WebCam setup and capture tips using Quicktime Player

This is Part 4 of the Web Video Mini Course,

The Numbers – the most important ones you need for webcam setup

Before you start recording your videos, you need to understand a bit about the numbers.

Yes, sounds scary, but it’s really not! Here is what you need to get started with web camera videos.

webcam setup

Video proportions

  • 16:9 is the new standard for video proportions.  This is also the proportion of popular video players like YouTube and Vimeo.
  • 4:3 is the older standard for video proportions. It’s related to the older TVs.

If you record a video in 4:3 proportion, it will still play properly but it won’t fill the whole width of the player window and you may get something called black bars, on the sides of your video. (Read my post to learn more about black bars.) That doesn’t matter one bit! You will notice a couple of videos like that in this course.

If having black bars bothers you, then you’ll need to create your video in a 16:9 proportion.

webcam setup

The orange box above shows a 4:3 proportion frame inside a 16:9 frame.

You can see that the 16:9 (the dark part) is wider than the 4:3 video.

Video Dimensions

If you use Quicktime Player to record your videos, you will see a drop down menu like this.

webcam setup

For most of the videos in this course I chose “High” as the quality. On my iMac computer that is: 1280 x 720 size and is a 16:9 proportion.

On my older MacBook Pro laptop, the size choices I have are: Medium, High, Maximum. But the pixel dimensions are a bit different than my newer computer.

  • Medium is: 320 x 240 – note that this is a 4:3 proportion
  • High is: 640 x 480 – note that this is a 4:3 proportion
  • Maximum is 1920 x 1080 – this is a 16:9 proportion

So make sure you check what your options are first!

You can always record at the Maximum size and quality, and later on EXPORT that file to a smaller size. I go over the details of exporting later in this lesson.

Here’s a list of common video sizes and proportions:

16:9 Proportion

  • 640 x 360
  • 720 x 405
  • 853 x 480
  • 1024 x 576
  • 1280 x 720
  • 1920 x 1080

4:3 Proportion

  • 640 x 480
  • 720 x 480
  • 900 x 600
  • 1024 x 720
  • 1280 x 853

My recommendations for recording your webcam videos

  • For webcam videos in online courses and your blogs, I recommend you record at a size of at least 720 x 1280 to give you a size for your students to see clearly.
  • It’s the smallest size I’d use for YouTube.
  • I use both 1280 x 720 pixels, and 1920 x 1080 pixels for my own recordings.
  • Exporting files is different, and I’ll go over that later in this training.
  • You can export smaller than your original recording, but you can’t go bigger.

webcam setup quicktime

More about Quicktime

To record these videos I used the Quicktime Player, version 10.3 for Mac. I edited many of them using Quicktime as well.

Quicktime Player is included for free on all Mac computers.

What about Windows users?

This webcam, Logitech C920, and all the Logitech web cameras have software that is specific for Windows. You can download the Logitech Webcam Software from the Logitech website.

To set up your recording, use similar settings to what I’ve shown for the Mac Quicktime software in this lesson.

**And there’s even better news for Windows users**

Windows Movie Maker works great with this camera.  And you can record directly into the software. And even better, it’s free and included with Windows OS. Windows comes pre-installed with Windows Movie Maker, and you can also use WMM to edit your webcam videos.

NOTE:  Apple no longer recommends using Quicktime for Windows due to security issues. You should un-install it immediately if you’re using it. 


Check out all the blog posts in this mini course:

  1. Making Connections
  2. Your Biggest Fear
  3. How to Look Younger on YouTube – without getting plastic surgery
  4. Webcam Setup and Capture tips using  Quicktime Player
  5. Lighting Tips for Webcam Videos
  6. Zoom your webcam or get close?
  7. Get better colour from your webcam

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