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My client needs a webcam site where she can teach via webcam - how?

 12:28 pm on Feb 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hi there,

I need to make a website that has webcam function, just like live chat or something.

My client is a teacher and wants to teach hairdressing online, so she needs to see the students and they need to see her.

Obviously doing it on MSN and Yahoo webcam is not an option.

Has to be done on her site, like an embedded movie but instead of an mpeg a webcam.

I know this can be done and looked absolutely everywhere but can't find a solution...

I download the Coffee Cup webcam software but it looks like it's only made to watch your baby or office...




 2:00 am on Feb 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

Look at the offerings for web conferencing services, or webinar software. Something this bandwidth intensive will require an investment in hardware and a dedicated connection to the net. You won't find open-source or free service that can handle this. Expect to invest some serious cash for multipoint videoconferencing.

Since you're talking about hair, and given the generally poor quality of video even when both parties are using dedicated equipment and dedicated lines on both ends you might be better off only broadcasting one way. Something pre-recorded, rather than live streaming might be more cost effective and potentially have better video quality.


 4:02 am on Feb 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hi Bill,

Are you saying that both the sender AND receiver would need expensive hardware or only the receiver?


 4:47 am on Feb 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

Flash Media Server would seem the obvious choice for such a project, you presumably won't require hundreds of connections and you can rent from a third-party on a monthly plan - the only additional hardware required would be the camera, and as long as you have a decent upload speed it should work fine.

Whether it is an affordable business proposition only you can decide.

[edited by: Samizdata at 4:49 am (utc) on Feb. 24, 2008]


 6:25 am on Feb 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'm not paying for this but my client will (would...) how much would that cost?

Would the quality be better than Yahoo Chat Webcams?


 6:52 am on Feb 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

how much would that cost?

Your favourite search engine will help you to find that out.

The Adobe website has a page that discusses third-party hosting considerations.

A WOWZA server might be another possibility.

Would the quality be better than Yahoo Chat Webcams?

Yahoo Messenger does not support audio on my Macintosh laptop.

Flash does.


 8:20 am on Feb 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

I did do a search and it's very hard to find exact information...

But I do get information like this:

"To support media distribution, MoreMX.com [moremx.com] provides publishing, distribution, syndication and IT integration services. To make it easy to monetize the content as it's distributed, we support advertising and payment services. All of these services use a delivery infrastructure that makes the distribution of content to consumers fast and seamless."

Wow! Now I really understand!

Has anybody out there ever built a website with Webcam capabilities and what would be the price that you paid to get it done?


[edited by: tedster at 5:55 pm (utc) on Feb. 24, 2008]
[edit reason] make the domain a clickable link [/edit]


 8:25 am on Feb 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

I mean would it cost $50, $100, $1000, $10 000?


 2:26 pm on Feb 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

The cost will depend on your requirements - for third-party hosting you usually pay a monthly fee. Factors such as video quality, disk space, number of connections and technical support all affect the price, and only you will know what you want.

The aforementioned Consumer's guide to using a Flash Media Server hosting provider on Adobe's site explains these considerations in plain English and has price comparisons.

If a search on "flash media hosting" doesn't give you a choice of providers and more information in the first ten results then you probably need to use a better search engine.


 3:50 pm on Feb 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

I gave a few final touches to a video setup for a day car center. It has 8 video cameras. We used dedicated 2 eDVRs. The total cost is going to be around $20,000. Do a google search on MS400 eDVRs. They are good and they work. If you are not a tech person, you better not make any promises to your client. You have no idea what you are getting into.

Good luck.


 7:33 am on Feb 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

Are you saying that both the sender AND receiver would need expensive hardware or only the receiver?

With corporate multipoint video conferencing solutions, yes. Dedicated hardware and software are needed on both ends. Even with that level of hardware I'm not sure you'd be getting the video quality you might need.

Flash Media Server

I'm not experienced with this package, but it looks to be a one way broadcasting package. That's fine for pushing out Flash video, but may not be the communications solution that you asked for in your original post. Correct me if I'm wrong.


