Several DV camcorder models are compatible with desktop computers and laptops, and you can use them as Skype DV cameras. With support for optimal performance, live recording, and Firewire ports, you can use your DV camcorder for Skype calls.
However, you can also connect your DV cam to your computer using an analog cord and use it for Skype video calls if you’ve installed a video capture card or a TV tuner card on your PC.
Your DV cam must have composite, HDMI, or S-video outputs, a VGA resolution of 640 x 480, and at least 30 frames per second to work with Skype. Some video capture cards you can use with your computer and Skype DV cam for broadcasting include:
- Pinnacle Analog Pro USB
- Hauppauge WinTV-PVR-USB2
- Belkin Hi-Speed DVD Creator USB2
- ATI Graphics Cards built with video IN
Types of Camcorders for Skype
Portable video camcorder cameras capture and record sound and images to digital or tape-based media. The camcorders have undergone significant technological changes since their inception in the early 1980s.
Early cam models recorded images and sound to Betamax or VHS tapes for easy playback in video players at home. Some popular types of Skype DV cams include:
Popular with documentary filmmakers, the tapes provide 60-90 minutes for video recording either on a long play or standard play setting. However, hard drives are quickly replacing tapes.
Digital video tapes are easy to find and produce high-quality videos because they capture footage with minimal compression or none at all. Tapes are handy storage and archiving devices for backup against hard drive or computer crashes.
Unlike video footage stored in hard drives (already digitized and ready for editing), tapes take longer to digitize for editing – an hour of footage would take the same time to import into your PC for editing. The Panasonic Pro AG-DVX is an example of this type of Skype DV cam.
DVD cams offer better convenience than mini-DV cams when recording a documentary. The camcorder is cost-effective and allows for instant viewing but produces highly-compressed footage with low quality. This Skype DV cam is ideal for non-professional home use.
Hard Disk Drive (HDD) Camcorders
HDD cams are the most recent but not similar to high definition (HD) cameras – some HDD cams don’t support HD technology. This type of Skype DV cam supports both standard and high-definition technologies.
The camcorders come with hard drives built into them, eliminating the need to purchase DVDs or tapes – this makes the cams cost-effective. Moreover, the hard drives are reusable, further saving on money.
Standard definition footage holds an hour of footage in 13GB hard drive storage, while high-quality Pro Camera (DVCPRO HD) holds 13 minutes of footage in 13GB storage. However, the amount of footage that a hard drive can store varies based on available GB and footage quality.
Without an external storage device or a computer to download your footage once your Skype DV cam’s hard drive fills up, you can’t continue shooting videos or recording your Skype video calls.
The hard drives can easily malfunction from bumps and shaking because they feature moving parts. They can also crash, explaining the need for external storage for your important footage.
Flash Memory Camcorders
Designed to use flash memory drives for footage storage, these camcorders come in smaller sizes. The cameras support SD/SDHC and memory stick (for Sony cameras) flash drives. The lack of moving parts makes the flash drives less prone to damage.
However, unlike hard drive storage, flash memory is more costly. Hard drives give more storage space at lower costs but with reduced stability. Even so, flash Skype DV cams capture lower quality footage than hard drives. With advances in technology, though, this is changing.
Combo Skype DV Cam Models
Combo cam models offer the best of both hard drive and flash memory cams. They feature both built-in hard drives and removable flash drives, giving you the flexibility to immediately insert a memory card once your built-in hard drive fills up.
The Panasonic AG-HVX200, for example, features combo tape recording and disc drives for prolonged video recording.
How to Connect Your Skype DV Cam
Attach Cam to Your PC and Install Drivers
You need analog cables to connect your DV camera to your computer. Download your camera drivers from the manufacturer’s website and install them on your PC. Alternatively, get the DVD or CD that came with your camera and insert it into your drive to install the drivers.
Start Skype on Your PC and Sign in
Launch the Skype application installed on your computer and log into your personal account. Navigate to the “Tools” menu at the top and click on it. Select “Options” and click on the option “Video Settings.” This opens up your DV cam view, if it’s working, in a new window.
Choose Who Can View Your Skype Video Feed
Select the “Anyone” radio button that’s next to “No One” or “People in My Contact List Only” to choose and configure who can view your feed. Hit the “Save” button to save the changes.
Configure Your DV Camera Settings
Click on the icon “Webcam Settings” just below the video display to set up camera options and settings available. Change video quality, contrast, and brightness settings in the dialog box that pops up.
Click on the “Save” button to save the changes. At this point, you’re ready for your Skype DV camera video broadcast and call.
Launch Skype to Make a Video Call
Go to the Start Up menu and launch Skype. Choose the contact of the person you want to video call and click on it. The Conversation window will pop up.
Select Icon for Call Quality
Open the dialog box with settings for Call Quality to make necessary adjustments. Click on the icon “Call Quality” under the Conversation window.
Choose Your Skype DV Camera to Use
Click on the “Webcam” tab and select your preferred webcam. Click on the drop-down box labeled “Choose the Camera You Want to Use.” In the list that appears, select the name of the DV camera connected to your computer. Hit the “Close” button to close the dialog box.
Make Your Skype Video Call
In the contact Conversation window that’s open, click on the button “Video Call” and wait for your contact to answer your call. Enabling your Skype DV cam disables all other cameras connected to your PC because Skype only uses a single video source at a time.
Skype DV cams range in type, video quality, storage media, and price. Whereas a MiniDV goes for a few hundred dollars, models with built-in hard drives may cost twice. On the other hand, professional Skype DV cams go for thousands of dollars.
Whichever DV camera you own, connect it to your computer and install it as described above to make high-quality Skype video calls.