Want to Do More with an iSight than Chat?

by Derrick Story

The minute I saw the iSight, I knew I was going to have a ball with Apple's latest hardware goodie. And indeed I have.

When combined with iChat AV, this little FireWire input device streams good looking VGA video up to 30 fps, and even better sounding audio via the dual-element microphone with noise suppression. Just make sure you have lots of bandwidth and no lettuce between your teeth.

But the fun doesn't stop with iChat AV. This is a legitimate camera that you can use for other things too, and I want to introduce you to one variation right now -- EvoCam 3.1.

I've been using this software since Evological first introduced CoolCam in the early days of Mac OS X. They've continued to refine this application since then, taking it well beyond standard webcam software. Take a look at just a few of the features listed on their site:

  • Includes built-in web server with Java-based streaming video support.

  • Supports Rendezvous for publishing your webcam on your local network. (Rendezvous-enabled Safari browsers can auto detect your iSight web images and display them.)

  • Uploads images via FTP to remote web servers.

  • Emails images as MIME attachments to your email account.

  • Saves images locally for use with Web Sharing or other web server software.

  • Includes a Java webcam applet to display your webcam image on your web page.

  • Unlimited motion sensors for automatic image capture when motion occurs.

  • AppleScript support for control and customization.

  • And more, believe it or not.

I've been using this software with my Canon DV camcorder, and quite honestly, it's been a pain in the port. The battery runs out, camera goes to sleep, it's clunky to lug around, etc, etc, etc. So the second thing I did with my iSight after setting up iChat AV, was to fire up EvoCam to see if it recognized my new toy.

Not only does EvoCam recognize iSight, it even calls it by name. And unlike using it with iChat, you can do lots of stuff without having to connect to someone on the other end of the line. Plus, the Rendezvous functionality in EvoCam is very, very cool.

EvoCam 3.1 is shareware for Mac OS X only. You can buy a license for $20 US. It's worth a look.


2003-06-25 01:59:03
Does it work with iMovie and QuickTime?

I'd like to know if it works with iMovie, and if developers can (easily) use it as a QuickTime input stream for their own applications.

Any info on that?

2003-06-25 06:41:11
iSight Drivers?
Derrick, I'd like to know if Apple has open drivers for iSight, or is it proprietary Cocoa stuff? As a developer, I want to develop open source software for iSight, but do not want to be locked into anything proprietary with regard to driving the iSight. For instance, what if I wanted to drive iSight connected to a device running Linux or (cough cough Windows XP) on an Intel machine that has a Firewire card? Can I do it, or is iSight for Macintosh computers only? Hopefully Apple has learned great lessons from the success of iPods being multi-platform (I.e., both Macs and Wintel machines work with iPods). Can the same be said for iSight? Can I develop for it? Thanks Derrick for any info you have on this subject!


2003-06-25 07:40:25
iSight Drivers?
I remember reading yesterday that the iSight is a standard IIDC device that will work with any supporting application. It could serve as a recording given an appropriate application. Currently, I have a preset in QuickTime Broadcaster that issues dummy network information but records the stream.
2003-06-25 07:41:13
RE: iSight Drivers?
Hi Don,

I have good news for you, but not much detail yet. Yes, the drivers are "open" and Apple is very much hoping that developers will enable the iSight on other platforms. I don't have the details about this, but will keep my ears open and try to find out more. If anyone else has spec on this, please post.

2003-06-25 07:48:41
Does it work with iMovie and QuickTime?
I tried it on iMovie, but the application didn't recognize the device. In all honesty, that didn't surprise me, but I had to check :)

I think there are some good opportunities here for developers to create handy apps that enable us to use iSight as a capture device for many different purposes.

I'll continue to nose around and post what I find.

2003-06-25 07:57:39
this is great...
I had lamented yesterday about the fact that some salesperson at the apple store told me that the iSight only worked with iChat AV and no other programs. Good to see that it plays well with others. Apple should make it open and build features into future software releases that allow it to work with iMovie, iPhoto, and QuickTime Broadcaster. All these types of adaptability will make it worth the rather hefty for a webcam $150 pricetag.
2003-06-25 08:15:32
RE: Salesperson
Hey, you should tell your sales folks about Mac DevCenter. They'd look smart and sell more stuff :)
2003-06-25 09:01:56
iSight Drivers?
Anyone know how to extend the range of a firewire device, other than multiple hubs/repeaters or expensive optical cable? I read on Apple's firewore info that using common ethernet cable extends the range from 4.5 to 100 meters, but I haven't found such cabling commercially.


