite expensive (around €100)

franz's picture

I use a Velleman micro camera, BW, with manual focus and a set of changeable lenses (from 35 degrees up to 110 degrees angle of view) Captor is CCD 1/4 inch, very sensitive to IR light. This stuff is plugged in a ADVC-100 by canopus, with is a correct firewire grabber (DV quality)

smokris's picture
Multiple Simultaneous Video Inputs

mfreakz wrote:
Do you find a way to use many and different Video Inputs ?

As monobrau mentioned above, typically using multiple simultaneous video inputs isn't a problem.

However, due to a design issue in the way QC allows selection of video input devices, if you attach multiple video inputs of the same make and model, you can only select one of them. cwright created the Kineme Video Input patch to address this issue.

ahoeben's picture
Logitech Quickcam Fusion

I use a Logitech Quickcam Fusion.

I don't remember installing a driver for it. It gives me video at a resolution of 1280x960 at what seems to be around 10 FPS. No way to change the resolution though...

waxtastic's picture
Re: Sony PS3 Eye

Anyone have any advice on how to get the PS3 Eye working in 640x480 inside Quartz Composer? I'm only getting 320x240 although I can change the resolution in macam.

gabeshaughnessy's picture
Getting the P3Eye working with Quartz Composer

I'm having trouble using my ps3eye with quartz composer. I've got it working great on my laptop running os 10.5. I'm trying to get it running on my mac mini running os 10.6

I'm using maccam. I've gotten the ps3eye working on the mini, it works great in quicktime, camtwist and AR toolkit.

However, in Quartz Composer, when I create a video input and hit command + 2 to set the input source, the Video Source drop down menu is greyed out and says default. I tried restarting to see if it wasn't picking up the maccam plugin, but that wasn't it.

Any ideas how I can get this working? I am having the same trouble on my mac tower running 10.6. It seems the ps3eye is working very well for everything but Quartz Composer. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


cwright's picture
Re: Getting the P3Eye working with Quartz Composer

Right-click QC in Finder. Get Info. Check the 32bit box. Should get you up and running, unless I'm mistaken.

QT stuff is super-flaky in 64bit (which QC is on 10.6)

gabeshaughnessy's picture
Re: Getting the P3Eye working with Quartz Composer

thanks, that worked perfectly.

adrianward's picture
Re: Getting the P3Eye working with Quartz Composer

<curses own stupidity> Doh!

Thank you Christopher - again! This is an invaluable tip, and one that I wish someone had shouted to me in capitals when I started Googling a solution ages ago:

IMPORTANT! Anyone wanting to use a Sony Playstation Eye camera for PS3 (SLEH 00201) with the macam 0.9.2 QuickTime component on 10.6 Snow Leopard needs to switch to 32 bit mode before Quartz Composer will even recognise the camera using the built-in Video Input patch.

leegrosbauer's picture
Re: Getting the P3Eye working with Quartz Composer

Same thing is true when using virtual cameras, btw. The story I heard seems to be that Apple now uses a newer and unpublished API for accessing cam output, but cam developers are stuck with the old one. Hence the need to switch QC into 32 bit mode which will still recognize the old function.

Gummibando's picture
Re: Hardware Settings: Web-cams and OS X...

Any USB video cam that adheres to the USBVideoClass standard works, as OSX contains a generic driver for these devices. I tested a Logitech QuickCam Vision Pro 9000 (really expensive but also really high quality) and the Microsoft XBox Live camera a few months ago. Generally, both cameras work.

But two problems arise with these kind of cameras:

  1. As the OSX UVC driver is generic, there is no access to any camera hardware functions, e.g. exposure control etc.
  2. (Which is the bigger problem) The QC video input patch captures the 'raw' camera data stream when using non-Apple cameras. This means that the image resolution is a) really high (1600x1200 for the Logitech, 1280x960 for the XBox cam if I remember correctly) and b) the video stream is uncompressed (4:2:2 YCrCb for the savvy).

As a result, the video/image refresh rate is really low (3-5 fps with the aforementioned cams), as the massive data rate such an high-res uncompessed video stream produces hogs the CPU, saturates the USB-bus (sic!) etc.

Obviously the internal/external iSight is handled differently by the QC video input patch, as the output image size here is 640x480, even though the iSight internally boasts a much higher resolution (1280x1024?), too.

