Tool for making webcam view not terrible!
April 29, 2021 3:40 PM   Subscribe

I have to do an important webcam thing. It will not be via zoom or MS Teams. It will be via a web-interface that I do not control. But I'm testing my webcam as just-regular webcam, not with zoom or MS Teams and it looks AWFUL. Like the lighting looks ghastly, the colour is all wrong, and nobody needs to see my skin with this much detail and definition. But i feel like I've seen tools that let you do things like alter camera settings (think white balance and contrast and such, not adding mouse ears) and will feed that to the webcam output. Please point me to one.

I feel like when I saw this, basically what would happen is when I logged into the web interface, it will ask me if I want to use my laptops internal webcam and the USB webcam.This is already what happens. But then if I get the software I am envisioning, a third camera will appear which will be the laptop cam or USB camera but with the settings that I've been able to adjust

Assume I'm already aware of things like indirect natural light, avoiding shadows etc. etc.
posted by If only I had a penguin... to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The Camera app in Windows 10 will allow you adjust some basic webcam settings (e.g. resolution, brightness).
posted by oceano at 3:56 PM on April 29

Response by poster: Ohh...yeah, that's what I want...but more settings/options.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 4:06 PM on April 29

I use Open Broadcast Studio with VirtualCam for this purpose. It's more complicated to set up, but lets you create a fully controlled virtual camera which any software on your computer will treat as a webcam.

You can just create a "scene" which includes only the video capture from your existing webcam. Then you can choose "filters" and apply whatever colour-correction you need.

It's incredibly powerful; it's what many professional streamers use.
posted by mcbaya at 4:12 PM on April 29 [13 favorites]

Ditto OBS. Most people just use it as a way to overlay multiple video sources (i.e. picture in picture, like you're streaming a game and you need to add your own face to lower left corner, for example), but OBS is capable of far more than that.
posted by kschang at 4:33 PM on April 29

Yep, OBS.
posted by wenestvedt at 4:40 PM on April 29

LED ring light around the camera, if possible. Gives very even illumination
posted by scruss at 5:43 PM on April 29 [2 favorites]

On Mac, Webcam Settings is a straightforward menu bar application that controls your webcam settings as much as the camera will allow. It works differently for different cameras but it often is easier to use than their provided software.

I also use OBS as described above but if all you're doing is adjusting color it's overkill.
posted by Mo Nickels at 6:00 PM on April 29

I have, in a pinch, sandwiched about 10 pieces of clear packing tape onto the lens and the image is clear, but softened. Vaseline on the lens, webcam style.
posted by quince at 6:00 PM on April 29 [1 favorite]

Cyberlink's Youcam can fix a lot of sins, but it's not free.

A ring light (as big as you have room for, but even the smallest will help) will make a huge difference to the quality of the colour and definition.

You may have some free options depending on the brand of your laptop and/or USB Webcam. Can you share that info?
posted by krisjohn at 1:03 AM on April 30

EpocCam from Elgato allows you to turn an iPhone into your webcam. Usually better quality and more flexible on positioning.
posted by rongorongo at 2:04 AM on April 30 [1 favorite]

nthing that lighting makes the single biggest difference, irrespective of how good or bad the camera and whatever tweaks you can make to your settings or with mechanical blurring techniques
posted by koahiatamadl at 2:20 AM on April 30 [1 favorite]

If you got the money, splurge in a ring light AND two side-lights. You can get a ring light for 15-25 nowadays on Amazon (complete with a phone holder, tripod, etc.) A set of slide lights can be 40 or less. Set them up with ring light just behind the camera (or even holding the camera) and two slide lights 30 degrees off on either side so you get no shadows on your face.

You can do this piece-meal. Start with ring light for the main camera. The rest can be added later, or use desk lamps, but they may not have the same color temp as your ring light.
posted by kschang at 6:43 AM on April 30 [2 favorites]

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