May 20, 2011

How to Connect Camcorder to Internet

Your camcorder captures beautiful video, and you’d like to share the video over the Internet in real-time. Read on to find how to connect the camcorder to the Internet.

Panasonic AVCCAM camcorder

Camcorders produce awesome video. Their 20x plus optical zoom and great lenses are key to delivering high quality video which cannot be matched by iPhone, Android, webcams, IP cameras etc which produce good but not great video.

 The best camcorders in the market range from broadcast-quality Panasonic AG-HMC150 ($4,000), to prosumer Canon Vixia HF G10 ($1,900), to consumer Samsung H300 ($290) or Aiptek AHD-H23 ($280) and more. All produce excellent 1080p HD video.

 Samsung H300 camcorder

But, camcorders, unlike IP cameras, do not come with network ports. There are no ethernet or wifi ports built into a camcorder to enable you to directly connect to the Internet and share their video in real-time, which limits your options to sharing the recorded-video with friends.

To share the camcorder video in real-time, you can wire the camcorder to a computer (which in turn is connected to the Internet) and thereby share the video. However this option, used by services such as Ustream, Justin, Livestream etc, requires a computer attached to the camcorder while you are capturing the video, which may not always be practical.

An alternative option is to use a video encoder. The video encoder is a small device, which takes in analog video cables from the camcorder at one end and makes the video available on ethernet at the other. The video encoders are typically used in video security but can also be useful here. The video encoder needs to be setup with your Internet router one-time. After that, the camcorder video can be viewed over the Internet, in real-time. Visitors go to a URL to see the video.

A few video encoders

Axis Q7401 - $500, H.264 video, 720x480 res, PoE or DC, BNC video connector, with audio

Axis M7001 - $250, H.264 video, 720x480 res, PoE, BNC video connector, no audio

The Steps
  1. You connect the camcorder audio video cables to the video encoder (use a RCA-to-BNC connector if needed).
  2. Connect the video encoder to your Internet router with an ethernet cable.
    If PoE is the only power option for the encoder, use a router with PoE ethernet ports or use an intermediate PoE injector.
  3. Setup your router for the video encoder (follow instructions in the encoders user manual)
  4. Now the audio/video from the encoder can be viewed over the Internet in real-time

Some Caveats
  1. While all camcorders deliver HD video, the video encoders above do not support HD video; their max resolution is 720x480. So, the real-time video over the Internet will be non-HD but will still give excellent quality. The video in the camcorder will still be in HD.

  2. The encoders provide a BNC connectors for video-in. Camcorders provide video-output via HDMI (HD) and RCA cables (non-HD). An inexpensive BNC-to-RCA connector will convert the signals for the encoder.

  3. The encoders listed are wired. They connect to your Internet router with an ethernet cable. Wired connections will deliver the best video quality. But, if needed, an ethernet-to-WiFi converter can be used to operate wirelessly.

  4. The encoders listed are powered using PoE where power is supplied via the ethernet cable.