Creating simple QuickTime movies really enhances your iSight's capabilities and can be a lot of fun. For instance, we live in the 21st century now, so why are you still sending boring text emails? Make your certain someone's digital day by delivering a five-second QuickTime love letter. With a little compression, you can easily make the .mov's size fit any email inbox. (As Bill Gates used to say, 640K should be enough.)
If you don't have a digital camera handy, you can capture sketches, business cards, photos, and other scenes using your iSight and the program iStill. Although the image quality here is limited by the resolution of the iSight, the great thing about iStill is that it gives you a quick and easy way to capture images or text. Think of it as turning your iSight into a handheld scanner. This is particularly handy for those on the road, whether it be for capturing a document or a sample, or sending an idea back to the office.
The cool thing about iStill is that you can adjust all aspects of the iSight's feed, including Saturation, Brightness, Sharpen, and most importantly, Focus. These are controls that I wish we had access to in iChatAV, for although the iSight's fully automatic operation is convenient in most cases, in others, it can be downright annoying. Luckily, third party developers like Chilton Webb are giving us access to these functions via their programs. They make the iSight just that much more powerful.
|iStill captures a panel from our hip Joy of Tech book.|
Master of Time
One of the coolest programs you can use with your iSight is iStopmotion, by Boinx Software. It's a remarkably powerful and easy-to-use app you can use to create stop-motion animation or time-lapse movies. It also features a voice activation feature, which allows you to trigger image captures with a voice command. Extremely convenient, if there's only one of you bending and manipulating your Barbie doll or Geek Action Figure.
|iStopmotion: blooming marvelous!|
|Here's a little time lapse I created with iStopMotion while writing this article. (QuickTime, 5.8MB)|
iStopMotion is a ton of fun, and it can turn even your most boring day into an action movie. It can also can be used in professional environments, with cameras other than the iSight to produce very sophisticated results. Check out the free seven-day demo, and treat yourself and your iSight to the thrill of capturing fleeting intervals of chronology. It'll be one lapse of time you probably won't forget.
Everyone wants to feel like they are in a secure relationship, and here's where your iSight can prove to be a most loyal partner. No, I'm not suggestion spying on anyone, but I will offer a few ways you can reinforce your own personal force field.
Tired of people sneaking up and looking over your shoulder? Set up your camera as a boss detector, looking behind you or down the hall. It's a slacker's first defense!
You have a peephole, right? I'm talking about the kind in your front door. Hate having to actually get up from your computer to peer through it? Here's where you can turn your iSight into the ultimate doorman. Mount your iSight to peer through the peephole, and stream that image via webcam software, such as Evocam, to your desktop! You will never miss an important pizza delivery again!
|No, it's not a pesky bill collector, it's your friendly neighborhood propeller-beanie salesman! Thank goodness!|
There comes a time where you may want to have a record of a certain special iChatAV session. I searched high and low for an easy way to record a video chat, and I did find one solution, Ambrosia's Snapz Pro X 2. It's said to effortlessly record full-motion video of anything on your screen, and in theory, it's powerful software. Movie captures are available with many frame-rate and compression options, and even three different camera modes.
In my experience however, it was a little more than effortless. I had several problems installing the app on my older dual G4, including it wiping out my start-up items. Several kernel panics later, I moved on to a newer G4, and had better luck (I was able to record a QuickTime of an iChat), but in the end, still had issues with sound not recording properly. To be fair, I've heard others have had great success with Snapz Pro X 2, and if you want to record your video chats it seems to be the only option currently available (other than setting up a video camera to record your screen), so if you're willing to put up with a bit of a learning curve, and perhaps some troubleshooting and cursing, check out the 15-day demo.
Is one iSight just not enough for you? If you're like most geeks, you've probably fantasized a little about having two iSights at the same time. But are you geek enough to handle multiple iSights? I think you are, especially with the help of an apps such as SecuritySpy and EvoCam.
SecuritySpy is a multi-camera surveillance application that has all the bells and whistles you can possibly imagine. It can receive data from an unlimited number of cameras, both local and network-based, and features goodies like motion detection, time lapse, camera pan/tilt/zoom control, and a Remote Viewing feature that allows you to access your surveillance system over the Internet or a local network. If you've ever wanted to secure your own personal Fort Knox, then this app is the way to go.
EvoCam is a webcam application, with a great user interface and many powerful features such as motion sensors, the ability to create time-lapse movies, and support for multiple cameras. Using multiple cameras is an easy way to make your webcam twice as entertaining. If you have two or more cameras, you can put them all in one window, or create a separate window for each camera. Each window has its own settings, and operates independently of other windows, so you can even send the webcam data to different pages or servers.
|Most cat owners agree: you can never have enough security cams on your cat.|