Last updated: Dec, 23. 2008

 

Hardware Requirements


In addition to the Eyecon software, you will need a video camera. These come in two types, analog and digital. Depending on the type of camera you want to use, there may be additional hardware required.


Digital Cameras

So called "webcam" cameras offer a simple and affordable solution since they are inexpensive and do not require any additional hardware or adapters. They typically connect to the computer via the USB port. The down side is that web cams tend to not have the picture quality of a standard black and white video camera. This may and may not be a factor: it really depends on what you want to do with the system. If the camera is far away from the stage (such as in a big theater), or if the lighting is not very good (low level, low contrast), then you may run into trouble with web cams. If you choose to try out a web cam, i recommend the Philips webcams with CCD chips. They have very good picture quality and light sensitivity.

The other kind of digital camera are the considerably more expensive DV video cameras. They generally have a firewire (IEEE1394) output and, assuming you have a firewire connector on your notebook or desktop PC, they can work. Their picture quality is excellent. Their drawback is that noticable latency (delay) in video capture. Also, some cheaper models don't allow you to turn off the autofocus or automatic aperture. This is a serious drawback, since EyeCon would interpret such camera setting changes as "motion", resulting in false media triggers. For both of these reasons, i do not recommend the use of DV digital cameras with EyeCon.

In industrial imaging applications there is a strong trend towards digital cameras using Firewire or USB interfaces. There are several advantages, non standard resolutions are easily implemented, non interlaced image formats are supported, direct access to the actual camera pixels is possible which makes accurate measurement alot easier. The drawbacks are limited cable length and usually higher latency.

Analog Cameras

The standard video camera today outputs an analog video signal. To get this signal into digital form, you will need a framegrabber which is available as a PCI or PCI Express board, or as an external interface with USB or Firewire interface. For Eyecon's purposes, the quality of the analog cameras -- even older ones or black and white ones -- is almost always adaquate (except for the really cheap and noisy surveillance cameras). Black and white cameras generally have more-than-sufficient picture resolution and indeed often have less video noise than color cameras. Cables can be as long as 100m, and a variety of lenses (objectives) and professional clamps are available at a good camera store. Analog cameras are thus the recommended solution for flexible stage use andlow latency

 

Analog to Digital Converters (frame grabber)

There are three possibilities: One is to install a video-input board into your computers PCI slot. The installation is easy, and this solution has the advantage that you can attach multiple cameras to your computer. Many so-called TV cards work with EyeCon. However, for maximum performance and lowest latency with Eyecon, we strongly recommend using the 'Falcon board' which is available directly from us (see the table below). This board is not available for notebook computers. EyeCon was developed for the Falcon board and it remains the best solution for professional use. The board is made in PCI or PCI-Express versions

Another option is to use a video-to-USB adapter unit and then simply use the USB jack of your computer (see below for an example). With the USB solution, you may experience a perceivable latency (up to 100ms). Latency means that there is a time lapse between the time when a person moves, and the time when the system responds to the movement. This may and may not be a problem, depending on the kind of work you are doing. (This issue is discussed in more detail in the special section of the *help file*).

The final option is to use an adapter unit for the computer's firewire port. The consumer versions (DV-Bridge and others) have the same drawbacks we described for the DV cameras (see above). The latency involved is even worse than with the USB solutions. There are special drivers (e.g. Canopus) which can ameliorate, though not eliminate,the problem. Having said all that, there is one more way to go. There is an industrial analog-to-firewire converter box available that appears not to have the described drawbacks,the Imagingsource DFG/1394. It transmits video data exceptionally fast and without compression. For laptop computers especially (which have no PCI slots for a frame grabber) this would be an excellent option. Its drawback is its relatively high price.

 

 

OVERVIEW of HARDWARE COMPONENTS

 

all equipment available from us, write to eyecon@frieder-weiss.de, online shop to come soon.

CAMERAS

 

device comment pro's con's recommendation price €/$ picture
Analog Video surveillance camera your computer needs special hardware to connect with those cameras. almost unlimited cable length is possible. It allows professional mounting, changable lenses and a fast and good quality picture. requires you to buy a video board (i.e. FALCON PCI Bus Framegrabber below), special power supply, nonstandard conncetor. Black and white surveillance camera; Sony XC-EI50 with Tamron Vario lens 4.2-10mm, wide angle, great resolution and light sensitivity. 500 (you can find others for between 100 and 800)

Sony XC-EI50 without lens

Webcam You need a model that allows to turn of the automatic exposure. Switch it to black and white mode and select a high frame rate(25 or 30). notebook use cheap price limited cable length, fixed lens, low picture quality Philips ToUCam Pro PCVC840K or SPC900NC. High Resolution and good light sensitivity (as far as web cams go). 40-90
DV Camera ("camcorder") DV is always full TV resolution, which results in a high data rate and a recognizable delay. Also, some cheaper models don't allow you to turn off the autofocus or automatic aperture - a serious problem! high quality picture perceivable delay (latency) limited cable length
not really...
600 - 5000

 

Video interface equipment

 

device comment pro's con's source price €/$ picture
FALCON PCI Bus Framegrabber The EyeCon system has been developed for that board. It is industrial equipment with special drivers and highest possible performance highest possible performance, lowest latency.3 inputs for analog video (composite & SVHS) will not work in a laptop (requires a PCI slot)cost us (send email, shop will be set up soon) 300
EXSYS USB Video converter for USB bus. 2 inputs for analog video (composite & SVHS) notebook useyou dont need to buy a Framegrabber. some latency (< 70ms) us 85
Industrial Firewire converter (e.g. Imangingsource DFG/1394) Video converter for firewire, uncompressed video transmission, works well with EyeCon, fast & without perceivable delay 3 inputs for analog video (composite & SVHS) low latencynotebook use high price us 600
TV board Consumer video framegrabber (usually with onboard TV tuner). (Pinnacle, Terratec etc.) Like the Falcon board made for PCI slots, drivers are less optimized for Eyecon yet. low price will not work in a laptop (since it requires a PCI slot) computer store 40-80  
Consumer Firewire Converter DV bridge Video converter for firewire, compressed video transmission, perceivable latency 3 inputs for analog video (composite & SVHS)notebook use price, latency computer store 500  

 

MISCELLANEOUS

 

device comment pro's con's source price €/$ picture
Manfrotto clamps and Magic Arm we use them combined with a relatively cheap ball-head camera mount for quick camera mounting and focussing. allows camera hanging quickly an on a wide variety of structures. are a bit pricey. camera store 30-200

Filter Adapter Kaiser 96656 Filter adapter, which allows you to attach infrared or other filters (49mm) to any camera which has a diameter between 25 and 62mm very useful gadget looks a bit bulky us 20