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Is there a videoconference device that accepts s-video or composite inputs?

I am trying to come up with a solution to control the quality of installations of equipment performed by installers on the road. Ideally, We'd like a videoconference capability that allows the connection of a video camera for video playback. We want to have the installer take video of their work and then show it to a supervisor over a videoconference or web meeting session back at the home office.

The first possibility I can think of is a device like D-Link DVC-1000 i2eye device, but with RCA composite video jacks or s-video jacks in the back for an alternate video source. Then the video cam cam could be plugged into it and the input be switched from the built in lens to the video inputs.

The second possibility I see is a USB or Firewire video capture device connected to a laptop. The laptop could initiate a Webex, NetMeeting, gotomeeting.com  or Akiva web conference meeting and simply open a window displaying the video playing off of the video cam.

I've already tested sharing desktops and playing video with NetMeeting and Akiva. If you play a video clip that's on the remote PC, NetMeeting's frame rate is maybe 1-2 fps.  And the color resolution looked like 256 colors. Akiva was much better, useable I'd say. Akiva displayed maybe 3-10 fps which was enough to give a sense of motion. And color resolutions looked like thousands, not 256. We would not need audio sent over the conference, although it might be a nice plus. We only need a phone conference for the installer to explain what is showing on the video.
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DeptOneRick
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DeptOneRick
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GiacobeCommented:
When I was the product manager for PowerPlay from BNI (http://www.bnisolutions.com), we used the Hauppauge VCB.  It's a PCI card with an RCA jack that captures full 30fps motion.  It worked great with our software - IPContact.

Since it is a PCI card - you'd have trouble with using it in a laptop.  However, Hauppauge also made a USB capture cable that did the same thing... the USB Live.

Impact VCB:
http://www.hauppauge.com/Pages/products/data_impactvcb.html

USB Live:
http://www.hauppauge.com/Pages/products/data_usblive.html

These devices will capture at full frame rate, but that doesn't mean that NetMeeting will do any better.  It will still only give you crappy frame rates.

Oh, wait, I see the problem now... you want the remote technician to "play back" what they recorded and show that over the video conference using the data sharing tools.  That's just not going to work.  The frame rate for Netmeeting or WebEx is going to be on the order of once every 15-30 seconds - or 2-4 frames per second.  It is not designed for passing video back and forth.

You may be able to take the video display of the computer, feed it out as NTSC video, then feed it back into the computer through a capture card.  Then send that video to the supervisor as the "video", not as a collaboration session.

Either that - or have the tech upload the captured video file somewhere.
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DeptOneRickAuthor Commented:
Giacobe,
Good suggestions, thank you. I did see the Hauppauge USB capture device mentioned somewhere and that's what gave me the idea - it's good to get some confirmation that you've used their PCI product.

Regarding playing video through a shared window in NetMeeting - you're right that's exactly what I got and reported, above. I didn't try Webex yet. I did try Akiva over a LAN and that gave what may be a good enough rate to show motion. It doesn't need to be perfect, just enough to convey motion. So you're probably right, using a NetMeeting or Webex over broadband, the shared application tool won't refresh. That's why I was hoping there was some kind of hardware device like the Dlink DVC1000 that had video inputs. I use the DVC1000 with my family and get good 10 - 15 fps over cable modems on both ends, probably no more than 512kbps. The other requirement other than 1) external video in and 2) moderate fps is 3) ease of use. We're talking about non computer-tech guys. They're familiar with PCs but not setting up hardware and broadband connections, so it has to be fairly simple.

Actually, come to think of it, the Dlink may not be the easiest. If they're in a hotel or a jobsite with a LAN, setting the Dlink up with that network may be more difficult than plugging a laptop into a hotel or company LAN. I've been in hotels, where you need a browser to initiate the broadband connection - it configures your PC and IP address, etc. That wouldn't work with a DLink DVC1000 I don't think. Then, the USB capture device may be the way to go, but how to "stream" it? Shoutcast video stream? Then how to get to the "server"? Dyndns.org dynamic dns?

Also, not sure I quite follow you here:
" take the video display of the computer, feed it out as NTSC video, then feed it back into the computer through a capture card.  Then send that video to the supervisor as the "video", not as a collaboration session."

What I had tested here on the LAN is a NetMeeting and Akiva session where we share the desktop, open Media Player and play a video clip. I figured that program could be the capture device's window instead of Media Player. And, when you say, " take the video display of the computer, feed it out as NTSC video," did you mean "video camera" instead of "computer"?

And your last comment might work, but would be too time intensive and difficult for these guys. I'd like to eliminate the transfer and saving of large video files onto a laptop.

Thanks
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GiacobeCommented:
Sorry I missed your followup question... been out of the loop for a while.

You asked: Also, not sure I quite follow you here:
" take the video display of the computer, feed it out as NTSC video, then feed it back into the computer through a capture card.  Then send that video to the supervisor as the "video", not as a collaboration session."

So, if you have the tech in a video conference to the supervisor using netmeeting and they can see and hear each other.  The tech disconnects their own camera from the usb capture device.  They plug in the Video OUT from their laptop (assuming their laptop has a TV-out RCA connection) into the video IN of the capture device.  Then, they play back their  captured video using media player or whatever.

The frame rate should be just as good as their own video conference was.  The only trick may be to setting up the video out to work at the same time as their laptop display and making sure that Media Player is actually playing the video on the TV output.

Best of luck
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