The Connectix QuickCam FAQ

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The Connectix QuickCam FAQ


In addition to this FAQ, there's a page dedicated to the Connectix QuickCam in general.

Connectix's QuickCam FAQ dated 22 January 1995

Hardware Technical Questions

Summary: QuickCam is a QuickTime compatible video camera which also includes a microphone. Having a QuickCam attached to your Mac is like having a AV Mac with a camcorder connected.

Will QuickCam work with serial ports from a NuBus card?

No, QuickCam will only work plugged into a serial port on the Macintosh's motherboard.

Is there a limit to how long I can extend the serial cable from the CPU?

Yes. The cable should not extend beyond 12 feet. At longer lengths you will see black "snow" in the video image.

I plan on having multiple QuickCams plugged into Quadras via either an Axion switch or an AE Quadralink board, will this work?

With the current software, only one QuickCam will be recognized at a time. You may manually switch between multiple QuickCam's with a serial switchbox, if the switchbox correctly switches all eight pins of the cable and the total cable length from the computer to the camera is no more than 12 feet.

What about a PhoneNet connection with the QuickCam? I can't figure out when to use A/B (or Axion) type switches and when to use the PhoneNet.

PhoneNet is only needed if you're using something that requires LocalTalk, such as an Appleshare network or an Apple Laserwriter printer. QuickCam does not use LocalTalk and thus does not use or require a PhoneNet connection. An A/B box is used to MANUALLY switch between two things hooked into one serial port (i.e., you can't use both items simultaneously). We find that many users have a modem and a QuickCam, and thus want to share that port, since they never use both things simultaneously.

How many frames per second (fps) can QuickCam achieve?

QuickCam will produce about 15 fps on most Macs in a window size of 120x160. FYI - Saturday morning cartoons are twelve frames per second. A few Macs will only achieve 10-12 fps. These include the SE/30, IIcx, IIvx, and PowerBook 165c. At smaller window sizes, frame rates are higher (e.g., 30 fps at 80x120), at larger window sizes frame rates are lower (e.g., about 4 fps at 320x240).

What else do I need?

Nothing. QuickCam comes with everything you need to make movies and take pictures.

Does QuickCam work on non-US machines?

Yes, because QuickCam uses direct digital video instead of NTSC or PAL, QuickCam will work on all QuickTime compatible Macintoshes. Since it draws its power from the computer, you do not need special power adapters.

What is meant by fixed focal point? Can I not focus the camera?

Fixed focal means that anything greater than a fixed distance is in focus. With QuickCam anything at a distance of greater than 18 inches is in focus. There's no need for you to focus.

How hard would it be to come up with a case enclosure so that I can mount QuickCam outside?

QuickCam has a tripod mount on the bottom and is spherical. It would be easy to build a case in which it fit (remember to leave room for the cable to escape). Mount the camera to the case via the tripod socket.

What temperatures can the QuickCam operate at?

The CCD is probably the most temperature sensitive element and is rated by its manufacturer as being capable of working from -10*C to 40*C. In the course of Connectix' testing for various certifications, the camera was subjected to extended testing from 32*F to 90*F.

Can the CCD get an image "burned in" by leaving it pointed at the same subject for long periods of time?


Will QuickCam work with a Commodore Amiga?

We've had reports from users who have successfuly used QuickCam on an Amiga running the Emplant Mac Emulator. Connectix has done no testing on an Amiga and can't vouch for these results, but if you have that emulator it might be worth a try.

Software Technical Issues

Summary: Any application that correctly implements QuickTime video or audio is compatible with QuickCam. Any application that accepts PICT files is compatible with the QuickPICT software supplied with QuickCam. - QuickTime 2.0 is included with QuickCam.

What software is included?

QuickCam comes with: - QuickMovie: a movie recording application that includes simple cut-and-paste editing functions and the ability to do time-lapse video. - QuickPICT: an application that allows you to take still photos - QuickSaver: an AfterDark compatible video screen saver module - QuickFrame: a desktop photo gallery application - QuickTime 2.0 - Apple Multimedia Tuner (Apple's patch to QuickTime 2.0)

Will there be some form of "developer's kit" for QuickCam?

QuickCam is a standard QuickTime device. Any software that writes to Apple's published QuickTime vdig API (as documented in Inside Macintosh) will work with QuickCam.

I need access to the low-level stuff QuickCam's software is doing underneath QuickTime. Is there any documentation on this?

Under special cases we will release this information. You must sign a non-disclosure and special license agreement. Send your request to

What affects my fps (frames per seconds)?

Several items affect frame rate: - A movie records faster at a smaller frame size than a larger frame size. For instance a movie recorded at 160x120 will be faster than a movie recorded at 320x240. - Using the Mic that comes with your Mac will give you the faster frame rate. - The setting you choose for fps. With QuickCam you can select your frame rate. - The speed of your hard drive - The speed of your Macintosh's serial port - Whether any extensions are running in the background (File Sharing and networks, for example) - The amount of light where you point QuickCam (in low light situations, the shutter speed slows down frame rates)

Could QuickCam be activated by sound, so when it hears a noise it records?

