Capturing Video From an iSight

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the April, 2007, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]


Pons Maar provides the following tip:
QuickTime Pro offers an alternative that I saw on the Apple OSX tips page. You can capture video from an iSight either using H.264 compressed or a device native full resolution version. And, its incredibly easy.

  1. Hook up your camera via FireWire.
  2. Select QuickTime > File > New Movie Recording. A window will open showing your image so you can tweak your camera settings and lighting, then just hit the red button and you are recording live.


Using the QuickTime > Preferences > Recording tab you can set your video and audio source, quality and where to save the files.


The advantage of this is that I don’t have to open Final Cut Pro, I can use my PreSonus Firebox as my audio in and have more control over the audio input than through my camera, and I have a real time preview as I’m shooting.


For a home studio you can get a 32’ firewire cable, run it from the camera to your computer and you have a direct to disk recording set up…pretty sweet. Obviously if you have a laptop then you have the same possibility but with portability.

Larry replies: Pons, this is a great tip. One caution, though. FireWire has a cable limit of 15′ — longer cables require amplifiers to make sure your signal arrives safely. Otherwise, you run the risk of signal degradation.

And here’s a second way to do the same thing…

Isazaly Mohd Isa sends in the following technique:

This is a cool feature if you’re doing video blogs, podcast or tutorials (like me!) and have direct access to FCP as your non-linear editing software. FCP allows you to capture video from your built-in iSight camera on your MacBook Pros! So, after these few settings, the next time you Press CMD+8 (or File >Log & Capture), you’ll be able to see the “live input” and use the “Capture Now” button and….. “Action!”

Create an Easy Setup with the following information (change to NTSC as needed!) :

Larry Jordan FCP Newsletter Image

Larry Jordan FCP Newsletter Image

Larry Jordan FCP Newsletter Image

Larry replies: Very cool! Thanks.

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