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More iSight Video Tricks
Pages: 1, 2

BTV Further Expands iSight Capabilities

Another useful software compliment for your iSight is Ben Software's BTV and BTV Pro. These Carbonized applications are more refined than iRecordNow and more versatile than QuickTime Broadcaster.

The standard version enables movie capture with the iSight and provides a full menu of controls such as frame size, frame rate, color adjustment, exposure compensation, choice of compressor, focus override, and more. You also have lots of options in the sound settings panel too.

Beyond that, BTV has still image capture, allows you to work with multiple monitors, and has AppleScript support too. There are also lots of nice touches such as user-programmable keystroke short cuts and a "delay" command for still image captures that is essentially a fully-configurable self-timer. Very nice.

The BTV interface isn't as intriguing as iRecordNow's, but it certainly gets the job done. You have a preview window accompanied by a floating palette that contains the capture controls.

BTV's straight forward user interface isn't fancy, but it gets the job done.

The quality of capture is very good, and you have the option for BTV to open your movie in QuickTime immediately after you stop recording so you can review the footage. Another nice touch is the video info box that's like a dynamic "Get Info" for your iSight.

Video Info
BTV has a "video input info" box that shows you some good detail about your iSight.

If you want even more functionality than the standard edition of BTV, you can try BTV Pro. Additional goodies include time lapse capture, motion detection capture, stop motion animation, and DV device control. The Pro version allows you to do just about anything with your iSight that you can visualize.

Tip! Time Lapse Photography with BTV Pro

I remember as a kid being blown away by time lapse photography that featured subjects such as a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. With BTV Pro and your iSight you can now create the very same footage.

For testing, find an easy subject such as a rose (in a vase, not outside) that's about ready to open. Set up your subject and your computer in a well lit area that receives plenty of natural light through out the day. Configure BTV Pro for time lapse capture. Start with the settings in the image below.

Time Lapse Settings
Here are some initial settings to try for your first time lapse movie.

After you've completed 10 hours of capture, review your movie and make further adjustments. With a little trial and error, you can produce eye-popping productions just like those you see on nature shows.

Keep an Eye on Things with SecuritySpy

Whether it's who's knocking at the front door keeping an eye on the newborn, surveillance cams have many practical uses outside of airports and convenience stores. Because of it's low light recording capabilities and fast autofocus lens, the iSight is perfect for these types of applications. All you need is the right software.

One intriguing entry into the surveillance game is SecuritySpy, which not only lets you turn your iSight into a second set of eyes, it even lets you use multiple iSights from various locations all monitored on one Mac. There's a motion detection setting that can automatically trigger recording video to disc for review later, or you can enable time lapse imaging for specific periods or around the clock.

You can view multiple locations at once with a handful of iSights and SecuritySpy software.

Tip! Get an Email When Motion Is Detected

Yes, with just about any webcam software you can upload pictures to a web server to see what's going on at any given time. But most often all you'll see is a lifeless image that never changes.

By using SecuritySpy's email notification function, you can forget about checking web pages and concentrate more on matters at hand. Configure SecuritySpy so that it sends you an email when a camera detects motion. You can have this mail sent to your text pager, SmartPhone (with email functionality), or your regular email account (which can then include a photo attachment).

If you receive a notification, simply review the photo attachment (with a computer email client), or log on to any computer and match the notification time with the time lapse recorded image saved to the server.

Pricing for iRecordNow, BTV, and SecuritySpy

All of these applications run on Mac OS X, and BTV and SecuritySpy also work on OS 9 with CarbonLib loaded.

  • During the preview trial period, iRecordNow is a free download if you apply for the license. Once version 1.0 is released, it will cost $14.95 US.
  • Both the standard and Pro versions of BTV can be downloaded for free and evaluated for 15 days. After that period, BTV costs $20 US and BTV Pro is $40.
  • You can download and use SecuritySpy for free for 30 days. After that period, it will cost you $50 US for a single camera license, $100 for a four-camera license, and $200 for unlimited cameras.

Final Frame

The iSight packs much more power than most users initially realize. With a little ingenuity and experimentation, plus the help of applications such as iRecordNow, BTV, and SecuritySpy, you can create movies and capture footage in a variety of situations. Your beautiful little iSight will be transformed from a decorative hood ornament to a full-fledged movie making machine.

Derrick Story is the author of The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers, The Digital Photography Companion, and Digital Photography Hacks, and coauthor of iPhoto: The Missing Manual, with David Pogue. You can follow him on Twitter or visit

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