In the end, we had to write a custom QC video capture plugin with customizable capture width/height to get a fluid video image from these kind of cameras.

Hope this helps. Cake tare, Oli

franz's picture
Re: Hardware Settings: Web-cams and OS X...

did you check http://kineme.net/release/VideoTools/10 maybe more options available.

also, if you did write a custom patch to select specific cam. options, would you mind making it public ?

gtoledo3's picture
Re: Hardware Settings: Web-cams and OS X...

You should have tried downsizing the image directly after the video output. Would have saved much time, probably money as well. I use two Logitech cams with QC all the time, runs fine if the setup is tuned, though latency with USB will not be as good as firewire.

QC will only "chew away" at the res that you send it down the pipeline, besides the toll of that very first image reduction. So, you may be able to control w/h via your plugin, but it would be interesting to see how that compares to doing the same thing with an image resize right after the stock vid input.

I'm not saying that you're_wrong about saturation of the USB bus, but again, I've used two Logitech cams on a macbook pro and not had it be an issue (not even a tower).

gtoledo3's picture
Re: Hardware Settings: Web-cams and OS X...

VideoTools supports only Firewire.

Gummibando's picture
Re: Hardware Settings: Web-cams and OS X...

Yep, been there, done that. Resizing the image output has no effect.

It's exactly as you wrote, QC will use the res in the pipeline. But the pipeline input 'feed' comes from a CoreVideo buffer (I assume) which still has the native camera size and uncompressed YCrCb video. Our plugin reduces the dimensions of the CV buffer so we get a smaller image before it hits the QC pipeline.

Maybe this effect is especially related to the hardware we use (Mac Mini w/ the really lame NVidia 9400) but it 'scales' reciprocal to the camera resolution, e.g. the higher the native camera size, the slower the video refresh rate. The really high-end 1600x1200 Logitech produces about 3 fps whereas the 1280x960 (?) XBox cam produces - still unusable – 5-6 fps. If I use a really cheap cam that outputs 640x480 natively then everything is super-fluid with the built-in video capture patch.

If I set the video capture size to 640x480 or 800x600 using our custom size video capture plugin then all cameras provide smooth video. Btw. up to version 3 even QC itself had customizable dimensions in the video input patch. Don't know why this has been removed (cwright ?)

Can you post the native resolution of the two Logitech cameras you have in use?

gtoledo3's picture
Re: Hardware Settings: Web-cams and OS X...

1280x720. I reduce this to 640x480 and wind up with an easy 30fps+ with some core image effects (this is reducing fps... I should unplug the CI and see what the fps is without that deficit). This is running two cameras at the same time. If I disable vbl synch, I get higher fps (preferences+option).

I'm using the 9600/9400 combo macbook pro model.

I would still be really curious to see what the fps is with a plugin like you're talking about... maybe it really flies.

cwright's picture
Re: Hardware Settings: Web-cams and OS X...

Gummibando wrote:
Btw. up to version 3 even QC itself had customizable dimensions in the video input patch. Don't know why this has been removed (cwright ?)

QC2 was the last version that had configurable video input. QC3 did not (that was when QTKit started getting used, which removed features like configuring the camera).

Gummibando's picture
Re: Hardware Settings: Web-cams and OS X...

Sorry, that's what I meant. Typo. Would it be worth the hassle with the awful Radar user interface to request the return of this feature?


Gummibando's picture
Re: Hardware Settings: Web-cams and OS X...

There you go. Should be the most recent version. Comes up as "FV Video Input" in QC.

Take care, Oli

FVVideoInput.plugin.zip33.39 KB

cwright's picture
Re: Hardware Settings: Web-cams and OS X...

there's already a radar for that. Unfortunately, it's not a QC thing (it's a QT thing), so I wouldn't expect it any time soon.

Gummibando's picture
Re: Hardware Settings: Web-cams and OS X...

Yeah, I figured. Thanks for the info, though.

