Friday, October 12, 2007

When a feature really is a feature: iChat AV's mirror mode

Today I found that the Canon ZR-850 and the SONY DCR-HC96 camcorders (SONY has to be in its cradle), when connected to a MacBook with a firewire cable, will produce fabulous iChat video. I had thought this capability had vanished!

It's just what we need for our workgroup videoconferencing. I tested on printed material, and I had no trouble reading the print on the display ... except ... (emphases mine):

Audio/Video conferencing -, Mac OS X vs. Windows XP

... iChat AV has a number of niceties. It appropriately flips local video left to right, so your own image will behave just like a mirror. When you plug in an iSight and open the shutter, iChat launches automatically. If you're listening to music in iTunes, it will stop when you accept an audio or video invitation. Any currently playing DVD video will either pause or mute, depending on your DVD Player settings.

iChat supports video-conferencing with up to 4 people (provided you meet the requirements - a minimum of a dual 800 MHz G4 to participate, and a dual 1 GHz G4 to initiate a chat session). Rather than having separate windows for each person, each participant is displayed in one window with their video streams angled to create the impression of sitting around a conference table. There's even a reflection below each video stream - very slick...

UPDATE: I deleted the portion where I then ranted about this mirror image stuff, because posts on Apple's Discussion forum confirmed - the recipient sees the writing correctly.

Also, once we had the results of this test, a search on 'camcorder' 'iChat' and 'conferencing' produced some helpful references. They're mostly familiar to me, I'd just thought there were no compatible camcorders left on the market.

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