 2:33 pm on Feb 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

Correct me if I'm wrong

As I recall this has been possible since Flash MX was released in 2002.

I will quote Adobe's website to reassure you:

The Flash Player video encoder supports live video, audio push, record, and record-append. This support lets you build Flash-based live video streaming, video chat, video messaging, webcasting, video conferencing, and stop-motion capture. You can also use the prebuilt Flash components to assemble your live video conference quickly or to create a video recorder using Flash Player.


 2:40 am on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

That's good to know. What sort of requirements are there for multi-point videoconferencing, and how's the video quality?


 3:47 am on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

The requirements are not drastic, assuming you can afford the hosting fees.

As for quality, the last time I tried Flash video conferencing was in 2002, when the server software was called FlashCom (popularly "TinCan"). All video quality in Flash was poor back then and most people were still on dialup anyway. But it worked, and Flash video has improved a lot, and even with third-party hosting you generally have choices - though, of course, higher quality will cost more.

To understand the considerations the Adobe article is probably the best place to start:


I do tend to agree with you that a decent quality service may prove too expensive for the project in question, but I have no doubt that technically Flash Media Server can do it.


 5:04 am on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Thanks everybody! Finally it's starting to get a little clearer!

I don't think she needs corporate quality.

I might actually just integrate Yahoo Messenger right in the main frame of the website.

Not the prettiest or most professional of options but it would work.

It's up to my customer to shut the webcam off if customers don't pay her.

She can charge them in advance for time on webcam so the payment is not an issue.

I live in Thailand now and I sometimes chat with a girl in the Philipines (not like there aren't enough girls in Thailand...yes I am a little greedy! ;) and the quality on Yahoo Chat is not very good, could be her webcam, the connection, I'm not sure...

However, my customer is in Canada and most students will be in Canada and Japan where the connection is excellent.

If they have very good webcams, is the quality of Yahoo Messenger and MSN messenger pretty good these days?


 5:55 am on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Yahoo Web Messenger? That's an IM client. It doesn't even have video if I recall. Even the application based IM clients put out by Yahoo, MS, Google, etc won't do video with more than one person at a time.


 6:34 am on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

I think the world has moved on a little Bill - the IM client that comes with my operating system has video conferencing capabilities, and most computers made by the same company now have a webcam built in.

All the main IM clients have offered video support for some time (if your hardware supports it}, though as mentioned above some still have cross-platform issues which render them useless in my eyes.


 12:51 am on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'm not that out of it. ;)
I've used the video on every every major Windows IM client going back to the early NetMeeting days in the mid 90s.

When the OP mentioned embedding the Yahoo application in a web page I was referring to Yahoo Web Messenger [webmessenger.yahoo.com], which is for text messaging only. Are there other embeddable Yahoo Messenger variants with video? I know of other Flash based web-page embeddable video services, but I've never found one that works as well as the stand-alone IM software in terms of video.

Perhaps I'm not clear on this teacher/class scenario. Does the one teacher, many students model not apply here? IM client video is fine for one-to-one video. However, I don't know any free IM client that will allow simultaneous multiple video streams of any quality. Add a few video streams (and voice) and everything turns into stop motion.


 6:15 am on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hi Bill,

I think that one on one might be fine. In the future she might want to teach classes.

This is a very small website, only $1000 or so. From the complexity of what I hear now...

Mabye I'll just integrate Yahoo Messenger with voice on her site as a wrapper or a pop up window.

Because according to this thread there isn't a simple plug and play solutions, athough coffee cup claim they have the solution for about $30...

Anybody has experience with the coffee cup software?


 2:16 am on Feb 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'm not that out of it.

Apologies, Bill, I should have known better.

I don't know any free IM client that will allow simultaneous multiple video streams of any quality.

My understanding is that Apple's iChat allows 4-way video conferencing (and works with AIM users on Windows) if all parties have a fast enough computer and a decent upload bandwidth.

Sadly, I don't have enough good-looking friends to test the quality myself...

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