Audio Input for Live Feed

One way in which you can interactively manipulate media is by using the amplitude or frequency spectrum from an audio input. Today, most computers have a built in microphone, and this is the simplest way to get an audio input to Isadora.

But some older PC do not have a built-in microphone, but instead offer a microphone jack where you can plug in an external microphone. If this is the case with your computer, you’ll want to make sure you bring something like this inexpensive microphone with an 1/8″ mini-plug.

Video Input for Live Feed

We strongly encourage you to bring an external camera that can provide a live feed and, if possible, a small tripod. This will give you the greatest flexibility when we explore different forms of video tracking. Even a high quality web cam will be help, because you can position it more easily.

If you have a live camera and are certain it provides a live feed to Isadora, you don’t really need to read further.

IMPORTANT: One common misunderstanding is that, if your video or still camera has a USB connector on it, it will provide a live feed. This is often not the case. Many lower end HD cameras do not provide a live feed, and only a very, very few still cameras provide this capability. So please investigate your camera and it’s capabilities — don’t assume it will provide a live feed.

HD (High Definition) Options

If you intend to input HD using the HDMI output of your HD camera, then you’ll need an appropriate interface and a computer with a Thunderbolt port. Hopefully those who wish to pursue this option already have what they need.

SD (Standard Definition) from a Composite Output

One thing to look for is a standard definition composite video output. If your camera has that, then you can use a composite-to-usb converter to get the signal into your computer.

For Mac, the only real USB option, at least without using unusual drivers, is the XLR8 Interview.

For Windows, there are many options. We have personally used the Pinnacle Dazzle with success.

SD (Standard Definition) from a FireWire output

The other option is using DV via FireWire directly into your computer if your camera has a FireWire output and your computer has a FireWire input.

Every DV camera has a small, 4 pin FireWire connector on it.

If your have a Mac that has a built in FireWire input, then it will either be 6 pin (FireWire 400, older computers) or 8-pin (FireWire 800, newer computers) Newer Macs with a Thunderbolt port do not havea built-in FireWire input. You can add one with a Thunderbolt to FireWire adapter.

PC’s usually have the small 4-pin connector as an input.

To go from a camera to a FW-400 input, you’d use a cable that looks like this.

To go from a camera to a FW-800 input, you’d use a cable that looks like this.

To go from a camera to a 4-pin input, you’d use a cable that looks like this.

Macintosh Camera Test:

On Mac OS X, you can test to see if your video camera provides a live feed by opening QuickTime Player X: choose File > New Movie Recording. Then click the little white triangle on the Control Bar to choose your camera. (You can see the triangle in the right side of this image.)

Do you see your camera here? If so choose it. If you then see a live image, then you’ll be able to use the camera with Isadora.

You can find further details on using QuickTIme Player with an exernal camera at this link under “Recording with QuickTime Player”/p>

Windows Camera Test:

Download and install this software.

Run the program, and click on the Devices menu: do you see your camera listed there? If so, select it. If you then see a live image, then you’ll be able to use the camera with Isadora.

Webcam Options

Most any web cam will work with Isadora. If you don’t have another solution, this is one way to go. The drawbacks are that you can’t place the camera on a tripod and the sometimes limited cable length.

You can also use an iOS/Android Devices as camera with a special piece of software. See #4 below.

Sensors and Other Hardware Devices

If you have sensory devices you wish to experiment with, please bring them. We will spend some time one day delving into the XBox Kinect camera, since this has become such an important tool. If you have one, I suggest you bring it. I myself have two, and can lend these to participants when I’m not using them to teach. For those of you who are not so experienced, you may want to consider:

  • TouchOSC — a software that runs on iPhone giving you a set of virtual controls that Isadora can read. Learn more…
  • Other OSC devices. There are many devices that output OSC (Open Sound Control) messages. If you have a device or software that does this, Isadora will read the data.
  • Wii Controller: This device gives you three accelerometers and several buttons that Isadora can read through a separate piece of software. (OSCulator on the Mac, GlovePie on the PC.)
  • A MIDI control like the one of the Korg nano series. This connects via USB so you don’t need a MIDI Interface. (Any MIDI device can be read by Isadora with the proper interface.)
  • EpocCam: This iOS and Android app turns your device into a wireless live feed camera. If you want to experiment with this, there is a free demo that shows advertisements. (You can always purchase it online during the workshop if it is interesting for you.)
  • Arduino: interfacing Arduino devices is also possible. I will wait to see if anyone shows interest in this, and we can delve in to the topic should there be enough interest.