This is getting (slightly :) off topic, but then, I actually see light… even sooner than later. I assume that the next major version of Final Cut Pro will be based on QTKit instead of 'old-style' QT (even from a marketing standpoint it's basicallay a must to go 64-bit in a 'pro' app nowadays, which only QTKit/QuickTime X provides). If Apple doesn't want to do the same trickery Autodesk had to do for Smoke (where they basically use the 64-bit playback capabilities of QuickTime X and the 32-bit recording stuff from 'old' QuickTime) then this would mean Apple had to bring the QTKit/QTX capabilities at least on par with old QT. In the end this is pure Engadgetesque speculation, but to quote MLK: "I have a dream…"

Take care, Oli

fsk's picture
Re: Hardware Settings: Web-cams and OS X...

this is great, thanx for sharing.

i have been trying to find my way around the same issues and this really helps out. i noticed that switching to the QC video patch after setting the resolution in this plugin, makes the QC video patch output at the closest camera supported resolution as well.

when i was trying to solve these same problems i stumbled on this piece of code:


unfortunately it doesnt seem to work for my camera (logitech c910) but the guy that made it has the same camera as you. if you decide to make it part of the plugin, please please please share it with us:).

scalf's picture
Re: Hardware Settings: Web-cams and OS X...

Gtoledo3, I am interested which models you got from logitech. You said they were cheap and you did not need any extra drivers which is simply what I am looking for. Hopefully they are still in production and you can recall the models. Thanks a bunch!

gtoledo3's picture
Re: Hardware Settings: Web-cams and OS X...

I just looked at the things, and there are no defining markings on them...looks like the boxes got trashed.

The connection info probably won't help too much (?):

Product ID: 0x080f Vendor ID: 0x046d (Logitech Inc.) Version: 0.09 Serial Number: 433C0580 Speed: Up to 480 Mb/sec Location ID: 0x24100000 Current Available (mA): 500 Current Required (mA): 500

It is a truly cheap unit. It does feel like a little plastic toy. I bought them at a Walmart, and chiefly because of how ridiculously cheap they were. They seem equivalent to the iSight to me. They aren't awesome or anything, but if you need another view and quality doesn't need to be awesome (for reference, I don't think the iSight is a super-awesome cam, it just gets the job done), or two, they work.

deved's picture
Re: Getting the P3Eye working with Quartz Composer

Hi, I tried this fix and the little Creative webcam I am porting through Macam doesn't show up in the Inspector/Settings/Video Device. Does this only work for some cameras? I have the components placed in the quicktime directory of /Library and user/Library, on Mac OS 10.6...nothing showing up. What am I doing wrong??

itsthejayj's picture
Re: Getting the P3Eye working with Quartz Composer

Have you tried switching to 32bit QC mode. Right click on the Quartz Composer.app > get info > enable open in 32bit mode

deved's picture
Re: Getting the P3Eye working with Quartz Composer

ah, I got it working! i'm not sure what I did differently, as I had it in 32 bit mode, but now it shows up in QC.


jersmi's picture
Re: Hardware Settings: Web-cams and OS X...

This FV Video plugin works well. Thanks!

Gabirell's picture
Re: Getting the P3Eye working with Quartz Composer

hello, this is my first post. :) I'm trying to get PS3eye working on quartz composer with no success. I'm on 32 bit mode, when I open macam everything looks fine, but when I try to get it on QC it crashes or just no image appears... I've tried fv plugin too, with no sucess at all. I'm under Lion, with the last macan driver installed.

any clues????


monobrau's picture
Re: Hardware Settings: Web-cams and OS X...

I'm using the logitech c910 at the moment, together with the fv-video plugin: http://kineme.net/Discussion/ForumDiscussion/HardwareSettingsWebcamsandO...

or use the QTKitCapture plugin https://github.com/fieldOfView/QTKitCapture

and uvc-ctrl, that allows you to set exposure, focus etc. There's a maxmsp gui that makes it easier to control than the command line interface. http://www.dm9.se/?tag=uvc-ctrl

Good image quality, gets decent 720i framerates on a 2008 mbp and low framerates (2/8fps) up to 2592x1944. I wonder how it performs on a higher spec machine.

It's best to stick to 2592x1944, 1600x1200, 720i, 640x480 or 320x240.

monobrau's picture
Re: Hardware Settings: Web-cams and OS X...

The Logitech c920 also works great, better frame rates and a tripod mount. 'Webcam Settings' from the App Store is a more stable app to manual control both the 910 and 920.

alonsorama's picture
Re: Hardware Settings: Web-cams and OS X...

does not work when exporting with quartz builder!!

jkl_'s picture
Re: Hardware Settings: Web-cams and OS X...

I got the ps3 eye to work on the macam application, but as I look more into it, turns out that the macam.component does not work with mavericks as of yet. I'm trying to get the video feed into a Quartz Composer video input. Any suggestions?