While many laptops of even smart phones come with cameras that can be used to do this, older computers may need something external to serve as a web cam. While you can buy a separate web cam, there is also a way to work with some types of camcorders if you happen to have one of those on hand.
When you use a web cam you are basically broadcasting live media to whoever you are connect to. The standard camcorder usually records movies for playback. What many people do not know is that many of the camcorders you buy actually have the option of also working as a web cam that will both broadcast live and record that content.
Since there are so many camcorders out there, the best place to start to figure out if yours can be used as a web cam is to look at the specific make and model information. If you have the owner’s manual it should tell you if there is a mode for use as a web cam. If the camcorder is an older model, they may also call this a “demo” mode if it only broadcasts without recording.
If you can’t find the owner’s manual, don’t panic. Depending on the maker of the camera, you may be able to find either a PDF of the manual on line or at least find enough information about the camera to tell you if this is possible.
Once you figure out that your camera is able to be used as a web cam, you will probably need some sort of software to make it work. Often this software either came on a CD when you bought the camcorder or can be downloaded from the manufacture’s website. These may be called “drivers” for the camcorder.
Once the program is installed, you next need to find the cables to connect the camcorder to your computer. You will connect using the USB port on the computer and plugging into the either a mini or micro USB port on the camera. Normally your camera would come with this cable, but if it didn’t or it has long been lost you can take your camera to a retailer to ask them to help you find the right cable to plug into the USB. When you locate the right cord, you will want to make sure the camera is off when you plug it into the computer. The computer will need to be connected to the internet too.
If you have already installed the program to run the camcorder on your computer, after the cord is plugged into both the camera and the computer you can turn on the camera to auto launch the web cam application. Basically what this means is if the computer already has a program to run the camcorder, connecting the two machines will trigger that program to start.
Most of the time when you use a web cam you will go through some sort of chat program or social media site if you are trying to broadcast to more than one user. The set up wizard should guide you through connecting to the other user.
Within the chat program or social media site, if you are connected correctly you should see a small screen that shows the live action being broadcast by your camcorder. The user you are connected to can see you on their computer screen even if you cannot see their web cam or if they do not have one.