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I recently wrote the complete guide for broadcasting to Facebook Live from your computer and most of the questions I get from readers are ‘how do you connect a good camera to your computer?’.
That’s a very reasonable question considering the options available- if you operate on a low budget you can only use webcams your computer recognizes or use the basic laptop integrated webcam. Those cameras are very poor quality and while they are enough for Skype calls the video they generate is not something you want people to see as you try to show your product to customers, and don’t even get me started on the audio and the sound quality those cameras capture.
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How to connect a pro camera to your computer?
Unfortunately, this time the solution is not free and will require a small budget but is has a great outcome, so the ROI is amazing if you do intend to use a pro camera for your Facebook Live broadcasts eventually.
If you recently tried to connect a professional camera to your computer (Via USB, HDMI, etc.) you already know they don’t speak the same language. The computer usually recognizes the camera as a storage device so you can download your footage, and that HDMI port on your laptop is output only.
This is where the Magewell USB Capture Dongle gets into the picture. It operates like an external graphic video card. The dongle is your solution to connect any camera (that has an HDMI output) to your computer so they can talk to each other. Using the friendly ‘Plug and Play’ protocol the computer recognizes the device without you ever need to lift a finger and install a software or download a driver for it to work, it works on all major operating systems- Windows, Linux and even OSX, just like you connect another keyboard to your computer.
So why use Magewell’s card and not others?
- The main reason is it’s simplicity- the dongle streams the content in DirectX protocol so the computer it is connected to thinks you are using a basic webcam and using the ‘Plug and Play’ all you need to do is connect both ends of the dongle and start broadcasting. It connects to your USB3.0 port, 300-350MB/s throughput and it is compatible with USB 2.0.
- The process of video and audio is done by the dongle and will not occupy the CPU, this is a major challenge using a weak laptop for live-streaming, as it drinks up all you CPU power and will basically drain your computing power.
- It can automatically detect the input video formats and it will adjust to the set output size and frame rate automatically, you don’t need to start adjusting the video resolution.
Now, the sound and video from your camera are streamed to your computer- you can connect a professional microphone (1 or more) to your camera and get the quality sound to your computer directly. You can also control every aspect of the video- shutter speed, optical zoom and basically everything you ever wanted but didn’t have in your basic webcam.
You can connect as many Magewell’s as your your computer allows but keep in mind you also need a way to control multiple input sources to choose from (OBS, Wirecast, Livestream)
The Magewell can shoot 1080p in up to 60 fps, resulting in a very crisp and smooth video quality, just remember Facebook itself only has 720p in it’s Live platform. You can also download a software to help you control everything you see straight from the computer but i find it easier to control from the camera itself.
I used the Magewell in a few broadcasts, one was my lecture on using Facebook Live (in Hebrew), I connected a Sony wireless microphone to the camera for a great sound quality.