[SATLUG] Video conferencing with DV camcorder & firewire

Jeremy Mann jeremymann at gmail.com
Tue May 27 14:29:39 CDT 2008

On Tue, May 27, 2008 at 2:40 AM, John Choate <jdchoate at gmail.com> wrote:
> I got an assignment to get video conferencing set up for a small school
> system. To get started I have a Sony Handycam DV camcorder.
> I have loaded the raw1394 module as well as dc1394... I also
> have /dev/video1394 available as well.
> What I have been able to accomplish so far is recording raw video & audio to a
> file using dvgrab. I have tried getting vlc to grab live video & audio from
> the camera with no luck at all.
> I would like to be able to stream live video from the camera as well as to
> capture to a file, hopefully encoding to other than raw.
> If I can get this working, the plan will be to set up multiple cameras so a
> teacher can have their lecture streamed to off-site classrooms as well as
> take questions from students at the same time.
> I have never done anything like this before, so I will require
> some 'hand-holding'. Does anyone have experience with this?

John, yes it can be done but you will be limited with by the amount of
bandwidth required. The Access Grid (which we use a lot here at the
HSC) does support DV cameras, but it requires 35mbits of bandwidth at
its native resolution of 720x480 but there's no way to change the

The same goes for a standard Firewire camera like iChat or a iRez, but
those require a seperate kernel module that makes the /dev/raw1394
device show up as a V4L device. I played with this years ago so I'm
not too sure about it development lately.

What I would suggest? Ditch the DV camera and get some USB cameras and
use the Access Grid. I would be happy to demo it and show you how to
set it up for your situation.

Jeremy Mann
jeremy at biochem.uthscsa.edu

University of Texas Health Science Center
Bioinformatics Core Facility
Phone: (210) 567-2672

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