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Getting a video camera to work in Windows requires the correct drivers. You'll run into problems if they are not available.

I have XP Pro on a Dell machine. I also have a video cam and a program called Snappy to input into the computer. But I cannot find any answers as to how to get the video into where the programs would recognize it as a webcam. Snappy is out of business. Is there such a critter available to convert video from a camcorder or such, to convert where Skype or any other program that uses a webcam - or is a webcam a special program itself?

In this excerpt from Answercast #81, I look at problems with an older webcam that does not have proper drivers.

Video camera working in Windows

It's mostly the latter.

What's missing in a case like this are the drivers for that webcam. I'm not at all familiar with Snappy. The fact they're out of business makes this, probably, a not very useful direction to head off in.

Generally, when you get a webcam (like say, one of the Logitech webcams, or one of the webcams that are built into many recent laptops and tablets), drivers are supplied. They either come with the operating system that's pre-installed or they come with the device.

Like I said, the Logitech webcams are one popular brand that does this.

Webcam needs drivers

What happens is that Windows then installs the device drivers into itself. By doing that, Windows sets it up so applications, which are looking for video devices, can find them. If you don't have the ability to install the drivers for a particular webcam, I'm really not sure where to go.

The other thing that happens (and this is actually a little bit at the other extreme) is that if you have a standard video camera that has something like a firewire connection to it, that video camera can often be used in place of a webcam.

Firewire video, again, requires drivers. But many times, the drivers may already be installed in your operating system - or they are installed when you install the software that comes with that video camera. In other words, once again, the device is bringing along its own device drivers.

Video editing software

Sometimes, the device drivers will show up as part of the video-editing software. Video-editing software that can capture from a firewire device can often do so simply by itself. Sometimes, they'll do it by installing drivers that then in turn can make that video camera look like a device to the rest of Windows.

So, as you can see, it's not a particularly simple solution if you have a camera that's currently not working - and for which, you don't have drivers.

To be honest, webcams are so inexpensive these days, I'd seriously consider just grabbing a new one and installing the drivers for it and it will probably work just fine.

(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)

Article C6167 - December 23, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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