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Configure Recording Devices for Personal Capture for Mac
Last Updated: Mar 28, 2019 10:08AM EDT

This article applies to:  Echo360 Admins

End of Support for Personal Capture
August 30th, 2019: The download links for PCAP will be removed from the platform. This is also the end of support date for these applications in Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA). While the applications will likely continue to work for the rest of the year, there will be no support available. Clients in the EMEA region should plan a full transition to Universal Capture before this time. Clients in other regions can continue to use existing PCAP installations but will no longer have the ability to download it.
January 15th, 2020: This date marks both the end of life and the end of support for these applications globally. As of this date, PCAP will cease to work with the Echo360 platform due to enhancements in the capture pipeline that will only work with Universal Capture. It is of utmost importance that all Echo360 clients complete their transition to Universal Capture by this time.

What Does It Mean to "Configure Devices"?

There are two different parts to configuring devices for Personal Capture (PCAP):

  • Selecting which inputs to record (audio, display, and/or video). This is done at the time you create the recording
  • Selecting which device will typically capture each input and the output settings for each device.

This page is devoted to the second of these two, selecting and configuring the devices and settings for each input.

See Personal Capture Specifications for information on input and output options for PCAP recordings, and Supported Devices for PCAP Mac for a list of suggested devices.

If your device does not appear in the drop-down lists described below, exit Personal Capture, re-attach the device and restart Personal Capture. Devices not detected by the operating system are not usable by Personal Capture.

Configuring audio and video settings

Configuring the audio and video settings simply defines the devices and settings you normally want to use. You can change these selections anytime you need to.

To configure audio/video settings

  1. From the Welcome Screen or My Recordings screen, click Start Recording. This opens the capture preview page.
  2. In the bottom panel of the capture preview page, click Configure.
    PCAP for Mac preview window with Configure button identified
  3. The Audio/Video Settings page appears, containing three sections, one for each input that can be captured. Review and configure the selections as described in the next steps.
    Audio/video settings dialog box for PCAP Mac with selections as described
  4. In the Audio section of the dialog box, use the Device drop-down list to select the device you typically want to use to capture audio input. All captures must have audio.
  5. In the Video (Left) section of the dialog box, use the Device drop-down list to select the device where your Display input (PowerPoint or other computer-screen-based presentation) will appear and from which will be captured. If you typically plan to capture dual-video, select your Secondary Video device here.
    Understand the following points about your Video (Left) selections:
    • The preview for this selection appears in the left panel of the preview pane.
    • Video (Left) is used for Display capture input selection. If you will normally capture Display input, you must select a display device here (shown as Screen 1 above).
    • Alternately, you can use this selection for Secondary video if you are capturing A/V/V.
    • IF YOU ARE USING A RETINA DISPLAY, select Smaller Size. See Using PCAP Mac on Retina Display Models for additional information.
  6. Under Video Quality, select the appropriate choice as follows:
    • Actual Size (Lower Framerate): This is the default and is probably fine for your needs. It creates the best capture but may require a large amount of storage and processing time, particularly if you are capturing two video inputs.
    • Smaller Size (Higher Framerate): Select this option if you are concerned about file size or processing time. This may be more appropriate for one or both video inputs if details in high-resolution is not required for the capture.
  7. In the Video (Right) section of the dialog box, use the Device drop-down list to select the device to use for your primary Video input. This selection must identify a video input device.
  8. Under Video Quality, select the appropriate choice as described in the step above.
  9. When finished, click Save.

Understand that you have simply identified the devices that will provide the input for each type. You do not have to capture video or display all the time (only audio is required for captures). You can select which inputs are captured when you create the recording.

Addressing Audio Issues

In certain circumstances, audio recorded on a Macintosh sounds unusually loud when the recording is played back within Personal Capture but is too low when students play the Echo.

This occurs because playback within Personal Capture artificially raises the audio volume. When you hear this loud volume during playback, you may attempt to compensate by adjusting the Sound system preferences.

If you encounter this and you are concerned about it, create and publish a short test capture, then review it through the Echo360 Classroom. Be sure to remove the test recording from the class it is published to, to be sure students cannot view it accidentally. It will remain in your library until you delete it.

If you do need to adjust the input volume:

  1. Open the Sound settings in Mac System Preferences (System Preferences > Sound).
  2. Click the Input tab to activate it.
    The Sound Input tab appears, including the Input volume slider and Input level indicator, identified in the below figure.
    Sound dialog box
  3. If you are using audio input other than the built-in microphone, be sure to select that device from the list.
  4. Speak for several seconds at the normal volume you use for captures. Notice the Input level indicator changing. It should register to at least 2/3 to 3/4 of the maximum volume level. If, however, you find it "maxing out" frequently, you may need to adjust the input level lower, to avoid distortion that can happen during peaking.
  5. If necessary, adjust the Input volume slider up or down as appropriate.
  6. Run a test capture and publish the recording. Review the recording in the classroom to appraise volume level.
  7. Repeat the steps above if necessary.

Using Multiple or HD Cameras

Echo360 gives you the ability to capture multiple and High Definition (HD) video inputs. However, using multiple cameras can introduce significant computational and storage loads on personal computers and laptops. Even with the increased power of newer hardware, dual and HD camera captures can strain some machines.

When you use multiple and/or HD video cameras, please consider these issues:

  • Insufficient processing power. The sheer amount of data captured by newer video cameras, especially if the cameras are capturing at high definition, can strain the processing power and internal bandwidth (data transfer) of your computer.
  • Mis-synchronization. Differences in camera quality, initialization/start-up time, and configuration can cause the multiple and/or HD videos to be slightly mis-synchronized.

Follow the below tips to minimize potential issues.

Perform Some Test Captures. This is a good idea for any camera or any change in input devices but especially important with newer, high definition cameras, which can strain the processing power of your computer. Make sure the capture proceeds well, editing and publishing are successful, and the output as viewed in the classroom is what you expect.

Adjust Video Quality to alleviate synchronization issues. On Macintosh systems, we have found that adjusting the Video Quality settings to a Smaller Size for both video channels (as shown below) alleviates synchronization issues in an A/V/V capture. On the Macintosh, the Smaller Size resolution is equivalent to TV/VCR quality and requires less processing power from your computer.

Audio/Video Settings

When recording A/D/V captures, if you are having synchronization issues, mix Actual Size and Smaller Size, choosing  Actual Size (Lower Framerate) for the Video (Left)/Display input, and Smaller Size (Higher Framerate) for the Video (Right)/Camera input. This mixed configuration (shown below) provides high-quality display while optimizing the size of the video capture.

Audio/Video Settings
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