2003-06-25 09:34:47
How long is the firewire cable?
I'm curious to see what kind of trouble the iSight can get me into. How long is the firewire cable??
2003-06-25 12:29:14
RE: How long is the firewire cable?
I may later regret answering this...

Apple provides you with a 6' cable in the kit. It's the same type of FireWire cable that I use with my iPod and hard drives. So you can use whatever you want. Actually, I'm using a shortie with my PowerBook.

2003-06-25 13:42:56
600MHz minimum G3
As I have a first gen white iBook, at 500MHz does this mean that iSight just won't work or will I get reduced framerate etc.

It does look v. nice but i am not sure if it is an excuse to upgrade to a powerbook yet. :)


2003-06-25 13:45:33
most excellent
It is indeed a fine peice of software, that.
2003-06-25 14:46:15
iSight Drivers?
I know this is probably an ignorant questions...but, is there any possibility of using the iSight with the iPod? Not now, since I know there's no software. I was just wondering if it's physically possible.
2003-06-25 16:53:06
RE: iSight Drivers?
I ran into a interesting article that sheds some light on this...


A number of early users of the application report that Apple is tapping Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) as the basis for launching streaming audio or video. To invite someone to a multimedia session, iChat AV appears to send a request via AIM. The recipient's iChat AV client receives the request and automatically opens the appropriate ports to receive an incoming SIP INVITE message.

Shortly thereafter, the sender's client is able to send a SIP INVITE to the recipient's IP address, which has been provided by AIM -- in this way, the participants' IP addresses have been exchanged invisibly. After using SIP to set up a multimedia session, the actual video is handled via RTP, the real-time transport protocol.

While it uses SIP to launch a multimedia session, iChat AV doesn't seem to function as a full-featured SIP client, however. Aside from receiving initiation requests in conjunction with AIM, the client can't initiate Voice-over-IP sessions using standard SIP INVITE messages --
for instance, those originating from a SIP phone.

2003-06-25 17:05:06
How long is the firewire cable?
If you are enterprising you can get the Firewire cable out to any length. The maximum length of any one Firewire segment is about 15', but you can use repeaters (up to 63 I believe) to daisy chain 15' lengths of cable. Take a look here for a repeater:
2003-06-25 17:15:39
iSight Drivers?
Here's some more info on Firewire over Cat5:
Yahoo article
Texas Instruments web site
2003-06-25 17:42:34
Cool New Hack for the iSight
I just learned this one from Sal Soghoian. The code is posted on the Apple site, so I know I can share it.

You can use the iSight with QuickTime Broadcaster (a free download) and an AppleScript found on this page to easily record audio/video and save it to your hard drive as a QuickTime file.

Just copy the code for the "Setup for Video to Disk Recording," script, paste it in your Script Editor, enter your parameters, and save it.

When you run the script, the iSight will record the a/v then save it as a QT file on your drive. From that point, you can do anything you want with it.

2003-06-25 17:45:03
600MHz minimum G3
Hi Mark,

I'm not sure what will happen. Hopefully someone with a 500MHz iBook will chime in. But if you do get tempted to upgrade your laptop, I'd wait because I'm thinking we'll see new ones within a month.

2003-06-25 20:04:15
600MHz minimum G3
I tried out my 500MHz iBook and it simply would not allow it to use video on the new iChat. :( However, my wife's 600MHz iBook worked great with it... so she gets to gloat now.....


2003-06-25 23:59:29
Does it work with iMovie and QuickTime?
Doesn't it show up as a normal stream using the QuickTime digitizer? I believe it will show a as just another video input source...but I haven't received mine yet so...
2003-06-26 02:15:32
600MHz minimum G3
oh dear, still not unexpected (it does say 600MHz on the min spec).

well it could well be time to start thinking about upgrading, but i think I will watch what happens in the next month or so.

In fact I am wary about getting first gen of a new laptop (as I have done previoulsy with iBook releases, the 'toilet seat and the white one'). so I will probably wait for at least one revision.. still looking forward to playing on iSight sometime.


