For our kids email is so yesterday. They’ve even gotten tired of text IMing (instant messaging). Now that they both have installed Skype they’d much rather use their notebook Webcams and talk to folks around town, around the globe.
Frankly we like the cost of Skype calls as well! But they wanted to do more than just stare into the camera and talk.
Our web surfing son found a product called YouCam on the Cyberlink web site and with a two user license costing under $50 it seemed to give them the added punch for their web chats plus a lot of other neat stuff. Loading and enabling YouCam was surprisingly simple once you understand the inner workings of your IM software. We had it up and running on their Windows notebooks in a couple of minutes.
Using the software as we originally purchased it for – for video IMing – it really lets your imagination go wild because you can quickly add a wide range of emotion effects, frames, filters and distortions.
Our son spends what seems like hours chatting with friends and acquaintances from Canada, Europe and across the U.S. Sometimes he and his friends get a little carried away with their effects and tend to shout
It’s an easy click for either of them to add fun emotions or apply a frame to their live webcam video such as targets, hearts, gifts, “feelings”. Distortions are a little disturbing when they occasionally video IM me at the office (yes we got a copy as well but more for business conversations).
Rather hard to carry on a serious conversation with the kid when his image is convex, compressed, egg shaped or stretched across the screen. Funny but not the best for a serious conversation.
While our daughter does employ some of the subtle YouCam effects in her calls she has found the software more satisfying to use for her personal video and photo creation work which can be quickly, easily posted to video web sites like MySpace, Yahoo! Video and YouTube.
The software allows her to instantly grab a photo snapshot in JPEG or take a series of quick webcam photos using the burst feature. Set up for the photo/video applications takes only a few seconds.
Taking photos is a snap (bad pun). Simply click on the snapshot button on the toolbar at the top of the screen and the picture is displayed in the capture content area and saved in the capture folder.
When you want to grab a series of photos you click on the burst button and YouCam will take the specified number of pictures in rapid succession. What our daughter and her friends have gotten very creative at is using YouCam to shoot and prepare videos for the Web or for emailing them to others.
Taking advantage of the effects (49 come standard with the software and others can be downloaded at no cost from http://directorzone.cyberlink.com/youcam), frame, filters and distortions they capture the video and add the “enhancements.”
Once they are satisfied with their creative efforts they email the photos and video to friends. As they have gotten better with their creative works they do like millions of people do every day, they upload their videos to YouTube. It is a fast, easy and very economic way of sharing the videos online with a select group or the world.
But on a more familial front, we’ve found it an excellent way to stay in almost 1:1 contact with other members of the family spread across the country. Our parents don’t get to see the kids as often as they would like and a YouCam Webcam session once a week is a fantastic way to have them involved in the kids lives.