Yes, to do this we have implemented the VOX (voice activated recording) feature of the Sound Manager (pre-MacOS 7.5 folks may get the Sound Manager 3.0 here).

How much hard drive space would be required for a still PICT file? For a 10 second video?

It's going to be different with different frame rates, compression types, CPU speeds, etc..., but here are some examples: 320x240 PICT ~ 64k 160x120 10 second movie (uncompressed) ~5MB 160x120 10 second movie (compressed) ~1MB.

If you point QuickCam at a computer screen will the feedback cause any danger?


Can I do teleconferencing with QuickCam?

Teleconferencing sends information over the telephone lines which are probably too slow to handle video data (QuickCam generates over 2Mbits a second of data at maximum frame rates, which is more than virtually any modem can handle). You can do videoconferencing with QuickCam via Ethernet, ISDN, or other networks greater than approx. 128k bits per second.

Will using video conferencing slow down my network?

Usually. However, well-written videoconferencing applications balance network load so that this does not inhibit other traffic.

What video conferencing software is QuickCam compatible with?

Anything that is QuickTime compatible should be compatible with QuickCam. Products known to work are: - MovieTalk by Apple (unreleased technology as of this writing) - BeingThere PRO by Intelligence at Large - CU-SeeMe by Cornell University CU-SeeMe is available by FTP at You are looking for the following file(s): CU-SeeMePPc0.80b1 - for Power Macintosh models CU-SeeMe68k0.80b1 - for 680x0 Macs The first version of CU-SeeMe that worked with QuickCam was version 0.70b13.

If I buy QuickCam for my Mac can I do video conferencing with my co-worker who has an Indy by SGI and a video camera?

If you had video conferencing software that worked on multiple platforms you would be able to do this. For example, CUSeeMe allows video conferencing between Macs and PCs running Windows.

At Macworld what did you use with the camera that allowed the two Macs to talk to each other?

That was a technology demo of QuickCam and an unreleased product from Apple called MovieTalk. We will be able to provide you with more information as the release date of MovieTalk gets closer.

Is QuickCam controllable from AppleScript?

AppleScript allows the user to automate common tasks (it's similar to writing robust macros). QuickCam is a video input device which is controlled by applications. If the application that is controlling QuickCam is Apple scriptable (like Adobe Premiere) then you can script QuickCam. The applications we provide with QuickCam are currently not scriptable; this is the number-one user feature request, so we are looking at implementing it.

Top Technical Support Questions

Why does my hard drive spin down when I use QuickCam on a PowerBook?

You should use QuickCam's microphone, not the built-in microphone. Apple designed PowerBooks so that the hard drive is automatically spun down whenever the built-in microphone is activated.

Why do I get QuickCam when I try to use the TV Tuner on a Quadra/Performa 630?

Apple did not implement TV Tuner correctly: it looks for the first video device it finds.

Why don't I get audio when using CU-SeeMe and QuickCam?

This can be caused by: - Trying to use CU-SeeMe with a modem slower than 32Kbps. - Having "Push to Send" activated, but you forgot to push the button. - A problem CU-SeeMe has with non-Apple microphones on networks (e.g., the QuickCam's internal microphone won't work, but the Apple-supplied microphone will; this problem also affects products like MacRecorder, and is not a QuickCam problem).

My PowerBook 5xx doesn't display a picture, or freezes. What's happening?

Your PowerBook doesn't have enough power on the serial port to run the camera. Call technical support to order a power adapter for your computer, available for a $9.95 shipping and handling charge.

Why doesn't my Quadra 605 (or Performa 475 or LC 475) display pictures correctly?

About one-third of the 605/475 motherboards cannot hold communications with QuickCam. We have a software patch available that corrects this problem. Call Connectix technical support to obtain a copy. This patch is included with all QuickCam's starting with version 1.0.2.

QuickCam Futures

Will there be a color version? Will I get stuck with my B&W version?

Connectix has announced that it is working on a color version of QuickCam and will offer an upgrade path to current QuickCam owners. No further details are available at this time. (Note: color cameras will produce more data, and your storage requirements for movies will at least double.)

Will there be a Newton version?

Connectix is investigating the feasability of producing a Newton version. However, the Newton's current screen is incapable of displaying grayscale pictures, so it is probably impractical at this time.

Will there be a version of QuickCam for IBM PCs?

Connectix has announced that it is working on an IBM PC version of QuickCam. No further details are available at this time.

Have you found errors nontrivial or marginal, factual, analytical and illogical, arithmetical, temporal, or even typographical? Please let me know; drop me email. Thanks!

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