2003-06-26 03:54:49
600MHz minimum G3
How the hell can Apple make their computers so slow that they do not even work with a simple webcam?! I bought the 700 Mhz iBook last christmas and it is slow as hell. (Booting the machine takes ages compared to my old 450 Mhz Pentium PC). I am switching back to the PC world because I am fed up with the over priced sluggishness of Apple computers.
2003-06-26 14:11:01
600MHz minimum G3
Why would you want to reboot your machine often enough to annoy you? Just put it to sleep!
2003-06-27 11:28:28
And a little publicized feature...iChat AV is now AppleScript aware!

Try this out in the Script editor:

tell application "iChat"
set the status message to "This is cool"
end tell

Look for more stuff in the AppleScript Dictionary.

- Rich Kilmer

2003-06-27 12:24:47
Also works with BTV
The iSight also works with BTV, which can capture a quicktime movie or individual frames. I used it to capture the Apple Campus Bash pictures I posted to MacMegasite.
2003-06-27 15:14:37
RE: iSight Drivers?
Hi, I plugged my isight into my WinXP
machine and the camera worked but the audio
did not? I used it w/Cuseeme 5.0 but there
were no video controls, etc. Could use
a WinXP driver, I guess?
2003-06-27 21:35:08
600MHz minimum G3
I'm surprised some enterprisng person hasn't figured out a way around the 600MHz check.
2003-06-28 13:30:08
RE: Also works with BTV
Good tip. Here's just a little more information. You can learn more about BTV and BTV Pro here. This is shareware that costs $20 and $40 US respectively. It's a Carbonized app that runs on Mac OS X, as well as earlier versions that have carbonlib installed.

Also, I'm publishing an article on Tuesday that will show some very cool applications for the iSight. Stay tuned.

2003-06-28 16:46:21
Just an FYI...works with Yahoo! Instant messenger as well... :)
2003-06-28 23:31:38
iSight & ohPhone X?
Has anyone tested iSight with ohPhone X, an audio/video conferencing client? I was amazed by the AV quality of iSight but just wondering if I can use it on ohPhone X (to talk to my colleagues who use NetMeeting and other H.323 machines).
2003-06-29 14:00:49
RE: iSight Drivers? -- offer for help and question
Unfortunately I am forced to use a PC laptop right now, but I just bought an iSight because I just couldn't help myself :-). I know a lot about SIP/SDP and RTP and would be happy to help any effort to get open source drivers and apps for iSight. I can be most useful in the protocol dep't.

Now the question -- my PC laptop is a Dell Inspiron and has the small square firewire port. Is there a "standard" Apple-to-PC (perhaps 4-to-6 pin) adapter that I can buy to connect the iSight to my PC laptop. I realize from some posts here that I might only get video and not audio for the moment, but that's OK -- I'll wait. What I want to know is -- do I need to give up hope of using the iSight with my Dell laptop, or can I just buy the right adapter cable at any CompUSA...



2003-06-29 14:57:31
RE: iSight Drivers? -- offer for help and question
Yes, it will work with the Dell and a 4 pin connector - but you will need a powered cable - FireJuice makes one that allows you to plug in power to support the end device. - they make a 4 pin to 6 pin with a lump on the cable where you can plug in an iPod supply or similar.

I have to use a PC Laptop for work and switch between it and my Powerbook - maybe someday the PC Laptop makers will wake up and put powered 6 pin 1394 ports on them. BTW, the iSight works great on my Dell with XP Pro - but just as a camera. Maybe someday someone will create real drivers for this. I would hope Apple would have - as many of their customers have both systems and would like to use the iSight on both.


2003-06-29 19:37:05
500MHz iBook
I have a 500 mHz iBook and won an iSight at the North Michigan Ave (Chicago) Apple Store grand opening. Disappointed I can't use it with iChat AV, but I guess it's time for the Apple desktop I've been thinking about. Wish I had enough $ for a G5. The joys of college, I guess.

Please let me know (nick_larsen@mac.com) if you hear of any workarounds for the mHz check.


2003-06-29 20:32:54
iSight on a PC Laptop
[since this is NOT about drivers I started a separate thread].

I asked before if the only way to use an iSight on a PC laptop with a 4-pin firewire is if I get FireJuice and an iPod charger. After some searching, I think I see a cheaper alternative:


is another firewire-adapter-with-power. It looks as if it ships with a 'normal' power supply.

Can anyone tell me what iSight's power consumption is? Will the 9V adapter on this ABS solution fry the iSight?


2003-06-30 13:41:08
iSight & ohPhone X?
I have tried to use the iSight with ohPhoneX to connect to a Polycom Viewstation, and while I can't get a connection to the Polycom, ohPhoneX does recognize the iSight and displays the video locally.
2003-06-30 14:24:48
Cool New Hack for the iSight
Hmm, I keep getting a NSReceiverEvaluationScriptError: 4 error... I installed the UI script support, anybody else have this problem?
2003-06-30 17:22:44
Cool New Hack for the iSight
I got that error also.

So what I've done is written an entire article about how to do this, complete with screenshots and sample files. The piece will publish on Tuesday, July 1, about 5 pm PST on www.macdevcenter.com.

We can pick up that conversation there, because it's darn interesting, and fun...


2003-06-30 20:54:37
what is the magic AIM message?
Apparently when iChat begins an AV session with another iChat is sends a magic AIM message which causes the remote iChat to start listening on port 5060 for sip requests. Does anyone know what this magic AIM message is?

I have several sip clients on my Windows XP laptop, and if I could send from my PC AIM client this magic AIM message, I could then start up an AV session with one of my sip clients. Even if I can't send the magic AIM message from my ordinary PC AIM client, there are open AIM clients that will surely let me send the magic message.

Anyone know what it is?


2003-07-01 06:37:39
iSight driver problem
My iSight worked well right out of the box and then I tried it with VRVS (http://www.vrvs.org) which uses X11 based vic, vat, rat and IOXpert Firewire drivers. I was using IOXpert in trial mode. It didn't work basically cause I was behind NAT. But when I then tried to get back to iChat AV - the IOXpert driver kept trying to launch, but didn't "know" the iSight and then shut down turing the iSight off. OK, so I removed the IOXpert drivers using sudo rm -r. Since then I can not get iSight to work. iChat AV works all right until I plug in or turn on iSight and then it (iChat) crashes. So, I tried the other apps friendly to iSight like QT Broadcast and EvoCam... likewise they suddenly shut down when I turn on iSight.

I have uninstalled iChat and re-installed it. No Luck. I have done lots of searching for the iSight drivers to re-install them with No Luck. I went to local Apple Store Genius and he said run software extension check but had no further clue. Oh, I ran extension and permission checks, found other issues but nothing for iSight nor FireWire.

Oh, this is on a 3 week old 12" G4 Powerbook with 640MB RAM and updated software.

Any suggestions other than re-installing system software??

2003-07-01 19:01:57
Record iChat AV session
Has anyone figured out how to save an A/V chat session (both sides of the conversation) to disk?
2003-07-01 19:31:26
"Making Movies with the Apple iSight"
This tutorial is for those who want to record a/v directly to their hard drive and play back the files as QuickTime movies.
2003-07-02 14:10:12
Audio and Yahoo Messenger?
I'm trying to vid con across platforms using Yahoo Messenger... but it's the first time I've used the software, so I don't know if audio not working is a bug or a feature :) If it's a 'feature', are there any x-plat vid *and* audio conf. solutions I can use? Thanks!
2003-07-03 10:24:36
Multiple iSights??
Was wondering if anybody knows if you can bring in multiple iSights streams into a powerful Mac
2003-07-03 13:01:14
WuffCam at www.wuffwuffware.com works also with iSight ...
... which is no wonder, cause its using the Quicktime Drivers. Maybe you like this program as well. It also contains a rendevous enabled webserver.
2003-07-05 21:05:45
Also works with BTV
Does sound also work with Btv and iSight?
2003-07-06 10:28:55
Record iChat AV session
Use Snapz Pro.
2003-07-06 13:32:58
iSight do still pictures?
ok it does good vid, but can you take snapshots too?
2003-07-09 23:04:53
RE: iSight Drivers? -- offer for help and question
Here is a really odd question for you folks. Using an isight with virtual pc (Xp home). Can it be done? Why I would want to is a long story.....
2003-07-10 09:06:48
Audio and Yahoo Messenger?
There is ohPhone X (http://sourceforge.net/projects/xmeeting/), but again the audio is a problem for me.

The developer claims it should work fine, but I must admit I can get the video but not the audio working. You might have better luck though!

The software does recognise the iSight as a potential audio in, but it's not happy with it. This is a shame. I really need a halfway decent h323 client...


2003-07-11 07:34:53
Audio and Yahoo Messenger?
I think I've narrowed down to a problem with Quicksilver G4 towers, which won't properly recognise the iSight as an audio input. I suspect that's the root cause of my problems..